"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, January 14, 2016

May God's Grace and P's Be With You

I'm going to cut to the chase. Prayer is work. And I'm not sure if or when I will ever get it right. If there's even such a thing of mastering prayer. It remains a mystery, for sure. We serve an omnipotent, omniscient God. The great I Am, self-sufficient in every way. Needs nothings. Gives all. And yet He opens up to us this portal called prayer. Like I said, I just can't figure it nor Him out. But then again, if I could, He wouldn't be God. And so I am left with finding my place in it all.

One of the more challenging parts of prayer for me has been learning how to pray for my immediate family. After all, this is my treasure. But what began as just 2 of us has expanded to 9 of us. I have run the gamut of experiments of what works for me and what doesn't. When the children were younger, I would bring each one into my bedroom and pray over them individually before sending them off to school. I have even kept a 3-ring leather notebook with each person and his or her spouse having his or her own section. I sometimes wonder if God tires of our wordiness in prayer. But what has evolved over the last few years and even more recently as I have been using Robert Benson's book, Venite, seems to be what works best in this season of my life.

In my morning prayer, called Lauds, I come to a place in Benson's book that reads, "We offer prayers for all those with whom we share the Journey: For our loved ones, those who have been given to us, and to whom we have been given." I pick up the picture that is always before me as I pray, and I call their names aloud. "Sandy, Charles, Adrianne, Robert, Kristin, Jude, Marynan, Todd."

Of course, God knows their names, but I want to give life to those names and each individual by causing the atmosphere to vibrate with the sound of my voice. And then I slowly and purposely begin to speak God's "P's" over them which I have recorded by their names in the back of my Bible.


More recently, the list has grown to include:

Promises (Christ Jesus is Yes and Amen)
Providence (His care and guidance)
Pardon (Receiving His total forgiveness)
Patience (To wait for His timing)
Perfection (Maturity and completion)
Perseverance (To run their race)
Possessions (Honor the Lord with them)
Praise (A heart of worship)
Prayer (A life characterized by)
Prophecy (Dreams and visions)
Prudence (Understanding)

I conclude with the words I have written and pasted on the picture: "Establish, O Lord, what You have wrought for us. And may your grace precede and follow us so that we may continually be given to good works." 

"Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy." 

From there I pray for those others who are categorized on the back page of my Bible; those who are near and dear to me as well as those who are facing trials and tests that day ... lifting their names (maybe even your name) in prayer. And as Venite guides me, I end with, "We entrust all who are dear to us to Your never-failing love and care, for this life and the life to come; knowing that You will do for them far more than we can desire or pray for. Amen." 

Yes, Lord. Let it be.

Like I said, this is the season of prayer I'm in right now. A distilling of words. So while I'm at it, may God's grace and P's be with you.

Just an ordinary moment...

Thursday, January 7, 2016


I really wish I had begun blogging these next entries when I began using the book -- which was around the first week of December. They might have made more sense that way. Now I will just pick and choose how I will order them and hope my readers can still get a flavor of this wonderful tool.

The name of the book is Venite: A Book of Daily Prayer. My friend Vicki introduced it to me; she was given a copy by our mutual friend Sally, who was actually a student of the author, Robert Benson,  though I use that term loosely as you will see why in the future. I'm not even sure anyone will be interested in what I have to say on the subject. But if my memory serves me correctly, blogging had its origin as being an online diary. So if that remains the case, my entries are just a way for me to keep my own personal record of experiences and thoughts arranged in calendar order. But if you would like, please feel free to join me on my journey.

To use Venite is to join in a very ancient practice of daily prayer. Christian seasons are observed, holy days are remembered, and the liturgical calendar is kept. It's not for everybody, but in this season of my life, it's perfect. I will expound more on all that another time, but for now my thoughts take me to yesterday morning. And the beginning of Epiphany.

In case you are not familiar with the Christian calendar, Advent begins 4 Sundays prior to Christmas, on which we begin celebrating Christmastide. This is where your 12 days of Christmas come in, for on January 6, we move to Epiphany.

Epiphany means "the showing forth" or "the revelation" of Christ in the world. This is when we celebrate the journey of those wise men from the east -- pagan astrologers, I might add, who left what they knew for something very unfamiliar. Something very foreign. Everyone knows what caught their attention: 

O star of wonder, star of night, 
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

From the known to the unknown with only a mysterious star to guide them, they were compelled to move beyond what they knew to something unexplainable that moved within them. Leaving behind things that were once priorities and personal ambitions, they set off on a physical journey that led them in a new spiritual direction until they found what they were looking for. They saw the child with Mary his mother and they knelt down and paid him homage. These thinkers found themselves out of their cerebral boxes, rejoicing, bowing, kneeling, giving ... and finally, returning home different than when they came.

So maybe you can understand a little bit of my awe on this particular Epiphany morn when I approached my sacred place, a chair pulled up in front of a window in my sunroom, still very dark both inside and out, and finding one lone star unwilling to give way to the approaching light.

Quietly and reverently, I lit my Christ candle, opened Venite, and prayed the recorded prayer:

In the work of Your creation, Almighty God,
     You commanded the Light to shine out of the darkness:
Grant that the light of the gospel of Christ may shine into the hearts of all,
     dispelling the darkness of unbelief, and revealing Your glory in the world.

Yes, Lord, let it be ... that we move beyond the norm, beyond the safe, beyond the unbelief, beyond our own safe country ... and worship the one true Light who pierces the darkness.

Just an ordinary moment...