I’m nothing

Note

Greetings to all who see this post. Yesterday I received some negative comments about my way of addressing God in the day’s blog (I seek you: https://wp.me/p45bCr-bku).

This put me in a difficult position, because I can only express and share what God gives me, even though what I write may be rejected by some readers.

However, today I was shown a way forward which will hopefully honour us all. So from now on each prayer will be purely personal, addressed directly from my heart to God within. When appropriate, I will also briefly outline the context for some prayers.


Context of today’s prayer

Tomorrow I hope to face my most challenging fear: using a lift. I’ve been severely claustrophobic since early childhood, and have avoided lifts whenever possible throughout my life. Now that I use a rollator, stairs have become impossible, so it’s time to tackle this fear head-on. Sadly, with a migraine tonight, though, I may not be well enough to face it…

I am nothing but dust and ashes (Genesis 18:27; NIV). 

1. I’m nothing, God:
I’m small, and weak, and mortal –
Made of dust.

2. Without you
I can’t even pray,
But in your strength I trust.

3. I beg your Spirit,
Deep within,
To help me face my fears,

4. To intercede,
To sigh for me,
And, one day, dry my 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).


References 

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

2. You cannot do anything without me (John 15:5; CEV).

We do not know how to pray as we ought (Romans 8:26; NRSV).

The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me (Psalm 28:7; NIV). 

3. You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you (1 John 2:27; NLT). 

The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26; NRSV).

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall (2 Samuel 22:30; NLT). 

Your strength will support me (Psalm 139:9; NLT). 

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13; NLT)..

4. That very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; NRSV).

I seek you

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
(Psalm 63:1; NIV). 

1. Father God, I seek you,
Mother God, I greet you,
Mighty God, transcending all,
Your Spirit falls like dew.

2. Father, I adore you,
Mother, I implore you,
Spirit, intercede for me,
Forgive me, make me new.

3. Father, you defend me,
Mother, you befriend me,
Spirit, plead within my soul
Till I am one with you.

4. Clouds and darkness hide you,
Yet I walk beside you
In the light of your dear Son,
For Christ is shining through.

For you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.
(Malachi 4:2; NLT). 

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).

His face shone like the sun (Matthew 18:2; NIV).


References 

1. Transcendent power belongs to God (2 Corinthians 4:7; RSV). 

Your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people (Isaiah 26:19; NLT). 

Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants (Deuteronomy 32:2; NLT).

2. The Spirit, too, comes to help us in our weakness. For we don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit expresses our plea with groanings too deep for words. And God, who knows everything in our hearts, knows perfectly well what the Spirit is saying, because her intercessions for God’s holy people are made according to the mind of God (Romans 26:27; TIV). 

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

So you also are complete through your union with Christ (Colossians 2:10; NLT). 

4. Clouds and thick darkness surround him (Psalm 97:2; NIV). 

He makes darkness his secret place, around him, his dwelling place, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies (Psalm 18:11; LSV). 

You are a God who hides (Isaiah 45:15; CSB). 

Walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8; NLT). 

Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (John 20:31; NLT). 

I turn to you

Introduction

Hello to all readers. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m learning  to make my writing more inclusive. Hopefully, as I improve, every blog  will incorporate a fuller understanding of God.

However, whilst I’m learning how to do this, I may sometimes need to post two versions of the same prayer, because I don’t yet have sufficient skill to amalgamate them into one. On these occasions, the first will use traditional language, whilst the second will attempt a more inclusive expression of the same basic inspiration.

Please bear with me as I work to develop the highly challenging art of more inclusive writing. God willing, in time my skills will improve. Then, posting two different versions will no longer be necessary, as I will be incorporating a fuller understanding of God into all my writing.

Today, I could have posted just one version of the prayer below, but I wanted to share with you a sense of the challenges involved in inclusive writing. If you find all this irritating, please be as patient, tolerant and understanding towards me as you can. It’s a very big step of healing for me to begin embracing a broader understanding of God, who includes all that is both masculine and feminine, whilst transcending all divisions, such as gender, race and creed (thank you to K.B. for your tremendous help and guidance in this matter). Because of the emotional abuse I suffered throughout my childhood, I have always found it very difficult to embrace the femininity of God.

Please pray for me, as I pray for you, remembering that we are all at different stages of our spiritual development, as we strive to reach the fullest possible understanding of God, within our human limitations.


Version 1: using traditional language

When I awake, I will find you nearby (Psalm 139:18; CEV).

Lift up your hands to him in prayer (Job 11:13; NLT). 

