A Prayer of Devotion


A Prayer of Devotion – by Ken Gire

Dear Saviour at whose feet I now sit,

When you knock on the door to my heart, what is it you are looking for? What is it you want? Is it not to come in to dine with me and I with you? Is it not for fellowship?

And yet, so often, where do you find me? At your feet? No. In the kitchen. How many times have I become distracted and left you there…sitting…waiting…longing?

What is so important about my kitchen full of preparations that draws me away from you? How can they seem so trivial now and yet so urgent when I’m caught up in them?

Forgive me for being so much distracted by my preparations and so little attracted by your presence. For being so diligent in my service and so negligent in my devotion. For being so quick to my feet and so slow to yours.

Help me to understand that it is an intimate moment you seek from me, not an elaborate meal.

Guard my heart this day from the many distractions that vie for my attention. And help me to fix my eyes on you. Not on my rank in the kingdom, as did the disciples. Not on the finer points of theology, as did the scribes. Not on the sins of others, as did the Pharisees. Not on a place of worship, as did the woman at the well. Not on the budget, as did Judas. But on you.

Bring me out of the kitchen, Lord. Bid me come to your feet. And there may I thrill to sit and adore thee….

This prayer of devotion is excerpted from An Intimate Moment with Mary and Martha from the book Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire, Zondervan 1998.

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Abandonment to Divine Providence

What one finds when reading the unabridged copies of earlier spiritual masters is the degree to which their insights are complete, thorough, and extensive. Such is the case for Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s “Abandonment to Divine Providence.” At the end of his instruction (a set of rules that were the common practice of the day), he provides these two prayers (below).

Join me in this prayer of abandoning ourselves to God’s “divine providence” – to trust His wisdom, grace, and sovereignty that ensures our inclusion into “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven:”

Abandonment to Divine Providence

Oh my God when will it please You to give me the grace to remain habitually in this union of my will with Your adorable will, in which, without uttering a word all is said, in which all is accomplished by allowing You to act, in which one’s only occupation is that of conforming more and more entirely to Your good pleasure; in which, nevertheless, one is saved all trouble since the care of all things is confided to You, and to repose in You is the only desire of one’s heart? Delightful state, which, even in the absence of all sensible faith, affords the soul an interior joy altogether spiritual.

I desire to repeat without ceasing by this habitual disposition of my heart, “Fiat,” yes, my God, yes, all that You please, may Your holy will be done in all things. I renounce my own will which is very blind, perverse, and corrupt in consequence of its wretched self-love, the mortal enemy of Your grace, of Your pure love, of Your glory, and of my own sanctification.

 

Prayer to be said in temptation:

Oh my God! preserve me by Your grace from all sin, but as for the pain by which my self-love is put to death, and the humiliations which crucify my pride, I accept them with all my heart; not so much because they are the effects of your justice, but as benefits of your great mercy. Have pity on me then, dear Saviour, and help me.

 

“Written to help those who despair of ever becoming holy, Fr. De Caussade elucidates in Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence how surrendering our will to God is key to attaining peace and holiness in this life, and that it is readily available to all people—from beginners to those well advanced in the spiritual life.Father De Caussade’s teachings were deeply influenced by St. Francis de Sales, St. John of the Cross, and the Sisters of the Visitation founded by St. Jane Frances de Chantal. These influences and apparent in his explanation that the perfection God expects from us consists mainly in our purifying the innumerable little actions that occur in the course of everyday; in our heroic attention to every detail in our lives and humble acceptance of the lot God has chosen for us. This edition of Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence includes over 150 letters from Father De Caussade to his spiritual children on the practice of self-abandonment. These exchanges provide many profound insights and practical tips for applying the timeless lessons found in this classic guide to achieve holiness.”

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The Confession of Saint Patrick: his Anam-Cara

confession-of-saint-patrick“Beyond being recognized as the patron saint of Ireland, little else is popularly known about Saint Patrick, ” writes John O’Donahue in his forward to this recent translation. And yet, Patrick left behind a unique document in his Confessions written in the 5th Century.

“His story revolves around an initial irony which qualifies his centrality in the Irish tradition. It was Irish pirates who kidnapped him from his British home and sold him into slavery in Ireland. They could never have suspected the spiritual tradition that would be born out of thier brutal action.

Patrick understands his slavery as the door into divine friendship. In his awful experience of alienation and exile, he discovers God as his anam-cara: Anam is the Irish word for soul and cara is the word for friend. The Anam-cara is the Friend of the soul… The depth and shelter of this Anam-cara belonging enabled Patrick to endure the most awful conditions. Prayer, Patrick discovered, is conversation with his Anam-cara.

“After I came to Ireland,
it was then that I was made to shepherd the flocks
day after day, so, as I did so, I would pray all the time, right through the day.
More and more the love of God and fear of Him grew strong within me.

And my faith grew, so the Spirit became more and more active,
so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers,
and at night only slightly less.

