14.1.23: Prayer #2

As I was  beginning to surface from a bad dream early yesterday morning, I heard a voice call out my name: “Ruth!” A few moments later it happened again: “Ruth!” I felt disorientated and confused, too sleepy to respond.

Sitting on the edge of my bed (I have to stand up slowly), I tried to pray about what had happened, but I don’t think I made much sense. 

Even once I began to move about, it took me several more minutes to realise that I could have answered: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9; NLT). I prayed about this, but felt sad that I had missed my chance to respond.

After breakfast it was hard to pray for others, as discussed yesterday (here is a link: https://wp.me/p45bCr-deo). Then a possible way forward suddenly came into my mind.

Introductory prayers
Using the first section of my five-decade rosary (the cross and the five beads which lead to the main circle), I kissed the cross, and used it to make the sign of the cross. Then I said five of my favourite morning prayers, one on each bead. Pausing at the centrepiece, I asked the Holy Spirit to direct my prayers, and to help me to pray.

First decade: Praying for others
Next, I held the first bead of the first decade whilst praying for the first person who came into my mind. After each bead, I moved on to the next, waiting to see who it was for, then praying for them, as described in the link above.

When I reached the fixed “Our Father” bead, I kissed it, and made the sign of the cross with it again, whilst saying: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Then I rested for a moment with my arms crossed on my breast, wondering what would come next. 

Second decade: Giving thanks
Almost immediately, I saw that the next decade was for giving thanks, so that’s exactly what I did. On each bead, I waited to see what came into my mind, then gave thanks for it. I knew that this could include saying thank-you for “bad” things, as well as “good” ones.

Half-way through the second decade, I saw what needed to come next: asking God’s forgiveness. Pausing to write this down, I continued giving thanks, until the next “Glory be”, when I rested again.

Third decade: Saying sorry, and asking forgiveness 
On the next group of beads, I said I was sorry for ten different things I had got wrong, one at a time, including my long-standing flaws and weaknesses. I asked God’s forgiveness and help on each bead, as before.

Fourth decade: Forgiving others
By the time I reached this point, I was tiring, but could see that the next ten beads would be about forgiving others. In fact there was no one at all I needed to forgive, so I moved straight on to the last ten beads.

Fifth decade: Praising God
The final decade was devoted to praising ten different aspects of God, which was very easy to do.

Conclusion
I’m hoping that this way of using my rosary might be particularly helpful when praying with words feels like an unmanageable task, or I’m finding it hard to concentrate. Holding the beads one at a time will hopefully help to keep me centred and grounded. It also limits the number of prayers on each subject to ten, though obviously this shouldn’t be too rigid.

The prayer on each bead will be as short, honest and direct as I can make it, so it will hopefully be possible to develop a momentum that keeps me moving forwards to the next prayer, and the next, rather than getting bogged down, or feeling overwhelmed and giving up. Finally, I plan to try starting and ending my circle of prayer by holding the cross during a period of silence.

3.1.23: Acceptance

Today’s prayer is the third of four which all arrived together on New Year’s Eve.

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

This is how I am, Lord,
I accept it.
I want to do your will,
And not my own.

I want to follow you, Lord,
So I humbly bear my cross;
Like you, I offer thanks
For grief and pain.

This is how I am, Lord,
I embrace it.
I want to do your will,
And to endure.

I want to be like you, Lord,
So I’m walking in your steps:
Like you, I must face death
To rise again.

Those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! (Isaiah 26:19; NLT).

28.12.22: Come, Jesus

Context: This prayer arrived on Christmas Day, and took two more days to write. Maybe I’m slowing down in my old age…

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20; NLT). 

Come, Jesus, come –
Be born again in me,
And I in you.

I’ll do my best
To share your cross,
Your love for others, too.

The way is long,
The path is hard –
My efforts seem in vain,

But, Lord, despite
My fruitlessness, I long
To serve your name.

For you’re my Saviour
And my King,
My genesis and goal,

So come, Lord, come –
I offer you my heart, mind, strength
And soul.

You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Mark 12:30; NLT).


References

I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3; NLT).

