Newness of life


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

A prayer

Risen Christ, bring newness of life
into our stale routines,
into our wearied spirits,
into our tarnished relationships.

 
from Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold Patterns for Each Day
by Ray Simpson, p. 29
 


A blessing

The God of life go with us,
the Risen Christ beside us,
the vibrant Spirit within us.
Amen!

 
from Prayer Rhythms: Fourfold Patterns for Each Day
by Ray Simpson, p. 30
 

In the school of prayer with Michael Mayne


 

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! And that makes all the difference.

 
To quote Michael Mayne from Alleluia is our Song: Reflections on Eastertide, “Our struggles haven’t ended, nor has the world changed, because it is Easter Day. And yet because of Easter, everything has changed, all is different, because we have met Jesus and he has said ‘Peace be with you!'” (p. 13)
 
I first discovered Michael Mayne through his book, Learning to Dance. As with so many of his books, it is peppered with quotes from books that shaped him. This Sunrise of Wonder, written as a series of letters to his grandchildren, is no different.

 

Here are some extracts from This Sunrise of Wonder, from a chapter on prayer entitled “Prayer as giving attention to God”.

For the most part I let Michael Mayne speak in his own voice, with references to a mystic or two, for good measure. Check out the quotes in context to learn more about his influences.

 


I

“My value lies in the fact that I am my unique self, that no-one else who has ever lived, or who ever will, can be in exactly my relationship with God, or reflect his love back to him in exactly the same way. … ultimately that’s what life is about: it’s about learning to stand in your own space and discerning in its unfathomable depths a power greater than yourself who invites your attention; and not simply your attention but your love. And it is that kind of giving attention that we call prayer.” (p. 279)

II

“There is in each of us a Self that lies deeper than our conscious ego, that still point of your being where you are most truly you, so that the journey of prayer is largely a journey inwards. Not that prayer is self-analysis. Quite the reverse: it is a way of becoming detached, or escaping at least momentarily from the constant clamour of self. It is the way we begin to shift the centre of living from self-consciousness to self-surrender. … Prayer is about learning how to become still, open and receptive to the now, the present moment in which alone God is to be found.” (p. 280)

III

“St John of the Cross, a sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, said that the heart of prayer is giving ‘loving attention to God’; and certainly the starting point of prayer is to realize that it is not about words (or not much of the time); it’s about listening. It is about becoming still, remaining still, waiting, not being afraid of silence. … Birds, painting, music, books, people: we have to learn to go at their pace and tune to their wavelength. What we receive is related to what we give. Giving attention to God is no different, though much harder. For we are so used to doing that learning to be is like learning a foreign language. And we mustn’t expect to feel much. Feelings are not what count. What counts is simply being there.” (p. 282)

IV

“Jean-Pierre de Caussade was an obscure eighteenth-century French priest who wrote anonymously a book called Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, and the heart of it lies in the phrase by which it is best known: ‘the sacrament of the present moment’. He begins with the New Testament assertion that God’s nature is unchangeable love, that he loves us at every moment of our lives and ‘can no more stop loving us than the sun can stop radiating heat.’ It follows, he says, that if God’s loves come to us at every single moment then he is with us in the moment that is now. If we don’t find God in the actual world around us, and in ourselves at this moment, then we can’t expect to find him in our so-called ‘spiritual’ times of prayer. Therefore it is to this moment, and to this moment alone in all its singular nowness, that we should give our attention, so ‘that every moment of our lives’ becomes ‘a sort of communion with the divine love’.” (p. 286-7)

V

“I have never seen this day, all it contains, before and I shall never see it again, nor will I ever again be exactly the self I am now. It is quite literally the only way we can know God, in the here and now and by living this moment fully. It is also, of course, the only hope we have of ever changing how we are, with the possibility of redeeming the past or affecting the future. ‘This is the day that the Lord has made,’ says the Psalmist, ‘let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ … If I am even to begin to live like this (and the kind of prayer I have spoken of is the most effective way of learning it), then two things are necessary. First, that I really do come to know at gut level that I do walk through the world as one who is loved, whatever may be happening to me, and that every moment, even the worst, can be used by God. And, secondly, that I learn to give attention to each moment as it comes – this person to be seen (repeat, seen), that tricky letter to be written, this humdrum task to be done … and that is difficult, and most of the time we forget. But that, and that alone, is how we are called to be. Not that we are called to do, but how we are called to be. Attention givers. For that, when you think about it, is not a bad definition of love.” (p. 288-9)
 

Some practical advice

“You can’t sit still if you are uncomfortable. … Only when the body is at ease is the mind at ease. … How you breathe is also important. Stillness is achieved by the stilling of our agitated restless minds and bodies. Most of us breathe much too shallowly most of the time, engaging only the upper part of the lungs. So it’s good to begin by very gently giving attention to our breathing for a few moments, until we are breathing in and out in a smooth unbroken rhythm and our body is calm and centred.” (p. 283-4)

