Tag Archives: prayer

Pray With Me, Please

praying-hands-by-unsplash-com

Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness. (Psalm 143:1 NRS)

Yesterday my son started an internship.  A recent graduate in a slow job market, we were all very excited when he got a ten-week opportunity for a job in his major. Knowing well Houston pre-dawn gridlock, I suggested he leave a bit before 6am.  I pulled on my running shoes at 5:45 planning to have a few moments together before he left.

I found my husband alone in the kitchen reading the paper, “Where’s Craig?”

“He left a while ago.”

My heart sank. “He left?!”

“He woke up early and wanted to get a jump on the traffic. What’s wrong?”

“It’s okay. I just wanted to pray with him before his first day.”

Disappointed, I headed out for five miles. Well, I could pray FOR him even if I couldn’t pray WITH him.  While dodging bats hunting mosquitos by streetlight I prayed about his commute, about his first day nerves, about his co-workers. As a bat swooped a bit close for my liking I also prayed about the various critters he would encounter on his day of environmental field work. I prayed for him throughout the miles, but somehow it just wasn’t the same as praying with him.

We’d had a tradition back in elementary school and beyond that we would pray together each day as he left for school. Maybe it was about a test, or a busy day, or any of the thousand things important to him. It was just part of the rhythm of the morning. So much so that when I started seminary many years ago he came running down the stairs as I was leaving, “Mom! You can’t leave for school until we pray!”

That connection is the biggest difference between “praying for” and “praying with.” God is faithful and hears our prayers either way. Still, when we pray together it forms us, it weaves into the fabric of our relationships. It’s a blessing to hear aloud the prayers that others offer on our behalf. It shapes our own prayers when we are not even sure what we should be praying for. It reminds us again that we are not alone.

He got home in the late afternoon tired and excited, eager to share with me everything he’d done that day.

“I’m so glad it all went well! I prayed for you today.”

“I know, Mom. I know.”

Faithful God, Our prayers are wishes of our souls that we whisper to you. Help us to teach our children how to nurture that inner voice that longs to be heard by you. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Image Praying Hands courtesy of unsplash.com via Pexels

The New Normal?

Burning Candle by Sommai

I recall when my father had terminal cancer I would fly out to see him each month. His abilities changed a bit each time when I saw him. There was a constant adjustment to the “new normal,” yet we all longed for a different “normal” than the cards we had been dealt.   My heart hurts today at the news of yet another mass shooting. Somehow this sort of news has become the “new normal” in our nation. Again, I find myself wishing for a very different “normal” from what plays out on the news each day.

The shooting in San Bernardino hits especially close to home because, according to a colleague in disability ministry who lives very close to the epicenter of violence, the office building is mostly for social workers who provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities. When the story broke, my first thought was that the assailants had opened fire directly upon the most vulnerable members of our society. My corrected understanding is little changed from that initial reaction. Death and devastation of innocence is unconscionable in all circumstances. No one, regardless of physical ability, can outrun a bullet.

Thinking of the light of hope that we celebrate this week during Advent, I look forward to a time when the events of San Bernardino, and Sandy Hook, and hundreds upon hundreds of other locations this year alone, are no longer our normal. I pray for it to be so.

What is the purpose of prayer in the midst of such violence? I begin each day with prayer and take a mid-afternoon break to visit the prayer garden at my office. In prayer I share my thoughts with God, become more centered in God’s presence, and then renew my daily efforts in providing social justice and offering hope for families raising children with special needs.  Prayer serves a purpose.  Prayer creates peace and centerdness, and it is also creates action. Prayer is how we communicate with God so that we are listening when God points out to us the way forward. It is then up to us to put our feet on that path one step at a time.

I do not know how our nation got so off track, nor do I care to engage in political finger pointing. That is not helpful.  What I do know is this. Daily mass shootings are not God’s plan. God is lighting a different path and I pray for us to follow it. As a pastor in disability ministry, what action can I take to make a difference?  I can offer words of hope to prompt us to that path.  The Gospel of John tells us, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” (John 1:5) Darkness cannot win. The Advent wreath lit this week with the candle of hope reminds us that it is so.

