Tag Archives: Pray

Simple Prayers

12 Aug
Photo via Flickr user Ashley Rose

Photo via Flickr user Ashley Rose

Praying can be intimidating because, well, God can be intimidating. If we have not established a regular prayer practice, that first prayer in a while can feel forced, awkward, inauthentic, or riddled with guilt. Whatever do we say to God? Where do we start?

I usually start by remembering that prayer does not have to be talking, on my knees with my head bowed and my hands crossed. Enjoying things we love–really good reading, music, food, company, exercise etc–can be prayer. Basking in creation is prayer. Action is prayer. Our lives are a prayer to God. I also try to remember that prayer goes better for me when I start not with talking, but with listening. To learn to pray, we must first learn to listen.

Yet, at some point, finding words in prayer is meaningful for me. Speaking words of prayer change my spirit and overflow to my life. Maybe God knows my words before I speak them, but the act of speaking is a way of showing up in God’s presence. Lately, I have circled back to Anne Lamott’s simple words of prayer: Help, Thanks, Wow. It is a helpful framework, a good start that invokes vulnerability, gratitude and awe, three things I want to cultivate in my life. If you find your prayer life is at a loss for word, give it a try.

Help:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
–Psalm 22:1-7,11
Thanks:
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
–Psalm 118:21-29
Wow:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. –Eph 3:14-21

Gospel Reflection for July 24, 2016, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

20 Jul

Scripture Readings: Genesis 18.20-32; Colossians 2.12-14; Luke 11.1-13

Jesus said, “Say this when you pray: Father, may you name be held holy; your kingdom come…”

Jesus encourages us to pray for “the kingdom,” the vision he has for a just and loving society and world. To pray that God’s name be hallowed and that God’s kingdom come is to acknowledge that all barriers to love must be dissolved. Anything that separates race from race, rich from poor, gender from gender, age group from age group, Christian from non-Christian is a barrier to the holiness God wishes to share with believers. Biases have no place in the community that names God our father.  Especially as protests and politics set us against one another, we must cherish all we have in common and respect one another.

Make today a day to act out the Our Father and talk with folks who seem different from yourself. Pray for someone with whom you are angry or hurt.

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Springtime Prayer

3 Apr

Prayer

Earthly Advice from Pope Francis

20 Jul

Pope Francis

In his new encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis asks us to care for our common home, Earth. He says this will take both inner conversion and global action. Take a little time each day this week to consider what our sister Earth needs from you. The numbers in parentheses refer to paragraphs in the encyclical. Type in Laudato Si to read the whole encyclical.

• TALK with each other. Such serious issues need to be “reframed and enriches again and again.” Attend a lecture. Read a book. Listen to a scientist. Open yourself to new ways to see. (16, 60, 185)

• Practice the three Rs. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Perhaps even add a fourth one — Restrain from buying more things. (22, 192)

• Can you walk instead of drive? Take the bus or subway? Share with someone going the same way? Talk to your children about their desire to pollute less. (26, 165)

• Don’t give in to denial or resignation. Think of the environmental issue that most worries you and pray to the Holy Spirit about it. “Come, Holy Spirit. Renew the face of the earth.” (14)

• 200 plants, insects, birds, and mammal becomes extinct each day. What dies when a new mall or casino is built? Are you in the coyote’s home or is he invading yours? Think about what our overbuilding is doing to the natural world. Decide where you will take a stand. (35)

• Pray with St. Francis:Blossoms-Pink

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

• Add your own prayer.

Retreat: “… Advent is a time of darkness, of faith.”

7 Dec

The Advent Retreat invites you into the Sunday scripture readings that take us back in time before Jesus’ birth into the centuries of longing for the messiah, the prince of peace. Jump into any of the four reflections. Pause. Take time for a little solitude in the midst of the rush of December. Look for the light in the rich seed time of our world in its winter sleep, its long evenings when it is good to be home.

Tap into your own spiritual energy. Remember all you are about and value. Fit God into the picture again. Breath.

Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Notice in this photo how the winter sun has risen a little more than the sun in last week's photo.

Before beginning this week’s retreat read the scripture selections for the second Sunday of Advent:

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

Isaiah’s words, “Comfort, give comfort to my people,” which begin the passage in Sunday’s reading, are also the opening words of Handel’s great “Messiah.”  If you are familiar with that moving melody, let it resound in your mind as you celebrate Advent.

These next words from Isaiah also provide the text for the next part of the “Messiah”:

In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in.
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all the people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

These words announce the role of John the Baptist who will come later to prepare the way for the Christ.  John the Baptist, who is the last of the Old Testament prophets and the first of the New Testament prophets, saw his mission as preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah.

We hear the voices of Isaiah and John the Baptist throughout Advent.  John takes his role seriously, pointing always to Jesus.  Always humble, he says he is not worthy to stoop and loosen the sandals of the Christ.  However, he did not hesitate to speak the truth courageously to those in authority like Herod the great.

Light two candles and place yourself in God’s presence.  Ask yourself what valleys in your life need to be filled and what mountain needs to be made low.  In walking your path this Advent are you aware of your need for the repentance and forgiveness which John the Baptist preached?

In your life who has been a John the Baptist for you, pointing you toward a closer following of Christ?  How have you pointed someone else to a deeper relationship with Christ?

John appears a number of times in the readings for Advent.  His annunciation and birth parallel that of Jesus.  You remember the stories of Mary going to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, when she was expecting the birth of her son.  All were amazed at the birth of the son of Zachary and Elizabeth and at the name the angel told his father to give him. The name “John” means “beloved of God.”

Isaiah, John, and Mary are traditionally considered the major figures, and our guides, as we move through Advent.  They all point to and present Jesus to the world.

The angel’s announcement to Mary expresses all the hopes of the people of the Old Testament and their longing for the Messiah.  Messages from God are always something extraordinary but come within the ordinariness of life.  Most likely Mary is not kneeling at a prie-dieu, as later paintings suggested, but doing the ordinary tasks of a first-century Palestinian woman.

At the time the angel says, “You have found favor with God,” Mary has already been living in God’s grace but has yet to accept it more fully.  The angel’s message is the Good News or “gospel” of all time.

Mary’s question, “How can this be?”  shows that she was practical and matter-of-fact.  The answer to this question comes when the angel tells her that her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, is six months pregnant.  This news reassures Mary that “nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary’s response is the first and greatest proclamation of Christian faith.  Calling herself “handmaid” or “servant of the Lord” foreshadow the Acts of the Apostles where Christians are called servants and “handmaids” of the Lord.

On no other authority than her own does Mary say “yes.”  This response reveals a great deal about Mary’s sense of self and about her trust in God.  Because Mary is so completely receptive to God’s word, she is a disciple of Jesus even before his birth.

Reflect for a moment on the angel’s words to Mary, so familiar to Catholics: “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”

At the Annunciation Mary has heard “nothing will be impossible for God.”  And the impossible has already happened to each woman.  For both Mary and Elizabeth God has raised up the lowly in a surprise action and allows something beyond ordinary human experience.

As Mary enters the house of Zachary and Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s joy is marvelous.  She greets Mary with three breathless statements, each beginning with the word, “blessed.”  “Blessed are you among women … blessed is the fruit of your womb … blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

This burst of beatitude is prompted, of course, by the leaping of child (John the Baptist) in Elizabeth’s womb and by her being filled with the Holy Spirit just as Mary has been at the Annunciation.  Elizabeth, the older woman, to whom God has also done great things, is overwhelmed.  She cries out, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord has come to me?”

PRAY:
Picture these two women embracing one another.  How is Mary’s relationship with Elizabeth like your relationship with a close friend or relative?  Advent is a time to pray for and care for women who are pregnant.  May they be blessed.

Visit again on Sunday, December 11th for Living in Hope:  Advent Reflections

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