“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The oldest liturgical prayer that we know about is a command prayer, or prayer of invocation…
“Come, Lord Jesus!”
The early Christians must have shouted this prayer aloud with great fervor, knowing that He, their risen Lord, would by His Spirit be present to them in a most special way again…
Where the Presence of the Lord is truly invoked, there is little difficulty in believing on Him or moving in the spiritual power and authority He brings.
How do we truly invoke His presence? In faith, yes, but not a whipped-up confidence in one’s enthusiasm or certainty. We invoke Him in humility, small ones welcoming the great I AM. Our call is born of hunger and dependence. Our prayer is worshipful, moved by awe and adoration. It is a loving reach in relationship, a bid toward Him who is with us. In this invocation we engage the mystery of ultimate reality, passing from explanation to Incarnation. We call on the One we have seen, touched and leaned against. And, we call on the One we apprehend only by belief, thanking Him for the inexplicable gift of faith. We learn this prayer by praying it, and just like His first disciples, we become as we look to Him, enabling those around us to do the same.
Come, Lord Jesus!
 Leanne Payne, The Healing Presence (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1989), 49.
Painting: James Tissot, 1886, The Appearance of Christ at the Cenacle, [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,
for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
After our Lord’s death and resurrection, the early Christians came together knowing that He would meet with them in a special way once again. Rather than going *to* church (their minds were not clouded with the notion that buildings or organizational structures were the Church), they came together *as* the Church to fellowship in His Presence.
And we might say they “practiced the Presence” in a number of ways or modes. “Christ has died, Christ is risen,” part of the earliest liturgy, was in some of their hearts an incredible *remembered* experience. Memories of lives shared together in the breaking of bread, in long journeys, and in the teaching of multitudes must have been vivid ones for many. Beyond memories of Christ’s presence, however, they knew by virtue of His Spirit descending on them at Pentecost that He was always present, indwelling them. In yet a third way, pertinent to what we are here considering, these early disciples knew that when they invoked Him, Christ would “come again” by His Spirit as they gathered to worship, hear the Word, and break bread (make Eucharist) together. 
Sharing in worship and the sacraments and journeying together as prayer partners are acts of faith in which we, like the early Christians, know our Lord will meet us. Pursuing fellowship with one another in Christ, we reject the consumer mindset and religious counterfeits for the sake of being encountered by the Risen One, the Objective Real. Persevering in His body is our joy and privilege, a blessed act of will by which we cultivate the virtue of hope.
Holy God, thank You for how You center Yourself in Your people. Thank you for Your dynamic, living Presence among us. Thank you for making Yourself known in the breaking of bread. Lord, I ask for an increase of faith that will empower me to live with joy and peaceful expectancy as a member of Your body. I invite You to illuminate any barriers, any unforgiveness or idolatry that is dulling my heart. Enable me to grow in maturity and freedom to celebrate Your risen Presence in Your Church.
 Leanne Payne, The Healing Presence (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1989), 48.
Painting: 3rdc., mural of agape feast from the Catacombe di Priscilla [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4 ESV
The way of the Cross stands always against the various ways man devises to earn his own salvation, his own ticket to the Utter East. And on that way we experience the ongoing efficacy of the Cross. We are being redeemed, and no static understanding of the reception of the Novitas or the Holy Spirit should bar us from continuing to receive. 
The Church celebrates Easter not just on one day, but with a seven-week season that calls us to rejoice in our risen Lord and His resurrection life. He is risen today, and we take our places in His resurrection right now, and again right now, and again right now. The newness of Christ’s life (novitas) is active here in His beloved world in this present moment, ours to appropriate and share. Confessing, “Christ is risen!” delivers us from the dual temptations of humanistic self-help on the one hand and cynical despair on the other. The stories of our redemption should be so much more than stale testimonies of some long-ago decision for Christ. Let us look in expectation and wonder as His Cross has its way in our lives today.
Lord Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the world, I lift my eyes to You. I praise You in Your glorified body, seated at the right hand of the Father. I thank You that Your divine energy, Your resurrection power, is at work in me and through me. I confess that I need Your ongoing redemptive work within me and that I long to see redemption in the world around me. Strengthen me in the virtue of hope all through this Easter season as I proclaim that You are risen. Alleluia!