Although I might be staying in a forest or out on a mountainside,
it would be the same;
even before dawn broke, I would be aroused to pray.

In snow, in frost, in rain,
I would hardly notice any discomfort,
and I was never slack but always full of energy.
It is clear to me now, that the was due to the fervour
of the Spirit in me.”

This prayer is attributed to him or at least inspired by him:

The Lorica

I arise today
in a mighty strength
calling upon the Trinity,
believing in the Three Persons
saying they are One
thanking my creator.

For  a musical rendition, see Steve Bell’s version.

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Before you know what Kindness really is…

sowing_seed

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Parker Palmer wrote this introduction to the poem:

“I’ve always been impressed by the “alchemy” of the human heart — by its capacity to transform the suffering that comes to all of us into compassion and generosity of spirit.

I know so many people who have used their own wounds to become “wounded healers.” Instead of growing bitter and passing their pain on to others, they’ve said, “This is where the pain stops and the love begins.”

They’ve become better able to offer understanding and compassion to others — not in spite of their suffering, but because of it.

Kindness,” by Naomi Shihab Nye, is a powerful reflection on suffering transformed. It’s a gritty, sometimes grim poem about a virtue we too often romanticize. But in a world that can be as heedless and heartless as ours, kindness must grow from deep inner roots if it is to stand strong and be sustained. As the poet says:

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”

As I read this poem, I give thanks for all the wounded healers I know. And I ask myself what I might do today to allow suffering — my own and others’ — to open my heart up instead of shutting it down.”

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I Am Sodom

For this first Friday in Lent, here is a confession found in The River Walk, by Beejai. Let us pray:

Dear God,
I repent. I am sorry for my arrogance, my laziness, my apathy, and my pride. I am sorry for my sin. Help me to change. Help me to stop being so religious and start becoming a better follower of You. Help me also to stop focusing on the “detestable” sins of others. Instead help me to focus on Your beauty and holiness. Slowly, gradually, step by step and day by day I ask that You would let that holiness and beauty be reflected in me that the world will see. Help me to remember that it is Your kindness that leads us to repentance.
Amen

THE RIVER WALK

sodo (1)

Sodom’s sins were arrogance, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was haughty and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

Read: Ezekiel 16:42-17:24, Hebrews 8:1-13, Psalm 106:13-31, Proverbs 27:7-9

Relate: Sometimes I can be a bit arrogant. I wish I could say that last statement in all honesty. I can’t. A far more truthful assessment would be to say that I am quite arrogant most of the time. If I wanted I could go along with modern Western culture and dress the truth up in fancy clothing. I could say I have a healthy self image. I am confident. My seeming pride is really just a by product of being extroverted. Whatever. The brass tax is that I am arrogant. There is no getting around the truth.

I can also be gluttonous. Just yesterday I treated myself…

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“Teach us to Care and not to Care”

T.S. Elliot careWhat did T.S. Eliot mean by the phrase “Teach us to care and not to care”? It provokes us to think about what it means to care; what it costs; and what is its focus. When we exhaust ourselves with caring, and find it as a mere drop in the ocean of need, we are tempted to become cynical or uncaring.

Eliot seems to know that our condition is rather like having our wings clipped; there is a humble recognition that we need direction about knowing what to care for, how to care, and what not to care about.

Is it exhaustion? Is it wisdom? Is this the first formed prayer of a person who understands Ash Wednesday?  What ever is our condition, may we enter Lent with this prayer to be taught to care and not to care, teach us to be still:

Ash-Wednesday

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

“Written by the famous poet, T.S. Eliot, ‘Ash Wednesday‘ is often referred to as his conversion poem because it’s one of the first long poems he wrote after converting to Anglicanism, the officially established Christian Church of England. The title refers to ‘Ash Wednesday,’ the first of the forty days of Lent, which is a time for self reflection, sacrifice, and repentance in many denominations of Christianity.

The poem is divided into six sections, and it deals with the speaker’s aspiration to move from a sense of spiritual despair to spiritual salvation.

In section I (above), the speaker is set to reject all worldly things. In the first two stanzas, he rejects the hope of any fulfillment in worldly diversions, any potential for joy in existence, and acknowledges that the ‘one veritable transitory power’ is insubstantial, prone to fading away into thin air.”

Content from “study.com

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The Standing Prayer

jewishprayer

The Amidah (Hebrew: “The Standing Prayer”), also called the Shemoneh Esreh (“The Eighteen”, in reference to the original number of constituent blessings), is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy:

1. Blessed are you, O Lord our God and God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, the great, mighty and revered God, God most high, generous and kind, owner of all things. You remember the pious deeds of the patriarchs, and in love will bring a redeemer to their children’s children, for your name’s sake, O King, Helper, Saviour and Shield. Blessed are you, O Lord, the Shield of Abraham.

