Tag Archives: prayer

Faith in God’s Abundance – A Prayer

Oh, God, give me more faith in your abundance.

Help me to stop worrying about money so much. Let me spent less time fretting about material things.

Lord, help me to remember how generously you have endowed the earth.

That you have lavished upon us more food than any of us can consume. More clothing than any of us can wear. More treasures than we can carry.

Help me to realize what my real needs are. And to be thankful. For as long as I trust in You, all these needs are being met and will continue to be met.

–    Marjorie Holmes, in I’ve Got to Talk to Somebody, God

Ascribed to Grace, by Augustine

Lord, I will love you, and give thanks to you, and confess to your name, since you have forgiven me so many evils and so many impious works. To your grace and to your mercy I ascribe it that you have dissolved my sins as if they were ice.

To your grace I ascribe also whatsoever evils I have not done. For what evil is there that I, who even loved the crime for its own sake, might not have done? I confess that you have forgiven me all my sins, both those which I have done by my own choice and those which, under your guidance, I have not committed.

– St. Augustine, Confessions

Who Doesn’t Pray?

Who of us, however faithful or faithless, doesn’t pray in a moment when the lump on the breast turns out to be malignant? Or in another moment when an officer calls to report an accident in which a loved one has been critically injured?

Who of us doesn’t pray at the birth of a child? Or at the death of a parent? At the Bar Mitzvah of a son or at the wedding of a daughter? Who of us doesn’t pray when a radio bulletin tells a nation its president has been shot or when a television broadcast tells a community that one of its children has been kidnapped? Who of us doesn’t pray when the young men and women of our country are sent into battle? Or when a baby has a temperature of 106?

Who of us doesn’t pray then?

Some prayers are wept in the foxholes of life; others, whispered in the serenity of a spring day. Some are spoken in innocence; others in repentance. Some, in faith; other in doubt.

Prayers are as diverse as the people who pray them, but together they reflect a universal longing for God. – Ken Gire, Between Heaven and Earth

Why Do People Pray?

on prayerSince the dawn of time people have prayed for all kinds of reasons and to all kinds of deities. They have prayed to Amon Ra, the Egyptian sun God, and to the pantheon of petty and capricious gods of the Greeks and Romans. Some have prayed to the earth; others to the sky. Some have prayed to Ball, the Canaanite deity; others to Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. Some have prayed to Allah; others to Jesus. Some have prayed to a “higher power”; others to patron saints. Some, to angels; others to Mary, mother of God.

And though the object of their prayers differs, sometimes dramatically, the subject of their prayers doesn’t. Not substantially, anyway. Regardless of their faith, or lack of it, all people seem to realize the tenuousness of their humanity and their dependence of someone or something greater than themselves. – Ken Gire, Between Heaven and Earth

Who Prays?

the tidal pull of prayerWho prays?

In a word, everybody.

Or almost everybody. People who pray come from all ages and all walks of life. From the very young to the very old. From teenagers to parents of teenagers. From monks to married couples. From Jews to Christians. From Catholics to Protestants. Popes to prostitutes. American Indians to agnostics.

Yes, agnostics. Even atheists. Surveys indicate that nearly one in five of them prays daily. Hedging their bets, maybe. Or perhaps they are drawn to prayer by a tidal pull on the ragged shores of their soul, a pull so irresistible it overcomes even the seawalls of their own unbelief.

The more appropriate question, maybe, is not who prays … but who doesn’t? – Ken Gire, “Between Heaven and Earth”

Nothing Ventured …

Maybe some say, “I know human love, and I know something of its power to heal, to set free, to give meaning and peace, but God’s love I know only as a phrase.” Maybe others also say this, “For all the power that human love has to heal, there is something deep within me and within the people I know best that is not healed but aches with longing still. So if God’s love is powerful enough to reach that deep, how do I find it? How?”

If that is really the question, if we are really seeking this power, then I have one thing to say–perhaps it is not the only thing, but it is enormously important: ask for it. There is something in me that recoils a little at speaking so directly and childishly, but I speak this way anyway because it is the most important thing I have in me to say. Ask, and you will receive. And there is the other side to it too: if you have never known the power of God’s love, then maybe it is because you have never asked to know it – I mean really asked, expecting an answer.

I am saying just this: go to him the way the father of the sick boy did and ask him. Pray to him, is what I am saying. In whatever words you have. And if the little voice that is inside all of us as the inheritance of generations of unfaith, if this little voice inside says, “But I don’t believe. I don’t believe,” don’t worry too much. Just keep on anyway. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” is the best any of us can do really, but thank God it is enough.

– Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

How Many Times?

 

Well, everybody’s got a story to tell
And everybody’s got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there’s beauty here
‘Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can’t let go, I can’t move on
I want to believe there’s meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this?”
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now

Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I go to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this?”
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now

Though I walk,
Though I Walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, Please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strenth?

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this?”
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

In the Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

Debris hang on basketball post near thousands of houses damaged after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city

Last year, my husband and I went to see “The Impossible.” It’s a movie, based on a true story, that follows a single family in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. It was an intense yet inspiring movie, as the way each family member survived and reunited was nothing short of miraculous. At the end, however, both my husband and I had the same response. “What about everyone else?”

We both clearly remembered the tsunami; we were in India at the time. Whole regions along the coast where my husband grew up (Chennai) were devastated by the surging waves. Over 220,000 people died, making it one of the most tragic earthquakes/tsunamis in history. Deaths were reported as far away as 5,000 miles from the quake’s epicenter. I guess after a movie that portrayed such an intense happening, we had expected some sort of reference to the many lives that were lost, a remembrance of those who were not reunited with their loved ones, those who didn’t have a home to return to. Without that, something was missing from the movie.