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it (Matthew 7:14; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital

To my great pleasure, the rosaries posted before Christmas are gradually reaching their destinations, despite the postal strikes and challenging weather conditions.

Meanwhile, I remade my Fiat rosary with the inadequate knot. It came out much better the third time, so I have no regrets about starting again – it’s all good practice.

One exciting development (from a purely personal point of view), is that over the last few days I’ve become more confident about the strength of my joining knots, so I’ve stopped reinforcing them with superglue. It’s taken quite a while to reach this stage, but I’m pleased to be getting there. Purists don’t use glue when making rosaries – perhaps mine could be held together with faith!

If you would like more rosary news, or if you have any broken rosaries to donate, you are very welcome to contact me at “The Rosary Hospital”, on Facebook.

Lastly, here is the Fiat rosary I made today:

25.12.22: Christmas Day

Context: God often gives me a special prayer well in advance, ready to post on Christmas Day, but this year it didn’t happen. In fact, I had begun to think there would be no Christmas prayer at all this year. To begin with, I felt I should be able to write something appropriate, but I knew I couldn’t do this without inspiration, so eventually I placed the matter in God’s hands, and let it go.

Then, on the 21st of December, I received a long Christmas prayer, which was very difficult to put into words, to condense, and to edit. Eventually it took the form of a spoken exchange. The first section pictures Christ speaking to us, whilst the second pictures us responding to him.

✝️ She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them (Luke 2:7; NLT). 

I was born in the shadow of want,
And lived in the shadow of fear.

I worked in the shadow of hate,
But knew that my Father was near.

I wept in the shadow of grief,
And prayed in the shadow of pain.

I walked in the shadow of death,
Then rose, to save all, and to reign.

The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15; NLT).


✝️ We all have sinned against you (Jeremiah 14:20; NLT). 

Though we dwell in the shadow of sin,
And grieve in the shadow of loss,

We pray, and give thanks, and rejoice,
For we follow your way of the cross.

Though we walk in the shadow of death,
We trust in your staff and your rod.

Lord, you are here, in earth’s darkness,
So we sing in the shadow of God.

Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:7; NLT).


Christmas greetings:

My very best wishes to every reader who visits this website. May God bless you. I pray for you all every day.

✝️  With love, and many thanks for your support, from Ruth xxxxxxx

16.12.22: Your love

Context: Yesterday morning I received this prayer. I was facing a very demanding day, during which I had appointments with two different consultants.

The verses I was given reminded me of Saint Mother Theresa, who served God faithfully, even though for many years she had no sense at all of God’s loving presence. Despite this, she was always cheerful, continuing to carry out her ministry with great devotion.

Mother Theresa had to walk by faith, not sight, and I can do the same. I find this realisation very helpful, comforting and reassuring.

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; CSB). 

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe (John 20:29; CSB). 

Lord God, 

May I experience
Your warm and tender love for me,
But when I don’t, may I have faith
That you hear every plea.

May I believe as Mary did –
So young, so pure, so long ago,
Prepared, Lord, to embrace each test:
The trials you bestow.

Then I’ll say, “Yes”, and offer thanks,
No matter what you ask each day,
Take up my cross, and follow Christ –
My life, my truth, my way.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).


References 

He loves us with unfailing love; the LORD’s faithfulness endures forever (Psalm 117:2; NLT). 

We know he hears us when we make our requests (1 John 5:15; NLT).

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT). 

The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NIV). 

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38; KJV). 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV). 

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT). 

13.12.22: Suffering #3

Sunrise over the sea, taken from my front door yesterday morning

Context: On Sunday evening I was reading about the Annunciation, and reflecting on how Mary freely chose to bear God’s Son. Then today’s question and answer dialogue came straight into my mind, all at once:

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38; KJV). 

I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).

Will you accept this illness?
Yes, I will, Lord.
Do you accept this pain?
Yes, Lord, I do.

Can you accept this trouble?
Yes, I can, Lord,
And I’ll embrace my cross with joy
For you.

Will you accept this burden?
Yes, Lord, freely.
Do you accept this grief?
Yes, Lord, I do.