 Leanne Payne, Real Presence (Grand Rapids, Hamewith Books, 1995), p. 94
Painting: Rembrandt,1638, Christ and St Mary Magdalene at the Tomb. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Meditation prepared by Sarah Colyn, drawing on the books and ministry of Leanne Payne
O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you,
I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known,
that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Lent is to remind us that it is all too easy to settle in here, to warn us that perhaps a “crippling wordliness” has indeed overtaken us…
This is what the Lenten Scripture readings and teachings are meant to correct in us. They would teach us how we can live in the midst of Babylon and not be destroyed by it, even as Christ prayed:
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. John 17:15-16 
We are awesomely privileged people, chosen by God out of the world to be His. With this privilege comes responsibility: our loving Father keeps us in the world so that all may know His love for them. When we fear, follow, or join the world we lose our potency because we lose our oneness with God, His people, and our true selves. Lent is a needful, yearly gift. It is a time when we engage in disciplines that remind us of our not-of-this-world-ness. And it is a time when we invite the Holy Spirit to show us the ways the world has wooed us, cowed us, or numbed us. We kneel that we might rise in joy as those who are kept, guarded, sanctified and sent by Jesus.
Come Holy Spirit, illuminate my heart. Show me any accommodation I’ve made to the ways of this world. Search me and know me, merciful God. Where have I deceived myself, justifying that which draws me away from You? What habit, allegiance, or indulgence are you calling me out of that I might be one with You and my brothers and sisters in You? Lord, give me knowledge and power for full repentance. Let this Holy Week be a time of full return to You, that I may be a potent witness of Your love to the world.
 Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1991), 226.
Painting: Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-1311, Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Meditation prepared by Sarah Colyn, drawing on the writings and ministry of Leanne Payne
And I saw no temple in the city,
for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
By its light will the nations walk,
and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,
and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.
But nothing unclean will ever enter it,
nor anyone who does what is detestable or false,
but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
There is a dangerous forgetfulness on our part that this world is not our true and final home. This has been greatly exacerbated by the fact that our education systems, drawing their theories from materialist philosophy, have claimed heaven to be off-limits and have taught us to look within ourselves and to this earth for the ultimate good…
I think this explains why we have such difficulty in understanding and celebrating Lent in beneficial ways. We are no longer sure deep down that we are exiles, that this is not the promised home. Therefore, we’ve accommodated ourselves to Babylon and then are overwhelmed at the sickness, fear, hatred, and violence we see here. It is a strange fact that we Christians continue to be unduly shocked and even overcome by the sight and the extent of evil we discover in the world – as if we didn’t know it to be a fallen one. 
Our Lenten disciplines impel us to kneel in sobriety, confessing hard and hopeful truths so that we might clear some solid ground on which to stand. This is reality: I am an exile. I was born into a created-good but sin-stained, demon-haunted world. I was carried off by my own rebellion and only the blood of the Son of God was able to purchase me back from my slavery to sin and death. I now belong to, and live in, Him. Every selfish and cruel deed committed, every horror at which we cry, “Why?!?” is a defiance of His holiness, and He is coming soon to judge it all. He is preparing a place for me and for all who will receive Him, and we will live with Him forever, finally then knowing what it is to be at home.
Glorious God, what a day that will be! Thank you for the victory of Your holiness on the Cross. I ask you now for Lenten grace. Sharpen my vision of heaven and strengthen my longing to reach my true home. Forgive me for yielding to the seduction of this world. Cleanse me of every accommodation I’ve made to meaningless and despair. Grant me power to rid my life of any action or posture that denies the hope of heaven. Holy God, You are worthy to receive all honor and glory and praise, now and always. Give me grace that I may join the worshippers who will rejoice forever before Your throne.
 Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1991), 226.
Painting: Theodorescu-Sion, 1915, Ovid in Exile [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Meditation prepared by Sarah Colyn, drawing on the writings and ministry of Leanne Payne
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and he relents over disaster.
That we might be more fully present to God is the very reason for fasting. By a physical fast we seek to quiet the demands of the body, thereby humbling it so that we can hear and be obedient to that word the Lord is speaking to us. It is then we can repent aright, and make the necessary prayers of intercession and atonement for others.
