What is prayer?

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

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

Prayer is sharing every thought,
Sensation, feeling, word and deed
With God.

Prayer is sharing all our weakness,
Judgement, sin and selfishness
With God.

Prayer is sharing stillness, silence,
Darkness, need and loneliness
With God.

Prayer is sharing all our joys and sorrows,
Pain, fear, life and death
With God.

Prayer is listening, trusting, loving –
Facing all we undergo
With God.

Yea, though I walk in 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 

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

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

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

Home shrines

1. Welcome

Hello! A warm welcome to everyone who visits “Seeking God’s face”, and to all who follow here regularly. I pray for you all each day.

2. Home shrines

This blog brings a very simple message: to suggest that many people could find joy, comfort, support and self-expression through having a home shrine, especially those of us who are sick or disabled, and can no longer go to church.

3. My shrine 

My shrine is in my bedroom, on the chest of drawers. In this room, I can close the door, and pray in private. The shrine has developed slowly over several years, having started with the large wall cross, a few flowers, a candle, and an incense burner. 

Whenever I want to, I make changes to it, removing items that have served their purpose, and introducing others which are particularly significant for me at the time. As my faith becomes increasingly universal, I plan to incorporate relics from other faiths. Nothing is included out of a sense of obligation or pressure.

4. Personal spiritual practices

A home shrine offers an opportunity for the daily expression of personally meaningful spiritual practices. For example, I stoop to kiss the small wooden cross at the front, just as a priest kisses the altar before saying mass. Then I dip my fingers in the small bowl of holy water, blessing myself with the sign of the cross. Sometimes I do this in the Roman Catholic way, sometimes in the Russian Orthodox style, just as I wish. 

Occasionally I light a candle or an incense stick, though I never leave these burning in my absence or whilst I’m asleep, in case of fire.

5. Prayers

My shrine includes two framed prayers which mean a lot to me. Their presence enables me to include them in my daily worship whenever I want to, and reminds me of the words, if I forget them.

The first is about the “little way” of Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, whose name I took at confirmation (https://wp.me/p45bCr-acZ), whilst the second is a prayer for world peace (https://wp.me/p45bCr-aCa).

Sometimes I am able to stand in front my shrine to pray for a minute or two. However, when I’m too tired, unwell, cold, or lightheaded to do this, I simply begin praying there, then get into bed to continue whilst lying down. Last thing at night, it’s a pleasure to thank God for all my day has brought, both good and bad. Then I say goodnight, and settle down to sleep.

6. Icons

Whether I’m just passing my shrine, or staying a little longer, I often touch each icon with love before I move on. My room also includes three large wall icons, hanging at just the right height to touch, hold gently with both hands, and kiss, as I whisper my prayers.

7. A very private place 

Some people might scoff at these  practices, judging them to be sentimental, foolish, pointless, or even idolatrous. However, for me the beauty of my home shrine is that it is a very private place where I can be honest with God without any kind of  formality, using my own words, however few or many they may be. It’s also a very good place to “be still and silent” before God, for a few, precious moments. 

8. A safe place….

Furthermore, my shrine gives me a “safe place” to return to in my imagination when I need extra support in the outside world. This grounding effect is enhanced by a holding cross, made in Bethlehem from the prunings of olive trees. When I received it, I blessed it at my shrine, then left it there overnight to absorb the essence of its peace and beauty.

9. …coupled with a holding cross 

During the daytime, I wear this cross around my neck on a long cord, hanging beneath my clothes. When I need it, I discretely retrieve it with the cord. Visualising my shrine whilst holding my cross hidden in the palm of one hand, or clasped between both, is a great source of help, strength and comfort. I do this when I face traumatic events, flashbacks, unpleasant medical treatments, pain, strong emotions, interpersonal conflict, or feared situations. Despite its small size, this little cross powerfully re-connects me to the peace and safety of my shrine. 

At night, I have a similar cross, but on a much shorter cord. Secured around my wrist, it stays in my hand whilst I am asleep. This cross is a tangible, comforting reminder of God’s presence each time I wake up.

10. Final words 

It feels strange to share these very personal, central aspects of my life with you, yet it seems important to do so. The opportunities offered by home shrines for spiritual nourishment, and for direct, free self-expression before God are far too valuable to keep to myself.

May God bless you all each day.
With much love from Ruth xxxxx

 

References

1. Welcome

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). 

3. My shrine

When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (Matthew 6:6; NLT).

5. Prayers 

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).

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

Be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NLT).

