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:

28.9.22: Honest prayer

Context: This blog had a rather unusual start in life. It began to arrive just as I was about to leave my hotel room early yesterday morning to walk the short distance to London City Airport. The words I was given were clearly an ending, so I hastily jotted them down, then set off, thinking no more about them.

At the airport, I had a very welcome breakfast, went to my gate and boarded the plane. Just as we were taking off, the beginning of this blog arrived, so I had to repeat it in my mind until the plane levelled out and I could reach for my iPad. By the time we landed, the first draft was largely complete. This is what I received: 

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

Introduction

I often find it impossible to say “Amen” to other people’s prayers, to join in with printed responses during services, and to sing congregational hymns. This is because:

  • I don’t agree with what is being asked for, or said.
  • A prayer or hymn doesn’t speak for me, or doesn’t express what is in my heart at the time.
  • The language used is formal, grand or flowery: that’s not how I talk to God.
  • The prayers or hymns are too long for me to take in, or to make my own.
  • The person leading the prayers speaks so quietly that I can’t tell what they are saying.
  • The prayers are said so impersonally, or so quickly, that they seem devoid of meaning.

My aims

Reflecting on these reservations helped me to draw up a list of personal aims:

  • To pray because I want to, rather than because I think I ought to.
  • To pray for those who come to mind, rather than working my way through a list of those I feel I should include.
  • Not saying “Amen” to prayers I don’t agree with, instead quietly sharing with God that I don’t concur.
  • Not joining in with hymns whose words don’t speak for me.
  • Not ignoring, overriding, hiding, or suppressing my hurts, irritations, disappointments, anger, judgements, fears etc. Rather, I aim to be honest about them, facing their truth squarely with God, who knows exactly what is in my mind and heart.
  • Not pretending to feel other than how I actually feel. Rather, I aim pray about how I’m really feeling, and what I’m really thinking.
  • Not saying what I think God wants to hear.
  • Facing up to things I’ve got wrong and asking God to help me put them right.
  • Avoiding grand or flowery language, instead praying simply and honestly, like a child.
  • Not worrying about how short or long my prayers are, as long as they’re honest, genuine and heartfelt.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I aim to follow my golden rule:

Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).


References 

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT). 

As for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts (Jeremiah 12:3; NLT). 

You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord (Psalm 139:4; NLT).


Today’s reading: Matthew 6:7-13; NLT

When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles. They think God will hear them if they use a lot of words. Don’t imitate them. Your God knows what you need before you ask it.

This is how you are to pray: ‘Abba God in heaven, hallowed be your name! May your reign come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven: give us today the bread of Tomorrow.

And forgive us our debts, as we hereby forgive those who are indebted to us. Don’t put us to the test, but free us from evil.’

NB: I can say “Amen” to this without reservation, apart from disliking some of the punctuation!

Just pray

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). 

When someone comes into your mind:
Just pray for them –
It won’t take long.

When seeing people in the street:
Just bless them all –
You can’t go wrong.

When others seem to need a hand:
Just offer help –
Don’t be afraid. 

When someone hurts you, don’t be weak:
Just pause –
Then turn the other cheek.

If someone slaps you on the right cheek,
offer the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39; NLT).

God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right
and patiently endure unfair treatment (1 Peter 2:19; NLT). 

She is mine

My hands have made both heaven and earth;
they and everything in them are mine.
I, the Lord, have spoken! 
(Isaiah 66:2; NLT).

All of you together are Christ’s body,
and each of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27; NLT).

1. She is mine!
She’s my body –
So do her no harm.

2. He is mine!
He’s my body –
Don’t hurt, or destroy.

3. They are mine!
They’re my body –
Don’t wound, rape, or kill.

4. You are mine!
You’re my body –
Like me, do God’s will. 

I have come down from heaven not to do my will
but to do the will of him who sent me (John 6:38; NIV).

God’s will is for you to be holy 
(1 Thessalonians 4:3; NLT). 

References 

1-2. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9; NIV). 

3. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-8; NIV).

Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13; KJV). 

4. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his (Psalm 100:3; NLT).

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God (Psalm 143:10; NLT). 

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10; KJV).

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)

Suffering

God teaches people through suffering
and uses distress to open their eyes.
(Job 36:15; GNT). 