The Lenten fast is a special means of practicing God’s presence. By abstaining from some good but finite nourishment, we affirm that God Himself is both ultimately and immanently our sustenance, energy, and enjoyment. Each pang of hunger or want is a prompting to return to God with all our hearts. This season of repentance is an invaluable gift, most needful and fruitful. Let us keep the fast, then, with joy, knowing that our gracious God intends to fill our deepest hunger: to live in familiar communion with Him.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live,
you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
John 14:18-20 ESV
Christ is risen, and is not only at the right hand of God the Father, but is also, by virtue of what began at Pentecost, risen in us. 
We who have often recited the Apostles’ Creed may have a heart-picture of Jesus with the Father in heaven. Unfortunately, our hearts may therefore see Him as being far from us, for we are certainly aware that we are not in heaven. The awesome secret of the Christian life is that He is so very near, nearer than we are to ourselves. I am not orphaned; you are not orphaned. “Another lives in me.” We need to continually speak this truth to our souls, and to other needy souls we meet. The full, resurrection power of Almighty God is available right here in the core of my being. The One who has been to the grave and rose from it uncorrupted is present to share His all with us. We know it’s true, but we need to know it more deeply and more of the time. Christ is risen! He is risen in me, He is risen in you!
Thank You Jesus. Thank You for Your perfect obedience, even unto death on a cross. Thank you for keeping Your promise to come to us. Thank You for being so near, even risen in me. I ask You now for an increasing gift of faith to lay hold of this wonderful truth and to live it ever more fully. You are the center of my life. You are the center of my being. I praise Your holy name.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead,
how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised,
your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in Christ we have hoped in this life only,
we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For as by a man came death,
by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
I Corinthians 15:12, 16-22, ESV
Together with meditating on Christ’s resurrection and the great Christian hope of immortality, we could ask God to increase our desire for heaven and all it contains and for the anticipation of a future state in which we will have a new body patterned after Christ’s glorified body. Then, if we have substituted the favor of men and the things of this world for that which is only God’s and heaven’s to give, we have the great privilege of asking for the grace to deeply repent.
We can be turned around to once again face Him. We are no longer compelled to substitute the shadow for the real, our impressions about glory for the thing itself. 
Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Church celebrates Easter for several weeks for good reason – we need this time to contemplate His risen life and all it means. Paul points out the pitiable state of a believer who hopes in this life only, a critical caution for us today. We may not struggle with conscious unbelief in resurrection of the dead, but often we Christians live with too little joy at what awaits us. And when we lack a vision of heaven, we are too easily attracted to the lesser things of this world. Praise God for His myriad ways of moving us to look up! His Spirit stirs longings in our hearts that are undeniably larger than this life. The daily, often-painful evidence that our present bodies are corruptible moves us to thank God for our coming resurrection bodies. He reveals His splendor in creation, arresting us in moments of awe. His angels are with us, continually enticing our attention heavenward. All these promptings and more inspire us to affirm that a day is coming when we will be raised incorruptible – alleluia!
PRAYER: Gracious Father, we do ask you now to increase our desire for heaven. Whisper to our hearts about the glory that awaits us. Make us free as Your children to boldly delight in the joy of anticipation. Increase in us the supernatural gift of faith in Christ’s resurrection. Anoint us to proclaim His incorruptible life to all in need around us. We thank and praise You for imparting to us the hope of heaven.
 Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1991), 222.
Painting: Fra Angelico, 1440, Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Meditation prepared by Sarah Colyn, drawing on the writings and ministry of Leanne Payne.
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.
For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Let us therefore celebrate the festival,
not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I Corinthians 5:7-8 ESV
In prayer, we see Him on the cross, and we take our place in His crucified body. We actually see this with the eyes of our heart as the spiritual reality is taking place. Then we see even our failure to achieve a sense of being, our horrific fear of falling into the abyss of nonbeing, taken up into His greater Being and sacrifice.
We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place
by the blood of Jesus,
by a new and living way opened for us
through the curtain, that is, his body.
