Tag: Prayer

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Been a lot of scary reading here on Ricochet lately, and certainly for good reason. If it’s true, as current events seem to portend, that we can’t count on our votes counting, that it’s open season on conservatives, and that the only way to take our country back may be Civil War: The Sequel, the […]

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Quote of the Day: Supposing It Didn’t

 

I clipped this quote from a church bulletin on what I now see was my twenty-sixth birthday, and I’ve hung on to that scrap of paper for … thirty-seven years now. It’s been thumbtacked to cubicle walls and slipped under glass atop a desk and taped to whatever nearby surface presented itself.

I don’t know what initially captivated me about the quote. Maybe it made me think about my mom’s philosophy of worry. As I remember it, she thought that you could keep bad things from happening by worrying about them obsessively, and correspondingly, if something bad happened because you failed to worry about it, that’s on you. I was the Pooh to her Piglet back then, invested in best-case-scenario thinking.

Needing All the Help I Can Get

 

Slowly I open one eye to check the digital clock. It still says 6:29 a.m., just like it did 30 seconds ago. The clock and I are in a power struggle. It wants me to stay in bed as long as I can since a good night’s sleep often evades me. Technically, I have no schedule to keep. But another part of me wants to greet the day and connect with G-d, so I open the other eye to make sure I can successfully make my way to my place of prayer; I arrive without incident.

*     *     *

Prior to my bout with breast cancer, I made time to pray for several months early in the morning in the kitchen. It is a large room, and although my prayers were my conduit to G-d, the tile floors and bright lights were not engaging. Once I had to go through cancer treatment, I was exhausted and didn’t feel invited back into the kitchen. At least that was my excuse, and my prayer practice went on hold.

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The world is once again, profoundly different than just a week ago as Russian forces moved into Ukraine.  Pictures of war in Europe on this scale, not seen since WWII, fill every news outlet.  It feels like the beginning of something that cannot be stopped. It even looks and sounds like an old movie from […]

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Notes from a Faith Healing Meeting

 

I went to a healing meeting with my wife and it was as atrocious as I expected.  Nevertheless, I was happy to be there because it beat sitting home alone on a Friday night with a wide-open internet.

I don’t have a particular dog in the fight around the theology of healing.  I’ve heard the stories of the near-death woman over whom the church gathered for intercession and there she is now singing in the choir.  And I’ve heard stories that went the other way.  I can’t argue with someone’s experience.

Further, I would never fault a person for grasping at any kind of hope in times of distress and uncertainty.  Recently a young boy had a dreadful accident and was near death.  I received frantic emails and texts that it was now time for the church to rally and pray in order to see a miracle.  A special service at a local faith-healing church was quickly organized.

2022 Resolutions (or Perhaps Prayer Requests)

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I have never been much for resolutions.  I think prayer is important not so much in the “prayer works” or the “how to get results” sense but in the sense of realizing there are limits to what I or anyone can accomplish through mere self-will – and that orienting my life to be in a good spiritual place so that I can love God and love others is the best recipe for bringing good to the world and promoting human flourishing. Here is a prayer I have come to like:

God, direct my thinking today so that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonesty, self-will, self-seeking and fear.  God, inspire my thinking, decisions and intuitions.  Help me to relax and take it easy.  Free me from doubt and indecision. Guide me through this day and show me my next step.  God give me what I need to take care of any problems.  I ask all these things that I may be of maximum service to you and those around me. In your name I pray.  Amen

With that, I jotted down these items that make sense for me.  If one or two is useful to you take them.  If not, pass on by.

Quote of the Day: Do You Pray for America?

 

“Prayer has two dimensions, one mysterious, the other not. There are simply too many cases of prayers being answered for us to deny that it makes a difference to our fate. It does. I once heard the following story. A man in a Nazi concentration camp lost the will to live—and in the death camps, if you lost the will to live, you died. That night he poured out his heart in prayer. The next morning, he was transferred to work in the camp kitchen. There he was able, when the guards were not looking, to steal potato peelings. It was these peelings that kept him alive. I heard this story from his son.” — Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

 Particularly over the last year, I’ve read how many people have called for prayers for themselves or others: prayers for those we care about in the Ricochet prayer group; prayers for understanding and solace. And a number of people have shared that they are praying for our country.

