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.

30.11.22: Time

Context: A few days ago I woke early, giving me the luxury of time to spend with Jesus, and out of that time, this little prayer gently arose:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35; NIV). 

It’s good to lie awake with you, Lord Jesus,
To pray, and reunite, and hear your voice.

It’s good to share this time with you, Lord Jesus:
Despite my trials and sorrows, to rejoice. 

It’s good to say I’m sorry, ask forgiveness,
And beg you, Lord, to help us live in peace.

It’s good to spend this time alone with you, Lord,
Until the day when time, for me, will cease. 

Behold, I am with you every day, even unto the end of time (Matthew 28:20; ABPE).


References 

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. 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 leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27; NLT). 

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; 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). 

24.11.22: In my dreams

Context: In dreams, I very rarely say or do anything overtly Christian, which seems both surprising and sad.

Yesterday morning I woke from a complicated, stressful dream, longing to pray. However, even before I could begin, this blog started to arrive. I tried hard to ignore it, which was impossible. It quickly became so loud and insistent that I had to give in, and write it down, like this:

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
To turn to you, and pray, Lord,
In my dreams;
To ask for your forgiveness
In my dreams,
Love others, Lord, and serve you –
In my dreams. 

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
So I can praise and thank you
In my dreams;
To revel in your presence
In my dreams,
And welcome all that happens –
In my dreams.

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
Then I will see your face, Lord,
In my dreams.
I’ll worship without ceasing
In my dreams,
And live in heaven on earth, Lord –
In my dreams.


Rosary news:

Well, since my most recent failure I’ve thought hard about rosary-making, watched some more YouTube videos, talked with my friend in the UK, and had a Zoom consultation with a lovely consecrated Sister who knows her rosaries. Then I threw the (metaphorical) rule-book into the (metaphorical) bin, and put together my own way of doing it, with the following result:

It seems very strong, and I’m tempted to ask my husband to test its joints, but don’t yet feel quite tough enough to deal with the disappointment if it immediately comes apart like the last one. Maybe I’ll ask him tomorrow….

NB: In the end, I plucked up my courage, he tested it, and it’s still in one piece so far!

2.11.22: All Souls’ Day

Context: This little prayer came to me on 28.10.22, well before I consciously registered that All Souls’ Day was fast approaching. I had to smile at God’s advance planning! It forms a pair with yesterday’s blog (https://wp.me/p45bCr-cIe).

The Messiah also died once for the sake of our sins, the Righteous One in the place of sinners, to bring you to God, and he died in body and lived in his Spirit. And he preached to those souls who were held in Sheol, those who from the first were not convinced (1 Peter 3; 18-19; PHBT).

Lord,

Heal the souls
Of all the dead –

Don’t punish them:
Forgive, I beg.

Lord, surely
They have cried

Enough? Your arms
Are open wide,

For you, alone,
Are love and grace:

Please welcome all
With your embrace.

I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him (Luke 15:18-20; NLT). 

References

The Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10; NLT).

God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth (1 Timothy 2:4; CEV).

Then I called on the name of Yahweh: “Yahweh, I beg you, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:4; WEB).

God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

By God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9; NLT).


First reading: Psalm 16:7-11; NLT

I will bless the LORD who guides me;
Even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
Or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
Granting me the joy of your presence
And the pleasures of living with you forever.

Second reading: Psalm 103:1-4; NLT

Let all that I am praise the LORD;
With my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
May I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death,

And crowns me with love and tender mercies.


Rosary-making update:

17.10.22: Healing

Healing

A few days ago, on waking and starting to pray, I began thinking about how Jesus heals people in body, mind, heart and soul, according to their need. Here are a few examples from the New Testament:

  • Body: Jesus heals a man with a deformed hand  (Luke 6:6-10; NLT).
  • Mind: Jesus heals a man with a severe mental illness (Mark 5:1-19; NLT).
  • Heart: Jesus heals Paul’s hatred through a spiritual experience (Acts 9:1-20; NLT).
  • Soul: Jesus forgives a man’s sins (Matthew 9:2-7; NLT).

Then I saw that whilst all healing is a great blessing:

  • The healing of the mind is more important than the healing of the body
  • The healing of the heart is more important than the healing of the mind
  • And the healing of the soul is even more important than the healing of the heart

In fact, Jesus made it completely clear that our souls are infinitely more important than our bodies, minds and hearts when he said: “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28; NLT). Therefore, the healing of the soul is the most important healing of all.

Forgiveness

Our souls can only be healed through God’s forgiveness. As the psalmist said long ago: “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you” (Psalm 41:4; NKJV). Thus, when Jesus taught us how to pray, the vital petition: “Forgive us our sins,” was immediately followed by the words: “as we forgive those who sin against us” (Luke 11:4; NLT).

He went on to explain why forgiving others is so  important: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15; NLT).

So, in order for us to be forgiven, and thus for our souls to be healed, we ourselves need to forgive those who sin against us. As I wrote these words yesterday, I suddenly glimpsed that forgiving others may be the deepest and most miraculous healing of all.

Of course, I’m not saying that forgiveness is easy. I know from painful, personal experience that it can take a lifetime to forgive those who have damaged us. However, with God all things are possible. Christ’s prayer for those who crucified him is our constant example: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34; NLT).

Pray for all souls

A little later, as this blog was coming together, I was given some electrifying words: Pray for the healing of all souls.

Instantly, I saw a whole, new realm of prayer and spiritual practice opening up before me, the implications of which I haven’t even begun to explore yet. It was as if I were being shown the most important task for the remainder of my life, a meaningful task I can carry out no matter how handicapped my body becomes.

