17.1.23: Prayer #5

This will sound ridiculous, but whilst I was writing this blog yesterday morning, I didn’t realise that it followed on from the previous day. Rather, I had unconsciously assumed this short series on prayer had finished. However, it turned out that I was wrong, so here it is:

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get (Matthew 6:5; NLT).

In prayer, there is no room at all
To boast, Lord, or to pose, 
For you are truth. 

In prayer, there is no place at all
To hide, Lord, or pretend,
For you are light. 

In prayer, there is no scope at all
To judge, Lord, or to scorn,
For you are peace. 

In prayer, there is no time at all
To hate, Lord, or despise,
For you are love.  

In prayer, there is no chance at all
To shun, Lord, or divide,
For you are One.

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

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).


References 

The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6; NKJV).

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

God is light (1 John 1:5; NLT).

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1; NLT). 

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT). 

Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44; NLT). 

God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).

12.1.23: Many things in life are hard

A few days ago I was thinking about what a struggle it can be just to give to others, though perhaps giving is relatively easy in comparison to many of life’s other challenges. Almost before I knew it, I had to start writing today’s blog:

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). 

Many things in life
Are hard, Lord:
Giving, saying sorry,
And forgiving those who hurt us;
Facing fear, enduring failure,
Illness, disability, and grief.

Yet, with prayer and practice,
They get easier to manage,
Till they become
A source of growth,
Of thankfulness –
And even inner peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you (John 14:27; NIV). 


References 

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).

We know that 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).

31.12.22: Lord, save us! (with thanks for the safe crossing of C.O.)

Context: Yesterday I woke to the sound of a roaring sea, knowing that my friend was crossing to the island at that time. As I prayed for him, today’s blog burst into my mind. It is my prayer for all people in 2023:

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 7:20-23; NLT). 

Lord,

Please calm
Our raging storm
Of greed, and hate,
And war.

Heal every mind,
And heart, and soul –
Lord, save us!
I implore.

Change us,
As you changed Saint Paul,
For we, too, hate, oppress,
And kill.

In every mind,
And heart, and soul
Please whisper:
Peace, be still.

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39; NKJV).


References 

Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” (Matthew 8:25; NKJV).

Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. …As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:1;3-6; NLT). 

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12; NLT).

What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! (Matthew 10:27; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday, to my great joy, I received a package of beads and special Fiat rosary centrepieces, which I ordered several weeks ago from America. Having tracked their long journey, including the surprising information that delivery had been unsuccessfully attempted at 7am on Christmas morning, I was delighted to lay hands on them. In the evening I celebrated their arrival by making the first section of a Fiat rosary:

15.12.22: That’s easy

Context: I wrote this poem quite a while ago, after experiencing a series of shattering realisations during prayer. Yesterday I rediscovered it amongst my drafts, and decided to post it today:

I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NLT).

The Father himself loves you dearly (John 16:27; NLT). 

I love you, Lord – that’s easy!
But: You love me, too – that’s hard!

Why do you love me, Yahweh?
Why do you guide and guard? 

You know my every weakness,
And my sins are all too real,

So why do you help and comfort me?
Why do you cleanse and heal? 

Ah! It’s because you’re perfect, Lord,
Pouring out love and peace,

And sending your Son to make us all one:
Your mercy will never cease.  

His mercy endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34; NKJV).

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). 

20.11.22: Peace

Context: As I lay in bed yesterday, after praying, writing, and posting my blog, I picked up my night-cross again, wanting to pray for peace throughout the whole world. I asked God to fill every mind, heart and soul with peace, including:

  • All those who exercise any kind of power over others’ lives, for example: parents, partners, siblings, classmates, teachers, health staff, civil servants, social workers, priests, managers and supervisors
  • All those who hurt, criticise, insult, reject, exclude, dominate, bully, threaten, control, exploit, abuse and attack people weaker than themselves 
  • All those with political, military, civil, social, economic, religious and criminal power

Then this short, simple prayer emerged very gently into my mind, making me weep:

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14; NIV). 

If you can’t be kind,
Be peaceful;
If you can’t be wise,
Seek peace.

If you can’t be fair,
Live peacefully –
Remember:
God is peace. 

If you can’t do good,
Be peaceful;
If you can’t give love,
Spread peace.

If you can’t be well,
Wait peacefully –
Remember:
God is peace. 

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT).


References 

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace (Psalm 37:37; NIV).

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who proclaims peace (Isaiah 52:7; ABPE). 

Make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight (2 Peter 3:14; NLT).

Strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence (2 Peter 3:14; NET).

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14; ESV). 

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11; NIV).

Wait patiently for the LORD (Psalm 27:14; 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).

8.11.22: Inner peace

Context: Today’s blog grew from a single moment a couple of days ago, when I saw that inner peace comes through voluntarily choosing to embrace God’s will for us, rather than fighting against it, or pursuing our own personal desires.

Introduction

We say Christ’s familiar words so often, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; RSV), but do we really mean them? Do we truly embrace God’s will, giving thanks in all circumstances, no matter what he sends? (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

Perhaps we greet only things we think of as good, or desirable, as coming from God’s hand, whilst seeing everything we judge to be bad, unpleasant, or unwanted, as having nothing to do with him at all? (Job 2:10; NLT).

In fact, God sends all we experience: “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7; NIV). As the Book of Ecclesiastes advises: “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).

Trials and sorrows

Trials and sorrows are a normal, inevitable part of every human life (John 16:33; NLT). Our suffering is only increased when we deny or resist them, for it is useless to fight against God’s will (Acts 26:14; NLT).