2. O Lord, you are for ever mighty. You bring back the dead to life. You have the power to save. Out of loving kindness you sustain the living; with great compassion you revive the dead. You support the falling, heal the sick, free the captives, and keep faith with those who sleep in the dust. Who is like you, Lord of mighty deeds, and who may be compared to you, O King, who brings death and life, and causes salvation to spring forth? You are to be trusted to bring the dead back to life. Blessed are you, O Lord, who revives the dead.

3. You are holy, and your name is holy, and holy beings praise you every day. Blessed are you, O Lord, the holy God.

4. You favour mankind with knowledge, and teach mortals understanding. Favour us with the knowledge, understanding and discernment that come from you. Blessed are you, O Lord, gracious Giver of knowledge.

5. Turn us back, O our Father, to your Torah; draw us near, O our King, to your service. Bring us back in perfect repentance to your presence. Blessed are you, O Lord, who delights in repentance.

6. Forgive us, O our Father, for we have sinned; pardon us, O our King, for we have been disobedient; for you pardon and forgive. Blessed are you, O Lord, ever gracious and ready to forgive.

7. Look on our misery, champion our cause, and redeem us swiftly for your name’s sake, for you are a mighty Redeemer. Blessed are you, O Lord, the Redeemer of Israel.

8. Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; save us and we shall be saved; for it is you we praise. Send us complete healing for all our ills, for you, O divine King, are a trustworthy and compassionate Physician. Blessed are you, O Lord, who heals the sick of his people Israel.

9. O Lord our God, bless this year and all its varied produce for our good. Send a blessing on the earth; satisfy us with your goodness, and make this year as blessed for us as former good years. Blessed are you, O Lord, who blesses the years.

10. Sound the great horn for our freedom. Raise the banner to rally our exiles, and gather us in from the four corners of the earth. Blessed are you, O Lord, who gathers the dispersed of his people Israel.

11. Restore our judges as at first, our counsellors as in former times. Remove from us sorrow and sighing. Rule over us, O Lord, you alone, in kindness and compassion, and vindicate us in judgement. Blessed are you, O Lord, the King who loves righteousness and justice.

12. Towards the righteous and the pious, towards the elders of your people, the House of Israel, towards the remnant of their scholars, towards the righteous proselytes, and towards us also may your compassion be stirred, O Lord our God. Grant a rich reward to all who sincerely trust in your name; set our portion with them for ever, so that we may not be put to shame; for we have trusted in you. Blessed are you, O Lord, the support and security of the righteous.

13. To Jerusalem, your city, return in mercy, and dwell in it, as you have promised. Rebuild it soon in our days as an everlasting structure, and swiftly establish in it the throne of David. Blessed are you, O Lord, who rebuilds Jerusalem.

14. Cause the offspring of David your servant to spring up swiftly, and let his horn be exalted through your saving power, for we wait for your salvation all day long. Blessed are you, O Lord, who makes the horn of salvation (Yeshuah) to flourish.

15. Hear our supplication, O Lord our God. Spare us and pity us; receive our prayers with compassion and favour; for you are a God who listens to prayers and petitions. O our King, do not turn us out of your presence empty-handed, for you hear with compassion the prayers of your people Israel. Blessed are you, O Lord, who hears prayer.

16. O Lord our God, receive with pleasure your people Israel and their prayers. Restore the service to the sanctuary of your House. Accept with love and approval the fire-offerings of Israel and their prayers, and may the service of your people Israel be ever pleasing to you. May our eyes witness your return in mercy to Zion. Blessed are you, O Lord, who brings back his Shekhinah to Zion.

17. We give thanks to you, for you are the Lord our God and the God of our fathers for ever and ever; you are the Rock of our life, the Shield of our salvation in every generation. We will give thanks to you and praise you for our lives that are held in your hand, for our souls that are in your care, for your miracles that are with us every day, and for your wonders and your benefits that we experience every moment – morning, noon and night. You are all-good, for your mercy has no end; you are all-compassionate, for your kindness knows no limit: we have always put our hope in you. For all this, O our King, may your name be continually blessed and exalted for evermore. May all that lives give thanks to you and praise your name in sincerity, O God, our salvation and our help. Blessed are you, O Lord, whose name is All- Good, and to whom it is proper to give thanks.

18. Grant peace, well-being, blessing, grace, loving kindness and compassion to us and to all Israel, your people. Bless us, O our Father, all of us together, with the light of your face; for by the light of your face you have given us, O Lord our God, the Torah of life, love and kindness, righteousness, blessing, mercy, life and peace. May it be good in your sight to bless your people Israel at all times and at every hour with your peace. Blessed are you, O Lord, who blesses his people Israel with peace.

“This prayer, among others, is found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book. As Judaism’s central prayer, surpassed only by the Birkat Hamazon, the Amidah is the only prayer that is designated simply as tefila (תפילה‎, “prayer”) in rabbinic literature…

Observant Jews recite the Amidah at each of three prayer services in a typical weekday: morning, afternoon, and evening…”  (Source: Wikipedia)

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