1. I turn to you each morning, Lord,
And lift my hands
In prayer.

2. I turn to you each afternoon,
And lift my hands
In love.

3. I turn to you each evening, Lord,
And lift my hands
In praise.

4. I turn to you; I lift my hands;
I close my eyes –
And gaze.

We fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
(2 Corinthians 4:18; NLT).

Notes

Please scroll down for references, below version 2

Here is a link to my recent article on lifting the hands to pray: https://wp.me/p45bCr-bb8


Version 2: using more inclusive language

When I awake, I will find you nearby (Psalm 139:18; CEV).

Lift up your hands to him in prayer (Job 11:13; NLT). 

1. I turn to God each morning,
And lift my hands
In prayer.

2. I turn to God each afternoon,
And lift my hands
In love.

3. I turn to God each evening,
And lift my hands
In praise.

4. I turn to God; I lift my hands;
I close my eyes –
And gaze.

We fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
(2 Corinthians 4:18; NLT).

Note

Here is a link to my recent article on lifting the hands to pray: https://wp.me/p45bCr-bb8


References

2. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven (Lamentations 3:41; NLT).

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

3. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice (Psalm 55:17; NKJV).

Lift up holy hands in prayer, and praise the Lord (Psalm 134:2; NLT).   

4. I think about you, God, before I go to sleep, and my thoughts turn to you during the night (Psalm 63:6; CEV). 

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4; NIV). 

A message 19.6.22.

The Almighty …blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and the womb.
(Genesis 49:25; NIV).

✝️ Greetings and blessings to everyone who visits and follows here. I pray for you all each day.

This extra message is to let you know that from tomorrow onwards, I will be using inclusive language for my blogs wherever possible. When this goes beyond my writing ability, I will try to post two versions, one using the traditional male pronoun for God, and one using more inclusive language.

I’m well aware that whilst some people will welcome this change, others would find it a big challenge if I moved suddenly to expressing a wider understanding of God. I’ve  been pondering about how best to begin this transition for some time, but today God showed me this simple way forward, to my great joy.

Later the same day:

As I look back over my recent writing, it’s proving hard to find a piece that doesn’t already use inclusive language, so you may well not notice much difference. However, I still want to be upfront that this change is on its way.

I hope very much that those who find the change difficult will not reject these prayers out of hand. To begin with, when there are two versions of the day’s blog, I will always put the traditional version at the top of the page, so you need not look any further if that is more helpful for you. This is why I have arranged the photos illustrating this message with a more traditional choice above, and a more inclusive version at the end.

I pray that, in time, embracing a fuller and deeper understanding of God will become a huge blessing for us all. Please be patient whilst I learn to adapt the way I write. I’m sure there will be times when inclusivity will present me with a steep learning curve!

✝️ With love from Ruth xxxxx

As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our mother.
(Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 59, Julian of Norwich).

God’s presence

I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth.
(Psalm 116:9; NLT). 

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).

🌺 To live in God’s presence is rejoice all the time, and to rejoice all the time is to live in his presence. Nothing in life or death can ever separate us from his love, which is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

🌺 To live in God’s presence is to pray constantly, and to pray constantly is to live in his presence. There is nothing we can ever feel, think, say, or do that we don’t share with him, and that he doesn’t share with us.

🌺 To live in God’s presence is to give thanks in all circumstances, and to give thanks in all circumstances is to live in him. There is nothing we can ever experience that he doesn’t send, and from which he will not bring good.

In all things God works for the good of those who love him.
(Romans 8:28; NIV).


References

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts, fully trusting him (Hebrews 10:20-22; NLT).

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence (Ephesians 3:12; NLT).

Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-9; NLT).

I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things (Isaiah 45:7, NLT).

The orans prayer posture


I want people everywhere to lift their hands up reverently in prayer.
(1 Timothy 2:8; TIB).

Introduction

Jewish people have a long-established tradition of praying in the orans position. This means standing with the elbows close to the body, while the lower arms and hands are uplifted and extended. The practice is often mentioned in the Old Testament (eg Psalm 134:2; NLT, and Psalm 28:2; NLT). Early Christians were encouraged to pray in this posture by the apostle Paul (1 Timothy 2:8; TIB), but over recent centuries its use has declined in some denominations.

Orans means “one who is praying or pleading” (Wikipedia). For those who are in good health, standing to pray with uplifted arms may present no problems. However, for those who are sick, disabled or in pain, perhaps with limited balance, strength, or energy, this posture may seem too challenging to try. Fortunately, though, it can be adapted to suit individual needs.

This is important, as whatever our state of health, the orans posture offers a wonderful way of communicating with God. Furthermore, it can be particularly helpful when we are distressed, or afraid, or when prayer seems impossible.

The basic, free-standing orans posture

🌺 In the basic, free-standing orans position the feet are planted solidly on the floor, slightly apart. The elbows are tucked in at the waist, touching the sides of the body. The lower arms are extended forwards, upwards and outwards. The hands are gently cupped, facing each other, with the palms turned slightly upwards (see photo at the top of this article).

The significance of the orans posture for me

When I stand in the orans posture, I see my feet as being grounded on the base of a large triangle. I visualise the sloping sides of the triangle as running through the centre of each palm, just as the nails pierce Christ’s hands in many depictions of his crucifixion. The sides of the triangle continue upwards, meeting above my head. This creates a sacred space, whose apex is in heaven.

The orans position helps me to be more fully aware of God’s constant, loving and liberating presence within and around me, no matter how, or where, I am. It fosters a sense of co-creating, entering, and sharing a sacred space with God. Within this space, I consciously embrace my essential oneness and communion with our Lord (see Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT, and 2 Samuel 22:20; NIV).

Praying in this posture also reflects and expresses my intention to be completely open with myself and with God, who desires our honesty at all times. It facilitates a sense of sharing everything with God, who suffers with me, and of giving, as well as receiving (see Psalm 51:6; NLT, and Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Adapting the orans position

As mentioned above, the orans posture can readily be adapted to fit individual needs. So, I would like to offer some examples of how it can be used whilst standing, leaning, kneeling, sitting and lying. There are several options for some body positions, each offering a little more support than the one before.

Leaning

🌺 Stand with your back to a wall. Position your heels a few inches away from the wall, with feet slightly apart. Lean back very slightly, allowing your shoulders to rest against the wall. Keep your elbows by your sides and raise your hands as for the free-standing position described above.

🌺
Stand facing a wall, with feet slightly apart, and a few inches away from it. Place your lower arms against the wall, leaning on them, so the wall helps to support your weight. Keep your back straight. You can also rest your forehead against the wall, if you wish. Bend your wrists slightly backward, so you can hold your hands away from the wall, cupping them as shown in the photo below.

🌺 Lean your thighs or hips against a solid support, such as the edge of a dining table or the front of small chest of drawers. Position your arms and hands and arms as for the free-standing position.

🌺 Stand two or three inches away from a solid chest-high piece of furniture, such as a tall-boy. Lean your abdomen and chest against it, then lift your arms and hands into the orans posture, as in the photo below.

Kneeling

🌺 Kneel, facing a hard chair, or bed. Keeping your elbows by your sides, rest the sides of your extended hands on the support in front of you. If the surface is too low, use a pillow to raise it to a comfortable level.

Sitting

🌺 Sit up reasonably straight on a hard chair. Keep your elbows by your sides and feet flat on the floor, slightly apart. Rest your lower arms on your thighs, cupping and tilting your hands, as before. Place a pillow across your lap if you need to raise the level.

🌺 Sit back comfortably in an armchair, whilst adopting the orans position with your arms and hands. Use a pillow on your lap if you need to raise the level, as below.

🌺 Sit with your legs raised, using a footstool, or reclining chair. Rest your arms and hands on your thighs, or on a pillow, as before.

NB Sitting in the orans posture is particularly useful if you want to pray discreetly during a meeting, conversation or argument, whilst travelling, watching TV, relaxing etc. If you are sitting at a table, you can keep your arms and hands below it in the core position. If there is no table, place a jumper, coat, or newspaper on your lap, then position your lower arms and hands underneath it, so you can pray privately, even though you are with others.

Laying

🌺 Lay on the floor or in bed, with a pillow supporting your head and neck, feet slightly apart, and arms by your sides. With relaxed shoulders, rest your elbows on the floor or mattress, whilst placing the sides of your hands on the tops of your thighs. The hands are tilted slightly upwards and cupped, as always. You can keep them above or below a blanket, or the bedclothes.

🌺 Lay on the floor or in bed, as above, but this time place your elbows a few inches away from your sides. If you are in bed, your upper arms and elbows cab rest on the bedclothes. Bend your elbows, raising your lower arms until the backs of your cupped hands rest on the pillow beside your head, as illustrated below.

🌺 Lay flat on the floor or in bed. This time, keep your arms relaxed by your sides. Let the backs of your hands rest on the mattress, a few inches away from your thighs. Keep the hands cupped, with palms tilted gently upwards and towards each other, just as before.

Notes

Be creative when you pray in the orans position:

Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset (Exodus 17:12; NLT).

Lean or sit on whatever solid surface is nearby, for support. Prop up your arms, wrists, or hands with pillows. If you get cold whilst standing, leaning, or kneeling, wrap a blanket loosely around you, tucked in at the waist. Use a blanket or duvet to keep warm whilst sitting or lying down.

