18.1.23: Help me to pray

Today’s little couplets began to arrive yesterday morning, when I kissed my icon of Jesus. To my surprise, everything I receive is still about prayer, so I’m just going with the flow.

Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray (Luke 9:28; NLT). 

Help me to pray with you, Jesus,
All day and all night.

Help me to pray in your Spirit,
And walk in your light.

Help me to pray to our Father,
In heaven above.

Help me to join you in Oneness,
And live in your love.

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV).


References 

They will pray day and night, continually (Isaiah 62:6; NLT). 

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:18; NIV).

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). 

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy (Matthew 6:9; NLT). 

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us” (Genesis 1:26; NLT). 

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

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


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday I made a simple, experimental prayer circlet to wear around my neck, and to hold. It’s loose enough to be able to move from one bead to the next using only one hand. After trying it out, I plan to re-make it with a moveable cross at intervals, as I think that will be helpful when I’m praying.

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).

16.1.23: Prayer #4

Yesterday morning, using my rosary, I said my five introductory prayers. When I reached the centrepiece, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me, then fell silent, but within seconds today’s blog arrived.

It was a great relief to hold the centrepiece with my left hand, whilst typing with my right, confident that I wouldn’t forget where I had got to. I’m so glad that writing now feels like a continuation of my prayers, rather than an interruption of them. If you would like further details about this, please see: https://wp.me/p45bCr-df0.

Here is the little prayer I was given. Although it’s so short and simple it was really difficult to put into words:

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).

Give me the will
To pray for others.

Give me the steadfast faith
I need.

Give me the love
To plead for others.

Pray, Lord, on my behalf,
And intercede.

The Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26; AMP). 

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.

13.1.23: Prayer #1

I find that interceding for others can easily become a burden. More and more people are added to my list, and hardly anyone is ever crossed off. Praying for them all can become a lengthy, repetitive, exhausting task, rather than a caring, heartfelt appeal for God to help them. Sometimes I’m just not well enough to manage it at all, even though I don’t want to neglect anyone who is suffering.

As I was reflecting on this a couple of days ago, today’s prayer came to me:

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).

It doesn’t need to be a burden:
Pray, right now, for everyone,

Asking God to heal and bless them:
Simply pray through Christ, the Son.

Let the Holy Spirit pray
On your behalf, to God above.

Lift this troubled world to heaven:
He will help us all, with love.

The Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26; AMP).

After writing, then saying, this prayer, I suddenly saw that I could use my rosary to help me pray for others. So I tried it out, like this:

Holding the first bead of the first decade, I waited silently to see who came into my mind, then I prayed for them. Moving on to the next bead, I waited again to see who came to mind, and so on. When no more names appeared, I knew my intercessions were finished for the moment.

With this approach, I didn’t have to think about who to pray for, which was a relief. It also felt less mechanical than using a list – more natural, spontaneous, and supported by the Holy Spirit.

I quickly saw that I could use my rosary like this to pray discreetly for others in different settings, such as during medical treatments, or journeys, whilst walking, or waiting somewhere, and so on. Normally, I do this without a rosary, but find that it’s very easy to be distracted, to forget who I’m praying for, or even to forget that I’m praying. The more creative I can be with my intercessions, the fresher and more alive they will become. I already know that there will be more on this topic over the next few days. God is good!


References 

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion (Ephesians 6:18; NLT).

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father (John 14L13; NLT).

I am the LORD who heals you (Exodus 15:26; NLT). 

I am the one who wounds and heals (Deuteronomy 32:39; 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).

11.1.23: My eyes are closed


As I woke two days ago, I began to pray without words. My eyes were still closed, and I found that I was exploring the darkness of my mind. After a time, the first words for today’s prayer arrived, so I wrote them down, then returned to my silence. And, as often happens, the rest slowly followed:

Live a life filled with love (Ephesians 5:2; NLT). 

My eyes are closed,
And I can see the darkness
Of my mind.

Lord,
Show me every corner here
That isn’t filled with love:
Please shine your light.

Keeping them shut,
I move into the darkness
Of my heart.

Lord,
Show me every corner here
That isn’t filled with love:

Please speak the truth.

With eyes still closed,
I stumble through the darkness
Of my soul.

Lord,
Show me every corner here
That isn’t filled with love:

Please save my soul!

Save my soul (Psalm 22:20; NASB20). 


References 

God is light (1 John 1:5; NLT). 

Give light to my eyes (Psalm 13:3; NIV).

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

Make your face shine upon Your servant (Psalm 31:16; NKJV).

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

When the Spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all truth (John 16:13; TIB).

Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake (Psalm 6:4; KJV).

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety (Psalm 18:2; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital

Yesterday, to my delight, I received the little wooden cross-shaped beads I ordered not long ago. These will serve as the “Our Father” beads on some of my rosaries.

Although the first rosary including them isn’t quite finished, here is a photo to show how these new beads will look. The idea is that they will mark the end of each decade is a very clear and tactile way. Hopefully, this will be particularly helpful for people who have difficulties with their sight, or their sense of touch.

10.1.23: Heaven

As soon as I started to pray last Monday, fresh prayers began to arrive. It was all I could do to keep up with them, and at one point, to my horror, I thought I had accidentally erased a whole piece. Fortunately, I managed to find it in the end. Here is one of the prayers I received that day:

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NLT). 

Heaven
Is being one with God –
From genesis
Before our birth,
Through trials and sorrows
Here on earth;
In loss and gain,
In joy and pain –
Forever one
In love.

Heaven
Is being one with God –
Let’s offer thanks,
Rejoice and pray,
And follow Jesus
Every day.
Let’s seek his face,
And share his grace –
Forever one
In God.

Heaven
Is being one with God –
Let’s praise his name
With every breath,
And walk with him
In life and death.
Then, safe ashore,
We will adore –
Forever one
With God.

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).

9.1.23: Bad dreams

Context: Although I don’t feel anxious about my deteriorating health in the daytime, I have bad dreams about it almost every night. A few days ago I woke feeling particularly upset and disturbed by what I had experienced in my dream, and especially by how I’d felt, both physically and mentally.

My training and experience suggest that these dreams are telling me what’s going on in my unconscious mind, and that it might be helpful to talk them over. As I prayed about this, today’s verses came to mind. They arrived so quickly that it was all I could do to scribble them down. Later I was able to spend time reflecting on them, and editing them.

I’m getting old, and sick, Lord,
Let’s face facts –
I’m never going to do again
Some of the things I love.
I’m never going to do
What I’ve not done.

I’m running out of health,
And out of time.
I’m fine with this
When I’m awake,
But dream about it
Almost every night.

And that’s when I experience
My grief,
My weakness, tiredness,
Helplessness and fear;
Depression; getting lost;
Dementia; tears.

Day after day I wake up 
In distress.
Today, I recognised
That maybe I need help:
Lord God, I want to talk
About my dreams.

God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17; NLT). 

God can tell you what it means and set you at ease (Genesis 41:16; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital

Word is slowly getting round about The Rosary Hospital, and I’ve fulfilled another two commissions. Meanwhile, yesterday I finished making a simple five-decade rosary for fun, finding it helpful to experiment freely without having any particular recipient in mind.