Prayers for the Journey

earth touches heaven

Earth touches heaven – photo by Coe Hutchison

Here is the week’s round up of facebook prayers. Enjoy

Life is a gift from God,

Let us cherish it

Love is the language of God’s kingdom,

Let us practice it,

Jesus is the way to God’s heart,

Let us follow him.

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God of love and compassion,

God of hope and promise,

God of faithfulness and truth,

May we in all things see your face today,

That we might trust and obey.

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God of wonder and might,

God of glory and majesty,

God of joy and faithfulness,

Help us to see, to know, to trust,

That you are the One in whom all life holds secure.

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Jesus you say

Peace, rest in me,

Peace, hold firm to me,

Peace, trust in me.

You are the way the truth and the life,

May we trust in you and never be afraid.

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God your words are truth,

Your ways are life,

Your purposes are eternal,

May we look to you and never be afraid.

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Lead us Lord Jesus Christ into your ways of righteousness.

Let your truth go before us,

Let your justice stand behind us,

Let your love surround us.

Keep us Lord in the places where your presence shines.

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The glory of God’s presence surrounds me

The wonder of Christ’s love holds me close

The comfort of the Spirit makes me strong

God you who are the three in one, the one in three

Be with me forever.

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Teach us to pray O Lord,

Draw us closer to you, to your world , to each other.

Teach us to pray, O Lord,

With compassion and love and forgiveness.

Teach us to pray, O Lord,

Until all that we are and all that we do,

Becomes a gift of prayer to you.

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Conversations with my Granddaughter: On Prayer by Alex Tang

Today’s post is a contribution for the series Lord Teach Us to Pray, written by Dr. Alex Tang.  Alex is a spiritual director, avid social media technocrati, consultant paediatrician in a private hospital, associate professor with Monash University Malaysia, and lay practical theologian and director of Spiritual Formation Institute in Malaysia. He blogs at Random Musings from a Doctor’s Chair <www.draltang01.blogspot.com>, muses at Kairos Spiritual Formation<www.kairos2.com> and hangs out at Facebook <www.facebook.com/dr.alex.tang>. He is also very excited about his granddaughter who arrived at the beginning of this year.

 
Hello little one,
You woke up very early this morning, didn’t you? Your Mummy noticed that you have been waking up very early but being the good girl you are, you allow her to sleep. You know she works hard at her job in the daytime. You are contented to lie in the dark. Darkness is not scary to you as it reminds you of your time in your Mummy’s womb. It is more than five months since you left that comfortable place to come into this world. To amuse yourself you try a push up. The fact that you are not able to do a push up does not bother you, as you know your body is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. Your guardian angel told you this. At this moment you can only lift up your head and you are happy just to do a ‘head up’. You delight in your body, don’t you? Everyday you discover something new you can do. And all the big people become so happy and excited when you show them the new skill you have developed. It takes so little to make the big people happy. You like making them happy.
You then fall asleep, but you make sure you wake up in time to see Mummy and Daddy leave the house. Mummy and Daddy do an important thing called ‘work’ in some far away place so you want to send them off happy. You know that smiling makes them happy so you make sure that they each receive a big one. You do not worry because as they have taken care of you, you know that a very big person (your guardian angel called him God) will take care of them.
After they left you look forward to going to the park with your Nai Nai (grandma). Somehow, watching the fresh morning sunlight brightening the trees and bushes makes you happy. You feel good and fulfilled; a feeling similar to after a good feed at your Mummy’s breasts and you are resting on her, feeling her warmth and softness. You hope you will catch another glimpse of that yellow red bird that flies in the sky. Some big people like to stop and make funny faces or noises at you. You do not mind as this is your opportunity to make them happy. A full blast of your smile and they walk away with lighter steps.  At times some big people walked past you without stopping or looking at you. You feel sad and wish them to be happy.
Then it is back to the house for a warm bath, a bottle of milk and a nap. You hope that you will dream again of the place of brightness, goodness and happiness. In that place there is a sense of that very big person and you like him very much. Then you wake for more milk, to discover new things until you are tired, then sleep. When you wake again, you know Mummy and Daddy will be coming home soon. You can’t wait to be with them and make them happy.
Little one, Grampa is thinking about a blog post for a series called, Lord teach us to pray. I have been reading and thinking hard. Then you smiled at me. You know, little one, you are wise beyond your months. You may not know what prayer is but you know how to pray. You came into being by prayer and into the world by prayer. And now you are a living prayer. You must be what St. Paul had in mind when he taught us to ‘pray unceasingly’. Most big people think that praying is saying words. But you know better. Prayer is being – in connection with the people you love, the big person and the world you are in.

Lord Teach Us To Pray: Sailing Over the Sea of Affliction by Steve Wichkam

 Three_Master_in_Rough_Sea_by_Fitz_Hugh_Lane

Three_Master_in_Rough_Sea_by_Fitz_Hugh_Lane

This morning’s post in the series Lord Teach Us to Pray is written by Steve Wickham, author of “Grow In GOD” ebook, is a Registered Safety Practitioner (BSc, FSIA, RSP [Australia]), a writer, and an active online Christian minister (GradDipBib&Min). His social media links: Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/steve.j.wickham & http://www.facebook.com/stevewickhamauthor and Twitter: http://twitter.com/sjwickhamauthor . View the original post here

This post seemed particularly applicable this morning because Tom is in hospital. Nothing serious but I would appreciate your prayers.

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The lady’s torment, seemingly, was the inability to experience God in prayer:
“Beholding me rowing with laborious toil, the breath of Your divine operations turned in my favor and carried me full sail over this sea of affliction.”
~Madame Guyon (1648–1717)
Of course, we can all relate. Times when God mysteriously vanished from all sensation and view, we were perplexed, really, as to what to do.
The presumption of Madame Guyon’s affliction is her inability to pray with gifted ease; to not have possessed yet, although still only in her teen years, what two spiritual mentors possessed with aplomb. And although our afflictions vary, they are just as tortuous, for they appear impossible for us to be released from.
God’s Miracles – A Truly Marvellous Paradox
Try as we might, as hard as we can, taking care never to give up, we may be farther from our objective than ever. Such an experience is infuriating. We deserve the thing we a richly want, ‘says’ the human mind for things.
But the thinking of God and the ways of God are worlds, even realms, different.
What Madame Guyon experienced, and what we too may have experienced, is the inexplicable miracle of God’s instant gifting. When all efforts ceased and she just came, bereft in her tears, sullen to all effort, and wanting nothing other than God, God gave.
God’s miracles are transformative in a world where the transformative is pricelessly rare. Miracles escape the perception of nearly everyone, let alone their grasp. And just like happiness, God’s miracles elude us the instant we insist on them. If we cannot order humanity around and get what we want, how are we to order God around to get what we want? God desires a particular heart. When that heart comes, God gives.
Understanding this, then, helps us as we come before God, to request of the divine operation that shall carry us over this sea of affliction.
When We Want Nothing Other Than God
The vehicle that carries us over the sea of affliction is God himself. There are no methods, no trinkets, and no programs that do it; only God.
And as we give ourselves over to the divine operation, having nothing of ourselves left over to steer our ship, and even as we experience the temporary misfortune of stormy despair, God breathes through us. Almost as if we rested on the stilled ocean bottom, completely hopeless, God resurrects us in our perfect willingness to commune.
This is a very difficult place to get to, seemingly. But once we have arrived, once-for-all-time do we know how to get back there. We now have the ticket-to-ride. And strangely enough God brings us back there, periodically, as a sweetly glorious reminder of his Presence. This is prayer in its most basic form.
One image: of God there, in the midst of our affliction, with us. This image, this experience, just once, transforms our lives forever. No future affliction will we meet the same way. Fear gives way to faith. And faith is our new way.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

What Would You Grab In A Fire

Waldo Canyon Wildfire - photo by Lane Arnold

Waldo Canyon Wildfire – photo by Lane Arnold

I have just read this prayer poignant prayer written by Lane Arnold and forwarded to me by one of my facebook friends. My heart aches for her and the many others who have lost homes and possessions in these devastating fires that have swept through parts of Colorado forcing at least 32,000 to evacuate their homes.

