22.1.23: Help me to pray

Last Friday I was praying sleepily with my circlet, saying my favourite set morning prayers. As soon as I reached the first cross-bead, and asked the Holy Spirit to help me to pray, today’s couplets shot into my mind. All I had to do was to write them down.

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

Holy Spirit,
Help me to pray.

Help me with every word
I say.

Help me with all I think,
And do:

Help me to live
In you.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25; KJV). 

God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us (1 John 4:13; NLT).


Stop Press:

Whilst I was waiting for the kettle to boil, an idea burst into my mind: I can put small sticky notes in places where I do specific tasks, during which it’s easy (and safe), to pray. Here are a few examples: next to the kettle, on the shower-screen, by the sink, at the foot of the stairs, on the frame of a favourite icon, on a work-top, and so on. Each note will show the name of one person or cause I want to pray for. 

As I begin each task I will see the note, and be reminded to pray for that person whilst doing that specific job. The person to be prayed for will quickly come to be associated with the task, so praying for them will become doubly easy to remember.

Sticky notes are simple to put up, remove and change. Hopefully this will help to stop my intercessions seeming like an insurmountable list to be waded through all at once. Instead, they will be spread out over the course of the day.


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday someone asked for a prayer-circlet for a member of their family. I offered to include a cross in it, which worked out well. Now I’m planning to make a similar one for myself.

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).

15.1.23: Prayer #3

Ah! To my great relief, yesterday I discovered that using my rosary to pray has greatly eased the long-standing problem I mentioned a few days ago. This is the need to break off my personal prayers whenever a new prayer I need to write down starts to arrive. Each time this happens, I experience an inner conflict. I recognise the new prayer’s significance immediately, and know I need to start writing, but I don’t want to break off from whatever I am seeing, saying, or experiencing in order to do so.

However, yesterday morning brought a change. Using the new approach to prayer described the day before (https://wp.me/p45bCr-deF), I discovered that I could use my left hand to keep hold of the bead I was praying on, whilst typing on my iPad with my right. It’s hard to describe what a huge step forward this is for me, but the bottom line is that it worked.

Pausing to write in this way didn’t interrupt my prayers at all, because the writing simply became part of them. As soon as I’d written down what I’d been given, I was able to go straight back to the bead I’d reached, and to continue my prayers without experiencing any loss of continuity. Praying and writing became one.

This might not sound very important to anyone else, but it’s an answer to prayer for me, and a great relief. Even as I type these words, I’m still holding the bead I had reached when I had to start writing this blog. Thank you, Jesus, that my circle of prayer can remain unbroken.

My rosary prayers can continue on and off throughout the say. When I need to use both hands for a task, I can mark the bead I’ve reached with a plastic-coated tie (see photo below), but I’m hoping that a better marker will come to me before too long. Any suggestions would be very gratefully received.

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

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.

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).

5.1.23: The circle of prayer

Last Monday, as my husband and I were preparing to cut each other’s hair, today’s poem suddenly started to arrive, one line at a time. I had to scribble it down bit by bit, whilst he clipped my hair, beseeching me to keep still. Eventually, once we were both neat and tidy, I was able to work on it. This prayer builds on what I received on 2.1.23. If you want to check out that day’s blog, here is a link: https://wp.me/p45bCr-d8F.

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). 

I pray for you;
You pray for her.

She prays for him:
His heart will stir.

He prays for them;
They pray for all.

You know our hearts, Lord –
Hear our call,

And help us,
With your loving care,

To join your circle, Lord,
Of prayer.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:10-11; NIV). 

16.12.22: Your love

Context: Yesterday morning I received this prayer. I was facing a very demanding day, during which I had appointments with two different consultants.

The verses I was given reminded me of Saint Mother Theresa, who served God faithfully, even though for many years she had no sense at all of God’s loving presence. Despite this, she was always cheerful, continuing to carry out her ministry with great devotion.

Mother Theresa had to walk by faith, not sight, and I can do the same. I find this realisation very helpful, comforting and reassuring.

