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Prayer as it appears in Appendix B of “Rules for Engaging Grief”

Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

“PRAYER”
            Prayer. How simple a word.  How universal its appeal. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, Sufi, Jew, Buddhist, Native American, and most people conclude that there is a creator, Supreme Being, or collections of gods which intervene(s) in the universe and in their lives. Prayer in its broadest application is a response to and an acknowledgement of the Supreme Being. Through prayer people attempt to interrupt the deity’s interference in their lives, redirect or attract His interest, or achieve union with Him.
            In prayer, we beg the Supreme Being’s assistance to overcome life’s daily trials, sustenance to keep us and those around us healthy, wisdom to deepen our understanding of the life and death experience, solace to comfort us in our grief, happiness to relieve us in times of trial, power to overcome the adversary, forgiveness to bring healing to mind and body, and encouragement on life’s journey.
      We also pray, perhaps less frequently or intently, to offer praise and thanksgiving to the Supreme Being for the bounty and harmony He promotes. Perhaps, less frequently still, our prayer is the mind-less and emotion-less state of being through meditation – there, to be present to and in this creative force.
      Prayer, in all its varied manifestations and variations, is our assertion of the creator.  We are also revealing an impulse – bringing into consciousness a deep, inexplicable, but wholly natural desire – to be in touch with Him. No one by virtue of position, wealth, or education is excluded from the practice of prayer or awareness of the Creator.  Indeed, such characteristics, and the activity and pride such sometimes connote, may do more than anything to inhibit the resonance and depth of our prayer, and to dim the inner glow which sparks our prayer – sometimes referred to as grace.
      Prayer is not limited to the words memorized in youth.  Though, there are times when the heart is so troubled and the mind so distracted that this form of prayer provides the thread leading back to the […]

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Meditation — January 29, 2017

Posted on Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Scripture: Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain. And when he was seated his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them: How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are the gentle: they shall have the earth as inheritance. Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness: they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be recognized as children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Matthew 5:1-10

Prayer: Even prior to walking to the beach and feeling the brisk wind on my face as I viewed the sun rising higher in the sky, I read about home-based care in Swaziland, wracked with disease and suffering, which the Hartmann’s, Fordham graduates, have established and support directly for several years—residing there six months a year. What a reminder and prelude for reading and reflecting upon the gospel for this Sunday.
Response: For this morning, see yourself in that crowd that Jesus was addressing, and don’t attach yourself with one characteristic and blessing that Jesus proclaims, but reserve place in who you are for each aspect.
There see where in your daily life you have been poor in spirit, and without warning you considered heaven as your inheritance; when you are especially gentle in a difficult situations, and now accept that you are to inherit the kingdom of Heaven; when you might be uncharacteristically gentle and consider your inheritance; when you have mourned, and how you have been comforted; when you strove in your life for justice—consider the reward you received and continue to receive.
How about the mercy extended when aggrieved, don’t you experience forgiveness in return? Oh, how you strive to be pure in heart and to be a […]

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Meditation — January 28, 2017

Posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Scripture: With the coming of evening that same day, (Jesus) said to them: “Let us cross over to the other side. ”And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, just as he was in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a great gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion asleep. They woke him and said to him, “Master, do you not care? We are lost!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet now! Be calm!” And the wind dropped and there followed a great calm. And he said to them, “Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:35-40

Prayer: I was lying in bed in the dark before dawn on a frigid morning. I had slept well after a very challenging previous day, attempting to minister to a troubled loved one. As I reflected on the scripture, I saw myself on the narrow boat in a great gale. And then, for the first time, I really listened to Jesus’s words that as far as I was concerned were directed to me this morning as He quelled this life storm.
Response: Is it not interesting, that the application of these verses for the first time in your life had you positioned in the boat holding on as the gale struck? You were as disturbed as the disciples, until you were wrapped in the Lord’s healing grace that gave you courage that you—and the disciples—lacked as the Lord whispered to you this morning, “Have you still no faith?”
This was no idle incident in Jesus’ ministry, but a care-filled admonishment to trust in the Lord during all challenges and trials. Be patient and witness—yes, witness—as the winds quiet and the turbulent life-sea calms.
Reflect on other storms that you have ultimately weathered, and consider the Lord’s working at those […]

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Meditation — January 25, 2017

Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Scripture: It happened that I (Saul/Paul )was on the journey and nearly at Damascus when in the middle of the day a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you Lord,” and he said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene whom you are persecuting.” The people with me saw the light but did not hear the voice that spoke to me. I said, “What am I to do Lord?” The Lord answered, “Get up, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do.” Acts 22:6-10
Prayer: I am a bit off schedule. I was prompted by coincidence to attend a church service today, discovering in the process the joy and fullness in the Spirit of being in attendance with all the choir and students of the elementary school, parents, and those aged warriors that lined the outer perimeters of the congregation. By another coincidence, though not knocked down to my knees by a blinding light, I too was at a decision point and Paul’s experience penetrated to the depth of my heart.
Response: Would that all such points in life were accompanied by a joyous choir of angels, but perhaps if you reflect more on the experience this morning, you will hear the joyounesss resounding in your heart as well.
Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus is not so much meant to be freeze-framed in history, but brought to a living experience in your life as you wander alone along your road to Damascus. All that is required of you is to be alert—that is, conscious—of the Lord’s presence in sometimes the most unlikely places or times. When you returned to your car, didn’t you find the windshield appeared especially clear of any obstruction, and was not there a holy urge within you to move forward?
Such is how the Lord reaches you—when you least expect it. So today, […]

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Meditation — January 24, 2017

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Scripture: And as well as this, the Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to pray properly, that the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words; and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means because the prayers that the Spirit makes for God’s holy people are always in accordance with the mind of God. Romans 8:26-27
Prayer: Is it the chill temperature, threatening rain, the dismal morning—no sign of the sun—and threatening rain that contribute to my desultory demeanor. However, it is a grace that no one except my dog has viewed me; if she could speak, she would probably express relief. Hear my prayers, Lord, which cannot be put into words.
Response: Paul writes from experience and his message reaches and encourages you this gloomy morning. Be sure to calculate at the end of the day the many blessings that became manifest in your life this day—in the conversations with loved ones and friends, reading the missives from dear ones, in the insights delivered to you in the words of a favorite author, and your inspiration that fuels afresh your creative efforts.
You see, it is no disgrace to admit to your weakness, and it is a grace to acknowledge that the Lord’s presence accompanies you on your journey, taking every twist and turn with you, and clearing your attention so that you see a direction that you might have missed as if on a forest trail when the brush was thick.
What more reassurance do you require in the Spirit’s attention than the phone call you just received from a loved one—sharing, laughing, and listening? There is much more to come to you this day. Praise God!
All for this morning in His grace.

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