The Colorado Springs fires may have burned our house but nothing can burn our home. For You, Lord Jesus, Your Presence, Your heart, Your kingdom are our forever home.

A couple of days ago Lane posted this on her blog and its words have resonated with me this morning.

My mind runs as fast as a wildfire. What’ll I pack if we have to evacuate? What’s important to have with me as the fire potentially threatens to hop ridges, careen across canyons, and whirl on the winds?

I look across the room into those sparkling blue eyes of my husband and my son’s thoughtful brown ones. Here are my two greatest tangible values in this home. I can walk away with these two and I will have lost nothing of great value. It’s that simple. My beloveds, here and afar, are my greatest tangible value beyond God Himself…..

What leap out are memories. My heart that’s been pounding full force grows calm, full of prayerful gratitude as I go. Smiles, laughter, even tears come. A snapshot on my desk of my three little ones, singing to me in their yellow slickers one long-ago rainy Georgia afternoon. Photographs my daughter gave me one Christmas from the travels we did together in Australia. The wooden cross in the kitchen from a women I’d mentored. A silly line drawing on the bookshelf, created thirty years ago, which one son found and recently framed for Mother’s Day. A woodcut and poem another son wrapped up for my birthday. The place my husband and I gather and pray each morning for our children and grandchildren. . A tiny angel ornament from a friend who’d been in Haiti. A watercolor from a prayer partner. The collage of childhood photos from my children’s life that greets me each morning upon my dresser. A bookcase full of journals, notes from almost sixty years worth of living. The photo of my husband and I at our high school prom and another one of our wedding in 2008. Love notes from our courtship. A few of these join the stash of things I’ll take with me.

Read the entire post here

Friends, families, community, memories. These are the important things that all of us miss the most when they are gone. It is a shame that often it takes a crisis like this for us to realize it. Nothing else apart from God really matters.

So as you pray for those who have lost homes and possessions this morning ask yourself What would you grab if the fires come your way? and may our hearts well up with gratitude for the friends and family and community   within which God has placed us.

Say YES! to This – My Favourite Green Resources

Reaching for Resources

Reaching for Resources

Ever wondered where I find all those interesting articles I post? Here are a couple of places I monitor regularly.

One of Tom’s and my favourtie magazines is YES Magazine and I wanted to share it with you.

The YES website has posted some great articles in the last few weeks on community. Here are my favourites

Ten Ways to Love Where You Live by Ross Chapin

How to build community here and now—because neighborhoods are more than houses in proximity. Read the article here

Cheaper Together. How neighbours Invest in Community by by Miriam Axel-LuteJohn Emmeus DavisHarold Simon.

Cooperative financing and community land trusts keep rents affordable and homeownership within reach. Read here

Inhabitat: Design will save the world is another great site with very innovative housing and environmental designs like this one:  PHOTOS: Get a Sneak Peek of HWKN’s Giant Blue Smog-Eating Wendy Sculpture Before It Opens Next Week | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

And Grist Magazine is always worth a visit. For example I loved this article Have Sledgehammer will farm

I also love to check out the latest at ECHO, ; Plant with Purpose and A Rocha

Obviously this is only a very short list of possible sites to visit for environmental issues. I would love to put together a more comprehensive list. So what are your favourite sites to visit?

So what are your favourite websites on environmental issues, green living and community?

Reporting on Wild Goose East 2012

Tom & I at the Mustard Seed/Overflow booth at Wild Goose

Tom & I at the Mustard Seed/Overflow booth at Wild Goose

Tom and I are back home after several wonderful days at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. It was hot, humid and dusty but in spite of that we had a wonderful time. Tom was in fine form talking about intentional community and moving beyond the Western dream and I had fun speaking on reimagining how we pray.

Tom was in fine form

Tom was in fine form

More than anything we enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones. Had lots of good discussions, shared lots about the Mustard Seed Village and Cascadia and just thoroughly enjoyed a relaxed but provokative festival.