We pass through “the curtain, that is, his body,” dying to the old diseased forms of love we have clung to as well as to the unspeakable loneliness and pain of being disrelated at this most basic of all levels. Forgiving others as well as all the circumstances of our lives, we rise with Him in newness of life. Born anew, we take our place in His resurrected Being. In the cross there is healing; in His resurrected body and life there is identity and being. 
We glorify our King as we enter in to His death and life, as we appropriate the healing and identity He has won for us. Let us leave even more of our stains and disfigurements in the tomb. Let us come forth that much more humble, more radiantly transparent as He shines through us. To celebrate is to participate, and to participate in the Paschal mystery is to truly live.
PRAYER: Come Holy Spirit and rend the veil. Open to us the power of the cross, the grave, and the skies that we might truly partake of Christ’s offering. Make our Easter observance an encounter, our celebration a participation. We lift our faces to You, gracious Father, confident in Your Son, and receive life.
Repentance and the reception of God’s forgiveness, far from a set of emotions or feelings about oneself, is a definite act, a healing transaction between man and God. The need for this act, no matter in what stage of the spiritual journey one finds himself, never lessens. The seasoned saint, no less than the initiate, needs this frequent exercise. Furthermore, this exercise should form a pattern woven into the ongoing spiritual life. This pattern is necessary because, though there may be no conscious awareness of sin, there is always that within us which the Christ-life would heal and forgive. 
The season of Lent is a gift to us, a rich inheritance from the saints who have gone before us. There is much wisdom in dedicating forty days of each year to a deeper time of repentance. It is only when we choose to pause and invite God’s merciful searchlight that we will be taken higher up and deeper in to His life. Our fasting from the distractions of this world, and for an increased attentiveness to Jesus is always fruitful. Let us renew ourselves for the remaining days of Lent, believing that God will satisfy us beyond our wildest imaginings as we persevere with Him.
Gracious Father, we thank you for the possibility of repentance that you continually hold open for each one of us. We thank you for the eternal reality of the exchange You make with us through the cross of Christ – our sin, our death, our shame for Your life, Your love, Your glory. Holy Spirit come, and impart Your divine energy to us that we might be revived in our fasting, in our attentiveness to Your presence, and in healing dialog with our Father. Give us all we need to kneel humbly and fully receive the forgiveness You give, that we might rise with You and stand as image-bearers clothed in Your righteousness.
Comments Off on The Cross – from Leanne’s Archives
By Leanne Payne
from her newsletter archives, Summer, 1993
The Cross is the Abyss of Wonders,
the Centre of Desires, the Schole of Virtues,
the Hous of Wisdom, the Throne of Love,
the Theatre of Joys and the Place of Sorrow;
It is the Root of Happiness,
and the Gate of Heaven.
Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations
I know of no modern poet who could have penned these words. There may be such a one whose lifelong meditation on Christ’s act of redeeming the world approaches the depth of the understanding this seventeenth-century Anglican poet-clergyman had, but he would have to be described, along with the likes of C. S. Lewis, as a dinosaur that somehow miraculously survived, and then suddenly appeared in this our time with its full Judeo-Christian symbolic system intact.
I read Traherne’s words to the precious folk in Denmark. I can still see the astonishment on one young man’s face. His was a wonderful one that reflected utter amazement and mutely shouted, “What in the world do such words as those mean?” Perhaps for some of you one phrase stood out. Write out that phrase in your journal just now, and then listen to God about what it means. Let the Scriptures speak to you anew of Christ’s Cross, and allow them to illumine the phrase that touched your soul. Whole books could be written on single phrases of Traherne’s eulogy. Don’t try to do that (just yet!), but begin to write out what echoed in your heart as you heard that truth.
Those of you whose hearts particularly resonated to the Cross as the “Abyss of Wonders” should not read the following until you’ve meditated upon it for yourselves. This is how it echoed in Andy Comiskey’s heart:
This means freedom from fear.
No matter what man has done to me, or will do.
No matter how badly I have fallen and have incurred the
consequences, all that raises its head above the
Lordship of Christ will die.
It dies as I dare to allow Jesus to reveal my sin
or that of another against me. I believe such revelation
is a risk – to face one’s blackness, to step off the
ground of one’s own seeming wholeness and into the
abyss of brokenness.
