Tag Archive: Matthew 6


Nine days of Prayer

On the one hand, this idea might seem superfluous. I guess that while some of us pray every day, the rest do not feel the need to at all. So, if someone comes up with a suggestion for nine days of prayer, some of us may say “but I pray anyway” and to the rest the suggestion is irrelevant.

Even so, I think it does help sometimes to have something that helps focus the mind. And there is something to be said for praying with others – either at the same time, same place or with the same intention – it gives us a sense of solidarity (or “fellowship” or “catholicity” depending on your tradition).

Anyway, I was intrigued to read that Premier Christian Radio (broadly Evangelical) was inviting us to join in a novena of prayer. A novena is firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition but the basic idea is quite straight forward. Nine days are set aside to pray with a particular intention in mind. On those days we make an extra effort and are reminded to take prayer seriously – it is too easy to end up just “going through the motions” (or “vain repetition” as the gospel puts it).

On this occasion the nine days take us from Ascension Day to Pentecost Sunday which mirrors the period of prayer and waiting that Jesus’ disciples undertook. After Jesus went back home to heaven the disciples prayed together until the day, 50 days after Easter, the Holy Spirit came upon them in a new, powerful and inspiring way – see the first chapter of the book of Acts. There is a tradition, therefore, in some churches to regard these days as being particularly appropriate to pray especially for the coming and/or renewing of the Holy Spirit in our world and in our lives.

I think I shall give this novena a try, and see how the days go. You can sign up for resources (see link here) or simply include the suggested topics among your own prayers.

Novena 2015
Day 1: Friday 15th May
Prayer for the elderly
Day 2: Saturday 16th May
Prayer for men
Day 3: Sunday 17th May
Prayer for the marginalised
Day 4: Monday 18th May
Prayer for young people
Day 5: Tuesday 19th May
Prayer for women
Day 6: Wednesday 20th May
Prayer for those suffering from mental health issues
Day 7: Thursday 21st May
Prayer for singles
Day 8: Friday 22nd May
Prayer for leaders
Day 9: Saturday 23rd May
Prayer for children

It may well be you’re thinking that you would not have chosen all these particular topics – you are at liberty to choose your own, of course.

Midsummer flowers

A few summer flowers and a couple of insects that visited our garden recently:

Flower Festival photos

Took some photos at a flower festival today; here are a selection of them:

Thank God for …

… libraries. Especially public libraries. There is only so much room in our house and any way, it is possible to get pleasure from something without having to own it. In fact, thinking about it, my possessions are really on a kind of long-term loan: I won’t be taking them with me.

One of the awkward things about public libraries is that someone else choses the books and they may not always be to my taste. One of the good things about libraries is that someone else chooses the books and I may discover a surprise or two that I come to enjoy. While I’m on the subject of gratitude for libraries, thank you to the many and various librarians who have helped me navigate the catalogue, suggested lines of enquiry and generally aided my studies as well as my leisure reading over the years. If we close too many libraries we run the risk of losing those professional guides and guardians. The internet has blessed us with more information and books and articles than we could fit into a single library: the forest has grown immensely and we need wise guides to help us distinguish the wood from the trees.

… containing not a mix of fruity tropical parrots but a variety of seeds.

Meanwhile, in a high street shop not so far away from the market stall where I saw that ambiguous notice, I wandered round with a voucher looking for a t-shirt or jumper I could buy. I needed both – the one for the warmer climate for our holiday, the other to replace one of the several jumpers that are now rather the worse for wear. I didn’t stay long. I wasn’t just that I couldn’t find any that I liked, but that they all seemed to be various shades of dull. Yes, there were red, green and purple as well as black and grey but they all seemed to be lacklustre. Now, it might have been the lighting, I don’ think it was my eyes (I did check later to see if I could see bright colours!) so I’m left with thinking that muted, pastel (or dull) is in this season.

Perhaps I was being a little unrealistic in expecting summer colours at a clothes shop in the middle of autumn. I know, Jesus told his disciples that they should not worry “what should we wear” so I’ll make do with what I’ve got a little while longer – and keep an eye out for fruity parrots.

Crows don’t crowd

The original saying goes something like “A rook on its own is a crow and a crow in a crowd is a rook.” Rooks and crows do look quite similar: medium-to-large-sized black birds. The sound of their call is not exactly the same but neither of them sing like, for instance, a blackbird (small-to-medium-sized with a yellow beak except for the female which is brown all over). I’m told that rooks have a white beak – unless they are young rooks in which case it may be black. I forebear from a digression about ravens.

None of this information is much use when all you can see is a darkish bird shape in a rainy sky. I really struggle with bird watching as most birds round here fit into just three categories: 1) small brownish, 2) large blackish, and 3) sea gull. Yes, I know that there are such things as ducks, swans, peacocks, parrots and the like but they don’t come anywhere near our garden or even in the wet field I happen to be looking at this soggy morning.

As for the crows, I find that old country saying confusing. Crow rhymes (sort of) with crowd so to my logical mind it ought to be the rooks who go around all on their lonesome. Rook rhymes with crook so I can easily picture one of these birds as a solitary criminal skulking about in the foliage awaiting the chance to do some misdeed.

In the meantime, I suppose I want to get my head round what they are really like. Rooks live in a rookery with others of their ilk – hence the crowd. As for crows, I think of a crow’s nest – either (figuratively) the solitary look-out high above the sails of an old sailing ship, or, dotted about the trees with each nest at some distance from each other. Crows do live away from each other.

So my new, improved saying goes: “Crows don’t crowd, rooks do.”

Personally, I prefer sparrows as they remind me of where I grew up, but you don’t see many of them these days.

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