Together with fellow Australian Dave Andrews

Together with fellow Australian Dave Andrews

I also loved the grievance wall and the opportunity for people to share their frustrations with life & faith

Grievance wall Wild Goose festival

Grievance wall Wild Goose festival

What I didn’t enjoy – having to check for ticks every day and came home covered in itchy bites.

Uninvited guests

Uninvited guests

You can check out my complete festival album on facebook. enjoy

Still to come for the summer – Creative World Festival in Mission B.C. and Wild Goose West 

Prayers for the Journey

earth touches heaven

Earth touches heaven – photo by Coe Hutchison

This week’s round up of prayers is written from North Carolina where I am attending the Wild Goose Festival.

Teach us to pray O Lord,

Draw us closer to you, to your world , to each other.

Teach us to pray, O Lord,

With compassion and love and forgiveness.

Teach us to pray, O Lord,

Until all that we are and all that we do,

Becomes a gift of prayer to you.Teach us to pray O Lord,

Draw us closer to you, to your world , to each other.

Teach us to pray, O Lord,

With compassion and love and forgiveness.

Teach us to pray, O Lord,

Until all that we are and all that we do,

Becomes a gift of prayer to you.

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The glory of God’s presence surrounds me

The wonder of Christ’s love holds me close

The comfort of the Spirit makes me strong

God you who are the three in one, the one in three

Be with me forever.

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Lord God almighty,

You are a shield of love,

You are a rock of protection,

You are a God of unfailing love.

I trust in you with all my heart,

My future is in your hands.

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Here is a beautiful prayer written my my friend Gerard Kelly for his twitter feed @twitturgies.

Rumours of your kingdom God rise around me. The soil itself stirs. The winds bring whispers of you. My heart too cries welcome

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God protect and bless us,

From enemies seen and unseen.

Be like a pillar of fire before us,

Be like a cloud of glory around us,

Be like a rock of safety beneath us,

Keep us Lord in the shadow of you wings.

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let us rejoice and sing,

For the wonder of God’s love.

For the joy of Christ’s salvation.

For the glory of the Spirit’s presence.

Let us give thanks and praise,

For we are surrounded by a shield of love.

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Twitturgies by Gerard Kelly

This is the second post in the series Lord Teach Us To PrayIt was originally posted in 2009 as part of a series on What is a Spiritual Practice, but is is so good that I wanted to reblog it as part of this series on prayer.

Gerard Kelly and his wife Chrissie founded and co-lead The Bless Network, a growing family of talented and passionate young leaders working for the transformation of Europe. Bless uses short-term mission placements on mainland Europe as a learning tools, empower young adults to grow through ‘missional formation’: encountering the God of mission and finding purpose in the mission of God. The Kelly’s live in France, where bless are developing an intentional community and missional base on a former cider farm in Normandy.

Gerard prays on twitter at twitter.com/twitturgies. Gerard and Chrissie have co-authored ‘Intimate with the Ultimate’, a popular guide to the life of prayer published by Authentic in 2009. Gerard has published around 10 other titles, including ‘Twitturgies’ which is a collection of some of his Twitter prayers.

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Gerard and Chrissie Kelly

Gerard and Chrissie Kelly

As reported in London’s Independent and around the world, Ireland’s top Catholic Cardinal Sean Bray has urged his flock to use Twitter as a means of prayer. In a speech in honour of the late Father Patrick Peyton, the Priest famous for coining the phrase “the family that prays together stays together,” Cardinal Bray insists that a new movement of prayer can arise using new technology and social networks.

Publicity-seeking hype, or a genuine call to prayer? Can social networks genuinely become part of spiritual discipline in the 21st Century?

My own experiment with prayer on Twitter would suggest that they well might. At the end of February this year, I was reflecting on what value Twitter might have in my own life. It was just days after the Amsterdam air incident, when a Turkish jet crash-landed in a field a few kilometers from my home. Many people from our church community were involved in the rescue efforts and in treating the victims as they were rushed to local hospitals. And many others were astounded by the speed at which Twitter users were able to inform others of the crash. This was a week in which Twitter, in more ways than one, got everybody talking. And it got me thinking. Two things happened to me as a result. The first was a prayer that rose in my heart: “This day, Lord, be born in me. This day teach. This day heal. This day win, in death, surprising prizes. This day rise, this day rise in me.”