Knowing that we at Ricochet are a serious group that calls for action from our government that helps and doesn’t cripple us—securing the border, stopping eccentric and costly legislation, asking Republicans to act as if they care about America—I wonder if people also believe that prayer can have a positive effect on the future of our country.

Discerning the Lord’s Voice

 

St Ignatius of Loyola, Father General of the Jesuit order, prepared a guide to help Christians distinguish the voice of God in their hearts and minds from other voices during prayer. Those others are one’s own voice (reason and imagination), the voice of the world (learned expectations and concerns), and the demonic voices which seek to confuse, isolate, embitter, and discourage. St Ignatius insightfully recognized that evil spirits attack a person differently in moments of weakness than in moments of strength. A summary of his rules can be found here

To that timeless advice, allow me to add a few further thoughts. 

A Grieving That Leads to Good

 

It has been a very difficult few days for me. My usual stoicism finally failed me yesterday morning and I spent a longer than expected amount of time laying face down on the floor of my office, weeping in anguish … a deep grief expressed … crying out to God for help. The last time I allowed myself such an emotional outburst was in the weeks before the election as stories of voting shenanigans began showing up in the news. We were sitting at the dinner table, the entire family, and a wave came over me. I put my hands on my face with elbows on the table, and the tremors began … groanings too deep for words.

It passed, and when I looked up, my oldest daughter was staring at me with the look of alarm. “What’s wrong, Mom?”

I could only whisper, “I’m afraid we’re going to lose our country.” And then we ate.

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However, forlorn, impossible, or foolish our prospects are judged to be at this Hour, the prayers of Sext are to remind us that God prepares the way, and the door He has opened cannot be shut (Rev 3:7). That way, in fact, is made perfect in the crucible of our thwarted plans. “Above all,” counsels Teilhard […]

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The Temptation to Doubt: Was it God … or Just a Thing?

 

I didn’t sleep much last night, which isn’t very different from every other night, but last night I had something new on my mind. Images of my mother’s ravaged body after decades of experimental drugs administered by heinous injections intended to treat her RA, which they did, but they also slowly killed her off in so many other ways.

She was hospitalized in the late ‘90s, and while still in what would be a weeks-long coma, I stood alone at her bedside in the ICU shortly after she’d suffered a severe brainstem stroke. Being the self-righteous prig that I sometimes was back then (and still can be now), I said something like, “Well Mom, this is how things go when you make poor choices.”

Yes, I really said that … or something close to that.

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Life comes at you fast, they say, events and changes that upset our equilibrium – or threaten to – engulfing us and bringing forth worry, fear, anger. Or all of the above. When all we can see are wind-tossed waves, when all we can hear are the yells and shrieks of fury, when all we […]

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Give Me Some of That Watered Down Religion

 

A friend posted this morning that today would normally be a great day, one of his favorites of the year. The last work day of the year. People bringing in food for a potluck lunch. Then sitting around chatting and not working, eventually landing on discussing Star Wars. This year it is just Wednesday.

It reminded me of my work’s Christmas Holiday Party this year. It was last week over Zoom. No one in my branch went and I don’t know if anyone did. The directorate would always have a meetup on the first Friday on the month in the Before Times. They kept advertising virtual ones during the year so maybe some people are still attending them. I was then reminded of a different Holiday Party years ago. I was in the military and we were having a commander’s call in November. They called the company grade officer in charge of the party to come up and give the details. He lead off with “The Christmas Party will be…”. He was stopped and corrected to say Holiday. I think he said Christmas one more time before being corrected again and finally saying Holiday Party.

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Autumn has arrived, at last, and with it, a reminder that there is a natural cycle at work, and a season for every purpose and every thing, according to a divine and created order. Many are the days that I have to remind myself and those I love that the angst of the era is […]

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” The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and communities. The tempest lays bare […]

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Some of you may be experiencing a load of frustration with all the confusion, challenges, attacks on our freedom, and foolish decision-making which abound during this time of Covid-19. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer in trying to help others amidst the chaos, helping those who are suffering by sending positive […]

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