Healing God, provide comfort and healing to those directly affected in San Bernardino. Provide peace for those in fear. Light a path forward that leads us from this place of violence and into living as the people you have called us to be. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Image Burning Candle by Sommai courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Planting a Spiritual Garden

To The Garden Sign With Pot by Simon Howden

A young mom raising three kids was going through a hot, dry Texas summer.  The garden was wilting, grass withering to dry, brown patches.  She moved the garden hose around back, filling a small wading pool for her kids to play in. She meant to reconnect the hose to the spigot out front where it belonged, but instead left it in a heap in the back yard. She’d get to it later when things weren’t so busy. There were so many other things that were more important.

One day she looked out the front window to see that the dry front lawn had caught fire, probably from a cigarette butt tossed out a car window.  She ran to the spigot she had forgotten. No hose!  She ran to the back yard, dragging the hose around.  It was a tangled mess, full of kinks and knots.  She ran back to get her children’s sand castle buckets abandoned by the wading pool.  Racing back and forth from the spigot to the front lawn, she tried to put out the fire, one child-sized bucketful at a time.

This is the kind of story Jesus used for teaching. It’s a parable.  The life-saving water is God.  The hose is our connection that comes through developing an intentional relationship with God. The fire is whatever crisis is waiting in the future.

Have you ever disconnected your hose? Left it in a tangled mess? I know I have at times. Life gets busy.  I mean to read scripture. I mean to schedule a prayer retreat. I mean to… well, a lot of things. Just like physical and emotional self-care from my earlier blogs, spiritual self-care takes intentional nurture.

Spiritual self-care is intentional focus of time and energy on your relationship with God. Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline and a leading expert on spiritual self-care, offers the following suggestions as ways you can enrich your spiritual life.

  • Internal Disciplines. These disciplines focus on your spiritual life through internal reflection.
    • Prayer
    • Meditation
    • Study of scripture
    • Journaling
    • Silence/listening
    • Fasting – not only from food, but from distractions such as television.
  • Outward Disciplines. These disciplines are lived out in personal actions and outward expressions.
    • Solitude – set aside time to be apart from others to focus on God
    • Simplicity – embrace a practice of “enough” and let go of wanting more
    • Submission – follow where God leads
  • Corporate Disciplines. These disciplines are lived out with others
    • Worship – regularly participate in worship, including the sacraments
    • Service – being God’s hands and feet in the world in help to others
    • Community – engage as part of a Christian community where you can share your talents with others, as well as be supported

There are many additional options.  Look at this list and think about what already works for you. Celebrate those! Well done! Look for what interests you as something you would like to do and make a plan to try it.  For me, silence is a great discipline.  My life used to be filled with noise. The TV always on, or the radio, some distraction constantly in the background. One year for Lent I gave up those distractions. I took a fast from noise and found the gift of silence.  I liked it so much that I didn’t turn on the radio in my car for a decade. When I decide to watch TV I need a quick lesson from my son or husband about how to use the remotes (why do we have to have so many and why do they need so many buttons?)

Solitude is also a great discipline for me. I’m an extravert. I love being around people, but at times I crave being alone.  Right now I have the house to myself for four days, a rare gift. I will be total hermit. Just me and the cat, writing away on my book and blogs, thinking of scripture and seeking connections that offer hope to parents. Even in my solitude I found space for another discipline, worship.  I joined Key Ministry Front Door Online worship.  I was blessed by the message and connection with others for an hour, but now I return to my gift of solitude and prayer for parents.

Where I work there is a serenity prayer garden.  It has five flowing fountains and a labyrinth gravel path that winds its way through an arbor of wisteria. I try to spend at least a few minutes there each day. On a glass water wall there is this hymn:

I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear,  the Son of God discloses.

And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own;  and the joy we share as we tary there, none other has ever known.

My prayer for you is that you find what nurtures your spiritual garden and be filled with the peace of Christ. Amen.

“To The Garden Sign With Pot” from FreeDigitalPhotos.net