7. A very private place 

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

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

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

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

Be still and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10; NLT).

Be silent before the Lord, all humanity (Zechariah 2:13; NLT).

8. A safe place…

You have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress (Psalm 59:16; NLT). 

This I declare about the Lord: he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him (Psalm 91:2; NLT). 

9. …coupled with a holding cross

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18; NLT).

When I wake up, you are still with me! (Psalm 139:18; NLT).

10. Final words

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

Just a breath (for K. and R.)

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

1. Lord,
You’re just a breath away;
A pause, a stillness, every day;
A moment when I stop to say:
I love you. 

2. Lord,
You’re just a breath away;
A lull, a silence, every day;
A moment when my thoughts don’t stray:
You love me.

3. Lord,
You’re just a breath away;
A hush, a darkness, every day;
A moment when I cease to pray:
United. 

4. Lord,
You’re just a breath away;
A rest, a oneness, every day;
A moment, Father, come what may:
Completeness.

You are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10; BLB).


References 

1. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person (Genesis 2:7; NLT).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV).

I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NLT). 

2. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

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

3. He himself gives to all people life and breath (Acts 17:25; NASB20).

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

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

4. When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust (Psalm 104:29; NIV).

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

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).

I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).

God of silence

O God, do not be silent!
(Psalm 83:1; NLT). 

God of silence, speak to me:
Tell me where I’m going wrong.

God of stillness, shake me up:
Show me how I need to change.

God of exile, pain, and fear:
Draw my heart to you, in need.

God of darkness, light my way:
I will follow where you lead.

✝️

If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God (Isaiah 50:10; NLT).

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).

 


I wait for you

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
(Psalm 37:7; NIV).

I wait for you in stillness, Lord,
Craving your living bread,

And look for you in silence,
Seeking your fountainhead.

I search for you in solitude,
Longing for your embrace,

But find you in my darkness,
For this is your dwelling-place.  

🖤

The Lord has set the sun in the heavens,
but has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.
(1 Kings 8:12; RSV).

You are the temple of the living God.
(Luke 17:21; NKJV).
 

 


Storm

A fierce storm came up (Mark 4:37; NLT). 

Rain beats on my window, Lord.
The ocean rages day and night.

I close my eyes, and see a cross
Surrounded by your gentle light.

I look afresh, but waves still break
Upon the shore: they’re rising fast.

I close my eyes again, to seek your peace:
The storm is stilled, at last. 

🖤

Rain beats on my window, Lord.
My mind has tossed and turned all night. 

I close my eyes, and see a cross
Surrounded by your steadfast light. 

I look afresh, but fear still rises
In my heart, which pulses fast.

I close my eyes again to find your peace:
My soul is stilled, at last. 

🖤

He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.
(Psalm 107:29; NLT).

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
(Matthew 7:25; NIV).

 


In darkness

If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord, and rely on your God (Isaiah 50:10; NLT). 

I grope towards you, Lord,
In darkness,

Blunder,
On your narrow way;

Burdened
By my trials and sorrows,

Trusting you, Lord,
Every day.

I grope towards you, Lord,
In silence;

Lost in stillness;
All alone;

Yearning, Lord,
To see your face,

When you draw near
To take me home.

They shall see his face
(Revelation 22:4; KJV). 


Lost in stillness (#2 of 2 linked poems)

Be still and know that I am God.
(Psalm 46:10; NIV)



Lost in stillness;
Lost in prayer.
Lost in silence,
Joy, and light.

Lost in beauty;
Lost in love.
Lost in darkness:
Lost in God.

One in stillness;
One in prayer.
One in silence,
Joy, and light.

One in beauty;
One in love.
One in darkness:
One in God.

He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
(Ephesians 1:9-10; RSV)

☦️

In the darkness

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it
(John 1:5; NLT).

In the darkness,
Bands of light –

Gleaming,
Streaming,
Dazzling bright;

Watching,
Sharing with delight:
I love you.

In the stillness,
Waves of gold –

Growing,
Flowing,
New-born, old;

Spreading,
Coming to enfold:
You love me.

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

My offering

Bring your offering and come into his presence
(1 Chronicles 16:29; NLT).

1. Silence
Is my offering,

2. And stillness,
All I have to share;

3. Solitude,
My sacrifice,

4. And darkness, Lord,
My only prayer.


References

1. Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

2. Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV).

3. When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (Matthew 6:6; NLT).

4. If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God (Isaiah 50:10; NLT).

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (Micah 7:8; NLT).