Tag: Prayer

Does G-d Intervene in Our Lives?


Recently I had a conversation with a friend about G-d’s role in our lives. Specifically, we discussed whether G-d intervenes, when, and why He does. I started thinking about the subject more deeply, and realized that I have made several assumptions about G-d’s intervention (since I believe He does), and I wondered how other people perceive his role in their lives.

For my part, I see G-d’s intervention in a number of ways. I think I receive guidance from G-d, whether it’s an idea for a post, a sudden insight on how to address a problem, helpful advice to give to a friend, and many other experiences. No, I don’t hear a voice, but these thoughts emerge, often unbidden, and I explore them. I don’t always trust what I’m receiving, which probably says something about how well I trust myself, so I often mull over what I’ve learned. But generally, those are the kinds of things that emerge. I also feel blessed that I “perceive” G-d’s presence; I don’t know how to explain it, except to say there are times when I am physically alone, but don’t feel alone.

I think that there are times when I’ve had a sense of foreboding, particularly about a person, and I ask myself (since it’s usually someone new in my life) whether this is a person I should trust. If ongoing communications are awkward or troubled, I eventually often leave the relationship.

He Prayed with Me


While sitting at my desk and writing (my usual daily posture), I received a call on my cell phone. I didn’t recognize the number, but it wasn’t labeled “Scam Likely,” so I decided, what the heck, who’s trying to aggravate me now . . .

When I answered, the first impression I had was that it was a marketing call of sorts. The caller, a fellow, asked if I had completed the survey from Advent Hospital for my recent doctor visit; I explained that I’d had so many visits lately that I had no idea. (I did try to keep the sarcasm out of my voice.) So he told me the name of the doctor, whom I recognized, and I told him the visit went just fine (since, although the doctor gave me more bad news, he did it kindly).

Do People Really Believe in Prayer?


Like many people, I have been moved by the prayer and expressions of love and compassion regarding the tragic football incident involving Damar Hamlin:

After a routine tackle during Monday night’s Bills-Bengals game, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on his back in cardiac arrest. Medical personnel administered CPR for roughly 10 minutes before an ambulance carted Hamlin off the field and to a Cincinnati hospital. While it drove off, onlookers reported seeing Bills head coach Sean McDermott gather his players on the field for communal prayer. As both teams and staff knelt around Hamlin during those 10 minutes of CPR, individual players certainly were praying too. One Bengals fan at the game scribbled ‘Pray for Buffalo #3 Hamlin’ on a paper sign. Minutes later, fans of both teams showed up at Hamlin’s hospital to pray. Players from around the league, fans, and others across social media offered prayers. We join them all in their prayers for his body and soul.

When tragedy occurs in this country, we often see communities rallying to pray for the victims. Prayer vigils are held, flowers are offered, and candles are lit as a way to demonstrate hope for positive outcomes. I’ve also been glad to hear from many in the media who have praised these displays for Damar Hamlin, who was not only a very good football player but also an honorable individual, who is close to his family and has formed a charitable foundation.

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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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Every time I have the opportunity to say thank-you to someone, I feel as if I am the one receiving the blessing. When I say thank you, I am saying so much more; I’m saying that I recognize you as a gift in my life; I appreciate what you have said or done with or […]

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