Tag Archive: prayer


french flag Unfortunately the murders in Paris yesterday are neither the first and unlikely to be the last of their kind but fact does not make them any less personal or painful. This week’s collect (special prayer in Church) seems apposite:

Almighty Father, your will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the king of all. Govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule. Amen.

“It is not the refugees who create terrorism but terrorism that causes refugees.” (anon on the internet)

Peace be with you.

A prayer for refugees

I realise that the migrant/refugee crisis in Europe has various causes and a variety of solutions; I also acknowledge that Europe does not have a monopoly on human suffering. Having said that, one thing I agree with our bishops on is the need and value of prayer. Here is one which we have adopted in our churches.

Almighty and merciful God
whose Son became a refugee
and has no place to call his own;
look with mercy on those who today
are fleeing from danger,
loveless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
and guide the nations of the world towards that day
when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and peace.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

As Christians we believe that we are called to break down barriers,
to welcome the stranger and love them as ourselves (Leviticus 19:34), and to seek the peace and justice of our God, in our world, today.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

 

Something understood

George Herbert lived at the turn of the 16th/17th centuries during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I (by English reckoning) and Charles I. He is chiefly remembered for his poetry and for his faithfulness as a pastor during one of the many periods of religious turbulence in England. I don’t find his poems an easy read – some of that is down to the distance of years where words and turns of phrase have shifted in meaning or, more often, simply unfamiliar. This one “Prayer (1)” piles on the metaphors and similes for prayer, most of which takes some time and effort to digest. It is a poem to read more than once.

For myself, one message is that prayer is not just so many words said, sung, written or signed. There is something else going on inside us. Prayer could be accompanied by this notice: “Warning! Holy Spirit at work!”. Although I more or less stumbled upon this poem, I found that I recognised some of the phrases such as “heaven in ordinary” and “something understood” which writers and also friends of mine have quoted. I would like to draw attention to “the soul in paraphrase”, “heart in pilgrimage”, “reversed thunder”, and  “church-bells beyond the stars heard”. Each phrase would repay turning over in the mind in meditation. Alternatively, they could be the titles of four books in a series of fiction. I wonder who the main characters might be?

Prayer (1)

Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth
Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.

George Herbert (1593-1633)

God save the Queen …

Union Flag… and God bless us all.

 

 

Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ exchanged the glory of a heavenly throne for the form of a servant,
we thank you that you have given Elizabeth our Queen a heart to serve her people,
and have kept her devoted in this service beyond all who were before her:
encourage us by her example to serve one another, and to seek the common good,
until you call us all to reign with Christ in your eternal kingdom.
Amen.

(prayer from the Church of England website)

Nada te turbe

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa of Avila

Saturday 23rd May

We have prayed for the elderly (any one more than 10 years older than us) and today’s subject is “children”. I take that to mean “young children” because every single human, is someone’s child. One big feature of life for young children is change. Compare 30 years old with 35 years and you are unlikely to see much difference in that person’s appearance (not impossible, of course). Compare 5 years old with 10 years and you will definitely see a change in height and appearance – even their teeth will be different. Growing up is what we expect to see in children. We also see some of the more vulnerable members of our society and we naturally want to be sure that they are properly protected as well as nourished and nurtured. It is right to pray for the protection of children.

Children can also be found in our churches and are part of the church family. Some people describe them as “the Church of tomorrow”. I respectfully disagree: they are part of the today’s Church and should be included, appropriately, in the life of the Church. That includes asking their opinion and includes praying for the renewal of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The ministry that a child has will likely be very different from that of an adult, but they will have one. Our task as adults in the Church is to ask for the gifts of discernment and encouragement in order for everyone to find and follow their calling in Christ’s Church.

A prayer for all people’s ministry

Almighty and everlasting God, by your Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified. Hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, so that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Common Worship)

Friday 22nd May

Leaders is a general term and we might automatically think of political leaders, prime ministers, presidents, kings, queens and the like. Yet many people lead whether in an official or unofficial capacity. Some people influence others and do not think of themselves as leaders – they just happen to like telling other people their opinions about what should be done…

If you are in a position of leadership, you may well realise what a responsibility it is. In fact, the more power you have, the more you might be scared of it. Thinking about it, it is not so much a surprise to find how many leaders started out very reluctantly: Gideon, Moses, Jeremiah and Peter in the Bible immediately spring to mind.

In our cynical world it would be easy to doubt the expressions of humility from our politicians. Yet it says something when we recognise that some of our best leaders are those who do so because they believe they are called to lead. They may have an inkling of the trouble and hassle that accompanies the task of leading others; they may not even be comfortable with the idea of wielding power; but, for the good of others, their company, community or country, they accept the task. We should pray for all leaders, not just the truly humble ones, because no one can succeed on their own.

A prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit

God, from of old, you taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit. Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour. Amen. (from Common Worship)

Thursday 21st May

Prayer for “singles” – not the 7″ 45 rpm discs I remember (so last century), but presumably those who are not in a marriage/partnership/family relationship. I suppose that includes young adults who have left home and have gone to live and work or study away from their family. It might include some who are “looking for love” but being single includes divorcees, widows, widowers, and those who have chosen the single life. For some being single is a temporary state of transition, for others a natural state of being and for yet others it is something to be lamented. It would be too easy to assume that being single is automatically a problem.  What comes to mind when you hear the word “single”? Loneliness, independence, uniqueness?

I think it is appropriate to pray for singles as a counter to the assumption that everyone lives in a family. After all, we put on special “family services” in church; I have yet to hear of a “singles service” – sounds too much like a dating service!

A prayer

Almighty and eternal God, sanctify and govern our hearts and bodies in the ways of your laws and the works of your commandments; that under your protection, now and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from the Book of Common Prayer, contemporary version)

Wednesday 20th May

I noticed some confusion from one writer who suggested that physical disability should be included as well as mental disability. The reason is because the topic is mental health. Mental health is to mental disability what physical health is to physical disability. Some physical disability, such as myopia, can be dealt with quite simply with the right pair of spectacles; an amputated limb, such as a leg, requires a lot more effort and support to come to terms with. Physical ill-health such as a bout of flu might knock you out for a few weeks but it is likely (not inevitable) that you will live to tell the tale; whereas there are chronic conditions which have long-term consequences.

Mental health, today’s suggested topic for the novena, is something that has begun to be talked about more openly but is still often misunderstood. A mental health problem is not the same as a disability – although some people’s prejudice can be disabling. You can have a mental health problem and yet run a country and win a war: Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s war-time leader suffered from bouts of depression.

A prayer

Be with us, Lord, in all our prayers, and direct our way toward the attainment of salvation; that among the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may always be defended by your gracious help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from the Book of Common Prayer, contemporary version)

Tuesday 19th May

Today’s novena prayer topic is “women” and I have the same reservations I mentioned last Saturday. Having said that, it is true that men and women are treated differently – cruelly even – and it is right to pray for everyone’s needs and aspirations.

A prayer

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our needs before we ask, and our ignorance in asking. Have compassion on our weakness, and give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from the Book of Common Prayer, contemporary language, version)

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