You can look gently upwards, or straight ahead, or bow your head, just as you wish. Your eyes can be open or closed. If you wish to, make the sign of the cross before you begin, and kiss your fingers, blessed through prayer, when you end. Keep on praying, even as you move out of the orans position to continue with your daily activities. Allow yourself to improvise, doing whatever feels most helpful, appropriate and expressive at the time.

Whether your prayers last for moments, minutes or hours, make sure you are as relaxed and comfortable as possible. It’s fine to change from one body position to another, just as you feel the need. Don’t push yourself to maintain the posture for longer than you want to, or are able to manage comfortably. The most important thing is to experience the sense of space, peace, love, safety, openness, freedom and communion with God offered by this posture.

Lastly, you can adapt the orans attitude to your personal needs. For example, when praying at my shrine, which is on a tall chest of drawers, I lean against the chest, positioning my hands just above some of the small items at the front of the shrine. In this way, I become part of the shrine, which I find particularly helpful.

Similarly, when walking outdoors with my rollator, I can pray whilst holding the handles with cupped hands, keeping my fingers, slightly curled, resting safely on the brake levers. Walking with my hands in the orans position in my pockets would have a similar effect. Alone, in the house I can walk about freely with my hands in position as I go, even whilst carrying light objects.

When saying grace, I can rest my lower arms on the edge of the table, lifting my wrists and hands into the orans position to bless God’s gifts.

Even if I only have one hand free, I can still pray mindfully, for example, whilst cleaning my teeth. There are countless personal variations like this to discover, develop, enjoy and value for everyone who chooses to incorporate the orans posture into a life of constant prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

Praying in the orans posture

Whenever you use the orans posture, you might like to ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray (Romans 8:26-7; TIB). Then, with open hands, mind, heart and soul, you can share yourself completely with God as you pour out your prayers (Psalm 62:8; TIB). You can intercede for others, for the world, or for yourself. You can pray aloud, or in your head, or without using words at all, just as the Spirit moves you. Wordless prayer in the orans posture may be particularly helpful for those who want to pray, but find it impossible.

Conclusion

I very much hope that some of you will try praying in the orans posture, and that you will find it as liberating, comforting, helpful and fulfilling as I do. Whether our prayers are short or long, it offers a very effective way of consciously choosing to engage with God.


Acknowledgement 

My warmest thanks to Wikipedia for introducing me to the standing orans prayer posture.

Whatever God gives

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show
that they should always pray and never give up
(Luke 18:1; NLT).

1. Whatever God gives,
And however you are,
Pray at once,
And pray honestly –
Just as Christ bid.

2. Whatever God takes
And however you feel,
Pray at once,
And pray honestly –
Just as Christ did.

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).

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


References 

1. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21; CSB). 

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

Let everyone who is faithful pray to you immediately (Psalm 32:6; CSB). 

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

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).

2. Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:36-8; NLT). 

Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

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). 

Faith

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1; NLT).

The Apostles said to the Lord, “Give us faith” (Luke 17:5; WNT). 

Please give me, Lord, the faith I need
To talk with you both night and day,
To listen, learn, and grow like you,
By following your way.

Please give me, Lord, the faith I need
To pray for others day and night,
And serve you in all humankind,
By walking in your light.

Please give me, Lord, the faith I need
To worship you unceasingly,
To praise your name, and seek your face,
By trusting you implicitly.

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8; NIV).

Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory (1 Peter 1:21; NLT). 

Don’t give up


I might as well give up and die (Psalm 28:1; NLT).

Since God in his mercy has given us this new way,
we never give up (2 Corinthians 4:1; NLT). 

1. Don’t give up,
And don’t give in:
Weep and pray with me.

2. Don’t give up,
And don’t give in:
I will hear your plea.

3. Don’t give up,
And don’t give in:
Weep, then weep no more.

4. Don’t give up,
And don’t give in:
I have good in store.

5. Don’t give up,
And don’t give in:
Try again with me.

6. Don’t give up,
And don’t give in:
I will set you free.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed
(John 8:36; NLT).


References 

1. While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence (Hebrews 5:7; NLT).

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

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

2. I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy (Psalm 116:1; NLT). 

3. “Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you,” says the Lord (Jeremiah 31:16; NLT). 

4. “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11; NLT). 

We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28; GNT).

5. Come on, all of you, try again! (Job 17:10; NLT). 

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NIV).

Be sure of this: I am with you always (Matthew 28:20; NLT).

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

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).

6. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36; NLT). 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10; NIV).

The Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17; NLT). 

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32; NLT).

My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10; NLT).