The second was a word: Twitturgies. Why not use Twitter as a means of prayer, all the time accepting the constraints of communication in less than 140 characters? In essence I simply took the Twitter question “What are you doing?” and translated it as “What are you praying?” taking the prayers I was praying in any case and crafting them into personal liturgies.

Two hundred and twenty-four Twitturgies later, the result has been an unexpected change in my own life of prayer. Others have expressed appreciation for the prayers they have received on Twitter, but the real benefits have been in my own spirituality. By allowing my commitment to Twitturgies to force upon me the regular question, “What are you praying?” the practice of writing Twitturgies has blown a fresh breeze through my prayers.

There are three key ways in which this has really helped me: Firstly, it has empowered me to pray frequent, short prayers, peppering my day with snatched moments of prayer, rather than waiting for the rare occasions when I can spend focused hours praying. I still seek out those times when I can, but I am praying more overall by adding these shorter prayers. I don’t update Twitturgies at fixed times, but they are often early-morning or late-evening “tweets,” with whatever opportunities I can find in between to use my computer or phone to pray.

Secondly, the forced constraint of 140 characters brings incredible focus to my prayers. On many occasions I have been surprised by the clarity that emerges. Twitturgies are shared with others, so they have to be interesting, accessible, and easy to understand—criteria that should be perhaps applied to prayer more often. Twitter posts are the new Haiku, and as the Japanese have known for centuries, the constraints of form do not stifle creativity: they give it depth. The challenge of expressing heartfelt prayers in such short sentences has been a new discipline in itself.

Lastly, the practice has made me newly conscious of my own prayers and longings. My aim is that Twitturgies be authentic—that is, that they genuinely reflect something I am praying about. They are prayers, not poems as such. I have to ask myself, “What do I want to say to God right at this moment?” “What is on my heart today?” The questions become part of the discipline. The result of this is that I am both a reader and a writer of Twitturgies; the construction of these prayers speaks to my heart also. And because they are short and sharp, they capture very succinctly what is going on in my soul at a given moment. I archive all the prayers so they are also a kind of spiritual journal. I can look back over a day, or a series of days, and see a pattern in the prayers that have emerged. “Reading” this pattern against the events of that day or days helps me to reflect on my own spiritual journey more deeply.

Twitter has become, for me, a vital part of my prayer life. Because it is intended to be a mobile medium (I write as often from my phone as from my laptop), it is a go-anywhere prayerbook. I have prayed “twitturgically” in between appointments, walking home from the office, during a coffee break, in a worship service, and in the last moments before sleep. Perhaps Twitter can become a kind of technological breath-prayer, a “pray without ceasing” application for any of us.

Life As Prayer by Roy Goble

This morning’s post is the first in the series Lord Teach Us To PrayIt is written by Roy Goble the owner of the family real estate investment firm Goble Properties.  He is also the President of PathLight International, which serves at-risk youth by providing educational opportunities that integrate faith and learning.  Roy is a Trustee of Westmont College, Chair of the Board for The SOLD Project, and is founder of several non-profit organizations.  He and his wife D’Aun live in Pleasanton, California.  You can read more about Roy at www.junkyardwisdom.com where this post first appeared and follow him on twitter at @roygoble.

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Many years ago, when I was far younger than today, I was interviewing a person for an important leadership position at a ministry. He was about my age and I asked him to describe his prayer life. He answered, “My life is a prayer.”

That’s all he said. I sat there waiting for him to elaborate. He didn’t.

Curious, I asked the typical follow-up questions. How do you do that? What does it look like? Are there exercises to follow? How can you attain such intimacy with God at such a young age? I wanted an answer that helped me understand how it was even possible. But he basically shrugged and said, “It just is. I can’t really explain it.”

Frankly, the answer made me nervous about this candidate. A conversation with wiser friends calmed me as they explained how different faith traditions view prayer in different ways. Eventually we hired him and he worked for many years with the organization.

But I still think about his response. Or more accurately, I think about living a life in such a way that it is pure prayer. How is it that every thought, action, and breath reflects such a spiritual richness?