 Can you accept this anguish?
Yes, Lord, gladly,
So I’ll give thanks, and bear my cross
For you.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).


References 

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT).

I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church (Colossians 1:24; NLT). 

If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT). 

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10; NLT). 

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34; NLT).


Rosary-making news: The Rosary Hospital (with thanks to J.W.)

On Sunday I finally hit on the best way for me to make Fiat Rosaries successfully. These rosaries help the user to explore all four mysteries in one cycle of prayer. The story of how they began is available here: https://associationfiat.com, in several different languages.

The same evening, a friend offered to send me some broken rosaries, to my great delight. I’ve already received a box of similar materials from a shop in Walsingham, and am recycling their usable parts to make corded rosaries.

My husband commented dryly that I’m now running a “Rosary Hospital”, which felt instantly significant. As I don’t charge for what I make, recycling rosary parts helps to keep my costs down. If recipients want to, they can donate to the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Making rosaries is a spiritual exercise, and a form of ministry which brings me great pleasure and purpose, though I still have much to learn. If the Rosary Hospital idea develops further, I’ll post about it here.

Meanwhile, here is yesterday’s non-Fiat rosary (making one each day is enough for my arthritic hands). It’s extra large, chunky and tactile, made especially for an elderly lady:

6.12.22: In my dreams

Context: I wrote this prayer last weekend, with a migraine that still hasn’t responded to any of my usual medications. All I can do is to be very quiet, whilst waiting patiently for it to improve in God’s good time.

Keep on seeking, and you will find (Luke 11:9; NLT). 

Jesus,
May I seek you
In my dreams;
Find you, Lord, and meet you
In my dreams;
Walk and talk beside you
In my dreams,
Facing all  with you, Lord,
In my dreams.

Jesus,
May I see you
In my dreams;
Recognise and know you
In my dreams;
Bear my cross, and follow
In my dreams,
And never fear tomorrow,
In my dreams.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NKJV).

5.12.22: In everyone

Context: I’m still very weary after having covid, and am hardly writing at all. So I’m glad to be able to dip into my store-house, and share this prayer with you. It came to me last September:

There is one Lord …who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT). 

Lord,

You’re in everyone and everything –
All I see, hear, taste, smell and touch.

You give all I receive,
And you take away everything I lose.

You share all my sensations,
Including pain, fatigue and suffering.

You share all my emotions,
Including joy, fear and sorrow.

Please help me to learn from all I experience,
Both “good” and “bad”.

I dedicate myself to you, and to your service,
Just as I am.

May I take up my cross each day,
And follow your example.

May everything I think, say and do
Express your love.

I ask all this in your holy name.
✝️ Amen.

I will do whatever you ask in my name (John 14:13; NIV).

12.11.22: A dream (for E.M.)

Context: Today’s blog describes what happened after I posted, “Thank you, Jesus” yesterday (https://wp.me/p45bCr-cP2).

Just before settling down to sleep that night I attached my night-cross to my wrist, as always. Then I asked God to be with me in my dreams (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-cHj). I started doing this recently because of a spate of nightmares, probably due to a new medication I was taking. Finally, I switched off the light and went to sleep.

A dream

I dreamed I was in a small, wooden boat, being rowed down a flooded street. Initially, the water was calm.

Then water began to pulse into the street, each wave higher and rougher than the one before, until the water became a rolling, boiling chaos. 

Again and again, tons of water towered above me as the boat was tossed around. Soon waves began to break over me, swamping the boat. I was terrified, and started to scream repeatedly.

A dream within a dream

Then, within the dream, I slowly woke, still screaming, gasping for air. I was in bed in my old, ugly, uncomfortable room at my mother’s house. I was young, but not a child – perhaps a late teenager, or in my early twenties. There was nowhere I would less rather be.

Slowly, slowly, my screams diminished, and I stopped gasping for breath. Eventually my mother appeared in her dressing-gown. I had clearly woken her up, which was never a good thing. I remember feeling that she was very the last person I wanted to see, as she had nothing but scorn for those who were afraid, including me. She was incapable of offering me any comfort, understanding, or sympathy. Indeed, I feared her more than anyone else I had ever known. Finding myself in her house, undressed and in bed, with her in my room, was worse than being in the boat. I felt so vulnerable.

