A Difficult Task – Prayerful Tuesday

complex_celtic_cross

St Patrick’s Breast Plate Prayer

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.

I have always loved this couplet of St Patrick’s Breast Plate Prayer.  In times of distress it has centered me and given me comfort.  But as I was reading it for the umpteenth time in light of the recent school shootings in Oregon, Arizona and Texas I felt if St. Patrick would mind if I added a couple of lines to his prayer.  You see this prayer says nothing of the compassion, mercy, or Justus we are asked to extend beyond ourselves and into the world.  So St. Patrick doesn’t mind, well even if he does, I think an addition is in order, perhaps something like this:

Christ in the heart of the wounded,
Christ in the hands of the comforter,
Christ in our forgiveness,
Christ in our love for the enemy
Christ in our carrying for those who harm us
Christ in how we live day to day.

This is what I would add, and maybe you would add something else. But whatever you add let your words open your heart to both the victim and the one who commits the crime.  That is what we are asked to do; it is a small thing but Oh so hard to succeed at.

Ruth Jewell, ©October 13, 2015

Eyes to See– Prayerful Tuesday

Vermont Meadow, June 22, 2006
Vermont Meadow, June 22, 2006

Today my prayer offering is a Celtic poem that reminds us to stop and see the world around us, To see the creator in all that we encounter.  The Pearl of Great Price will be found not in your wallet, or fame, rather  it is in the a field of flowers bright with sunshine, an elderly person who welcomes your presence, a babe in arms who snuggles into your heart.  Let those who have eyes to see and hears to hear.

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone on my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Daily Readings from Prayers & Praises in the Celtic Tradition
introduced and edited by A. M. Allchin and Ester de Waal
Templegate Publishers, Springfield, Illinois, 1987

Ruth Jewell, ©September 22, 2015

Encircled in the Arms of Prayer – Prayerful Tuesday

A Celtic Prayer,  from The Celtic Christian Tradition September 25, 2013
A Celtic Prayer,
from The Celtic Christian Tradition
September 25, 2013

We are coming to the end of Lent, a time of quiet reflection.  One aspect of reflection is prayer; prayer for ourselves, the world, those who are suffering, and those who cause suffering.  Today I am offering an ancient form of prayer for this week’s prayer practice called the “encircling prayer.” This particular prayer is based on a prayer I discovered at the Wells Cathedral in Wells England.  It is a lovely prayer in which to hold in our hearts those in need of comfort and support, and for those who lay upon on hearts.  As the above Celtic Prayer offers: ‘May the peace of the tallest mountain and the peace of the smallest stone be your peace.  May the stillness of the stars watch over you.  May the everlasting music of the wave lull you to rest.”

Circle Prayer Based on a Prayer found in the Gethsemane Chapel,
Wells Cathedral, Wells, England
This is a form of prayer used by early Celtic Christians.
It is called the Caim, the encircling prayer.

Putting Ourselves in God’s presence 

Circle me, O God, encircle me with your presence.

Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for Peacemakers

Circle, O God, those who work for peace and Justice in your world, encircle them with your presence.

Keep wisdom within, keep folly out;
Keep strength within, keep weariness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

For victims of violence and injustice

Circle, O God, those who are victims of violence and injustice, encircle them with your presence.

Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep love within, keep hatred out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

 For those who commit acts of violence and injustice

Circle, O God, those who have committed acts of violence and justice, encircle them with your presence.

Help them to see the truth and to turn away from falsehood;
Help them to learn compassion and leave hard-heartedness behind;
Help them find the courage to turn away from evil;
May they feel your love in a world filled with hate;
Help them to see your light in the darkness.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Prayer for those on our heart

Circle, O God, (name the person(s) for whom you are praying), encircle them with your presence.

Keep wholeness within, keep sickness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep peace within, keep turmoil out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

A Gethsemane Prayer – Closing

Christ of wounds, Christ of tears,
Christ of the wounds of the piercing,
Hold us in your hands, scarred with love,
Through all our trials and sufferings,
And by your wounds, may we find healing.  Amen.

Ruth Jewell, ©March 17, 2015

 

Less Than Perfect – Prayerful Tuesday

Just Me
Just Me

John Bell is one of my favorite composers and lyricists.  He writes music that reaches deep inside of me and calls to me.  Most of his hymns are short chant type pieces that I am able to sing all day.  On Sunday we sang one of my favorites “Take, O Take Me As I Am” and in the place I currently reside I needed to hear those words.  You see I often wonder if I am worthy of the tasks God asks of me.  Sometimes doubts just creep into the corners of my mind and mock me with all of the mistakes I’ve ever made.