But that is where Jesus is found. He descended into the
abyss. In His crucifixion, He was swallowed up by the
blackness but not extinguished. In truth, the deeper He
descended and the weaker He became, the more He
revealed His power
For the abyss finds its end in Jesus. He established
the ground of the abyss by planting Himself at its
darkest, most sordid point, and then unfurling Himself
there, in glory. He frees the disfigured to rise with
Him in newness of life, in order to restore them to
their true design.
Our private and interpersonal abysses find their end in
Jesus. He establishes the wonder of His love and
creativity in those formerly hateful and barren places. He unfurls there and raises up one like myself to proclaim His substantial truth on the very ground once claimed by the darkness.
Andy Comiskey, Denmark, 1993
I italicized the last sentence of the above in order to point out the incarnational reality inherent in Andy’s words. The weapons of our warfare are incarnational; they have to do with the Real Presence of God with and within us. If I stand and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, and am not living in its incredible, substantive reality, if in other words, I am not married to Christ, and thereby a vessel that both holds and emanates His righteousness, I will be unable to speak and to be the truth our age is dying to hear. This gospel, in its incarnational form, that is, preached in the power of the Presence, delivers souls from the spirit of this age. It gains us a full divorce from Baal and Ashtoroth, Molech and Mammon, and espouses us to God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It heals. I will do no good, no matter what I say and teach, if I am not myself a living epistle, one from whom the very Light and the very Holiness, and the very Glory of God Himself emanates — even explodes into the lives of others who hunger for God and for meaning.
And that means I will be all the more human, fully human. The earth was given to us, the Scriptures tell us. I’ll be of the earth, earthy, feet flat on the ground, toes dug into the good earth, cherishing it. Yet I’ll be looking straight up to God, hands stretched up and out to Ultimate Reality, aware that God’s Spirit lives in me, aware of my immortality and that the more fully human I am, the greater capacity I have to carry and manifest the eternal, the heavenly.
You may want to share what the Lord speaks to your heart in regard to one of Traherne’s phrases. Address such a sharing to MPC, P. O. Box 3792, Peoria IL 61612-3792. Also, you may want to share about a healing you have received in a MPC conference, and we invite you to write that out as well. To write the story of our healing is nearly always to understand and receive more! We are listening in the Presence and celebrating God’s mighty hand upon our lives.
Comments Off on From Leanne’s Archives: Holy Week, 2006
To have the privilege of greeting you once again is precious indeed. As I write, it is Holy Week, and my heart is full to bursting with the message of our crucified and risen Lord and with thanksgiving for our great, unspeakable inheritance in Him. The Paschal message proclaims the victory of the holy over the unholy, the noble over the ignoble, and of a Kingdom whose King reigns in righteousness and enables us to do the same.
For our sake he (God the Father) made him (God the Son) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2 Cor. 5:21-6:1 ESV)
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16 ESV)
Since I attended the Palm Sunday Eucharist, tears of joy, when not falling, are close to the surface. That is because in the Eucharistic liturgy, as we celebrated Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, I had such a heightened sense of the throng’s cries of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” and personal memories came flooding in of the myriad ways our King comes to us, never ceasing to purify, hallow, and strengthen us for the battles we face. Today, for all of us who dearly love the real and the splendor of the truth that streams from it, these battles are increasing and loom ever larger. But in them we find that most faithfully, our King always causes us, in Him, not only to overcome but to be fruitful as through us he invites multitudes of lost and wandering souls to enter His Kingdom and find His healing.
It is no small thing to be wed to Him, to be a church in anticipation of the wedding feast of the Lamb! You may want to ponder Zechariah 14:1-9 and Revelation 19:6-16, and then go back to verses 8 and 14 of Revelation 19 for what it means, as individual members of the bride of Christ, to wear white raiment at that feast and then, in that glistening raiment, to accompany the King of Kings as He returns at the end of time. It is no small thing to be fruit-bearers in the Kingdom. Who of us blood-bought ones can, in the midst of a Palm Sunday Eucharist, meditate on such Scriptures and not be overcome with tears of joy?