You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Prayer’ tag.

I spent a good deal of time praying for the havoc wrought by Hurrican Ike across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico this weekend.  I also hear my own voice (ok, so it’s from the Letter of James!) “Faith without works is dead!”

To that end, I’m going to click on the Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) website today and give something to accompany my prayers.  I respectfully encourage you to do the same with the charitable organization of your choice. I’m designating my contribution to the island nation of Haiti which is desperately poor and has been lashed by 4 hurricanes this season.

I use ERD because their performance in getting high percentages of donations to where they’re needed quickly is outstanding.

Keep praying and give a little to back up God’s care with your action!

Advertisements

As the extent of damage from Hurricane Ike continues to unfold across the islands of the Caribbean and into Texas, Louisiana, Mexico and other places, it’s easy to ask “Where is God in the midst of this devastation and destruction?”  God is most definitely there and here’s an example of just how.

There’s a midrash of Torah that talks about the conversation between an angel and God as God watches the Exodus of the Israelites at the Red Sea. The basic frame of the story goes something like this:

As the Hebrew people were being pursued by the Egyptians toward the Red Sea, God and an angel watched events unfold.  God responded to the faith of Moses and the people in striking the water by parting it so that the whole company could find there way in safety to the other side.  As the people passed through, God and the angel watched silently.

Soon they turned their gaze upon the Egyptian pursuers.  As the last of the 12 tribes of Israel emerged on the opposite bank they began to gather again and prepare for the next leg of their journey, but still in fear of their pursuers.

As the horses, chariots and warriors of Egypt found their way into the passage through the see, God swallowed hard and sighed.  The waters united again and the cry of sorrow echoed through the air and was suddenly an eerily silenced.  Immediately the cheers and rejoicing commenced on the other side of the sea.

Then the angel of the Lord turned to speak to God and saw that tears rolled down the Lord’s cheeks.

“Why are you crying my Lord?”, asked the angel.

“I weep for my children, the Egyptians,” sighed God. And God shook with sobbing.

As Ike’s destruction is revealed, and as we deal with soothing the tears and sorrow of those here on earth in its aftermath, so does God weep over the suffering of any of his children.  My God’s sorrow inspire us to exercise our muscles of compassion in his name.  First by prayer and then by action in reaching out in whatever way we can to support those who weep, God included.

Transfiguration Icon

Transfiguration Icon

Last spring a member of the parish approached me about starting a contemplative prayer group at St. Luke’s.  Needless to say, I was thrilled that inititiave was bubbling up from the community.  Much of what we’ve done in our first two years together has been structural work that, hopefully, will undergird a deepening of the spiritual life of the community.

I have to admit that I was unaware of how unbalanced my own approach to ‘getting things going’ had become.  I mentioned to the Vestry that I was very excited about the new prayer group starting for a number of reasons.  One, it was lay conceived and lay led.  What a great thing!  God’s people praying for the life of the world and the role of their faith community in it.  Secondly, that I believe the attentive gathering of that group has been foundational for the parish.  Whether we sense it or not, the prayers of God’s people for their community is what holds us together.  I believe that the prayers of that group sustains the activity of the parish in many ways.

Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel about the need and blessing of prayer and that it is, as much as anything else, an exercise in aligning our will with the plan of God for the world.

5 ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.*

7 ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 ‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.(Matthew 6:5-10)

Our prayers are not news to God. As we seek to be in tune with the mind and heart of God, our reward will be a clearer vision of God’s will and the courage and confidence to work for it.  That’s Kingdom building of the first degree and worthy or our best efforts.

That being said, I believe that remembering to pray for one another, for things big and small, in whatever way makes sense for us is the glue that continues to hold our community and the world itself together.  Prayer is one of the important exercises that allows the work of God to be done in the world.

Say a little prayer for one another today.  It might be the most important work you do all day!

I’m more hopeful about politics than I’ve been in a long time.  I pray that hope grow into fruitful dialogue.

My prayer is that this hope can be rewarded with a substantive discourse on ideas and not devolve into the politics of name-calling and fear.  I want to say up front that I mean that in both directions, both the left and the right.

Two snippets give me hope (maybe I’m just looking for a half-full glass).