“Because our mind is so full of thoughts and sensations the quiet repetition of a word or familiar phrase is one of the simplest and most effective ways of practicing the presence of God. Words like ‘Abba’, the word Jesus used to address the Father, or the words, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’, or the Psalmist’s ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. There is the Jesus Prayer which has been said for centuries and is one of the greatest treasures of the Orthodox Church, the words, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’. … It is repeated, quietly and slowly, over and over again as a way of bringing us to be in God’s presence with no other thought than the wonder of God being who he is and us being who we are. … To say such words, repeatedly, means that they gradually become part of you and may then well up from within you quite outside your formal times of prayer. … But perhaps best of all is to take the Lord’s Prayer. It does not really matter if occasionally you get no further than the opening two words, provided your understanding of the words ‘Our’ and “Father’ is a fraction deeper as a result.” (p. 285)
 

quotes from This Sunrise of Wonder by Michael Mayne, 2008 edition
 


 
From the blog
Sister moon
Ding! Dong! Curiosity
In the school of prayer with Ignatius of Loyola
 

Man of Sorrows


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Prayer of intercession

Jesus, Saviour,
Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,
we come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
wounded for our transgressions,
bruised for our iniquities,
we come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
we come as a church broken by factions,
weak in our mission,
wavering in our faith.
We come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
we come as people of the world,
torn by war,
ruined by greed,
spoilt by selfishness.
We come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
we come as members of a family,
insensitive to each other,
blind to tears and deaf to cries.
We come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

Jesus, Saviour,
we come with the sick at heart,
we come with the ill in mind,
we come with the diseased in body.
We come to you
for you alone can make us whole.

 
from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.64-5
 


 
From the blog

‘He suffered’ Series – posted during Holy Week 2018
scheming | criticism | collusion | anguish | treachery | abandonment
 

Light in the gloom


 

A prayer

Jesus, you are the light of the world,
a light that no darkness can quench.

Upon your church
wrestling with the darkness of evil,
battling against doubt,
let your light shine.

Upon the world governments
facing gloom and despair,
battling against disaster,
let your light shine.

Upon those that live in the shadows,
caught up in sorrow and strife,
struggling against oblivion,
let your light shine.

 
from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.65
 


 
Prayer poem for Palm Sunday, Year B : Cornerstone
 
This prayer poem is inspired by Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, in particular verse 22: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone …
 

Good grief


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 
Ken Cope writes,

Our traditional view of grief is that it should be reserved for funerals and tragedies. However, if we really want to encounter God and grow in our relationship with Him then our attitude toward grief must change from viewing it as an uncomfortable and unwanted drop-in visitor to seeing it as a dear and faithful companion that is an integral part of our daily journey with God. It is there to allow us to enter into the heart of Philippians 3:10, which is an invitation to share in the fellowship of His suffering.

When we allow ourselves to feel broken and alone, we gain a measure of understanding of the sacrifice that Christ made for us in going to the cross and being broken for us. Grief draws us to God Himself in ways that could not be accomplished through any other means.

 
source: A Sacred Sorrow: Experience Guide by Michael Card, p.11
 


Kyrie during Quarantine

Seeking peace in a broken world,
but also knowing God’s peace through God’s presence,
we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

Seeking peace in suffering, illness, and pain,
but also feeling God’s peace through healing, prayer, and those who help,
we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

Seeking peace through our distress, depression, isolation, and fear,
but also feeling God’s peace through the words of loved ones
and the hope we see in the world,
we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

Seeking peace through the pain of worshipping separately,
longing for our holy community to be gathering,
but also feeling peace through God’s presence with each of us
as we worship together distantly,
we pray to the Lord.
Lord have mercy.

Help, save, comfort, and defend us, loving Lord.
We need you now, as we have needed you every day.
We cannot live without you.
Amen.

 
~ written by Pastor Nissa Peterson, posted on MightyNiss
 


 
Prayer poem for Lent 5B : You are right
 
This prayer poem is inspired by Psalm 51:1-12, in particular verse 4b: “… you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
 

3 Prayers of lament


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

To complement the many psalms of lament and your own ‘wordless sighs’ and ‘aching groans’ (Romans 8:26, MSG), here are three short prayers of lament to try on for size … to pray for yourself, or on behalf of someone else.

 


#1

Heart of my shattered heart,
who will soothe the buried lament?
Who will pour oil on the biting pang
that never dies
Christ, do you hear the words held back?
You are there, a love most healing.
 
~ written by Brother Roger of Taize,
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #223
 


#2

Lord Jesus,
many of us are waiting for you:
the war-torn are waiting for peace,
the hungry are waiting for bread.
the refugees are waiting for a homeland,
the sick are waiting for healers.
Have you forgotten us?
O Lord, come quickly, we pray.
Amen.
 
~ written by Bruce Prewer, posted on bruceprewer.com
 


#3

Lord of my darkest place:
Let in your light.

Lord of my greatest fear:
Let in your peace.

Lord of my most bitter shame:
Let in your word of grace.

Lord of my oldest grudge:
Let in your forgiveness.

Lord of my deepest anger:
Let it out.

Lord of my loneliest moment:
Let in your presence.

Lord of my truest self – my all:
Let in your wholeness.
 
~ written by Alison Pepper,
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #283
 


 
Prayer poem for Lent 4B : Talk about it
 
This prayer poem is inspired by Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22, in particular verse 2a: “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story …
 


From the blog
3 Prayers for Lent
3 Prayers while waiting
3 Prayers for refugees
 

Broken spirit sacrifice


Bridge railings reflected  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
Psalm 51:16-17 invites us to pray, to sigh, to sing:

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
      you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
      a broken and contrite heart
      you, God, will not despise.

 
Add to this prayer your prayers for the broken of this world, inspired by this litany written by John Birch.
 


A litany

For those whose lives are broken by distress
May the God of healing restore you

For those whose lives are broken by fear
May the God of healing restore you

For those whose lives are broken by anger
May the God of healing restore you

For those whose lives are broken by pain
May the God of healing restore you

For those whose lives are broken by illness
May the God of healing restore you

For those whose lives are broken by sin
May the God of healing restore you

God of healing
gently touch these lives
with your Spirit
Bring warmth and comfort
life and wholeness
restoration
into fractured lives
and souls

 
~ written by John Birch, and posted on www.faithandworship.com
 


 
Prayer poem for Lent 2B : Not forsaken
 
This prayer poem is inspired by Psalm 22:23-31, in particular verse 24:
For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

 

Yield as sacrifice


Frosty winter morning  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Prayer of Confession

God, penetrate those murky corners where we hide memories,
and tendencies on which we do not care to look,
but which we will not yield freely to you,
that you might purify and transmute them.
The persistent buried grudge,
the half-acknowledged enmity which is still smouldering;
the bitterness of that loss we have not turned into sacrifice,
the private comfort we cling to,
the secret fear of failure which saps our initiative
     and is really inverted pride;
the pessimism which is an insult to your joy.

Lord, we bring all these to you,
and we review them with shame and penitence
in your steadfast light.

Through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen!

 
written by Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), posted on re:worship
 


 
More Evelyn Underhill

 


 
EXTRA EXTRA
 
Prayer poem for Lent 1B : Not unless
I wrote this prayer poem last Saturday during an online creative retreat hosted by United Adoration. It is inspired by the psalm set for the first Sunday in Lent, Year B: Psalm 25:1-10.

Invitation
I will try and write a prayer poem each week as part of my Lenten practice this year and include a link in the blog post. Let me know it you would like to join me and write prayer poems too. Writing prayer poems in community is such a treat.
 
More on writing prayer poems
 

Work as an offering

A prayer

God of work and rest and pleasure,
grant that what I do today may be for me
an offering rather than a burden;
and for those I serve, may it be the help they need.
 
A New Zealand Prayer Book (adapted)
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #53
 


Original version
 
God of work and rest and pleasure,
grant that what we do this week may be for us
an offering rather than a burden;
and for those we serve, may it be the help they need.
 

 
From the blog
The work of our hands
Within the ranks of caring angels
In the school of prayer with Brother Lawrence
 

First love


‘You yourself know what you need’  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Jesus said:

“I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”

Revelation 2:3-4 (ESV)

 
Here is a prayer written by Scotty Smith that helps us prayerfully consider if and how Jesus’ words might apply to us.
 


A Prayer for Keeping Our First Love First

Dear Lord Jesus,

Even as we first needed grace to respond to your love (Eph. 2:8-10), so we need grace to stay alive to your love, and to grow even deeper in our affection for you. Your love for us is the one constant in our lives—for you love us with everlasting, unwavering, unabated affection. Everything else changes—everything else is subject to whim and fancy. But, unfortunately, our love for you does ebb and flow.

Jesus, give us fresh grace to love you with an undying love. May the cooling of our affections for you bother us more than the fragile economy, our broken relationships, political upheaval in the world, concerns about our health, getting older, or anything else. Jesus, don’t let us get used to status quo, middle-class, business-as-usual love for you.

If, by the Holy Spirit, we hear you saying to us this morning, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4), may we welcome it as a great gift, and respond with humility, gratitude and repentance.

For it means you are pursuing us, and that you delight in us; it means your banner over us is love and your jealousy is current. That you are jealous for our love, Lord Jesus, is the greatest compliment you could possibly pay us. So very Amen we pray, in your glorious and grace-full name.

 
~ written by Scotty Smith, posted on thegospelcoalition.org (excerpt)
 


 
From the blog
Seed
In the school of prayer with Ignatius of Loyola
Forget not