21.11.22: Lifeline prayers

Context: Despite coughing and sweating my way through the night with covid, when I woke next day and began to pray, I received some insistent words almost immediately. The four brief, lifeline prayers included in this blog seem to be virtually all I need now, given my new highly isolated and simplified lifestyle:

“Why so dispirited?” I ask myself. “Why so churned up inside? Hope in God!” I know I’ll praise God once again, for you are my Deliverance; you are my God (Psalm 43:5; TIB).

When I feel alone and blue,
With dismal thoughts I can’t subdue,
This is what I say:
I love you, Jesus. 

When I feel ashamed and sad,
Full knowing I’ve done something bad,
This is what I pray:
Forgive me, Jesus.  

When I feel ignored and hurt,
Self-pity turned to high alert,
This is what I sigh:
Forgive them, Jesus. 

When you give, and when you take,
No matter how my heart may break,
This is what I whisper:
Thank you, Jesus. 

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


References 

I love you, LORD, my strength (Psalm 18:1; CSB). 

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21; CSB).


Rosary news

Yesterday afternoon I made a blue and white rosary, but the final stage (the attachment of the crucifix), failed QC. However, one of the best things about learning to make rosaries is the joy of taking them apart so I can re-use the beads for my next attempt.

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:

21.10.22: Gifts

Context: Yesterday morning I prayed with words, then without, until I suddenly saw this little poem:

God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness (Job 19:8; NLT). 

You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT). 

I give you my darkness,
My weakness and sin –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Failure, within.

I give you my loneliness,
Sickness and fears –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Mourning and tears.

I give you my sorrow,
My anguish and shame –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Longing and pain.  

I give you my suffering,
Body and blood,
My mind, heart and soul, Lord:
I give you my love. 

I will give you my love (Song of Songs, 7:12; NLT). 

3.10.22: I weep

Context: I’m so drained that I’m finding prayer very difficult. Depression is creeping closer, threatening to overwhelm me. Two days ago I sat on the floor with my back resting against the wall, attempting to pray. After a time of silence, this little poem arrived:

I weep with sorrow (Psalm 119:28; NLT). 

1. I weep with pain and sorrow, Lord,
With loneliness, and grief.

2. Weariness destroys my freedom,
Sickness is a thief.

3. Anguish closes over me,
It suffocates, like sin,

4. Yet still your love beats in my blood,
For you, Lord, live within.

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).


References 

1.He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:37-9; NLT). 

2.Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go (John 21:18; NIV). 

3.Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me (Psalm 42:7; NIV).

4.You are the temple of the living God (Luke 17:21; NKJV).

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

Trust

Context: This prayer started to arrive just before the appointment with my consultant, and (to my great surprise), continued to arrive after it! My doctor couldn’t give me any definite news, though some conditions have now been ruled out. It’s looking more and more likely that I have Autonomic Neuropathy, so the next step will be a trip to London for more detailed tests. These should lead to a conclusive diagnosis. Meanwhile, here is today’s prayer:

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

Lord,

1. I put my trust in you
To help me face each test.
Depression and anxiety?
Well, all you send is blest.

2. Sorrow, fear and suffering?
Your will is my command.
Darkness, panic, grief and tears?
I place them in your hand.

3. For these have now become my “pearls”,
My pearls beyond all price.
Through them, Lord, I learn to grasp
Your perfect sacrifice.

4. My trials are now my offerings:
I share them all with you,
While you, Lord, share them all with me,
And love to help me, too.

5. Thus, you show me how to live,
To learn, and grow, and care
For others, while you help me face
The burdens I must bear.

6. My faith, my pain, my love, my life:
I lay them at your feet.
My Lord, my God, my All-In-All,
Your healing is complete.

Those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction (Job 36:15; NIV).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly
we are wasting away, yet inwardly
we are being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16; NIV).


References 

1. I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8; NIV). 

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

Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal (Job: 5:17-18; NIV).

2. He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT). 

 3. The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant’s search for fine pearls. When one pearl of great value was found, the merchant went back and sold everything else and bought it (Matthew 13:45-6; TIV). 

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).

4. When Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer” (Hebrews 10:5; NLT).

God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time (Hebrews 10:10; NLT). 

Trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; NLT). 

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:15-16; NLT). 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30; NLT).

5. 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). 

His command is that you walk in love (2 John 1:6; NIV).

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving (Psalm 28:7; NLT). 

6. “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT). 

Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28; NKJV). 

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again (Psalm 71:20; NIV).

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4; NLT). 

Stand up*

Stand up and praise the Lord your God!
(Nehemiah 9:5; NLT). 

Stand up to fear and panic,
Depression, hurt and loss,
To loneliness and anguish
With Christ, who faced the cross.

Stand up to pain and sickness,
Exhaustion, grief and stress,
To suffering and sorrow
With Christ, who shares each test.

Stand up to hate and envy,
Temptation, pride and sin,
To selfishness and anger
With Christ, who waits within.

Stand up to them with Jesus,
Confront them every day,
Then you will gain your freedom
With Christ, who is our way.

🖤

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

*This prayer can be sung to the tune of “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.”


Sharing

Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; NLT).

You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

Lord,
May I share everything with you:
Progress, praise,
Achievement, love,
And joy.

Lord,
May I share everything with you:
Failure, guilt,
Rejection, shame,
And sin.

Lord,
May I share everything with you:
Sickness, pain,
Depression, fear,
And grief.

Lord,
May I share everything with you:
For then
I will experience
Your peace.

🖤

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand (Philippians 4:6-7; NLT).

 


Bear fruit

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love –
and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13; NLT).

Lord,
May my doubting
Wither, and decay;

But, may my faith in you
Gain strength each day.

Lord,
May my anguish
Fade, and die away;

But, may my hope in you
Increase each day.

Lord,
May my sins
Reduce, and cease, I pray;

But, may my love for you
Bear fruit each day.

🖤

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5; NIV). 

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NRSV).

 


Does God withdraw?

He makes darkness his secret place
(Psalm 18:11; LSV). 

When the sun sets on the hill,
Does God withdraw?

No, for he’s in darkness,
As in light.

When affliction blights my life,
Does God withdraw?

No, for he’s in weakness,
As in might.

When depression breaks my heart,
Does God withdraw?

No, for he’s in weeping,
As in cheer.

When anguish fills my soul,
Does God withdraw?

No, for he’s in all,
And he is here.

💙

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).


You will heal my sickness (#6 of 6 linked prayers)

He will heal us
(Hosea 6:1; NLT).

You will heal my sickness,
My depression, fear, and pain;

You will cleanse my sins, Lord God, 
And give me strength again;

You will ransom me from death,
And give me life anew –

When you call my spirit home,
To reunite with you.

The dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it
(Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).