Three stands of prayer

It quickly became clear that praying for the healing of all souls has at least three essential strands:

  • Asking God to help us all forgive those who have hurt us,
  • Asking God to forgive us all for our sins,
  • And asking God to restore our oneness with each other, and with God.

A daily prayer for the healing of all souls

As I embraced this idea, a simple prayer came into my mind:

Lord,
I pray for the healing of all souls.

Please help us all to forgive
Those who have sinned against us,

And forgive us all for the sins
We have committed against others,

So all souls are restored to unity
With one another, and with you.

I ask this through your dear Son’s name.
Amen.

He restores my soul (Psalm 23:3; NKJV).


References

The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7; WEB).

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV).

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me (John 17:21-3; NLT).

I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 5:23; CEV).

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


Reading

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves (James 1:19-22; NLT).

11.10.22: Like you

Context: Last Friday I tried to write a blog whilst having a treatment in hospital. However, this proved impossible, so in the evening I tried again, this time using a prayer I wrote a short while ago:

What you have done is put aside your old self with its past deeds and put on a new self, one that grows in knowledge as it is formed anew in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:9-10; TIB). 

God, transcending race and gender,
My Creator and Defender,
Teaching me with love so tender:
May I grow like you.

God, transcending creed and nation,
Worthy of all adoration,
My forgiveness and salvation:
Make me one with you.

God, transcending earth and heaven,
Heal the sin and fear which deaden
My poor heart, so I may leaven
All the world, like you.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened (Matthew 13:33; NRSV). 

19.9.22: The state of our world

  • Whilst praying this morning, I reflected on the severely unsettled, and unsettling, state of our world:

Those who hold power are taking their stand, gathering their forces against YHWH (Psalm 2:1; TIB).

  • But then I saw that God is just as unchanging, powerful and loving as ever:

I am the LORD, and I do not change (Malachi 3:6; NLT).

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all (1 Chronicles 29:11; KJV).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

  • God waits for us to repent, so we can be forgiven, and start to change:

The LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT). 

Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; NLT).

  • So I prayed that we will all repent, turn to God, and start changing our lives before it’s too late: before we destroy the earth, our only home, and all her plants, creatures and people, through our foolish wars, hatred, selfishness, greed and ignorance:

Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the LORD’s forgiveness before it is too late. For the LORD has threatened them with his terrible anger (Jeremiah 36:7; NLT).


Reading: Psalm 2, The Inclusive Bible 

Why are the nations creating such an uproar?  Why all this commotion among the peoples? 

Those who hold power are taking their stand, gathering their forces against YHWH, against God’s Anointed One. “Let’s break their chains!” they say. “Let’s throw off their shackles!” 

But the One who sits enthroned in the heavens laughs; the Sovereign One derides them, then rebukes them in anger and, enraged, terrifies them: “It is I who installed my ruler on Zion, on the mountain of my holiness!” 

I will proclaim God’s decree – YHWH said to me: “You are my own; I’ve given birth to you today. Just ask – I’ll give you the nations as your inheritance! I’ll give you the ends of the earth as your possession! You’ll break them with an iron scepter; you’ll shatter them as easily as a clay pot.” 

So, you rulers, be wise! And you who hold power, stand warned! Serve YHWH and rejoice – but do so with fear and trembling. Pay homage to God’s Own lest you be destroyed on your way in a blaze of anger – for God’s passion can flare up without warning. 

Happiness comes to those who make God their refuge! 

New life

Context: All I can say about today’s poem is that it arrived on its own. I know I wrote it on Saturday 27.8.22. because it’s there in my word-processor, and every piece is dated sequentially. However, I have no memory of writing it. All I can do is to accept it with gratitude. Fortunately, it needed very little work to reach its final form.

Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; NLT). 

You lead us to sorrow,
Repentance and tears,

To faith and forgiveness,
The end of our fears;

To healing, and growing,
To hope, and delight,

To giving, and service –
To love, and new life.

You have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God (1 Peter 1:23; NLT).


References 

Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone (Romans 5:18; NLT). 

Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17; NLT). 

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NKJV). 

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

My inner wolf

Context: Following the recent blog about my shadow-self (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-bXF), this related, rather strange, exploratory and deeply metaphorical prayer surfaced yesterday, soon after I woke up. It was very hard to write!

It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within.
(Mark 7:20-3; NLT). 

A wolf from the desert will pounce on them (Jeremiah 5:6; NLT). 

I’m sensing my inner wolf,
Hearing it howl,
Glimpsing my shadow-self,
Watching it prowl;

Dreading my temper, Lord,
Hiding my fear,
Loathing my shameful greed:
Always so near.

Yet, in my heart, Lord,
I’m seeing your face,
Asking forgiveness
And seeking your grace.

Mingle my shadow-self
With your pure light,
For I face temptation
All day, and all night.

You are my Shepherd,
My staff and my rod;
You are my All-In-All:
Jesus, my God.

You are my chosen way:
Though I still sin,
You are eternal life –
Jesus, within.

We live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.
(1 John 5:20; NLT). 


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

Jesus

They laid them all before Jesus, and he healed them all
(Matthew 15:30; NLT). 

Jesus, 

1. May your healing hand
Touch all of us today,

2. Your mercy and forgiveness
Show everyone the way;

3. Your blessed Holy Spirit
Help all the world to pray,

4. Your light and your example,
Bring back all those who stray.

I will search for my lost ones who strayed away,
and I will bring them safely home again
(Ezekiel 34:16; NLT).


References

1. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:30; NLT).

2. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him (Daniel 9:9; NKJV). 

3. The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; NRSV).

4. I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life (John 8:12; NLT).

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God (Ephesians 5:2; NLT).