  • Barack Obama’s description of John McCain as ‘a good man’ when talking about his impending nomination as the Republican Presidential Candidate
  • John McCain’s congratulatory message to the Illinois Senator the day following Obama’s nomination

I believe that regardless of our politics, we as people of faith should really pray for, to borrow from the Apostle Paul, “a more excellent way” to emerge as part of this important time in our country and for the life of the world as God’s creation.

To that end I am going to commit myself to praying for God to sustain all of the candidates and not just ‘my’ candidate.  Will you join me in a commitment to such a prayer discipline?

In closing I offer this from the Book of Common Prayer as template for such a discipline.

Almighty God, giver of all good things:
We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land.
They restore us, though we often destroy them.
Heal us.
We thank you for the great resources of this nation. They
make us rich, though we often exploit them.
Forgive us.
We thank you for the men and women who have made this
country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall
short of them.
Inspire us.
We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in
this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we
have often hidden from its light.
Enlighten us.
We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich
variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless
again and again.
Renew us.
Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun.
Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice,
and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when
all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will
glorify your holy Name. Amen.

I listen to NPR every morning while I make coffee (for my wife) and tea (for myself).  I don’t drink as much coffee as I used to, partially because of the havoc it wreaks on my stomach and my blood pressure.  This morning while I was fixin’ caffeine (in both kinds) a story about meditation and blood pressure came on (Meditation vs. Medication).  There is much to recommend this story to all of us but in particular I was grabbed by the following line:

Sometimes, realizing that you’re not in control can make you more effective in matters where you do have control.

The specific context here was in talking to a man who was learning to attend to his breathing and anxiety as he drove instead of his mind racing to things he couldn’t control–traffic, other drivers, cell phone reception, etc.

You know of course that’s the essence of a prayer that has become the mantra for 12 step groups across the world.  It’s has come to be called the Serenity Prayer, but was written, and left untitled by 20th Century Theologian Reihold Neibuhr in 1943.  It’s about action, control it’s also about stillness and surrender.  In short it’s about seeking after God’s will and the courage to do it as we are able.  Here’s the full text of the prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next. Amen.

I love the last part..where he asks only for to be ‘reasonably happy in this life’.  Seeking the will of God is more about the state of the world than my ultimate happiness in this life..that’s for another season of our lives with God.

May we all have the grace to let go of the illusion of control long enough to be reasonably happy today and work for the redemption of the world and the relative happiness of the whole of creation.

When you’re frustrated today–and I trust it’s a question of when, not if–I hope you can take a deep breath, meditate as you know how to do and just accept the world as it is, knowing that its transformation is God’s work and we are invited to participate in that and are not ultimately responsible for making it so.

To quote the title of the NPR story, may we have the grace to just say ‘OM’ (or a reasonable equivalent, a holy word reminding us of the Peace of God).

Be careful out there, we want to see you again!!!

This text from Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 39:11 concluded the Hebrew Scripture reading for the Feast of Bernard of Clairvaux, celebrated today throughout Christendom.

If he lives long, he will leave a name greater than a thousand, and if he goes to rest, it is enough for him.

Bernard is in many ways one of the fathers of modern monasticism. Born to privilege he abandoned it all in order to spend his considerable gifts in the passionate pursuit of establishing truly Christian communities. Though few of us today in full-time pastoral ministry are setting out to establish monasteries we are engaged in very similar endeavor to that of Bernard.

Bernard’s passion (often at the expense of sleep and other frivolous activities) for building the Kingdom through the establishment of praying communities ought to be what the leader of every congregation would do well to imitate. Bernard sensed that the traditions of Jesus and The Way were threatened by an increasingly hostile or at least indifferent secular reality. If we’re honest with ourselves, we live in a similar age, asking for the same kind of compulsive, passionate and thorough proclamation by the Gospel by communities of praying, serving, studying and compassionate followers of Jesus.

We may, none of us, live long enough or cast as long a shadow as Bernard to remembered more than a thousand, but should we spend even a few days chasing as passionately  the life of discipleship for ourselves and those whom we pastor as did Brother Bernard—that will be enough.

Thanks be to God for Bernard.

CC (Christian Century) Blogs

Pages

October 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jan    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

My Personality Type

Click to view my Personality Profile page