Waking up

Then I began to wake, gradually realising it had all been a dream. However, I couldn’t stop re-living the terrifying sight of the waves towering above me, or the sensation of them falling on to me, filling the boat. It was just like having flashbacks from my childhood, which happened to me so often, and for so many years, that I had no idea they weren’t normal.

Slowly, slowly, I surfaced more fully, until I reached a point where I was able to whisper, “Thank you, Jesus”, whilst holding my night-cross firmly in my hand, where it had remained all night.

Instantly, I stopped re-living the terrifying sights and sensations of my dream. My inner storm had been stilled by those three, precious words. 

Then I reached for my iPad to write this blog, feeling awed by what had happened. I was no longer disturbed or afraid, though my body felt as if it were vibrating for a while afterwards. The whole experience left me with a lot to reflect on.

I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NIV).


References 

You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me (Jonah 2:3; NIV). 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NIV). 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed (Psalm 107:29; NIV). 

He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him (Luke 17:16; NIV). 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).


Reading: Mark 4:35-41; RSV

When evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.

And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”

And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” 

And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

11.11.22: Thank you, Jesus (with thanks to E.S.)

Context: Early yesterday morning, during silent contemplation, some words started to thrust themselves upon me. I tried ignoring them, hoping they would drift away. However, they became more and more insistent, until eventually I had to write them down.

Their source was a story told during a zoom session I had attended a few days earlier. The meeting was part of a two-year process of spiritual formation and discernment which I recently joined. The speaker described her dear friend’s practice of responding immediately to events she saw as negative by saying, “Thank you, Jesus.”

This approach to life’s many trials and sorrows certainly beats other reactions, such as impatience, anger, swearing, stress, blaming others and self-pity. Accordingly, I have now started using this practice myself.

Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

So, as soon as anything happens which I feel to be “negative”, I respond to it immediately by saying, “Thank you, Jesus”. With practice, this approach rapidly starts to become habitual. It’s remarkable how quickly it defuses my negative reactions, turning my mind straight back to God, and getting events into perspective.

An example

A good example of this happened yesterday when I wanted to print a single copy of a prayer from my iPad. The printer is in another room, so I couldn’t see what was happening. After a short time I became aware of a characteristic sound: paper crashing to the floor every few seconds. I hurried to the printer, which was churning out page after page.

My old reaction of instantaneous irritation rose up for a split-second, but then I remembered my new practice, said, “Thank you, Jesus”, spontaneously beginning to laugh as I picked up the paper. All the sting of the event had been removed by those three little words. Then I cut the pages in half and stapled them together to make a little notebook, bringing good from bad.

Opportunities for practicing

Here are a few general examples of opportunities to introduce this practice, but I’m sure you can quickly think of  many more:

Trivial irritations and frustrations
Minor misunderstandings and disappointments
Spilling, dropping, or breaking something
Making a mistake, getting something wrong
Accidents and falls
Events not working out as I had hoped
Someone hurts me
Failing at something
Delays, postponements and cancellations
Sickness, pain and disability
Undergoing medical treatment
Receiving bad news
Losing the capacity to do something I used to manage, or enjoy
Losing someone I love, or someone I rely on
Feeling depressed, anxious, afraid, or panic-stricken

Three precious words

To these, and more, as they occur, I will now respond as quickly as possible with those three, precious, deceptively simple words: “Thank you, Jesus”. What a difference they make! Why not try it for yourself?

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 7:25; CSB).


References 

The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21; CSB). 

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD (Psalm 116:17; NIV). 

Should we accept only good things from the hand of God, and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT). 

Patient endurance is what you need now (Hebrews 10:36; NLT).

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).

The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).


Rosary news:

I’ve run out of cord, but more is on order, so will hopefully arrive soon. Meanwhile, today I put all my kit into an organiser box, rather than having it loosely mixed up together in a tray: