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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]

can you use a prayer?

an answered prayer

The Man I Prayed For

Dear God, I prayed, all unafraid
(as we’re inclined to do),
I do not need a handsome man
but let him be like You;
I do not need one big and strong
nor yet so very tall,
nor need he be some genius,
or wealthy, Lord, at all;
but let his head be high, dear God,
and let his eye be clear,
his shoulders straight, whate’er his state,
whate’er his earthly sphere;
and let his face have character,
a ruggedness of soul,
and let his whole life show, dear God,
a singleness of goal;
then when he comes
(as he will come)
with quiet eyes aglow,
I’ll understand that he’s the man
I prayed for long ago.

by Ruth Bell Graham

quote of the day

To be a part of tradition, to seek God through ritual as well as meditation and prayer, gives me a sense of connection.  If I am connected, a part of some greater whole, then I am by definition meaningful. – writer Nevada Barr

today’s prayer

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart

Clear in word

Gracious in awareness

Courageous in thought

Generous in love

John O’Donohue

today’s prayer

Help me not to take myself too seriously.  Grant to me objectivity and a quiet mind and a sense of humor.

Go Thou ahead of me to fling out a bridge of good will, to cast down all roadblocks of misunderstanding.  And bless to Thy glory and the happiness of all concerned this gesture of good will undertaken in Thy name.  Amen.

Peter Marshall



prayer

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Prayer is the little implement

by Emily Dickinson

Prayer is the little implement
Through which men reach
Where Presence–is denied them.
They fling their speech

By means of it–in God’s ear–
If then He hear–
This sums the Apparatus
Comprised in Prayer–

Today’s Prayer

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Grant to us, O Lord, this day
to walk with you as Father,
to trust in you as Savior,
to be enlightened by you as Spirit,
to worship you as Lord;
that all our works may praise you
and our lives may give you glory.

Amen

[Author unknown]

prayer

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God, we pray a special blessing today on all who have worked so hard to make the National Day of Prayer observances the opportunities that they are for us. Remind us, Lord, that every day is to be a day of prayer. Thank You for our beloved country.  Amen.

Prayer is the little implement
by Emily Dickinson
Prayer is the little implement
Through which Men reach
Where Presence — is denied them.
They fling their Speech 

By means of it — in God’s Ear —
If then He hear —
This sums the Apparatus
Comprised in Prayer —

prayer for today

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O God, Father of all, help us to forgive others as we would wish them to forgive us.  May we try to understand them as we in turn would like to be understood, in the hope that forgiveness will not be in order.  May we see with their eyes, think with their minds, feel with their hearts.  Then let us ask ourselves whether we should judge them, or judge ourselves and accept them as children, like us, of one heavenly Father.

~ William Barclay

Friday in the Third Week of Lent – a prayer

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PRAYER

I offer you, Lord, my time, this gift of the fullness of life in time that I now experience in being united to you.  Help me to redeem time for others.  Help me to unburden their load of stress.  By your grace let me be an instrument of your call to freedom and creativity in the lives of all whom you redeem.  Let them hear your call to the only liberty that matters: to choose to follow you. ~ Thomas Merton

A Lenten Prayer

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Awaken all of us who gather in your name, Lord, to the power of your death and rising from the dead.  Allow us to rise from the sleep of our daily cares to the glory of your transfiguration, the light of your Father shining in you for us.  Allow us to see how gathering in your name is to experience paradise.

Contemplation

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DAY 22

Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

UNION WITH CHRIST, UNION WITH THE CHURCH

The liturgy is, as the Fathers taught, a work of the active life.  It prepares us for contemplation, which is the final perfection of Christian personalism, since it is the intimate realization of one’s perfect union with Christ “in one Spirit.”  The highest paradox of Christian personalism is for an individual to be “found in Christ Jesus” and thus “lost” to all that can be regarded, in a mundane way, as his “self.”  This means to be at the same time one’s self and Christ.  But this is not to be ascribed solely to personal initiative, “private prayer” or individual effort.  Contemplation is a gift of God, given in and through His Church, and through the prayer of the Church.  St. Anthony was led into the desert not by a private voice but by the word of God, proclaimed in the Church of his Egyptian village in the chanting of the Gospel in Coptic–a classical example of liturgy opening the way to a life of contemplation!  But the liturgy cannot fulfill this function if we misunderstand or underestimate the essentially spiritual value of Christian public prayer.  If we cling to immature and limited notions of  “privacy,” we will never be able to free ourselves from the bonds of individualism.  We will never realize how the Church delivers us from ourselves by public worship, the very public character of which tends to hide us “in the secret of God’s face.”

THOMAS MERTON, SEASONS OF CELEBRATION, 26-27

the gift of feeling

Dear God,

Speak gently in my silence.