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Praying the Ordinary

Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things . . . as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value. – Teilhard de Chardin

Richard Foster writes that “prayers arising out of the context of the family are perhaps the most common expression of Praying the Ordinary.”

Foster prays

Almighty, most holy, most high God, thank you for paying attention to small things.  Thank you for valuing the insignificant.  Thank you for being interested in the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.  Thank you for caring about me.

In Jesus- name. — Amen.


prayer

PRAYER

Lord, I was ever greedy of life, my attention always straining toward the parts of it that had not yet come . . . toward what was about to be, or might be, or hopefully would be, and especially toward those things that, by Your mercy, might turn out not to be after all.

I panted with longing to suck each segment of life dry of its pleasures.  I plotted, with my self but despite myself, about tomorrow . . . about the “later” that was constantly morphing into now.  You know how I worked, Lord, recklessly but prayerfully, to set time’s courses and, in Your name, to sculpt them to my intention to my definition of good.

But I am old now, Lord, and my prayers grown old as well.  So it is that daily I am drawn, as here, to pray, “Deliver me, My Lord, from this my great sin, and take me, free of doubt and other longings, into Your good plan.”

by Phyllis Tickle

The Beauty of the Prayer-Gift

In my prayers, I remember my friends . . . my family . . .  my church . . . and often someone I don’t personally know . . . or a concern that has come to my attention.  I don’t always know what is going on in the lives of those I know casually and sometimes not even those with whom I am intimate; however, I lift them up in prayer.  God knows.  And I am assured that He desires our prayers.

When a friend tells me that I am in his/her prayers, I am heartened and uplifted and feel a closeness – to God and to my friend.

John O’Donohue writes that

It is a lovely gift when a person prays for you.  One of the greatest shelters in your life is the circle of invisible prayer that is gathered around you by your friends here and in the unseen world.  It is a beautiful gift to draw someone into the shelter of your circle of prayer.  When you are going through difficult times or marooned on some lonesome edge in your life, it is often the prayer of your friends that brings you through.  When your soul turns into a wilderness, it is the prayer of others that brings you back to the hearth of warmth.  I know people who have been very ill, forsaken, and damaged; the holy travellers that we call prayers have reached out to them and returned them to healing.  The prayer of healing has wisdom, discernment, and power.  It is unknown what prayer can actually achieve.

When you meet someone at the level of prayer, you meet them on the ground of eternity.  This is the heart of all kinship and affinity.  When you journey in there to meet someone, a great intimacy can awaken between you.  I imagine that the dead who live in the unseen world never forget us; they are always praying for us.  Perhaps this is one of the ways that they remain close to our hearts: they extend the light and warmth of prayer towards us.  Prayer is the activity of the invisible world, yet its effect is actual and powerful.  It is said that if you pray beside a flower it grows faster.  When you bring the presence of prayer to the things you do, you do them more beautifully.

God shows Himself

Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person.  Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine.  In it God shows Himself to us.

– C. S. Lewis [The World’s Last Night, Chapter I]

a listening heart (living a prayerful life)

The discipline of the heart . . . makes us aware that praying is not only listening to but also listening with.  The discipline of the heart makes us stand in the presence of God with all we have and are: our fears and anxieties, our guilt and shame, our sexual fantasies, our greed and anger, our joys, successes, aspirations and hopes, our reflections, dreams and mental wandering, and most of all our people, family, friends and enemies, in short, all that makes us who we are.  With all this we have to listen to God’s voice and allow God to speak to us in every corner of our being.  This is very hard since we are so fearful and insecure that we keep hiding ourselves from God.

We tend to present to God only those parts of ourselves with which we feel relatively comfortable and which we think will evoke a positive response.  Thus our prayer becomes very selective and narrow.  And not just our prayer but also our self-knowledge, because by behaving as strangers before God we become strangers to ourselves. – Henri J. M. Nouwen – “Spiritual Direction”

prayer

“Prayer should be as natural as breathing and as necessary as air.”

– Edith Schaeffer

Ken Gire’s Prayer:

With every awareness of a need . . . let me breathe out a petition.

With every awareness of someone else’s need . . . intercession.

With every awareness of sin . . . confession.

With every awareness of sin against me . . . forgiveness.

With every awareness of you . . . praise.

With every awareness of your gifts . . . gratitude.

let holiness move in me

Let us swing wide all the doors and windows
of our hearts on their rusty hinges
so we may learn how to open in love.

Let us see the light in the other and honor it
so we may lift one another on our shoulders
and carry each other along.

Let holiness move in us
so we may pay attention to its small voice
and give ourselves fully with both hands.

– Dawna Markova –
[I will not die an unlived life – Reclaiming Purpose and Passion]