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    Entries in prayer (32)


    To Laugh in the Midst of Trial

    Lord, to laugh in the midst of trial and to rejoice in the darkest valley is another way of saying, "Our hope is in you." Fill us with laughter and joy while we work for peace and strive for justice. Amen.

    --From Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, Morning Prayer for 1/27 


    Dear Father Always Near Us

    Dear Father always near us,
    may your name be treasured and loved,
    may your rule be completed in us--
    may your will be done here on earth
    in just the way it is done in heaven.
    Give us today the things we need today,
    and forgive us our sins and impositions on you
    as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us.
    Please don't put us through any trials,
    but deliver us from everything bad.
    Because you are the one in charge,
    and you have all the power,
    and the glory too is all yours--forever--
    which is just the way we want it!

    -- Dallas Willard, A Paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer, in The Divine Conspiracy 



    When I Neglect to Pray, Mine is the Loss.

    Father, I am beginning to know how much I miss when I fail to talk to thee in prayer, and through prayer to receive into my life the strength and the guidance which only thou canst give. Forgive me for the pride and the presumption that makes me continue to struggle to manage my own affairs to the exhaustion of my body, the weariness of my mind, the trial of my faith.

    In a moment like this I know that thou couldst have worked thy good in me with so little strain, with so little effort. And then to thee would have been given the praise and the glory. When I neglect to pray, mine is the loss. Forgive me, Lord. Amen.

    -- From The Prayers of Peter Marshall, edited by Catherine Marshall 


    Give Us Hope So We Can Wait


    Invade our bodies with your hope, dear Lord, that we might manifest the enthusiasm of your kingdom. Give us the energy of children, whose lives seem fired by the wonder of it all. Thank God, you have given us good work, hopeful work. Our lives are not just one pointless thing after another. We have purpose. But give us also your patience. School our hope with humility, recognizing that finally it is a matter of your will being done. Too often our hope turns to optimism, optimism to despair, despair to cynicism. Save our hope by Israel-like patience so that we can learn to wait hopefully in joy. Surely that is why you give us children--signs of hope requiring infinite patience. Give us hope so we can learn to wait. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Amen.
    - Stanley Hauerwas, Prayers Plainly Spoken  


    Why is Prayer a Struggle?

    Here are some excellent thoughts from Ronald Rolheiser:

    We are not, by choice or ideology, a culture set against solitude, interiority, and prayer. Nor are we, in my opinion, more malicious, more pagan, or afraid of interiority than past ages. Where we differ from the past is not so much in badness as in busyness. Most days, we don't pray simply because we don't get around to it.

    Perhaps the best metaphor to describe our hurried and distracted lives is that of a car wash. When you pull up to a car wash, you are instructed to leave your motor running, to take your hands off the steering wheel, and to keep your foot off the brake. The idea is that the machine itself will suck you through.

    For most of us, that's just what our typical day does to us--it sucks us through. We have smartphones and radios that stimulate us before we are fully awake. Many of us are texting friends, checking Facebook and e-mails, watching the news, or listening to music or talk radio before we even shower or eat breakfast. The drive to work follows the same pattern: stimulated and preoccupied, we listen to the radio, talk on our cell phones, and plan the day's agenda. We return home to television, conversation, activities, and preoccupations of all kinds. Eventually we go to bed, where perhaps we read or watch a bit more TV. Finally, we fall asleep. When, in all of this, did we take time to think, to pray, to wonder, to be restful, to be grateful for life, for love, for health, for God? The day just sucked us through.

    Moreover, prayer is not easy because we are greedy for experience. The spiritual writer Henri Nouwen put this well: "I want to pray," he once said, "but I also don't want to miss out on anything--television, movies, socializing with friends, drinking in the world." Because we don't want to miss out on any experience, prayer is truly a discipline. When we sit or kneel in prayer, our natural craving for experience feels starved and begins to protest.

    Ironically, most of us crave solitude. As our lives grow more pressured, as we grow more tired, and as we begin to talk more about burnout, we fantasize about solitude. We imagine it as a peaceful, quiet place, where we are walking by a lake, watching a sunset, or smoking a pipe by the fireplace. But even here, many times we make solitude yet another activity, something we do.

    Solitude, however, is a form of awareness. It's a way of being present and perceptive within all of life. It's having a dimension of reflectiveness in our daily lives that brings with it a sense of gratitude, appreciation, peacefulness, enjoyment, and prayer. It's the sense, within ordinary life, that life is precious, sacred, and enough.

    How do we foster solitude? How do we get a handle on life so it doesn't just suck us through? How do we begin to lay a foundation for prayer in our lives?

    The first step is to "put out into the deep" by remaining quietly in God's presence in solitude, in silence, in prayer. If this is your first time doing this, set aside fifteen minutes for prayer. In time, you might be able to manage thirty minutes.

    Remember: Your heart is made to rest in God.

    If fifteen minutes sounds like a big step, start with one minute. Then stretch it to two. Then three. Then five.

    Create space for solitude. Slow down. Pray. Rest in God.

    To learn more, pick up Rolheiser's book, Prayer: Our Deepest Longing.

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