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; CSB). 

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe (John 20:29; CSB). 

Lord God, 

May I experience
Your warm and tender love for me,
But when I don’t, may I have faith
That you hear every plea.

May I believe as Mary did –
So young, so pure, so long ago,
Prepared, Lord, to embrace each test:
The trials you bestow.

Then I’ll say, “Yes”, and offer thanks,
No matter what you ask each day,
Take up my cross, and follow Christ –
My life, my truth, my way.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).


References 

He loves us with unfailing love; the LORD’s faithfulness endures forever (Psalm 117:2; NLT). 

We know he hears us when we make our requests (1 John 5:15; NLT).

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

The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NIV). 

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38; KJV). 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV). 

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT). 

7.12.22: Step forward

Context: Today’s prayer came to me on Sunday morning. It summarises my way of coping with lifts, of which I have a lifelong fear. I step straight in, quickly, hurrying to Jesus, who is waiting in the lift for me. I face my fear for his sake, just as he faced his own dread of the cross for me, and I do all this with him, for he is always with me.

Stepping forward like this is just as helpful with any and every situation I need to face up to, yet would much prefer to avoid. This approach to managing anxiety and fear is summarised as briefly as possible in today’s prayer:

He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward” (Mark 3:3; NKJV). 

Lord Jesus,
Please help me to step forward –

  • To you
  • For you
  • Like you
  • And with you

No matter what challenges
I face today.

My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done (Matthew 26:42; NLT).


References

To you:
Then Jesus said, Come to me” (Matthew 11:28; NLT).

When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him (Mark 5:6; NLT).

They ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him (Matthew 28:9; NLT).

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!” (John 7:37; NLT).

I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it (Luke 6:47; NLT).

For you:
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it (Luke 9:24; NLT).

Like you:
As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world (1 John 4:17; NLT).

Since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you (John 13:14; NLT).

With you:
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NIV).

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

17.11.22: Like Jesus

Context: This prayer came to me last Monday, after a very bad weekend as my covid began:

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

No matter what you send today,
May I respond like Jesus.

No matter what you take away,
Don’t let me fail, or sin. 

No matter how you test my love,
May I respond with patience,

Yielding to your will, Lord God,
With tears and prayers, like Him.

I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).


References 

He became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:27-8; 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). 

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised (Hebrews 10:36; NLT). 

Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal (Job: 5:17-18; NIV).

He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44; NLT). 

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; NLT).


Rosary news:

Despite everything, I managed to make this Fiat Rosary yesterday:


However, when I used it with my zoom community group in the evening, I discovered that the colours shown by the pattern I’ve been given are in a different order from that shown in the community’s prayer book. So, I’ve written to the Sister who knows more about these rosaries than anyone else, in the hope that she can clarify the situation. I’ll let you know if there is any news about this. Meanwhile, each rosary I make, then take to pieces again, is a great learning experience, so there are plenty of positives to celebrate.

15.11.22: Even me?

Context: This prayer was written a few days ago, but being unable to write at present (because I’m ill with Covid), has given me an unexpected opportunity to use it here today.

NB: My husband started to feel ill yesterday, and has now also tested positive for covid, so we are in isolation.

God already loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God (John 16:27; TIB).

Lord,

Do you love even me?
And do you hear my every plea?
And do you really set me free?
You do.

You’re the way, the door, the key.
You teach, forgive and guide. You see
My sins, yet still you guarantee
It’s true.

Yahweh, Son and Spirit: Three
In One, God for eternity –
May all believe, and bow the knee
To you.

“As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God” (Romans 14:11; NIV).


References:

Christ has truly set us free (Galatians 5:1; NLT).

He hears us (1 John 5:14; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6; NLT).

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7; NKJV).

You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life (Deuteronomy 30:20; NLT).

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11; NLT).


Reading: Isaiah 45:22-24; NIV

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;

For I am God, and there is no other.

By myself I have sworn,

My mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked:

Before me every knee will bow;

By me every tongue will swear.

They will say of me, “In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.”