Saturday, March 16, 2013

Essence of Prayer

Very glibly, we often say, “I hope and pray that...” and I question, “Do we truly pray?”  The universal response would be...”.probably not”! In the most recent news, we have heard much about and observed the selection of  the new papal pope ~ Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Thrilled immensely, I am, since he is the first Jesuit pope and first non-European since the Middle Ages; he has decided to call himself Francis after St. Francis of Assisi...the humble friar who dedicated his life to helping the poor. Although I am not of Roman Catholic faith and  have studied Comparative Religions, I have deep respect for all faiths and their places of worship. 

Many years ago, after my second year of teaching in Hamilton, I spent the 2-month summer travelling Europe.  Italy definitely impressed me.  One of our stops was at the Monastery of St. Francis of Assisi. The location seemed so befitting and spiritual...the monastery sitting atop a hillside of numerous olive serene and peaceful. When there, the symbol of  “the olive branch”  seemed so alive.

Prayer is an invocation or act that seems to activate a rapport
with a deity, an object of worship or a spiritual entity
through deliberate communication.

Prayer can be a form of religious practice,
may be either individual or communal
and take place in public or in private.
It may involve the use of words or song.
There are different forms of prayers such as: petitionary prayers,
prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, worship and praise.

When Pope Francis I was elected by the conclave and presented to the waiting crowd of thousands in St. Peter's Square, “with Francis' attitude of humility, asking  the crowd to pray for him before he prayed for them...his choice to travel alone to Rome alone (without entourage), his always walking or riding his bike throughout Vatican City (in lieu of papal transportation), his insistence on paying his hotel bill the next morning ~ will, if lasting, endear him to people, whether Catholics or non-Catholics.  It may armour him to take on the extravagances, corruption and in-fighting of the Curia, the Vatican administration,”  writes Robert Howard of the Hamilton Spectator.

His request for all in St. Peter's Square and everywhere to pray for him,  was most effectual as complete silence reigned...the thousands bowed their heads along with Pope Francis I … for a couple minutes of personal reflection and sincere prayer. Known to all Christian denominations and beyond, he cited a couple lines from the prayer of St. Francis ~  Lord, make me an instrument of your peace...Where there is darkness, (let me) sow light.

After his retreat from the balcony, he did what no predecessor had ever done:
he tweeted to the world...Immensely Happy to be Your New Pope...Francis I

Prayer of  St Ignatius of Loyola

                                 Dear Lord,
                                 Teach me to be generous;
                                 Teach me to serve You as You deserve;
                                 Teach me to give and not to count the cost;
                                 Teach me to fight and not to heed the wounds;
                                 Teach me to work and not to seek for rest;
                                 Teach me to labour and not to ask for reward except
                                 that of knowing that I am doing well.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

                                  Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
                                  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
                                  Where there is injury, pardon.
                                  Where there is doubt, faith.
                                  Where there is despair, hope.
                                  Where there is darkness, light.
                                  Where there is sadness, joy.
                                  O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek
                                  so much to be consoled as to console;
                                  To be understood as to understand;
                                  To love as to be loved.
                                  For it is in giving that we receive;
                                  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
                                  And it is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.

Sister Wendy Becket
(born February 25, 1930 in South Africa,
she is a British hermit who is known as an art expert)

                                  Please give me a loving heart
                                  that tries to understand how other people feel.
                                  Help me to be kind and sensitive and not to put myself first.

Prayer for Spiritual Renewal
by Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596)

                                        Disturb us, Lord, when
                                        We are too  pleased with ourselves,
                                        When our dreams have come true
                                        Because we have dreamed too little,
                                        When we arrived safely
                                        Because we sailed too close to the shore.

                                        Disturb us, Lord,
                                        When with the abundance of things we possess
                                        We have lost our thirst
                                        For the waters of life.
                                        Having fallen in love with life
                                        We have ceased to dream of eternity,
                                        And in our efforts to build a new earth
                                        We have allowed our vision
                                        Of the new Heaven to dim.

                                        Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly
                                        To venture on wider seas
                                        Where stars will show your mastery,
                                        Where long sight of land
                                        We shall find the stars.

                                        We ask You to push back
                                        The horizons of our hopes
                                        And to push into the future
                                        In strength, courage, hope and love.

Mahatma Gandhi:  One of the busiest  and most famous men in the world used to set aside Monday as  a Day of Silence.  “In His Image” by Paul Brand (page 211), he wrote about Gandhi,  “He needed the stillness in order to rest his vocal cords and to promote inner harmony in his soul amid the turmoil of life around him.  I wonder what power would be released if all Christians devoted one day a week to listening to the voice of God to discern His coded message for our lives.”

We Don't Always Get What We Pray For
(Anonymous Soldier...Civil War)

                                         I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
                                         I was  made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

                                         I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
                                         I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

                                         I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
                                         I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

                                        I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
                                        I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

                                        I got nothing that I asked for but everything I had hoped for.
                                        Despite myself, my prayers were answered.
                                        I, among all people, am most richly blessed!

Modern Day Prayer Quotes

God, grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can and wisdom to know the difference. (Reinhold Niebuhr ~ American Theologian)

To be a Christian without prayer, is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. (Martin Luther)

Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?  (Corrie Ten Boon ~ devotional writer)

Dale Carnegie was asked, “What is the secret of  your life?”  Dale replied, “Every day I pray.  I yield myself to God ~ the tensions and anxieties go out of me...then peace and power come in.”

Many a person is praying for rain with his tub the wrong side up.  (Sam Jones, an American revivalist)

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 15, 2013
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  1. Beautiful... Just Beautiful Merle....
    Happy Birthday tomorrow on St. Patricks Day...
    we will call it Goddess Merle Day too !

  2. Thanks for the special greeting, Goddess Sherrie! Wear GREEN when you travel tomorrow. Fly or drive Safely, enjoy Superbly and may your "Forsythe" time be Superlative!

  3. Preaching tonight will be on Bible Doctrine and Church History.

  4. Very appropriate for these current times!
    Am confident this will be delivered with clarity, should be informative and conducive to better understanding.
    Many thanks for your comment.