I have been contemplating making a resolution this year. My track record for keeping resolutions is poorer at best as I rarely make it past Jan 2nd but, maybe this year will be different. You see I am actually thinking about a resolution that fits my life style rather than dramatically changing it. Keeping expectations low can’t hurt this process.
My 2015 resolution is to deepen my prayer life.
I am going to accomplish in two steps. First I am going to carry a small blank book with me at all times where I can record names of people I am asked to hold in prayer. That way I won’t forget the name of the person needing prayer even if I don’t know them well or not at all. I already set aside a portion of my meditation time for intercessory prayers but I often forget the names of those who have asked for prayer. When that happens the best I can do is a general prayer that holds up everyone who is ill and suffering, while this is lovely and includes the individual it has lost the personal feeling for my prayer.
The second act is to begin practicing a new spiritual practice called “Dedicated Suffering” presented by Jane Marie Thibault in her book Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life, co-authored by Richard L. Morgan. The purpose is to take the energy surrounding my suffering and asking Christ to ‘transform it into loving-kindness for the chosen person or group being held in prayer.
In the last few years I have had an increasing amount of physical pain in my life and a lot of my life energy is involved with minimizing that pain. Ms Thibault developed a way to dedicate that energy to Jesus as a gift, then asking Jesus to change that gift into love for a person being held in prayer.
Since I have been doing this only a few days I can’t say I notice major any changes in my life but like all spiritual practices you have to do for a while before you see anything new. That is why it is called ‘practice.’
As we grow older chronic pain and suffering increases and often limits what we can accomplish each day. The practice of Dedicated Suffering offers a way to extend our prayers to others and puts the energy of our pain and suffering to good purpose. I offer the following instructions so you may try it for yourselves. Maybe at the end of 2015 we can compare notes and see how gifting our energy to Christ to provide loving-kindness to those in need has changed our lives.
Dedicating Your Pain and Suffering to Help Others
- Find yourself a quiet corner where you may sit silence for a few minutes. Focus on your pain and the energy you are expending to minimize it.
- Offer your suffering energy to Jesus as a gift.
- Select a person or group in need of your prayers then ask Jesus to accept the energy of you suffering and change it into love for that person or group.
- Spend a minute or two imagining Jesus sending love and help to the person or group.
- End by offering Jesus a word of gratitude.
While I haven’t been doing this practice for a long time yet I do find that I feel less encumbered by my chronic pain and have just a bit more energy to be the person I am meant to be.
Ruth Jewell, ©January 6, 2015
 Thibault, Jane Marie and Richard L. Morgan: Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life, Upper Room Books Nashville TN, 2012, Pgs 112-115.
 Ibid. pg. 113