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.
As I slowly emerged from my “dark ages”, poetry was a medium that I used to express much of what was happening in my life. The free-flowing poem below represents a kind of summary of my downward spiral, followed by my first attempt to “come back to life”. It reminds me of how I desperately gasped for air during my near drowning experience at age nine.
In search of life and love I boldly ventured forth,
Or so I thought; I wanted all and wanting took in greed,
Each sensation grasping with both hands
To then remain dissatisfied for wanting more.
This world to me must yield its very soul
Its every palpitating breath,
That I might live each passion to the core
And drink the cup of happiness that I deserved.
Come vaporous vine!
Take me into your sun-drenched arms,
Enfold me in your warm embrace.
What ethereal Utopia is your gift
Of deep oblivion.
No pain can touch me, nor bitterness
Taint my chalice of perfection,
With you beside me as my constant friend.
But what is this that you demand?
You crave attention more than I.
Indeed, not mere attention – this is total slavery!
Where are your magic powers and promised reverie
For those who sip your nectar so divine?
I asked not for this mad confusion
Nor this tormented soul!
Dear God, I feel abandoned and alone.
This kaleidoscope of colors many hued
By children of innocence is perhaps enjoyed,
But my tired eyes and heavy head
Crave not such gaudiness.
Where are my jewels, my crown and scepter gold?
Where is the kingdom that I rule
With all prostrate beneath my very feet?
Why does my head pound to the rhythm
Of a thousand dervish drums from hell?
To me was promised heaven - paradise!
Merciful night comes down upon this nightmare,
But I find not solace in my sleep
As bitter yellow bile rebels within my guts.
Cool hand of death that you were near
To relieve my tortured and tormented soul.
No! No! I do not want to die,
To pass unnoticed into the spirit world.
And yet this is not living –
This agonized confusion in my heart.
Can this be the grandiose person that I was,
Who craved so much for life and living?
Who now grovels at the feet of Bacchus,
Leering god of ultimate rejection.
Dear God where are you in my hour of need?
Dare I call upon you whom I have long ignored?
Your once proud child in new humility
Beseeches your assistance, your support.
I am not strength personified as I believed,
But rather like a motherless new-born babe.
Be my Mother, be my Father too
For this death wish is just another fallacy,
Another road to take, to run, to hide, to flee
From life that I so truly long for.
Lift this veil of visions from my eyes,
And let love flood my soul,
For I would drink no more of Bacchus’ opiate,
But of the cup of life.
And if to gain my freedom I must burn,
Then I am ready to accept the flame
Of your immense and deeply cleansing love.
Knowing that you hold the healing balm
Will give me strength to suffer what I must.
For now I see your hand stretched out toward me
That for so long has waited patiently,
You never did abandon my lost soul,
I chose to wander losing sight of thee.
My life till now has been an emptiness
Of barren spaces void of any truth,
Honest feelings always have escaped me;
Yet no, if truth is what I search, let truth prevail,
‘Twas I escaping everything.
Now I must learn to take my steps again,
To fall, then rise to fall once more
And ever rise again –
But not lose heart.
For you my Father, Mother, and my Friend
Will walk with me if I but meekly ask.
And in your love so infinite and wise
Will I find strength to seek reality.
© 20 September 1980