Thus, the way to experience inner peace is by yielding to God. We can do this by actively choosing his will rather than our own, time after time: “Now yield and submit yourself to Him [agree with God and be conformed to His will] and be at peace” (Job 22:21; AMP; my emphasis).

So, as we remember that, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away,” let’s praise and thank God for everything, no matter what we must face and endure (Job 1:21; CSB).

Why embrace God’s will?

Some people may ask why embracing God’s will is more important than longing for, or pursuing, our own desires. There are several answers to this question:

  • God shares our suffering (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).
  • God speaks to us through every kind of suffering and pain (Job 33:19; TIB;  Job 36:15; NIV).
  • No matter how hard our lives are, God will be there to teach us (Isaiah 30:20; GNT).
  • God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).

Yielding to God

Paul specifically advises us to “…yield ourselves to God” (Romans 6:13; RSV), and a moment’s reflection will remind us of the huge consequences which can flow each time we do this. Think, for example, how differently events might have turned out:

  • If Mary had not said; “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” during the Annunciation (Luke 1:38; KJV). 
  • Or if Jesus had not prayed, “I want your will to be done, not mine” in the Garden of Gethsemane  (Luke 22:42; NLT).

Inner peace comes through accepting God’s will wholeheartedly 

So let’s ask God to help us endure our suffering patiently, whilst continuing to serve him as best we can (Hebrews 10:36; NLT). As Paul writes: “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. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7; NLT).

Incredibly, God’s peace can help us through even the most extreme suffering: “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 and comfort me” (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

Conclusion

The way to find inner peace is to embrace God’s will for us voluntarily, thanking him for everything he sends, both “good” and “bad”, with joyful hearts: “Submit to God, and you will have peace” (Job 22:21; NLT).

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).


Rosary-making news:

Thrillingly, I received my last few rosary-making necessities yesterday, especially some 1mm waxed polyester thread and larger beads. This enabled me to make my very first complete rosary. It is admittedly very simple, but hopefully usable, and is already bringing me joy.

26.10.22: Inner peace

Context: I prepared this blog yesterday at London City Airport, whilst waiting for my flight home, and with a migraine. These hospital trips are well beyond my physical and mental coping ability now, so I’m deeply hoping I won’t have to go again. On the plus side, I’ve met with nothing but friendliness and kindness, and seen how amazingly different people’s lives are in London, compared to my quiet island life.

Anyway, I dipped into my storehouse for this short poem, which arrived a few days ago:

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). 

Peace in sickness,
And in pain.

Peace in sorrow,
And in loss.

Peace in anguish,
And in fear.

Peace in dying:
You are here.

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


References

He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39; KJV). 

Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NLT). 

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

18.10.22: Transformation

Context: I’ve been struggling badly since a new drug was added to my cocktail a week or so ago. Amongst other side-effects, it made me unable to concentrate, or to pray, and therefore, unable to write. Worst of all, it made me feel that life was no longer worth living.

However, yesterday, with medical help, I reduced the quantity of this drug by 50%, and today, to my great joy, I found I could both pray, receive inspiration and write again.

Tomorrow I hope to post what I was given this morning, but for now, here is an astonishingly appropriate piece I chose and prepared last night, with no idea that my state of mind might be about to change.

This prayer arrived very early one morning some weeks ago, when I woke at dawn and couldn’t go back to sleep. The photo is the view from my bedroom window that day:

My God turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28; NIV). 

You turn my darkness into light,
My sickness, into health;
My weakness into strength, Lord,
And my poverty, to wealth.

You turn my mourning into joy,
My sighing, into prayer;
My loneliness, to oneness, Lord,
My selfishness, to care.

You turn my water into wine,
My sinfulness, to good;
My anger, into peace, Lord,
And my bitterness to love.

You turn my losses into gains,
My dross, to precious ore;
My death, Lord, to eternal life
With you, for evermore.

In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28; NIV).


References

I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life (John 5:24; NLT). 

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever! (Psalm 30:11-12; NLT). 

9.10.22: Let it be

Context: As my energy dwindles, I’m becoming less able to receive and write new material every day. This means I sometimes have to use a piece I wrote a while ago.

I always try to choose the most appropriate, and to bring it up to date as best I can. However, it’s hard not to feel a sense of letting you all down when I do so.

Early yesterday morning, while I was praying, I realised that it’s not a personal failure when I don’t receive and write something new. In fact such days can be extremely helpful, because they give me time to process and absorb what God has already shown me. It can also be a relief to rest more that day, without the pressure of having to express something new in words.

Later on, whilst saying grace over my breakfast, I found myself ending my prayer with these words: “Let it be unto me according to thy will.”

When I looked this phrase up, I discovered that it is not a direct quote from any of the Bibles I use, though this had been my working assumption. Instead, it draws on four separate verses:

  • Mary’s response to the angel at the Annunciation: “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38; KJV).
  • The sentence given to us by Christ when he taught us how to pray: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; RSV).
  • Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he fully faced the inevitability of the cross: “I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
  • Simeon’s prayer when he took Jesus in his arms at the presentation in the temple: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word” (Luke 2:29; KJV).

I plan to incorporate the first three of these verses into my prayers every day, and to use Simeon’s dedication as I’m dying. But may my last words be Christ’s final cry on the cross: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46; KJV).


Reading: Luke 2:21-32; NLT

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.

Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord – “either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”