In the school of prayer with Brother Lawrence


Roof garden in inner city Rotterdam  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

While reflecting on the theme of work, I was reminded of Brother Lawrence – a role model for us (as for previous generations) of what it means to “make your life a prayer” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, The Passion Translation).

Brother Lawrence was a Carmelite monk working in a monastery kitchen in Paris in the seventeenth century. He wrote no book but his papers, together with accounts of conversations with him, were collected after his death and published. The English translation was given the title, The Practice of the Presence of God.

Here are two excerpts:

“The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquillity as if I were on my knees at the Blessed Sacrament.”
       from the Fourth Conversation

“But when we are faithful to keep ourselves in his holy presence, and set him always before us, this not only hinders our offending him, and doing anything that may displease him, at least willfully, but it also begets in us a holy freedom, and if I may so speak, a familiarity with God, wherewith we ask, and that successfully, the graces we stand in need of. In time, by often repeating these acts, they become habitual, and the presence of God is rendered as it were natural to us. Give him thanks, if you please, with me, for his great goodness towards me, which I can never sufficiently admire, for the many favours he has done to so miserable a sinner as I am. May all things praise him. Amen.”
       from the First Letter


Two simple prayers

Drawing inspiration from Brother Lawrence, Ann Lewin writes:

Brother Lawrence believed that it was important to relate all his life to God, work and prayer alike. …

We have to establish the habit of remembering that there is a connection between God and ourselves wherever we are …
now is the time we meet with God.

Two simple prayers are enough to carry around with us: ‘Thank God’, and ‘Lord have mercy’. These are the responses we can make to all the circumstances of our lives, for God is concerned with the painful experiences and the hard questions just as much as with the joys and delights.

from Seasons of Grace by Ann Lewin, p. 28-29


Digging deeper

The Practice of the Presence of God  (Audio version | PDF)
by Brother Lawrence

The devotional life of Brother Lawrence
article by Robert M. Johnston

Four Lessons about Faith & Work from Brother Lawrence
article by Dr. Andrew Spencer

A ministry of dirty dishes
article by Perry Engle


Benediction

(inspired by Exodus 3)

Go out into the world to join God
      in the work of love, of peace, of justice.
Take in the breath of life.
Take off your shoes.
Know that you are ever in the presence
of the Holy and Living God.
Go in peace. Amen.

— written by Joanna Harader, and posted on her Spacious Faith blog.


Other blog posts in the “In the school of prayer” series:

In the School of prayer with Angela Ashwin
In the school of prayer with Anselm
In the school of prayer with Ann Lewin
In the school of prayer with Eddie Askew
In the school of prayer with the Celtic Saints

The work of our hands


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Here is a prayer of blessing for workers of all kinds, written by Carol Penner, with a unifying theme of hands – strong hands, capable hands, practical hands, determined hands, artistic hands, loving hands, Christ-like hands.
 
This is the first post in our new series, “Work”.

 


A prayer

Bless the work of our hands, O God.

Bless the hands that work the land;
hands that move earth, plant seeds and harvest,
hands with callouses and dirty fingernails, strong hands.
 
Bless the hands that use machines;
hands that drive cars, trucks and forklifts,
hands on computer keyboards, capable hands.
 
Bless the hands that make things;
hands that manufacture and create,
working wood and metal and plastic, practical hands.
 
Bless the hands that clean;
hands that wash, mop and scrub,
hands that know what to do with soap, determined hands.
 
Bless the hands that make music and art;
hands that play instruments and hold paintbrushes,
hands that are creative tools, artistic hands.
 
Bless the hands that care for people;
hands that cook and feed, heal and nurture,
hands with a gentle touch, loving hands.
 
Bless the hands that are generous;
hands that give away money and food,
hands that are always trying to be empty, Christ-like hands.
 
Bless the tiny, baby hands.
Bless the strong adult hands.
Bless the hands that are folded in prayer.
Bless the hands that are lifted in praise.
Our hands do the work of your hands,
O God our Creator.  Amen.
 
by Carol Penner, from leadinginworship website


From the blog:
Theme: Sharing in Jesus’ ministry (PRAYER SHEET)
Theme: Do not lose heart (PRAYER SHEET)

See the Index for more links

Light on my path


 

The psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Here are some light-bearing Scripture verses and a prayer. Hopefully there is something in this selection to encourage you and help light your way.


And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.

 

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.

 

To God belong wisdom and power;
counsel and understanding are his.
He reveals the deep things of darkness
and brings utter darkness into the light.

 

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?

 

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.

 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

 

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.

 

For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

 

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.

 

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

 


Light for the Path

(based on Psalm 119:105-112, 18, 34)

Your Word, O God, is a lamp for our feet
and a light for our journey.

When everything around us is dark, and we can see no light at all,
may the light from Your Word show us the way to go.

When the future is uncertain, and we can’t see what lies ahead,
may the light from Your Word show us the way to go.

When we feel abandoned or betrayed, and have no one to turn to,
may the light from Your Word show us the way to go.

When we are tempted to do what we know is wrong,
may the light from Your Word show us the way to go.

Open our eyes to see the wonderful truths in Your Word.
Give us understanding,
that we may keep Your law,
and put it into practice in our lives.

Amen.

 
from re-worship.blogspot.com


From the blog: see also on a journey, theme for August 2017.

In the school of prayer with the Celtic Saints

 
To all saints, i.e. anyone who is within the Body of Christ …

For many decades now, Celtic Spirituality has been a hot topic, latterly also in my life.

How grateful I am that I was brought into contact with this ancient but holistic faith tradition through ministries like the Iona Community, the Northumbria Community and Abbey of the Arts. The themes and prayers of the ancients and those who seek to follow in their footsteps continue to inform my spirituality and my ministry.

 


Celtic Christianity: a brief introduction

from 2000 Years of Prayer compiled by Michael Counsell, p. 71

“For many centuries the Celtic race occupied and ruled most of Western Europe. Their religion seems to have included a recognition of sacredness in many places, in the events of nature and of daily life, and this continued when they converted to Christianity. Many of their prayers and songs have been passed on by word of mouth and only written down in the [19th] century. Anglo-Saxon invaders drove them into the Celtic fringe of Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, but heroic Celtic missionaries spread the Christian faith, among them St David in Wales, St Patrick in Ireland, St Ninian among the Picts and St Columba from Ireland to the Scots in Scotland, whence it was taken into northern England. The monasteries became great centres of learning, and distinctive artistic styles emerged in carved crosses and illuminated manuscripts. The practical nature of Celtic Christianity led to Pelagius, a British or Irish Celt of the fourth or fifth century (whose Gaelic name was probably Morgan), being branded a heretic by St Augustine. Yet Celtic Christianity has enjoyed a revival in the twentieth century.”

Key features

A blog post on third-space.org.uk features this helpful list:

1.  Monasticism / Living in community
2.  Sacramental principle
3.  Creation affirming
4.  Contemplation and mission
5.  Understanding of time
6.  Hospitality
7.  Spiritual warfare
8.  Trinitarian belief
9.  Love of learning
 
Check out the blog post to explore these characteristics in more detail.

Spiritual warfare: also see the post on encircling prayer.
Trinitarian belief: also see 3 Prayers to the Sacred Trinity.

Let us pray

In closing, here are 3 Celtic or Celtic-inspired prayers with references to our theme of the month, “Light”:

Canticle

Christ, as a light
illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

from Northumbria Community Morning Prayer

God of the saints, hear us

That we may remember always those who have gone before us,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may be inspired by the noble works of old,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may seek to follow the example of the saints,
God of the saints, hear us.
That the church may stand for truth and justice,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may be unafraid to proclaim the gospel,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may lead others to worship you,
God of the saints, hear us.
That we may bring your light to dark places,
God of the saints, hear us.

from The Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer by David Adam, p. 134

A blessing

The Father of many resting places grant you rest;
The Christ who stilled the storm grant you calm;
The Spirit who fills all things grant you peace.
God’s light be your light,
God’s love be your love,
God’s way be your way.
And the blessing of God almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest upon you and remain with you always.
Amen.

from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.112
 

In the light of His coming


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Here are Paul’s words of encouragement and exhortation to his friend and partner in the gospel, Timothy, taken from the Amplified Bible:

 

I charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom:

Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favourable or unfavourable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (Amplified Bible, Classic edition)

 

Of course, our calling might be very different from Timothy’s. What words of personal encouragement and exhortation might Paul write to us in the light of who we are and God’s call on our lives?