The words of John Bell speak to those doubts, telling me God isn’t looking for perfection.  God is looking for real beings that try, fail, get up and try again.  Well that fits me to a tee.  How do I know this well?  If you look at all the people God has ever called: Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jonah, Paul,  all of them were less than perfect but they had something God needed, faithfulness, determination, grit.  They didn’t give up when they started something that was what God was looking for, not perfection.

So this morning I offer these words of John Bells for you to chant during the week, to remind you that love, caring, compassion, justice, mercy don’t come with perfection they come in the packages they are in, you and I.  We may be less than perfect, but we are who God Seeks.

Take, O Take Me As I Am
John Bell

Take, O take me as I am;
summon out what I shall be;
set your seal upon my heart
and live in me.

Vocal Ensemble Eljakim uit Bolsward olv Erwin de Ruijter tijdens
4 colour concert in Bolsward

Ruth Jewell, ©March 25, 2014

a morning prayer

God said "Let  there be light" (ngc4921, NASA)
God said “Let there be light”
(ngc4921, NASA)

May we remember today that we are part of an unfolding story
That calls us to listen to God’s words with intent to action
May we live in the reality of God’s kingdom entering into our lives
May we rejoice in the wonder of God’s eternal presence
May all that we do deepen our awareness of God
May we see in every moment the spark of holiness
And recognize Christ in every encounter
May God’s word burst from the pages of our lives and …
become the life we live
AMEN

Ruth Jewell, ©March 22, 2014

 

Re-Membering our God Connection, Prayerful Tuesday

Lighting our Fire reconnecting with God
Lighting our Fire
reconnecting with God

For the Celtic Christian their religious life and their everyday life were tightly bound together.  They filled their days with prayer beginning with prayers of thanksgiving for waking up and continuing on to making the fire and milking the cow, all the way to prayers of thanks for the day as they went to their rest.  Today we call their life style of acknowledging the Presence of the Divine the Spiritual Practice of Presence.  This is probably one of the easiest of the spiritual practices because all you have to do is remember to pause when you begin and end a task and pay attention to your surroundings, letting your thoughts travel to God, breathing in grace and breathing out gratitude.  The whole exercise may take no longer than one minute to re-member yourself to the Holy Spirit.

Here are a few examples of when you might mentally pause and turn your thoughts to God.

  1. Before you even rise from your night’s sleep, thank God for a restful night and a new day to be in the presence of the Holy.
  2. As you walk into your place of business, offer a prayer for the people you will meet and work with, asking God for patience and kindness when interact with others.
  3. As you prepare breakfast give thanks for the abundance God has graced you with and offer gratitude for the opportunity to share it with your family or friends.
  4. During your day occasionally pause, breathe deeply and extend gratitude toward God
  5. Before you go to sleep offer a prayer of thanks for a day spent with the Spirit and if there are difficulties during the day (I mean who doesn’t have those rough spots) ask for guidance for the coming day.

Those are just a few of the times you might briefly stop and re-member your place alongside the creator.  I am sure you could name many more.

One of the early prayers of the Celtic people was offered as they laid the morning fire to begin the day and the one below is one of my favorites for it has a double meaning.  It prays not just for lighting the homes hearth, but also the lighting of the hearts’ fire.  Today this is my prayer for each and everyone one of you.

Kindling the Morning Fire

This morning, as I kindle the fire upon my
hearth, I pray that the flame of God’s
love may burn in my heart, and the
heart of all I meet today.

I pray that no envy and malice, no hatred,
or fear, may smother the flame.

I pray that indifference and apathy,
contempt and pride, may no pour
like cold water on the fire.

Instead, may the spark of God’s love light
the love in my heart, that it may burn
brightly through the day.

And may I warm those that are lonely,
whose hearts are cold and lifeless,
so that all may know the comfort of God’s love.[1]

Ruth Jewell, ©February 18, 2014
http://www.aquietwalk.wordpress.com


[1] Van De Weyer, Robert, Celtic Prayers, a book of Celtic devotion, daily prayers and blessings, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1997, pg 26

 

 

Prayers of Intercession and Petition – Prayerful Tuesday

dove

Ephesians 3:16-19  16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Paul’s prayer to the readers of the Letter to the Ephesians is an intercessory or petition prayer to the Holy Spirit, offered by Paul on behalf of the believers of Ephesus.  This prayer strikes a deep cord within me today because I am often asked if praying for others is actually beneficial or just words.  According to some prayer does. Richard Schiffman, in a 2012 post on the religious page of Huffington Post[1], makes the case that those who pray are healthier. In fact he states “It doesn’t matter if you pray for yourself or for others, pray to heal an illness or for peace in the world, or simply sit in silence and quiet the mind — the effects appear to be the same.”  Now I’m not calling Mr. Schiffman the world’s best expert but from my own experience I have to agree with him, prayer does help me and does provide comfort for those I pray for.