A simple poem by Fr Gilbert Shaw sets up the question:

Prayer
is the turning of our whole mind,
our whole being,
towards God.

I want that, of course.  It sounds wonderful. But how do you get it? The idea of a life that is prayer sounds great but seems impossible. A part of the mosaic within my brain understands that there is no definitive methodology, but my linear side is completely frustrated by that.

This is very Western of me, I’m told.  And I agree that it is. But that doesn’t answer my question.  Besides, the Western faith tradition has a long history of mystics and poets who found great joy in struggling with the incomprehensible idea of living a life of prayer.  Brother Lawrence and his pots and pans comes to mind. Learning from those who walked down this path before me has been helpful … to a point.

Shaw also writes:

The purpose of living is not to learn to make prayer,
but to become prayer; to live in and for God
according to the divine call, wholly surrendered to
the Spirit’s activity in the soul for the glory of God.

That’s somewhat more helpful because it equates the idea with something we become. It’s an action. But what action? I keep coming back to the desire for something tangible. It all seems like hard mental work to figure this stuff out, and I would rather just not think about it.

But then that’s the point where I stop and smile. I have learned that we need to be thinking about it. God likes it when we wrestle with such things.

Over time I have come to understand that this struggle to understand is exactly what God wants. My life is prayer only when it is a life of longing for God. The mental sweat that comes from striving to grow spiritually is part of connecting with God’s heart. And God considers it pure joy to meet us in that place.

Or said another way, what we find to be work may well be what God finds to be praise.

Making Bread

Bread - the staple of Life

Bread – the staple of Life

Yesterday our summer intern Chris Holcomb made bread – not the fast bread machine type, not the intensive “knead for 10 minutes” type but the slow natural “lets take 24 hours to do this” type. Amazingly it is not labour intensive – a few minutes at a time is all it takes. It was the best home made bread I have tasted for a long time so I thought that I would share the recipe plus links to other articles on no knead bread that I thought may interest some of you.

What it made me realize however is that here is another aspect of life in which we so often miss the best because we want it in a hurry. Our bread machines make 1 hour bread for a quick loaf or else we dash to the store for a basic mass produced loaf because we think we don’t have time. Makes me think of the way we treat our faith. We want a quick fix. We want it now and we are not particularly concerned if it lacks flavour and quality.

Jesus the bread of life is I think like this slow process bread – something to take our time over. Something to savour and enjoy. Something that has us wanting to come back for more all the time.

All that said here is the recipe:

1 ib unbleached white flour

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups water

Baking stone or cookie sheet, Pizza peel or heavy sheet of cardboard

Starting the night before baking day, in a large mixing bowl use your hands to mix the flour, yeast, salt and enough water to form a soft and sticky dough. Cover and let the dough rise overnight at room temperature. This long cool rise (don’t use warm water) lets the the yeast and various enzymes develop maximum flavour in the dough and also makes for a chewy texture. When you get up in the morning, wet your hands, lift the dough onto a flat, wet surface, then gently stretch it and fold it in half 2 – 4 times. Return dough to the same bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size. While the bread is in its second round of rising line a bowl with a cotton or linen cloth heavily dusted with flour. When the dough has doubled turn it out onto a work surface and with wet hands stretch and fold, and turn 2 – 4 times until dough begins to stiffen and assume the shape of a ball.

Place the ball into the bowl on the well-floured cloth. Cover and let rise until the dough has almost doubled again. (1 – 4 hours depending on room temp). Turn onto pizza peel or well floured piece of heavy cardboard. Slide onto a baking stone or cookie sheet. Bake at 500F until the crust is golden brown on top and the bottom crust is hard and thumps like a drum when you tap it (about 30 – 40 minutes). Allow to cool before slicing.

The recipe comes from Mother earth News December 2010/January 2011. I could not find the same recipe on line but came across these other articles and recipes at Mother Earth that are definitely worth reading and experimenting with:

Easy No Knead Crusty Bread

Healthy No Knead Bread Recipes

Five Minutes a Day For Fresh Baked Bread

And these great looking recipes from Grit: Rural American Know How

You might also enjoy this video clip.