preparing to pray

Photo by Olivia Snow on Unsplash
 
 
Enable me, O God, to collect and compose my thoughts 
    before an immediate approach to you in prayer.
May I be careful to have my mind in order
    when I take upon myself the honour to speak
    to the Sovereign Lord of the universe,
    remembering that upon the temper of my soul
    depends, in very great measure, my success.
You are infinitely too great to be trifled with,
    to wise to be imposed on by a mock devotion,
    and abhor a sacrifice without a heart.
Help me to entertain an habitual sense of your perfections,
    as an admirable help against cold and formal performances.
Save me from engaging in rash and precipitate prayers
    and from abrupt breaking away 
    to follow business or pleasure
    as though I had never prayed.
 
Susanna Wesley, 1669-1742, mother of John & Charles Wesley, founders of Methodism
 
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The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.

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prayer for scrubbing floors

Cleaning Lady, Tomicmilos90, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
 
Thank you for the privilege of scrubbing this floor.
Thank you for the health and the strength to do it.
That my back is straight and my hands are whole.
I can push a mop. 
I can feel the hard surface under my knees when I kneel.
I can grasp the brush and let my energy flow down into it
    as I erase this dirt and make this floor clean.
Lord, thank you for everything that has to do with scrubbing this floor.
Bless the soap and the bucket and the brush and the hands that do it.
Bless the feet that are running in right now to track it.
Those feet are the reason I do it.
That are the living reasons for my kneeling here
    – half to do a job, half in prayer.
A floor is a foundation. A family is a foundation.
You are our foundation.
Bless us all, and our newly scrubbed floor.
 
Marjorie Holmes, 1910–2002, American columnist and author
 
___________________________
 
 
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named
 

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Do you weep over my city?

Donegall Street, Belfast / Albert Bridge / Wikimedia Commons
 
This is my city, Lord:
I’ve flown over it,
driven around it,
walked through it,
and I love it.
Its concrete chasms, its quiet parks,
its massive buildings and its tiny houses,
its suburbs rich and poor.
But most of all, Lord, its people…
My city, Lord. Your city.
Remember, Lord, there was one city
over which you stood and wept.
Do you weep over this city?
With its hunger, its greed, its cruelty?
Its foolishness and heartbreak?
Lord, I believe you do.
 
prayer used over Belfast, Northern Ireland
from A Procession of Prayers, edited by John Carden
 
_____________________________
 
 
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 
“Would that you, even you, had known on this day 
    the things that make for peace! 
But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

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only you can teach me to pray

image / Conniemod, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Listen, O Lord, to my prayers.  
Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, 
    and to let my whole being be filled with your presence.
But none of this is possible without you.
When you are not the one who fills me, 
    I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns
    that divide me and tear me away from you.
Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts,
    can be little more than distractions,
    when you are not their author.
O Lord, thinking about you, 
    being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions,
    being excited about histories of Christian spirituality
    and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation,
    all of this can be as much an expression of greed
        as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.
Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray,
    only you can set my heart at rest,
    only you can let me dwell in your presence.
No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you
    unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments 
    become the way to you.
But, Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative;
    let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour
    when you will come and break through 
        all the walls I have erected.
Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen.
 
Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author
 
_________________________________
 
 
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, 
he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
 

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prayer about back surgery

image / James Tissot / Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord Jesus, some of my friends have had back surgery 
    and others are soon to have it.
They are hoping for complete healing.
They are like the Paralyzed Man who was brought to Jesus.
 
But things aren’t going as we had hoped
    and we are concerned about their wellbeing.
Lord, they know you and have received your salvation;
    they have enjoyed a transformed life because of their new birth.
They know and believe that you alone have the authority to forgive sins,
    and that it is not harder for you to heal the body than it is to save the soul.
 
Jesus, we want to be like those four companions 
        who brought the Paralyzed Man to you,
    offering up our prayers on the altar of our hearts 
        just as they lowered the man through the hole in the roof
            placing everything at your feet.
 
Lord Jesus, we ask you to demonstrate your authority again;
    we beg you to speak the word of healing upon the bodies of our friends,
  and as they “take up their mats and walk”
    we will all joyously proclaim your amazing grace!
 
EM
 
__________________________
 
 
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

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Teach us how to pray

LYNN Ministries
O Savior of the world, teach us how to pray for those who are lost
    in desolations of darkness
    without knowledge of the mercy that is yourself.
We remember the innocent victims of war 
    and all the agony they suffer,
    those who are greatly afraid, 
    those who have been overwhelmed by torment of mind or body.
Save us from the cowardice that would turn us away 
    from the thought of these things,
    from the indifference that would pass them by.
Give us penitence for the evil in ourselves 
    which has added to the darkness of the world,
    and if there be any small thing we can do to lighten any misery,
    show us what it is and help us to do it.
Teach us how to pray with the compassion that is not afraid to suffer
    with those who suffer 
        and if need be, 
        to enter darkness with them.
O Everlasting Mercy, who once in time came from the height of heaven
    down to the depth of our need,
    come again in power to forgive us and renew us and set us on fire,
    that through the labors and prayers of broken-hearted sinners
    your mercy may banish the darkness and bring new life upon the earth.
 
Elizabeth Goudge, 1900-1984, English novelist
 
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When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, 
    because they were harassed and helpless, 
    like sheep without a shepherd. 
Then he said to his disciples, 
    “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 
      therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest 
      to send out laborers into his harvest.”
 

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peace in perplexities

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash  

Lord of the elements and changing seasons,
    keep me in the shadow of your hand.
When I am tossed to and fro with the winds of adversity 
    and the blasts of sickness and misunderstanding,
        still my racing heart, 
        quiet my troubled mind.
Bring me at last through the storms and tribulations of this mortal life
    into the calm evening of your unchanging love;
    and grant that in the midst of my present perplexities and confusion
I may experience your peace which passes human understanding.
 
Brother Ramon, SSF, 1935-2000, English Franciscan brother
 
______________________
 
 
 
Do not be anxious about anything, 
    but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving 
    let your requests be made known to God. 
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, 
    will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 

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