I began journaling my prayers, essentially writing letters to God, in a composition book in 1998. It has been a freeing spiritual practice for me. This post contains prayers that were written for the post, they are not “ripped from the pages of my prayer journal” but are very much my thoughts, reflections and prayers in this current season of our lives.
A Prayer for Patience
You know that as a person and as a parson, I recommend prayer on a regular basis, especially prayer as a means of a maintaining a relationship with you, a means of two way conversation. So often prayer is regarded, and demoted to simply asking for things, as easily as one might call in an order to a local grocery store. Here is what I want, here is my list! Amen. Or, “inJesus’name,” (yes, that fast!) Amen.
One prayer that I discourage, however, is praying for patience, because it seems to me those requests for “Patience” are really something else. I think when we pray for patience it is because we want the thing we are experiencing to be taken away, done with, or otherwise ended. Pray for patience, and you are liable to be gifted with circumstances that require you to exercise patience and so build up your ability to be patient. That process requires cooperation on the part of the one praying, myself included. But when people pray for patience, my suspicion is that perhaps what they mean or need is endurance, not patience.
So, often my advice is, do not pray for patience unless you are prepared for the result. Pray instead for the ability to endure the circumstances, or at least to be able to discern. But I think there is an element of participation that is involved. I admit, Lord, that I do not know why this fact surprises some people.
An athlete who wants to excel in their sport has to participate in physical conditioning, whether it is push-ups, jumping jacks, running laps, or other strength building, endurance building exercicses. Participation in the process is a must.
Now that I have shared in writing, my particular prejudices about prayer for patience, I see that this prayer is actually a prayer of confession. Trusting you to show me the error of my ways.
A Prayer for Patients’ Patience
Waiting for answers is so hard, whether it is for yourself or someone else. Waiting for biopsy results, waiting to see a specialist, waiting to know if they have cancer. Waiting with so many questions and wanting answers right away, wanting the doctors to know everything, because medicine and science have come so far in the last few decades. Today, in 2021, one hardly if ever hears a phrase that was once common place in the 1950s and 1960’s, “exploratory surgery.”
Yet, there are still invasive procedures, there are still times of waiting that seem endless, and questions, so many questions. Do I ask for a second opinion? Do I accept the suggested treatment without researching options? When it comes right down to it, God I am scared. When it comes right down to it, God, it is not the waiting that is the real problem. It is the answers.
And God, please guide my doctors.
An “If there is anything I can do please call me” prayer
How am I supposed to answer that question? How do I even know what I need at this point? What are the limits and boundaries of what is being offered? What things are “off limits?” I am stressed, but I can still cook. Someone else could drive my spouse for treatments, or appointments, but I really need to be there to hear what the doctor has to say.
The truth is I have been on both sides of that offer. I have extended it, without any particular characterization or limits, and I have been the recipient of kind, although vague offers of help. This time around though I decided to act. A family in our community put a notice in a Community social media page offering assistance to “Elderly” families who need help with mowing. Did you notice the quotation marks around the word “Elderly?” that is because I am in denial. I am not convinced that at 71 I am elderly, although I admit to getting older.
“With my husband’s impending surgery and knowing he would not be able to mow, I finally reached out and asked specific question, and set a specific time frame (six weeks). Another friend who said, “If you need anything call me.” got a call, within two hours. I said, what I need most right now, is for you to come visit me. We can sit on the porch and sip tea and talk.” Another family friend prepared and delicious meal that took into consideration our calorie and carbohydrate information needs. Delish!
We are fortunate to live in a caring community, that is it’s own story. Thank you Lord, for the kindness of strangers and friends. Help me Lord, the next time I am tempted to offer a vague, “Call me if you need anything.” kind of offer, to find out what is needed or wanted, or to be specific in what I can do, like “I would be glad to pick up groceries on Tuesdays, or call me any afternoon if you need to vent, or need a ride to an appointment. Help me to never offer anything I do not mean to give and help me remember that helping them is a way of showing your love.
Thank you God, for hearing my prayer. Love, Michele
The hardest prayer
Christian Author Jan Karon, uses a phrase in the Mitford Series and Father Tim books, “The prayer that never fails.” It took me a lot of reading to realize that the “Prayer that Never Fails” is “Thy will be done.” But, God, I am not that mature. I always have a much clearer picture of my will than your will and I do not surrender easily. Help me, God, to be more discerning, more mature and to trust in your goodness, as I pray for others, as I pray for myself.
In sickness and health
When I am working with couples who are preparing for marriage (the wedding, really), there are two questions I am careful to ask. “What is THE most difficult thing you have been through together?” And, looking at the traditional vows to “love, honor and cherish, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health…” I ask them to write down two to three practical ways they will live those vows out. Hopefully, their difficult times will be minimal and the “Sickness and Health” part is a long way down the road. Getting ready for the wedding, it is hard to imagine, and perhaps morbid, too, the debilitating kinds of illness or injury of a spouse, child or family member that can require both a strong stomach and physical emotional endurance, but those things happen all the time.
In retrospect, I would tweak those questions a little bit and say, “if you, yourselves have not had anything too stressful to deal with together, check around your family, your church, your friends’ parents and ask if they will talk to you about the nitty gritty of life with illness or injury.” In almost thirty-five years of marriage, we have nursed each other through various surgeries and illnesses, joint replacements, and worse. When he is the patient and feels bad about the things I need to do, I just smile and say, “In sickness and health, dear.” It occurs to me these days that the long list of traditional vows, loving, honoring and cherishing are component parts of each of the other things. So that honoring and cherishing, are part of the actions needed “in sickness.” It is not sexy, but illness brings its own kind of intimacy and vulnerability that calls for honoring and cherishing, and preserving of dignity. Help me therefore, Lord, to not take cheap shots at the expense of a tender trust.
Thank you God, for your love and presence. Michele
A Prayer for Gratitude
Thank you for the gift of this day, the flowers that bloom, the clouds in the sky that look like floating mashed potatoes (no lumps!). Help me to be a person of gratitude, for my life, for my family and to you. Help me to notice the tangible expressions of grace and mercy. Help me to be thankful and not found wanting. Thank you for the gift of my life and all that it encompasses.
Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com
Author info for Jan Karon: http://www.mitfordbooks.com/