FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! This is our final roundup before we go on summer break here at The Contemplative Writer. Enjoy these rich offerings from a host of talented writers, and accept our blessings for a fruitful summer.

Lisa and Prasanta

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‘I Wake With Wonder’: A Crowdsourced Poem Of Pandemic Pain And Hope via NPR (a community poem about the challenges of the past year and hope for times ahead)

A Litany for the Planet via Louise Connor (a prayer for all our neighbors)

The Prodigal Son: Visio Divina 2021 via Karen Hice Guzmán (a visio divina exercise from The Well )

Kintsugi and the Divine Potter via Gretchen Crowder (the Divine Potter and the art of repairing broken pottery)

How to Lose a Sense of Wonder via Debra Elramey (when were you last awestruck or seized by wonder?)

The Problem with Urgency and the Power of Letting Go via Sarah Westfall (the more we untangle ourselves from what feels urgent, the more we find peace where we are)

Attending to the Word: Reading as Spiritual Practice via Gregory Wolfe (a series of reflections on the gift and practice of reading)

Revamping the Raven–And Other Writing Mischief via L. L. Barkat (on crafting a well-rounded writing approach)


WEEKLY PRAYER: ST. AUGUSTINE

A prayer from St. Augustine of Hippo:

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Great are you, O Lord, and greatly to be praised. Great is your power; your wisdom is infinite. All people, as part of your creation, desire to praise you; all people, who carry the signs of mortality and sin, desire to praise you still. You provoke us toward that delight, for you have created us for yourself, and our hearts cannot be quieted until they find rest in you. . . . You will I seek , O Lord, calling upon you; you will I call, believing in you.

Source

WEEKLY PRAYER: JOHN WESLEY

This week’s prayer is from John Wesley (1703-1791), Anglican minister and founder of the Methodist movement.

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O Lord, take full possession of my heart, raise there your throne,
and command there as you do in heaven.
Being created by you, let me live for you;
being created for you, let me always act for your glory;
being redeemed by you, let me give to you what is yours;
and let my spirit cling to you alone, for your name’s sake.

Source

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! We hope this week’s roundup, featuring some excellent writers and thinkers, will be thought-provoking and inspiring.

Enjoy, and be blessed.

Lisa and Prasanta

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Spirituality With A Dog In Your Lap via Casey Tygrett (the great mistake is to idealize the spiritual life)

AJB Recommends: Spiritual Practices for Personal and Social Healing via Amy Julia Becker (some resources for finding healing in mind, body, spirit, and community)

The Problem(s) of Susan via Matt Mikalatos (what to make of Susan’s fate in C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle)

A Black Woman at War: Battling for God and a nation’s people via Natasha Sistrunk Robinson (the lie of white supremacy that’s killing us all)

What We’ve Lost in Rejecting the Sabbath via Sohrab Ahmari (in an age of constant activity, we need the Sabbath more than ever)

The Stories Between Us: Karen Swallow Prior Talks Frankenstein and Twitter via Shawn Smucker and Maile Silva (in this podcast episode, Prior talks about intentionality, writing, and social media)


Putting Joy into Practice by Phoebe Farag Mikhail

This week I’m excited to feature an excerpt from Putting Joy into Practice: Seven Ways to Lift Your Spirit from the Early Church by Phoebe Farag Mikhail. I love the way that Phoebe turns to ancient wisdom to help us live with more joy in our life. In the excerpt below, Phoebe talks about arrow prayers, which can be defined as brief prayers “shot up like an arrow to God.” The practice of saying arrow prayers can restore a measure of joy and equanimity to us during challenging times. I hope you enjoy this excerpt and learn a new way to live with joy!

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Arrow prayers remind us that even when we are alone, we are really never alone. We are surrounded by a team, an ethereal community, a great cloud of witnesses (see Hebrews 12:1). We can reach the Creator of the universe with one sentence prayed from our anxious, weary, aching hearts, shooting up like an arrow to his own heart. He sends us back “stabs of joy,” in the words of C. S. Lewis. He sends his angels, as well as the saints in heaven and on earth who regularly intercede for us with prayers and tears. God is with us; we are never alone. All we need to do is call upon him. In his presence “is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

Arrow prayers and praying the Hours are intimately connected. Praying the Hours regularly allows us to engrave the Psalms in our hearts and gives us an arsenal of arrow prayers in times of need. The Twelfth Hour prayer, for example, includes these verses from the Psalms, all of which I have used as arrow prayers at different times:

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!

Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications.
(Psalm 130: 1–2)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me.
(Psalm 138: 7)

LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me!
Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.
(Psalm 141: 1)

When these verses are repeated daily, they build a reserve to draw upon for their spontaneous use. Spontaneity is not a reliable way to develop an arrow prayer habit, however. Most people, when they are guided to use arrow prayers, are also guided to the times to use them, such as . . . my prayers to calm anxious thoughts before bed. Some spiritual fathers advise praying a certain number of arrow prayers (usually the Jesus Prayer) per day, designating a time and using a prayer rope, prayer beads, or a rosary to help count them. This deliberate practice allows them to arise more naturally as we go through our days and find ourselves in times of need.

I find arrow prayers especially helpful when I am angry. Anxiety and fear often go hand and hand with anger, and anger can rise up in ways that are not conducive to relationships, especially to raising children. Anger and fear are passions and most certainly joy thieves. In the heat of the moment, I can certainly count backward from ten to keep my voice down, but I can also ask God for his mercy (I usually do both). I have found that those instances of wanting to yell in anger are fewer and farther between when I am intentional about daily praying arrow prayers. Praying this way has also given me a tool for helping my children manage their own strong emotions. When my children were younger, unable to control their tempers or in the middle of a meltdown, I would hold them tightly in my arms and tell them, “Take a deep breath and say the Jesus Prayer with me.” Now that they are older, I might ask them to sit quietly somewhere and pray some arrow prayers. (They’ll still get a hug.)

I’ve also read my children two books from a series called The Silent Way by Jeanette Aydlette and Marilyn Rouvelas. Peter Clashes with Anger and Eleni Looks at Jealousy each tackle a joy thief (a “passion”), and each child goes through a conversation with his or her grandfather about how to overcome that passion, namely through practicing stillness. Hand in hand with the practice of stillness are arrow prayers, and the grandpa advises each grandchild to find a place to sit quietly and pray, “Lord have mercy.”

When I drafted this chapter, it was snowing outside, and my children were playing with blocks in the living room. I took that moment, observing them, to pause and pray a few arrow prayers: “My Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for these children.” I thought about my husband still at church. “My Lord Jesus Christ, bring my husband home safely in this snow.” My toddler hit his older brother with a toy. Before intervening, I prayed, “My Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Near bedtime we pray a shortened Twelfth Hour prayer from the Agpeya as a family. The absolution prayer of that Hour requests, “For the sake of your Holy Name, Lord, and for Your goodness and Your love to mankind, forgive us those sins we have committed this day, whether they are by action, by word, by thought or any of our senses. Grant us a peaceful night free of all anxiety” (emphasis mine).

Arrow prayers have always been my companion before bed, helping me remove anxious thoughts from my mind. My father of confession gave me that advice many years ago when I complained of struggles to fall asleep because of all the thoughts running through my head. Now, as my oldest child asks me how to fall asleep more easily, I give him the same advice–pray an arrow prayer. Some nights, I pray aloud a few repetitions of the Jesus Prayer with him, and then fall silent. Eventually he falls asleep, but I sometimes stay there, still praying.

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Phoebe Farag Mikhail blogs about faith, family, relationships, and community at BeinginCommunity.com, and serves alongside her husband at St Antonious & St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in East Rutherford, New Jersey. She is the mother of three, a writer, speaker, educator, and advocate, and works in international development.

Putting Joy into Practice: Seven Ways to Lift Your Spirit from the Early Church by Phoebe Farag Mikhail
Copyright 2019 by Phoebe Farag Mikhail
Used by Permission of Paraclete Press
To Purchase: https://paracletepress.com/products/putting-joy-into-practice?_pos=1&_sid=4970f825e&_ss=r

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! We hope this week’s roundup will give you an opportunity to reflect on God’s goodness and our life of faith.

Blessings,

Lisa and Prasanta

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Makoto Fujimura Sings with God, Carries His Cross, and Awaits the New Creation via Joel Clarkson (the renowned Christian artist’s insights on faith and creativity)

Catherine of Siena to Her Confessor via Jane Greer (a poem based on the life and letters of Catherine of Siena)

As the world reopens post-pandemic, how will we find our way in it? via Stephanie Paulsell (finding a guide in St. Theresa of Avila)

Plum Harvest via Laura Cerbus (what does it mean to receive a gift we haven’t chosen?)

The Year of Madeleine via Haley Stewart (motherhood and writing as acts of co-creation)

The Unmaking of Our Biblical Womanhood via Michelle Van Loon (“what if we finally stood together, united by our belief in Jesus instead of divided by arguments over power and authority?”)


WEEKLY PRAYER: JULIAN OF NORWICH

The English mystic Julian of Norwich (1342 – c. 1416) is remembered on May 8 in the Anglican, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches and on May 13 in the Catholic Church.

This week, let’s pray a beautiful prayer attributed to her.

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In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.
You are our mother, brother, and Savior.
In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace.
You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well. Amen.

Source


FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! This week we have a beautiful roundup of posts we hope will help you on your quest for peace, silence, resilience, and faith.

Blessings,

Lisa and Prasanta

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Hollowed via Emily Polis Gibson (a poem about keeping vigil)

Outward Noise; Inward Silence via J. Brent Bill (the silence that feeds our spirits says, “Don’t just do something, sit there”)

We have to be willing to begin again via Kathleen Norris (when you experience failure in writing, in faith, and in life itself)

The Final (or Possibly Second-to-Last) Frontier via Amanda Cleary Eastep (on facing change and crossing the next threshold)

A Law of Deceleration: How I dumped the internet and learned to love technology agai via Paul McDonnold (on living a life of greater peace and stillness)

The Hobbit! via Malcom Guite (indulge in some comfort reading–listen to poet Malcom Guite reminisce and read aloud from The Hobbit)


WEEKLY PRAYER: ST. ANSELM OF CANTERBURY

This week’s prayer is from St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033 – 1109), a Benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher, and theologian. St. Anselm’s Feast Day is this Wednesday, April 21.

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O my God, teach my heart where and how to seek You,
where and how to find You.
You are my God and You are my all and I have never seen You.
You have made me and remade me,
You have bestowed on me all the good things I possess,
Still I do not know You.
I have not yet done that for which I was made.
Teach me to seek You.
I cannot seek You unless You teach me
or find You unless You show Yourself to me.
Let me seek You in my desire,
let me desire You in my seeking.
Let me find You by loving You,
let me love You when I find You.

Amen

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