Full disclosure . . . I usually skim instructions and only partially follow them.This may account for my sub-par skills in the kitchen! Grade school papers were peppered with comments highlighting that instructions were not followed. I find reading the instructions burdensome!
I married an engineer . . . he reads them ALL!
My devotional life reflects this trait as well! There are so many great prayer books and inspirational readings to choose from. I have shelves stocked and boxes full of assorted resources. Some have been read, some scanned, and others . . . well the cover was pretty!
What is my problem? Most people devour these books. My mother was looking for something new to read and said to me, “Buy me a book that your friends like, not one you read!”
Discontent arises with readings that give answers; that are too cut and dry, laced with explicit instructions. I long for inspirations that lead me to explore and examine God’s presence, promptings, and grace. Life is at once individual, communal, and mysterious. Readings that reflect this great mystery lead me to ponder, fostering my spiritual growth
About 8 years ago I came across the book “Paths to Prayers: Finding Your Own Way to The Presence of God,” by Patricia D. Brown. The title itself was inviting . . . finding my own way! Perfect!! It contains walking prayers, experimental prayers, body prayers, prayer with beads, prayer dance (I can’t go there, but some do!), and many more.
In this wonderful book I stumbled upon a prayer that I now recite most mornings . . . and sometimes midday, evening, midnight and in between! This particular prayer is called a Spirit Novena. You can guess that I don’t follow the instructions completely. For the most part, I pray the first section; the second section has 9 distinct daily petitions. About once a year I will pray the full Novena over a period of several weeks.
I pray the following:
“On my knees, before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body, to you, Eternal Spirit of God. You are the strength and light of my soul. In you I live and move and am. I pray to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Guard my every thought and grant that I might always watch for your light and listen to your voice and follow your gracious inspirations. I give myself to you and ask you to watch over me in my weakness. Give me your grace. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
How can one pray the same prayer and still be moved? Doesn’t it become rote? Doesn’t it become boring? Do I still hear the words?
Mysteriously, it is fresh most every day! There are days I say it aloud if I am feeling distracted. I use it as a way to settle into quiet time in the morning. Other days it brings me present while running out the door or starting my morning drive. It is amazing how a different word or phrase will rise from the prayer. I sometimes carry that phrase with me, praying it during the day.
Some days I am awed by the line “in you I live, move, and am.” Reminding me that no matter where I go, what I say, or what may confront me I am in the realm of the Spirit’s great love, God’s very being. This is very comforting.
“Guard my every thought.” Yes, Please!!! Guard me from that small thought that turns into a brain worm growing in my imagination. Guard me from that destructive thought that robs me of peace. Guard me from the needless worry. Guard me from the thought that tears down another person. Yes, those are the thoughts I want to be aware of and pry myself from.
This prayer meets me where I am every day! I reach for it when my emotions are raw; when I am exhausted, when blessings pour over me. It grounds me, companions me.
I rely on a God that loves beyond measure; a Spirit that weaves into every area of my life, every fiber of my being. The Spirit breathes into every moment of my day. Of course, it in on to me to be open and receive. Willpower alone fails me. Left to my own devises I get cold-hearted, quick-tempered, impatient, snarky . . . and that is just for starters!
Life is absolutely beautiful!It is also be absolutely hard, very daily, and quite humorous! Just look back at the clothes you wore as a teenager and the various hair-styles you tried! I loved my bright gold hip-hugger bell bottoms! On the other hand, that home-perm mom gave was a disaster! Can you say Roseanne Roseannadanna? (And mayonnaise did not help!!)
Life is full of beauty!!Throw in depression, alcoholism, a child’s death, the death of a spouse, job loss, (insert your own stuff here) and one has to look deep with the heart’s eye to see the wonder and grace that exists!
Lasik surgery can’t provide me with heart vision. The one thing that assists me in seeing the beauty through the life’s mud is the Universal Spirit, the God of all. Why? Because I am reminded (after my rants and bouts of pure self-pity) that there is a God who loves and created, not just me, but ALL. This Spirit of Love moves and exists in all creation. My vision begins to broaden beyond myself.
Yes, I may be suffering, but when I lift my head and look around, I see others hurting also. I am not alone, either in person or spirit. Suffering is common to all humanity. Compassion unites us.
The lotus blossom blooms out of the murky, muddy waters. The stem of the lotus bloom contains air pockets that maintain its buoyancy and provide nutrition. So, in the muddiness of my life, my air-pocket is filled with the Spirits breath, the movement of Grace, breathing in hope, and receiving compassion from authentic companions. That is how I stay afloat and sometimes even flower.
This is why I have my “go-to” prayer. What is yours?