Commission & Benediction

Go now like those prepared for the Lord to return.
Cease to do evil, learn to do good;
seek justice, rescue the oppressed.
Give freely to those in need
and let your treasure be in the things of heaven

And may God not be ashamed to be called your God;
May Christ Jesus find you attentive and well prepared;
And may the Holy Spirit give you the assurance
     of all that has been promised to you.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ. Amen.

 
by Nathan Nettleton, posted on LaughingBird.net


Note:

Sorry you haven’t heard from me in more than a week. I was away on holiday in Edinburgh. Since my return I’ve been working intensively on the 40-page anniversary booklet for the 375th Anniversary of the Scots International Church Rotterdam, getting it ready for printing in time for the commemoration service on 16 September 2018. I’ve entitled the booklet “Looking Forward Looking Back”.


 

The blessing of light


“Shine like diamonds”  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
This is the first post in the new series, “Light”, a recurring theme in the Bible, from the first chapter to the last.

A prayer

In his book, The Open Gate, David Adam has a section entitled “Candle prayers”. Here is one that works both as a morning prayer and an evening prayer.

Creator of light,
the blessing of light be upon us –
the blessing of daylight,
the blessing of sunlight,
the blessing of Christ light.
Scatter the darkness from before us
that we may walk as children of light.

 
from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.28


See also:
Morning prayer #1
Evening prayer #1
Evening prayer #2
Theme for April 2018: Shine
 

3 Prayers for Summer


A hot summer evening, Manchester inner city  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Another post in the “3 Prayers” series.

May these prayers prompt you to pray and help you remain vitally connected to God and his purposes for you this summer. And if 3 prayers are not enough, I’ve included links to more prayers on a summer theme below.

Note
I’m using the prayer, “Simple Gifts”, in the service this Sunday, with projected images to further enhance the impact of Bruce Prewer’s visual language.


Prayer for a summer day

Long warm days…
The pace of life slows…
A time for picnics and rest in the shade…

Lord,
help me to rest a while
in the cooling shade of your presence.

Slow down my restless heart
and fill me with gentle compassion
for all your people.

Amen.

From www.beliefnet.com – author unknown


Summer Heat

God, as the heat of summer intensifies, we pray for those without air conditioning or electricity, clean water, and health care.

For all of our neighbours in “survival mode”, give them the communities and resources to not only survive, but to thrive this summer.

And Lord, remind us to give you a drink when we see you thirsty.

Amen

from Sojourners website


Simple Gifts

The smell of the bush after some rain,
the desert in flower on a red plain,
the coming of sleep after much pain;
For gifts simple and profound,
we thank you, loving Friend.

The sound of waves along the shore,
the children’s laugher as they explore,
the promise of love for evermore:
For gifts simple and profound,
we thank you, loving Friend.

The sight of black swans on a calm lake,
the taste of summer in a fruit cake,
travelling by faith after a mistake:
For gifts simple and profound,
we thank you, loving Friend.

The scent of green grass from the cut lawn,
the pure-white blossom on a rough thorn,
the return of hope with a new dawn:
For gifts simple and profound,
we thank you, loving Friend.

The fragrance of bread just freshly made,
the brimming cup sipped in the shade,
the pardon of debts never repaid:
For gifts simple and profound,
we thank you, loving Friend.

written by Bruce Prewer, in More Australian Psalms.
Copyright ©B.D. Prewer & Open Book Publishers.
Posted on Bruce Prewer’s website


 
XTRA XTRA XTRA

 

When hot and bothered


After a warm spell dried out curly willow leaves litter the grass  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

I was searching for something to share on a summer theme. The word “hot” led me to this prayer poem by Anita Munro.


Teach us where the bucket is

O God, we gather at your waters,
as a hot and bothered crowd gathers on the beach
on a sweltering, summer day.
O God, we drink at your fountain,
as a parched dog laps at the fresh,
running water of a bush creek.
O God, we await your refreshment,
as a tired worker watches for the change of shift.
Quench our thirst, satisfy our longings.
May we be refreshed and restored in you;
and teach us where to find the bucket and how to carry it
so that we might draw that water for those who most need it.