1. You teach, and train, and test us all
By sending good and ill –

2. We only hurt ourselves, Lord,
When we fight against your will.

3. May we accept our suffering
With joy, and thanks, and prayer,

4. Trusting you to help us grow in love,
Through all we bear.


References

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

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? (Lamentations 3:38; NASB95).

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NIV). 

2. It is useless for you to fight against my will (Acts 26:14; NLT). 

You are hurting yourself by kicking against the goads (Acts 26:14; NET). 

It’s foolish to fight against me! (Acts 26:14; CEV). 

Submit to God and be at peace with him (Job 22:21; NIV).

3. This is my intense suffering, but I must bear it (Jeremiah 10:19; CSB). 

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT).

4. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; NIV).


 

Good Friday

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
(Luke 6:27-8; NIV).

Beyond all torment, come what may,
Is Christ,
Who tells us how to pray.

Beyond all darkness and distress
Is Christ,
Who teaches us to bless.

Beyond all anguish, hate, and blood
Is Christ,
Who shows us how to love.

Beyond all hunger, thirst, and pain
Is Christ,
Who died, and rose again.

Beyond all terror, grief, and war
Is Christ,
Who lives for evermore.

I died, and behold I am alive for evermore.
(Revelation 1:18; RSV).


The Father shares our tears

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).

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens.
(Psalm 68:19; NIV). 

Beyond our death, all grief will end;
Till then, the Father shares our tears.

After death, all dread will cease;
Till then, he helps us face our fears.

Beyond our death, all pain will end;
Till then, the Saviour shares our cross.

After death, all cares will cease;
Till then, he helps us bear each loss.

Beyond our death, all hate will end;
Till then, the Spirit is our guide.

After death, all hurt will cease;
Till then, he’s always at our side.

Beyond our death, all wrong will end;
Till then, the Lord forgives our sin.

After death, all shame will cease;
Till then, we put our trust in him.

🖤

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). 

 


Communion

I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
(John 6:51; NLT).

1. At communion, all are fed
From one small dish: your living bread.
At communion, all can sup
Your living wine, from one small cup.

2. Thus, you fed the thousands, Lord,
With living faith and love outpoured.
Thus, you feed the millions, still,
To give your followers their fill.

3. Yet, many spurn your flesh and blood –
Perhaps they have not understood.
Others choose to hurt, and take,
Look down on strangers, judge, and hate.

4. Lord, you gave your precious life
To set us free from sin and strife:
Call everyone, and make us new,
So we will trust and follow you.

5. Call us, Jesus, great High Priest,
Until we come to join your feast.
Surely, Lord, it’s not too late?
You love us all, and keenly wait

6. To heal, forgiving every sin,
And helping us to change within.
So, Lord, I beg you, plead, entreat
That all will come to you, and eat.

🖤

Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh (John 6:51; NLT).


References

1. As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:26-8; NLT). 

2. Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him …Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted (John 6:5,8-11-13; NLT). 

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day (John 6:54; NIV). 

3. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1; NIV).

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord (Psalm 14:2-4; NIV).

4. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45; NLT).

I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart (Ezekiel 36:26; NLT). 

Trust in God and trust also in me (John 14:1; NLT).

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said (Matthew 4:19; NIV).

5. “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God” (Romans 14:11; NLT). 

People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:29; NIV).

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

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

Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the Lord’s forgiveness before it is too late (Jeremiah 36:7; NLT). 

6. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (Psalm 103:3; NLT). 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20; NIV).


 

You hear me

1. Father God,
You hear me,
And never leave my side.

Each word, each sigh,
Each prayer, each cry:
You know; you grasp; you care.

2. Father God,
You see me,
And never leave my side.

Each hurt, each tear,
Each pain, each fear:
You know; you grasp; you share.

3. Father God,
You love me,
And never leave my side.

Each doubt, each loss,
Each sin, each cross:
You know; you grasp; you bear.

🖤


References

1. He hears my voice (Psalm 116:1; NLT).

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect me and comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

You hear my every sigh (Psalm 38:9; NLT).

You know all about me (Psalm 139:1; CEV).

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (1 Peter 5:7; NLT).

 2. You are the God who sees me (Genesis 16:13; NIV).

He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust (Psalm 103:14; 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). 

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

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble, or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:35-8; NLT).

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19; NIV).