It never ceases to amaze me how Creator speaks to me, affirming and reaffirming me as I make my way through the joys and sorrows of this earthly life. And right now I am filled with both joy and sorrow. Yesterday I spent the day at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and my heart was so filled with joy, awe and gratitude that I completely choked up several times, unable to even speak in the face of such vast beauty and majesty. At the same time, back home in Jacksonville, FL, my dear friend and sister-in-Christ, Susan, is very, very sick and probably in transition from this life to the next even as I write.
But even as I experience these two very raw emotions side by side, I am aware of the grace of God present in both situations. Two days ago I wrote about “grace”, and it does not surprise me that when I opened my Daily Word yesterday morning the topic was “grace”. And as I received the latest update on Susan this morning, I felt called to go back and read that reflection which I share with you in its entirety here.
“Daily Word, Tuesday April 12, 2011 Grace
There is no place that is beyond God’s love.
As part of God’s creation, I am blessed with the gift of grace. Grace is bestowed upon me unconditionally, without my needing to earn it or prove I deserve it. Like the father rushing to meet his returning prodigal son, God meets me when I seek the kingdom. Moreover, grace is active in me even when I am not consciously seeking, for there is no place in my mind or heart that is beyond God’s love.
Grace is visible in my life when the consequences of a mistake are gentler than they might have been. Grace is tangible when I feel blessed beyond all imagining. Love wells up within my heart until I feel the full impact of God’s presence.
Thank you, God, for your gift of grace. I know I am always in your loving care.
Grace be with all of you. (Hebrews 13;25)
Peace be with you.
It seems as though Spirit is nudging me along this prayer path. I think I pray quite a lot. However, in preparation for this upcoming “instructional weekend” in the Audire program that I am participating in, I was asked to prepare a “prayer history”. One of the questions that we were offered to use for reflective journaling on this activity asked, “How do you pray now? When? Where? What posture? Why?”
As I gave some serious thought to this, I came to the conclusion that maybe I didn’t pray as much as I thought. Initially I said I prayed on and off all day, that I hold a running conversation with God as I go about my daily business –which I do. However, what I really do is invite God along in my day and then I give Him a running commentary on things as they unfold. (As if He didn’t know already!!)
Sometimes, if I am dealing with some difficult stuff, I lay it all out before Him and then ask for support, comfort, courage, or maybe a solution. Other times I may have enjoyed a couple of hours with some girlfriends, and so I thank Him for the gift of friends and for the enjoyable time spent with them. Part of my volunteer work is to help in the Ministry of Consolation at my church,so frequently I am interceding on behalf of the family which is dealing with grief. And I realize that all of this is prayer of a sort, but it’s kind of “muddied up” in the middle of all my daily busyness.
I do carve out about an hour and a half in the morning when I get up and this I spend in quiet time with my Creator. On the odd occasion that I choose to rush into my day without spending time with God first, my day usually spirals downward until I slow down and catch up with Him. Then there are those times when I bring myself to a screeching halt in a mad chaotic day and I find somewhere quiet and private (sometimes that’s the bathroom!), and I say a formal prayer like the Our Father or the Serenity Prayer or the Prayer of St. Francis. Just focusing on the old familiar words, rather like a ritual, slows me down and helps me feel closer to my God and, consequently, calmer.
So here I am preparing for this weekend, the theme for which is Pray Always, Pray All Ways, and I find myself thinking deeply about how I pray, which is good because sometimes we have to shake things up a little, change things, or else it all becomes too routine. So here I share with you a prayer that we were asked to write. It is a berakah, which comes from the Judaic tradition. It means a “blessing prayer” and is based on this format: Who (are you praying to); Do (what has He done for you); You (what do you need from Him right now); Through (Jesus Christ).
Abba, Creator and Spirit of Love, who gave me the greatest gift of Your Son, Jesus, I am full of gratitude for all the blessings You have given me. You saved me from self destruction and led me back to You, filling my life with joy. Please continue to bless, protect, and grow me and lead me on the path You wish me to tread. I ask the same for my family, especially Melissa. All this I dare to ask through Your love, that is Jesus Christ. Amen!
As we are coming up to Thanksgiving, I would also like to offer you this beautiful prayer that I came across the other day.
Oh God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work, help me
to remember the jobless;
When I have a warm home,
help me to remember the homeless;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer;
And remembering, help me
to destroy my complacency
and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough
to help, by word and deed,
those who cry out
for what we take for granted.
Samuel F. Pugh
Blessings to you all.