— written by Anita Monro and posted on the MAD-e-Lena blog.


Tip
Read Anita’s blog post for the story behind this prayer poem.


From the blog
Water world news
 

A prayer to the God of summer


A local cat, in a summer mood  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

When Nancy L. Agneberg mentioned A summer prayer by Joyce Rupp in a recent Monk in the World guest post on ‘Summer Spirituality’, I was intrigued. I managed to find the prayer in full on Nancy’s own blog, in a post dating back to 2015.

I commend both Joyce Rupp’s prayer and Nancy’s reflections, as you give God space and opportunity to minister to you through summer’s unique gifts and challenges.

 

A Summer Prayer

by Joyce Rupp

May you breathe in the beauty of summer
    with its power of transformation.
May this beauty permeate all that feels un-beautiful in you.

May the God of summer give us beauty.

May you seek and find spaces of repose
    during these summer months.
May these moments refresh and restore
    the tired places within you.

May the God of summer give us rest.

May you be open to times of celebration and recreation
    that are so much a part of summer.
May you find happiness in these times of play and leisure.

May the God of summer give us joy.

May your eyes see the wonders of summer’s colors.
May these colors delight you
    and entice you into contemplation and joy.

May the God of summer give us inner light.

May you feel energy of summer rains penetrating thirsty gardens,
    golf courses, lawns and farmlands.
May these rains remind you that your inner thirst needs quenching.
May your inner self be refreshed, restored, and renewed.

May the God of summer give us what we need for healing.

May you savor fresh produce that comes to your table
    and enjoy the fruits of summer’s bounty.

May the God of summer give us a sense of satisfaction
    in the works of our hands.

May you find shelter
    when the stormy skies of summer threaten your safety.

May the God of summer give us shelter
    when inner storms threaten our peace of mind and heart.

May you enjoy the unexpected and find surprises of beauty and
    happiness as you travel the roads on summer vacation.

May the God of summer lead us to amazing discoveries
    as we travel the inner roads of our soul as well.

 
from The Circle of Life, The Heart’s Journey Through the Seasons by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr

***

To learn more about Joyce Rupp, visit her website.
 


From the blog
The wells of salvation
From parched to satisfied

Singing creation’s song


Spring in the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
I’m currently embarked on a 100-day project to declutter my house, every nook and cranny. In one of the boxes I found some lyrics by Cara Taylor, then aged 14 (now all grown up and a mother of two). Cara’s song is entitled, Creation’s song, and is loosely based on Genesis 1.

The chorus is particularly evocative, depicting God singing creation into being:

I am singing, singing creation’s song
Breathing life upon this new-born world,
I’m shaping flowers and trees,
making rivers and seas,
I’m singing creation’s song

 


 
To accompany Cara’s lyrics, here is a “Liturgy of Creation” that picks up on this theme, and expands it to include more of God’s creative expressions.

Liturgy of Creation

(based on Genesis 1)

In the beginning, all was darkness
and God said, “let there be light,
and because God had said it,
there was light.

In the beginning, all was silence
and God sang the song of creation,
and because God sang,
all the stars and spheres vibrated to the music of God.

In the beginning, all was still
and God laughed,
and because God laughed,
the waters took up the roar and the ripple of it;
and ebbed and flowed and seeped and swirled
and delighted in the ways of its being.

In the beginning, all was dull
and God painted,
and because God painted,
the sky became blue, and purple, and pink,
and rainbows hung there.
The grass became green
and flowers and butterflies danced in the drips
and settled like jewels on the earth.

In the beginning, all was unconscious
and God breathed,
and because God breathed,
men and women woke up from their sleeping,
they breathed of the very life of God
and stood in wonder before the work of God’s hands.
They beheld the glory of God in all that God had made
and they saw that it was very good.

 
posted on the Third Space website.
 


Nature tales

While visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh in early spring, I had the privilege of having a robin perch on my knee.

I also spent a delightful few minutes watching a tiny bird with hardly any tail dart in and out of a tree with dangling fronds (a Betula Pendula ‘Tristis’), as it foraged, collecting titbits (animal? vegetable?), hopping, skipping, dangling and fluttering to keep its balance. Magnificent!