So why is Paul’s prayer touching me today? Well because today I have been offering a number of prayers for people and so form of prayer is weighing large on my mind today. I offer prayers for others and I keep a prayer list with names of those who ask me to pray for them. However, and I try to be gentle with those who request prayer and let them know that intercessory prayers may have a downside to them, at least from my perspective.  If we expect G-d to answer our prayers the way we do when we order something on Amazon, then we have a deep problem.  A problem that can harm those we offer prayers for and ourselves.

There is an old hymn that says to “take it to God in prayer” and the implication is all will be made well if we pray.  Now I like that old hymn but I also know that God isn’t going to answer my prayers in any way I expect.  Yes, sometimes there is no answer and that is probably God saying “no” to my request, but, sometimes the answer comes in a way I don’t recognize or expect.  It may not be until long after the prayer I understand what the answer is.

Before we go any farther a word of caution, and I want to make this very clear, my experiences are mine, your experiences with pray are yours. The meanings I receive for my prayers will not mean the same thing to you.  So don’t expect what I learn from my prayers will fit neatly into your frame of reference.

That word of caution is what I am trying, in my inept way, to say. Intercessory pray can become wish list for things you want God to fill.  We all have done that, when I was 8 I prayed for a pony and needless to say I didn’t get one and was very disappointed, going in tears to my father asking why God wouldn’t give me a pony.  He words have stuck with me to this day: “God doesn’t give things we want, God gives us the things we need.  God also gives her gifts in her own time, not mine, God listens but picks the moment when what she offers will do the most good for my life with her. I won’t always recognize her gifts right away, but if I am listening and watching I will see them eventually.”  Now I have to admit I had no idea what he was talking about, all I knew was there wasn’t a pony at the end of my bed the next morning.  But I’ve remembered those words and at this stage of my life I am finally learning what he meant and how to offer a prayer of petition, or intercession, for myself and others.

Today I would like to offer Intercessory and Petition Prayers as today’s spiritual practice, it is an important one to learn not just for yourself, but for those you carry within your heart. How I pray may not work for you but I am sure you will find what works best for you. Unplanned prayers happen when there is a necessity for them.  I have offered a prayer at the bedside of someone who was ill or dying, or when something happens that touches me deeply and I feel the need to offer that prayer.  Those prayers are unplanned and speak from my heart.  I don’t know how to give you instructions for those except to listed for the words and they will come.

Most often I offer prayers of intercession and petition following my daily meditation when I am fully centered in God’s presence. For these Prayers or Intercession and Petition I use the following Celtic Circle Prayer[2], a form of prayer used by early Celtic Christians called the Caim or encircling prayer, which goes like this:

Pray for ourselves

Circle me, O God, encircle me with your presence.

Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for those on our heart

Circle, O God, (name the person(s) you are praying for), encircle them with your presence.

Keep wholeness within, keep sickness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep peace within, keep turmoil out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for Peacemakers

Circle, O God, those who work for peace (you may wish to specifically name people), encircle them with your presence.

Keep wisdom within, keep folly out;
Keep strength within, keep weariness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

For those victims of violence and injustice

Circle, O God, (name people and places), encircle them with your presence.

Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep love within, keep hatred out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

For those who commit acts of violence and injustice

Circle, O Holy Spirit, (name people and places), encircle them with your presence.

Help them to see the truth and to turn away from falsehood;
Help them to learn compassion and leave hard-heartedness behind;
Help them find the courage to turn away from evil;
May they feel your love in a world filled with hate;
Help them to see your light in the darkness.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

I don’t always use every one of these prayers at one time sometimes only one or two, but I find that I am less likely to petition God for selfish reasons when I use this prayer.  If these prayers are helpful for you please feel free to you them, but, you may also have or find a prayer that works better for you and that is just as much a blessing.

My prayer for all of you this day is:

Circle, O Holy Spirit all who read these words, encircle them with your presence.

Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©January 7, 2014


[1] Schiffman, Richard, Huffington Post, Religious Page, January 18, 2012
[2] Based on a Prayer from the Gethsemane Chapel, Wells Cathedral, Wells UK.