On Friday, Typhoon Haiyan slammed onto the shores of the Philippines, leveling entire villages and leaving tens of thousands of people dead or unaccounted for. Many communities have not yet even been reached, so the total number of lives lost could be far higher than originally estimated.

After a certain number, things start to blur. We have a hard time comprehending just how much a thousand is. Ten thousand. Twenty. It easily becomes a mere statistic. We gloss over it and say, “What a tragedy” and go back to our lives. But for that incomprehensible number of people, life will never be the same. Even now, survivors are starving, struggling to find water that won’t leave them with dysentery, stumbling over the ruins of their homes, hoping against hope to find their missing family members.

What if that was me? What would I want? What would I be hoping for, praying for?

Definitely, that I wouldn’t be forgotten, overlooked. That it wouldn’t be seen as just another sad story in the news while people go on to making their plans for the holidays, people with their homes, lives, and families intact.

What can be done in the aftermath of such a tragedy? A lot.

Look up relief organizations and see what you can do to help. Consider, instead of spending as much on Christmas gifts this year, making a donation towards relief efforts. Your friends and family will understand; maybe you could all do it together.

Remember. Remember that after things get “back to normal” for many, they will never be completely normal again for thousands of people. It will take not weeks, not months, but years to rebuild after such complete devastation. And even after that, the loss of a family member or friend leaves a hole in someone’s heart that lasts a lifetime.

And pray. Pray for the comfort and healing of those whose lives and homes have been torn apart. Pray for the strength and wisdom of relief workers. Pray that more people will seek to help in some way. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.

[Photo used from “All Voices: After Haiyan“]

What A Friend

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.

Words: Joseph Scriven (1857)

Sometime this week (most likely for “Saturday Stories“) I will share the story of Joseph Scriven. One amazing guy.

Live the Questions

road in the darkYesterday I posted a song, “Help Me Find It“, that is a prayer on finding God’s will for one’s life, or perhaps for a stage in life. Sometimes, though, we don’t find it right away. Sometimes we feel we’re walking in dark, aimless or at the very least directionally-impaired.

Here is advice from a poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, from his book Letters to a Young Poet … advice for just such times:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.

Do not now seek the answer, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is, to live everything.

Live the questions now.

Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

A Reason, A Purpose

At times I think that in my life I’ve done more harm than good.

And I regret not having done those things I know I should.

 

At times it seems as if a mountain blocks my way

And though I’ve heard “It comes to pass,” the sorrow seeks to stay.

 

At times I feel the way is harder than my heart can bear

Times I reach out and feel that there is nothing, no one, there

 

At times I seek to pray but cannot say a word

And I admit I wonder if a single prayer was heard

 

Then there are times that joy abiding comes to fill my heart

Times I understand that I play a special, unique part

In a theme that runs so deep it was formed before time started

In a love so vast that from it none could e’er be parted

 

In a reason for this life that calls unto my very soul

In a purpose helping others find that which makes them whole

In a meaning that goes beyond life’s passing, changing times

Whispered by the One who is writing my soul’s rhyme

 

[Reblogged from Bonita Jewel’s Weblog]

Strength to Ask the Right Questions

[Reposted from Edmund Rice Christian Brothers]

When Elie Wiesel was liberated from Buchenwald in 1945, having also been in Birkenau, Auschwitz and Buna, he imposed a ten-year vow of silence upon himself before trying to describe what had happened to him and over six million Jews. He believed that to try to write of the experience was to cheapen the memory of the suffering of those who had died – so unbelievably horrible was it. He was persuaded to break his self-imposed silence because he came to believe that to forget the past and the evil that had taken place was a greater dishonoring of the dead.

In his book, “Night” he speaks about how he came to be the sensitive person he was, how he tried to find God and how he “lost” God, until he discovered himself anew. Speaking of his early search in childhood he writes:

I found a master . . .  for myself, and Moshe the Beadle.

He had noticed me one day at dusk, when I was praying.

“Why do you weep when you pray?” he asked me, as though he had known me a long time.

“I don’t know why,” I answered, greatly disturbed.

The question had never entered my head. I wept because – because of something inside me that felt the need for tears. That was all I knew.

“Why do you pray?” he asked me, after a moment.

Why did I pray? A strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe? “I don’t know why,” I said, even more disturbed and ill at ease. “I don’t know why.”

After that day I saw him often. Moshe the Beadle explained to me with great insistence that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer.

“We raise ourselves towards God by the questions we ask God,” he was fond of repeating. “That is the true dialogue. We question God and God answers. But we don’t understand His answers. We can’t understand them. Because they come from the depths of the soul, and they stay there until death. You will find the true answers, Eliezer, only within yourself!”

“And why do you pray, Moshe?” I asked him.

“I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.”

Like a Bird in a Cage

Bird in a Cage“Who am I?”

It is a question we can never fully answer, for we see life — and ourselves — through a tinted window of sorts. But one day, one day we will see and know as we are known.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the following poem. He was a man who was willing to sacrifice his life and future for what he believed in. [Read more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Wikipedia]. He was a German who opposed the genocide of the Jews during WWII. Because he was not afraid to speak out against the evils of his time, he was arrested, sent to prison, and hanged less than a month before Germany surrendered.

In his poem, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrestles to understand who he is — that which people saw of him, amazed at his cheerfulness, calmness and strength in the face of his hopeless plight in prison. Or was he what he knew of himself — “restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage”?

Are we what others see of us? What we know of ourselves? Is this all we are? Or are we more? More, perhaps, than we can even imagine?

 

“Who Am I?”

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
like a Squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
freely and friendly and clearly,
as though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
equally, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
tossing in expectation of great events,
powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person to-day and to-morrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer