WEEKLY PRAYER: JANE AUSTEN

Jane Austen (1775 – 1817) is well known for her novels about English mores and manners but also wrote three prayers that echo the form and style of the Book of Common Prayer. Although they are intended to be evening prayers, I think that the fragment quoted below helps to set a good tone for the coming day.

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Teach us, Almighty Father, to consider this solemn truth, as we should do, that we may feel the importance of every day, and every hour as it passes, and earnestly strive to make a better use of what Thy goodness may yet bestow on us, than we have done of the time past.

 

Source

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! This week’s faves have been specially chosen by Prasanta Verma and me to help us get ready for Lent. During Lent, we journey into a kind of darkness: we go into the desert, we go into the darkness that Jesus experienced, we go into a place of sorrowing and repentance. This place is necessary to help us prepare for new life.

Today’s posts help us explore darkness in our lives — and to find God there. He will not leave us alone in the inky places.

Read, and be blessed.

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When You’re Not Feeling Very #Blessed via Kate Bowler and Jan Richardson (when you’re not feeling #blessed, you need a blessing)

The Breath of God via Keren Dibbens-Wyatt (on being enfolded by God even in  weakness)

Black Space, Dark Matter via Sarah Rennicke (to be in the shadows is still to be seen, met, and formed by God)

4 Reasons Why You Need a Sabbath Journey for Lent via Shelly Miller (Lent is an opportunity for God to reveal how he’s been at work in your life)

Ash Wednesday via T. S. Eliot (listen to Eliot read his poem aloud)

Last Curtain via Rabindranath-Tagore (a poem about life and death)

 

WEEKLY PRAYER: HOWARD THURMAN

Today’s prayer comes from Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981), a theologian, mystic, philosopher, and civil rights leader:

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Open unto me—light for my darkness.

Open unto me—courage for my fear.

Open unto me—hope for my despair.

Open unto me—peace for my turmoil.

Open unto me—joy for my sorrow.

Open unto me—strength for my weakness.

Open unto me—wisdom for my confusion.

Open unto me—forgiveness for my sins.

Open unto me—tenderness for my toughness.

Open unto me—love for my hates.

Open unto me—Thy self for my self.

Lord, Lord, open unto me!

 

Source

WEEKLY PRAYER: EVELYN UNDERHILL

Today’s prayer comes from Evelyn Underhill, a 20th-century poet, spiritual author, and theologian.

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Give me, O Lord, I beseech you, courage to pray
for light and to endure the light here,
where I am on this world of yours,
which should reflect your beauty but which we
have spoiled and exploited.
Cast your radiance on the dark places,
those crimes and stupidities I like to ignore and gloss over.
Show up my pretensions, my poor little claims and
achievements, my childish assumptions of importance,
my mock heroism.
Take me out of the confused half-light in which I live.
Enter and irradiate every situation and every relationship.
Show me my opportunities, the raw material of love,
of sacrifice, of holiness, lying at my feet,
disguised under homely appearance
and only seen as it truly is, in your light.

 

Source

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! This week, Prasanta Verma and I are bringing you a lovely round-up of links related to finding God, beauty, connection, and “fresh bread” in our lives. These short, poetic reads are just right for shining a light in the long days of winter.

Read, enjoy, and be blessed.

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Finding God in Sunshine via Shemaiah Gonzalez (when the light breaks through)

Enjoyment is Worship via Rachel Joy Welcher (enjoyment is a neglected form of worship)

A New Year Revolution via Simon Parke (the present is “fresh bread”)

Love in Ordinary Form via Jennie Cesario (finding God’s love in the everyday)

On Being Kind via David Heddendorf (an interesting take on the kindness movement and what it lacks)

 

 

The Mindset for a New Year: A Post by Prasanta Verma

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

-T. S. Eliot

 

I am sitting in a room with about 70 other people, at a business conference, and the speaker transitions into a message of mindset. We are seated in six long tables on each side of the room, in a large conference center with picture windows overlooking a snowy hill with a half-frozen river at the bottom of the hill. A picturesque scene outdoors delights the attendees; indoors, the audience sits in rapt attention to the dynamic and energetic speaker.

We have two choices, the speaker says. She asks us some questions, poses a few hypothetical scenarios, and then asks us to consider what side we are on.

Abundance? Or scarcity?

As I sit listening, I thought I had already dealt with that particular mind-devil.

Hadn’t I already proclaimed that truth to myself? Hadn’t I already called out the lies of irrelevancy, worthlessness, and lack of confidence? I know the half-empty/half-full glass mindset.

Yet, the taunts of a hidden department of the scarcity mindset were peeping through, so tiny and barely perceptible, I almost missed it.

The difference, I realized, was the circumstance. I had dealt with the scarcity mindset on the personal level. Now, here I was, starting a new business, and recognized that troublesome voice lurking in my life, waiting for its chance to reappear. I had never started a new kind of business, and the monsters of depravity sought to destroy what I was building before I had barely begun.

The scarcity mindset was appearing in unwelcome thoughts such as, “There is no way you can do this.” Or, “You can’t succeed; you will fail.” And, “No one will call you, or hire you.” And other such negative thinking.

All of this is in stark contrast to the abundance mindset, which of course, says, things like, “You can do this.” Or, “You don’t have to be perfect, you just need to make progress.” Or, “You are here for a purpose and you are not alone.” Or, “You have something to offer. People will find you.” And so on.

I realized I had been living in the land of scarcity in regard to my work, though I thought I had slayed that particular demon.

The verse about “abundant life” came to mind, and it brought a new meaning, a new idea of abundance to me. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (RSV).

The abundant life also applies to my thought life. I had not quite thought of it in that way before. My mind was living in a dry place, when a verdant and fruitful place was available to me. Moreover, the thief was still sneaking around, with intentions to destroy me.

As this new reality dawns upon me, I think it is a good way to begin a brand new year: with a mindset of abundance as opposed to scarcity.

With God, I have abundance and life. I have more than enough, and I am enough. I do not know what the year ahead holds, but there is a place for scarcity and its words: in the past. Abundance is our inheritance; it belongs in the future. And that is a better place to dwell.

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Prasanta Verma, a poet, writer, and artist, is a member of The Contemplative Writer team. Born under an Asian sun, raised in the Appalachian foothills, Prasanta currently lives in the Midwest, is a mom of three, and also coaches high school debate. You can find her on Twitter @ pathoftreasure, Instagram prasanta_v_writer, and at her website: https://pathoftreasure.wordpress.com/.

WEEKLY PRAYER: ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

Today is the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), a Dominican friar, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. We are praying a portion of his prayer “For Ordering a Life Wisely,” which he daily recited before the image of Christ.

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Aquinas by CrivelliO merciful God, grant that I may
desire ardently,
search prudently,
recognize truly,
and bring to perfect completion
whatever is pleasing to You
for the praise and glory of Your name.

Put my life in good order, O my God.

Grant that I may know
what you require me to do.

Bestow upon me
the power to accomplish Your will,
as is necessary and fitting
for the salvation of my soul.

Grant to me, O Lord my God,
that I may not falter in times
of prosperity or adversity,
so that I may not be exalted in the former,
nor dejected in the latter.

May I not rejoice in anything
unless it leads me to You;
may I not be saddened by anything
unless it turns me from You.

May I desire to please no one,
nor fear to displease anyone,
but You.

May all transitory things, O Lord,
be worthless to me
and may all things eternal
be ever cherished by me.

May any joy without You
be burdensome for me
and may I not desire anything else
besides You.

Source

 

WEEKLY PRAYER: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

Today’s prayer is from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a pastoral prayer recorded in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956:

We thank thee, O God, for the spiritual nature of man. We are in nature but we live above nature. Help us never to let anybody or any condition to pull us so low as to cause us to hate. Give us strength to love our enemies and to do good to those who despitefully use us and persecute us. We thank thee for thy church, founded upon thy Word, that challenges us to do more than sing and pray, but go out and work as though the very answer to our prayers depended on us and not upon thee. Help us to realize that humanity was created to shine like the stars and live on through all eternity. Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace. Help us to walk together, pray together, sing together, and live together until that day when all God’s children, Black, White, Red, and Yellow will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen.

Source

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! It really is a joy to us to share the good posts we’ve found each week. There are so many people putting beautiful and hopeful words into the world. We hope the ones featured here will bless you today. So, without further ado, Prasanta Verma and I bring you this week’s faves…

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The First Sunday of Epiphany–Jesus’ Baptism via Malcom Guite (a sonnet for Epiphany plus a song written by Steve Bell inspired by the poem)

Aundi Kolber: Try Softer via Aundi Kolber and Caroline Triscki (an interivew with Aundi upon the release of her book about compassion, healing, and being God’s beloved)

How the Deep, Dark Season of Winter Nourishes the Soul via Judith Valente (what spiritual lessons does the darkest season teach us?)

Koselig via Ashley Canter (you’re not wasting time . . . you’re changing the world)

What’s a Woman Worth? via Quina Aragon (what does the Bible say about women? A spoken word video)

Spring 2020 Most Anticipated Books for Christian Readers via Englewood Review of Books (make your reading lists for this spring)

WEEKLY PRAYER: ST. HILARY OF POITIERS

Yesterday (Jan. 13) was the Feast Day of St. Hilary of Poitiers, a 4th century bishop and Church Father. He defended the faith from the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Our prayer today comes from his treatise, On the Trinity.

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I am well aware, almighty God and Father, that in my life I owe you a most particular duty. It is to make my every thought and word speak of you.

In fact, you have conferred on me this gift of speech, and it can yield no greater return than to be at your service. It is for making you known as Father, the Father of the only-begotten God, and preaching this to the world that knows you not and to the heretics who refuse to believe in you.

In this matter the declaration of my intention is only of limited value. For the rest, I need to pray for the gift of your help and your mercy. As we spread our sails of trusting faith and public avowal before you, fill them with the breath of your Spirit, to drive us on as we begin this course of proclaiming your truth. We have been promised, and he who made the promise is trustworthy: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Yes, in our poverty we will pray for our needs. We will study the sayings of your prophets and apostles with unflagging attention, and knock for admittance wherever the gift of understanding is safely kept. But yours it is, Lord, to grant our petitions, to be present when we seek you and to open when we knock.

There is an inertia in our nature that makes us dull; and in our attempt to penetrate your truth we are held within the bounds of ignorance by the weakness of our minds. Yet we do comprehend divine ideas by earnest attention to your teaching and by obedience to the faith which carries us beyond mere human apprehension.

So we trust in you to inspire the beginnings of this ambitious venture, to strengthen its progress, and to call us into a partnership in the spirit with the prophets and the apostles. To that end, may we grasp precisely what they meant to say, taking each word in its real and authentic sense. For we are about to say what they already have declared as part of the mystery of revelation: that you are the eternal God, the Father of the eternal, only-begotten God; that you are one and not born from another; and that the Lord Jesus is also one, born of you from all eternity. We must not proclaim a change in truth regarding the number of gods. We must not deny that he is begotten of you who are the one God; nor must we assert that he is other than the true God, born of you who are truly God the Father.

Impart to us, then, the meaning of the words of Scripture and the light to understand it, with reverence for the doctrine and confidence in its truth. Grant that we may express what we believe. Through the prophets and apostles we know about you, the one God the Father, and the one Lord Jesus Christ. May we have the grace, in the face of heretics who deny you, to honor you as God, who is not alone, and to proclaim this as truth.

Source (translation used above is from Crossroads Initiative)