26.1.23: A blessing in disguise

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

Yesterday morning I learned something that was completely new to me. I had begun a migraine the evening before, so I knew I needed to have a day of complete rest to help it pass. This rest-day happened to coincide with the day a friend’s husband was due to have major surgery.

Suddenly I saw the migraine as a blessing in disguise, because it created the time, space and opportunity I needed to pray for them both throughout the day. Immediately after this, I grasped that many other illnesses and adverse circumstances could also be used in the same way.

It may be that seeing our own sickness as an opportunity for intercession is linked to our willingness to embrace suffering, and to thank God for it. There is much I don’t yet understand about this subject, but I hope to learn more.

For now, I glimpse that this approach to illness could become a helpful, meaningful way of sharing Christ’s suffering, and of serving others. Perhaps it could even be described as a “vocation”.

Together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT). 

So, as a prisoner in the Lord, I beg you to walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which you have been called: with all humility and meekness, with patience, supporting one another in charity (Ephesians 4:1-2; CPDV).


References

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; NKJV). 

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).

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

In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

25.1.23: Life is a journey

This little prayer arrived a while ago, in an instant. I’m really grateful for it, because I have a migraine.

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You (Confessions, St. Augustine). 

Life is journey
To you,
With you,
In you,
And for you,
Living God.

We are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).


References 

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

With: When you go through deep waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:2; NLT). 

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

For: If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV). 

18.1.23: Help me to pray

Today’s little couplets began to arrive yesterday morning, when I kissed my icon of Jesus. To my surprise, everything I receive is still about prayer, so I’m just going with the flow.

Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray (Luke 9:28; NLT). 

Help me to pray with you, Jesus,
All day and all night.

Help me to pray in your Spirit,
And walk in your light.

Help me to pray to our Father,
In heaven above.

Help me to join you in Oneness,
And live in your love.

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV).


References 

They will pray day and night, continually (Isaiah 62:6; NLT). 

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:18; NIV).

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “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). 

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy (Matthew 6:9; NLT). 

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us” (Genesis 1:26; NLT). 

The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4;NIV). 

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday I made a simple, experimental prayer circlet to wear around my neck, and to hold. It’s loose enough to be able to move from one bead to the next using only one hand. After trying it out, I plan to re-make it with a moveable cross at intervals, as I think that will be helpful when I’m praying.

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.

13.1.23: Prayer #1

I find that interceding for others can easily become a burden. More and more people are added to my list, and hardly anyone is ever crossed off. Praying for them all can become a lengthy, repetitive, exhausting task, rather than a caring, heartfelt appeal for God to help them. Sometimes I’m just not well enough to manage it at all, even though I don’t want to neglect anyone who is suffering.

As I was reflecting on this a couple of days ago, today’s prayer came to me:

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT).

It doesn’t need to be a burden:
Pray, right now, for everyone,

Asking God to heal and bless them:
Simply pray through Christ, the Son.

Let the Holy Spirit pray
On your behalf, to God above.

Lift this troubled world to heaven:
He will help us all, with love.

The Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26; AMP).

After writing, then saying, this prayer, I suddenly saw that I could use my rosary to help me pray for others. So I tried it out, like this:

Holding the first bead of the first decade, I waited silently to see who came into my mind, then I prayed for them. Moving on to the next bead, I waited again to see who came to mind, and so on. When no more names appeared, I knew my intercessions were finished for the moment.

With this approach, I didn’t have to think about who to pray for, which was a relief. It also felt less mechanical than using a list – more natural, spontaneous, and supported by the Holy Spirit.

I quickly saw that I could use my rosary like this to pray discreetly for others in different settings, such as during medical treatments, or journeys, whilst walking, or waiting somewhere, and so on. Normally, I do this without a rosary, but find that it’s very easy to be distracted, to forget who I’m praying for, or even to forget that I’m praying. The more creative I can be with my intercessions, the fresher and more alive they will become. I already know that there will be more on this topic over the next few days. God is good!


References 

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion (Ephesians 6:18; NLT).

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father (John 14L13; NLT).

I am the LORD who heals you (Exodus 15:26; NLT). 

I am the one who wounds and heals (Deuteronomy 32:39; NLT).

10.1.23: Heaven

As soon as I started to pray last Monday, fresh prayers began to arrive. It was all I could do to keep up with them, and at one point, to my horror, I thought I had accidentally erased a whole piece. Fortunately, I managed to find it in the end. Here is one of the prayers I received that day:

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

Heaven
Is being one with God –
From genesis
Before our birth,
Through trials and sorrows
Here on earth;
In loss and gain,
In joy and pain –
Forever one
In love.

Heaven
Is being one with God –
Let’s offer thanks,
Rejoice and pray,
And follow Jesus
Every day.
Let’s seek his face,
And share his grace –
Forever one
In God.

Heaven
Is being one with God –
Let’s praise his name
With every breath,
And walk with him
In life and death.
Then, safe ashore,
We will adore –
Forever one
With God.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

9.1.23: Bad dreams

Context: Although I don’t feel anxious about my deteriorating health in the daytime, I have bad dreams about it almost every night. A few days ago I woke feeling particularly upset and disturbed by what I had experienced in my dream, and especially by how I’d felt, both physically and mentally.

My training and experience suggest that these dreams are telling me what’s going on in my unconscious mind, and that it might be helpful to talk them over. As I prayed about this, today’s verses came to mind. They arrived so quickly that it was all I could do to scribble them down. Later I was able to spend time reflecting on them, and editing them.

I’m getting old, and sick, Lord,
Let’s face facts –
I’m never going to do again
Some of the things I love.
I’m never going to do
What I’ve not done.

I’m running out of health,
And out of time.
I’m fine with this
When I’m awake,
But dream about it
Almost every night.

And that’s when I experience
My grief,
My weakness, tiredness,
Helplessness and fear;
Depression; getting lost;
Dementia; tears.

Day after day I wake up 
In distress.
Today, I recognised
That maybe I need help:
Lord God, I want to talk
About my dreams.

God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17; NLT). 

God can tell you what it means and set you at ease (Genesis 41:16; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital

Word is slowly getting round about The Rosary Hospital, and I’ve fulfilled another two commissions. Meanwhile, yesterday I finished making a simple five-decade rosary for fun, finding it helpful to experiment freely without having any particular recipient in mind.

7.1.23: Spirit

Yesterday was a bit of a struggle in terms of fatigue and pain, so this prayer, written earlier in the week, seemed like a good and cheering choice for today:

Pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20; RSV). 

Spirit of the Living God,
Please fill my mind,
And heart,
And soul.

Then pray
On my behalf,
Till all who suffer
Are made whole.


References 

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion (Ephesians 6:18; NLT). 

We are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT). 

The Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26; AMP).


The Rosary Hospital

On the plus side, I finished the beadwork of a fiat rosary which was ordered as a gift. Tomorrow I hope to complete it, ready for posting.

6.1.23: A circlet of prayer

Today’s blog came to me when I was praying yesterday morning. It links back to the day before, so if you want to refresh your memory, here is a link: https://wp.me/p45bCr-d9R.

Whilst writing the poem below, I saw in my mind’s eye a very simple circlet of beads to go with it. So, later in the day, I made a prototype, pictured above. Afterwards I realised it needs to have groups of eight beads, rather than 16.

It will have one bead per line, and will be said silently, in time with my breathing. A larger bead will mark the end of the last line. I will kiss each marker-bead as I come to it, before beginning the prayer again on the next eight beads. There will be enough beads in the circlet to say the prayer several times, making it a source of comfort and strength. Using it requires only one hand, so it can easily be said whilst lying down, sitting, standing, or walking.

Anyway, after this long introduction, here is today’s prayer. Of course, a circlet of beads is not necessary for praying this little meditation. You might like to try breathing in as you silently and slowly say the first line of each couplet, then out as you say the second. 

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

Jesus, I love you.
Jesus, forgive me.

Jesus, I thank you,
My staff, and my rod.

Jesus, please help me.
Jesus, I praise you.

Jesus, you love me,
My Lord and my God.

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


References 

In Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body (Colossians 2:9; NLT).

Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11; NLT).

God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19; NLT).

God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ (Colossians 1:19; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital

Do you remember me saying that I’d been able to give up supergluing the final knots on my rosaries? Yesterday, to my horror, my own (unglued) rosary came apart. Now I’m imagining all the unglued rosaries I’ve sent out coming apart. There’s nothing I can do about this other than to start using glue again, and making sure people know that if they have a problem, I’ll be very happy to re-cord (and glue), their rosary.

27.12.22: Pierced

Context: Today’s prayer came to me on the morning of Christmas Eve. It was very difficult to put into words. These verses are based on Jesus’ presentation in the Temple, when Simeon prophesied about his life, and about what was to come for Mary, his mother:

The deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul (Luke 2:35; NLT). 

Lord,
Pierce my mind
To cleanse each thought,
And pierce my heart,
For I am naught.

Then pierce my soul
Till we are one,
And pierce my flesh,
Like yours, God’s Son.

Lord,
Pierce my hands
To help me pray,
And pierce my feet
To share your way.

Then pierce my side
Till my love flows
Like yours, to all
Both friends and foes.

Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44; NLT).


 References

I am nothing (Job 40:4; NLT).

They will look on me, the one they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10; NIV). 

He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed (Isaiah 53:5; NLT).

They have pierced my hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; NLT).

One of the soldiers …pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out (John 19:34; NLT). 

Love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; NLT). 

Love the stranger (Leviticus 19:34; NKJV). 

Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital 

Just before Christmas, I made myself a fiat rosary, only to discover I’d missed out one crucial bead. So on Christmas Day I took it apart and re-made it, but ran out of cord just before the final knot! Fiat rosaries are quite complicated, so yesterday I gave myself a break by making a standard five-decade rosary. This went smoothly, which helped to restore my confidence: