Patient Prayers and Other Words

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.

Photo by Judit Peter from Pexels

A Prayer for Patience

Dear God,

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.

Love, Michele

Picture of a person  in green scrubs holding  hands with a patient
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

A Prayer for Patients’ Patience

Dear God,

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.

Love, Michele

An “If there is anything I can do please call me” prayer

Dear God,

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

Dear God,

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.

Sheepishly, Michele

Picture of a stuffed sheep on a desk with red paper hearts in the foreground.
Murray

In sickness and health

Dear God,

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

Dear God,

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.

Love, Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Author info for Jan Karon: http://www.mitfordbooks.com/

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

12 thoughts on “Patient Prayers and Other Words

    1. Thank you Darlene, I was a little nervous from putting this one out there. My blog is not specifically religious, at all, but memoir. I realize though that there is a strong similarity between my writing voice, and my preaching voice, and apparently my prayer too! Feel free. I had no idea how to credit Jan Karon, I would have to go back through early books and read every word until I found the page and publishing info. And I think sharing her website might draw more interest in her writing. Blessings, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for this peek into your prayer life, Michele. I have been thinking about the “In Sickness and in Health” one more and more as we get older. And the “Thy Will Be Done” one…whew! That is a tough one indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Laurie, in some ways one of my “riskier” posts, but trusting my readers. And you know, it maybe true that you can “take the girl out of the church, but not the church out of the girl!” There is a book we might have talked about before. I still haven’t read it, or finished reading it but it is on the floor by my bed a nd def on my ‘must read’ list “Women Rowing North…” about aging, declining act and preparing for the next phase of life. Best and blessings, Michele p.s. Hope the vacation and visiting is going well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is funny, a spiritual director introduced me to the practice back in 1998 and I have been doing it ever since. Not the only way that I pray, but perhaps a favorite way. It works for me, but prayer is so individual isn’t it? Now and then I try to shake things up a bit, but we all have our favorite ways to pray, or the ways we were taught that we do not seem to go behind or need to. Blessings, Michele

      Like

      1. Give it a try! I do not write every day, wish I did. I do not do very good in the “praise” area, but I try to begin each prayer with thanksgiving, as specifically as I can, then I try to move on to requests, especially for others needs and whatever else I am thinking. This works with distractions in prayer too, so you don’t have to be upset with yourself if your mind and your pen wander. If I could draw, but I can’t, I would illustrate my prayers with the vision of the perfect result I hope to see. in some ways you can think of it as a ” spiritual free write.” What I did not include in this post, is my firm belief tht as I write, God reads.

        Like

  2. BEAUTIFUL! Loved reading this.

    On Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 11:04 AM msomervillesite wrote:

    > msomerville2014 posted: ” 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 praye” >

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Anne Mehrling Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: