Prayers for the Journey

It is almost 2 weeks since I last posted the prayers from Light for the Journey.  Some were St Francis Day prayers which I have already posted but here are some of the others from this period. I will do another post tomorrow with the remainder of these prayers – the contributions are so rich that I do not want us to miss out on any of them. Also if you would like your prayers to be considered for inclusion on this page please email with a sample of your prayers or a link to your site where they are published. The increasing popularity of this page makes me realize how desperately many of us crave daily prayers that help us to pause and recentre our life on God.

First from Parker Palmer’s Facebook page:

Inspired by Psalm 121
O God Almighty,
Creator of the heavens and the earth,
You hold me firmly in place
And never let me fall.
You always keep your eyes on me
And never drift off to sleep.
You hold me close at all times,
Your shadow provides a place of cool shade.
From my first breath to my last
You O God eternal are with me,
You keep me safe
From this day and forever.

Christine Sine

Lord God almighty
I breathe in the fragrance of you love,
And whisper thank you.
I breathe in the sweetness of your grace,
And shout thank you.
I breathe in the wonder of your mercy
An cry thank you.
Lord God Almighty
Thank you , thank you, thank you,
For love and grace and mercy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you,
For life and forgiveness and renewal.
You alone are God eternal
You alone are worthy
Of praise and worship and honour.

Christine Sine 

May the whisper
of the Father
be the one that wakens you;
the open hand
of the Son
be the one that raises you;
the prompting
of the Spirit
be the one that sends you;
this morning
and all mornings,
and leads you safely home.

John Birch 

For your people, wherever they might gather
Be the one who stands beside
For your people, wherever they might journey
Be the one who is our guide
For your people, wherever they might suffer
Be the one who keeps us safe
For your people, wherever they might struggle
Be the one who gives us faith

John Birch

God Almighty, creator of all,
Your voice resounds through the heavens,
Your ways are proclaimed through the earth,
Your Word has never been silent.
For your ways are rooted deeply in justice,
Your paths are lined with compassion and love.
May we journey though life
by the light of your face,
And live always as followers of your ways.

Christine Sine

A prayer to end the day.

My Day Is Ending

Lord,
You have been with me all through this day,
stay with me now.
As the shadows lengthen into darkness
let the noisy world grow quiet,
let its feverish concerns be stilled,
its voices silenced.
In the final moments of this day
remind me of what is Real.

But let me not forget
that you were as present in
the stresses of the day just past
as you are now
in the silence of this night.

You have made me for
day and for night,
for work and for rest,
for both heaven and earth.

Here in this night
let me embrace and not regret
the mysterious beauty of my humanity.
Keep me in the embrace of your Reality through the night,
and the day to come.
Surround me with your silence
and give me the rest that only you can give–
Real peace,
now and forever. Amen

Posted by The Contemplative Network

God almighty,
Holy and eternal one,
Creator of the universe,
Trustworthy at all times,
Faithful in all seasons,
Loving, caring, redeeming One.
You are the only one
worth listening to.
You are the only one
worth following.
You are the only one
Worth committing my life to.
God almighty
Creator, redeemer, sustainer,
Lover of my soul,
You are the only One.

Christine Sine

Lord God Almighty, Eternal and Holy One,
In whom I live and move and have my being,
I breathe in your presence
and hold it deep within me.
I breathe in your love
and hold it deep within me.
I breathe in your life
and hold it deep within me,
All I am, all I do, all I will ever be
flows from you,
and I hold it deep within me.
Thank you for your presence,
Thank you for your love,
Thank you for your life,
May I always hold them deep within me.

Christine Sine

A prayer at the start of the week from St Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite reformer and nurturer of St John of the Cross.
I am Thine, and born for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Sov’reign Lord upon Thy throne,
Endless Wisdom, One and Whole,
Goodness that does feed my soul,
Good and great, One God alone:
Vile Thou seest me, yet Thine own,
As I sing my love for Thee.
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Thine I am, for Thou didst make me;
Thine, for Thou alone didst save me;
Thine–Thou couldst endure to have me;
For Thine own didst deign to take me.
Never once didst Thou forsake me.
Ruined were I but for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

What, O good and loving Lord,
Wilt Thou have this creature do?
This Thy slave, a sinner too,
Waiting till she hears Thy word?
With Thy will in close accord,
Sweetest Love, I come to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Take, O Lord, my loving heart:
See, I yield it to Thee whole,
With my body, life and soul
And my nature’s every part.
Sweetest Spouse, my Life Thou art;
I have given myself to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Let me live, or let me die;
Give me sickness, give me health;
Give me poverty or wealth;
Let me strive or peaceful lie.
Weakness give or strength supply–
I accept it all of Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Fame or shame I may be given;
Chasten me or make me glad;
Comfort me or make me sad;
Send me hell or grant me Heaven.
Sun, with veil forever riven,
I have yielded all to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Teach me, if Thou wilt, to pray;
If Thou wilt not, make me dry.
Give me love abundantly
Or unfruitful let me stay.
Sov’reign Master, I obey.
Peace I find not save with Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Give, I pray Thee, wisdom true,
Or remove it all from me;
Plenteous years I fain would see;
Years of drought and leanness too.
Days of light and darkness through,
Send me where Thou’d’st have me be:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

If in ease Thou’lt have me lie,
I accept it for Thy love;
If my constancy Thou’lt prove,
May I suffer till I die.
Tell me, sweetest Love, I cry,
How and when to die for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Waste or fruitful land be mine,
Tabor’s joy or Calvary’s Cross.
Job be I, with pain and loss,
John, and on Thy breast recline.
Sterile stock or fruitful vine,
As Thou will’st it, may I be:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Joseph, captive once in chains,
Rule in Egypt over all.
David, held in cruel thrall,
Soon a crown and kingdom gains.
Jonah suffers direst pains;
Then is cast up from the sea:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Let me speak or hold my peace,
Rich or barren as Thou wilt;
Let the Law proclaim my guilt
Or the Gospel give release.
Let me joys or pains increase.
All my life I live in Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

I am Thine, and born for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Posted by The Contemplative network from http://spiritualsynergy.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

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One Size Does Not Fit All – Teaching Spiritual Formation in the Midst of Diversity.

Overseas Minsitry Study Center New Haven CT

I am currently in New Haven Connecticut at the Overseas Ministry Study Center where I teach a course on spiritual renewal each year. This is one of the most enriching and challenging teaching situations I am ever involved in. My students come from across the globe. Methodist ministers from Myanmar and Korea sit together with Anglicans from Kenya and Ghana. Catholic sisters from the Philippines rub shoulders with Pentecostals from India and Brazil.

How do you teach in the midst of such diversity I am often asked? How do you help each student find renewal that suits their needs?

I must confess it can be a challenge. What one student finds refreshing another might find offensive. What is acceptable in one faith tradition is anathema to another. What renews and enriches my spiritual journey may do nothing for someone else.

I learn something new each year not just about how to renew faith in the midst of this kind of diversity, but about how to approach spiritual formation in any context. I thought that you might appreciate some of the insights I have learned.

1. Learning to see with fresh eyes and to hear with unstopped ears. Probably the most important skills we can teach people is the ability to look and listen, not telling them what to believe but opening their eyes and ears to perceive what God’s spirit wishes to communicate through their encounters, their activities and their interactions with God’s created world..

2. One size does not fit all. Whenever I see a piece of clothing that advertises “one size fits all” I know I am in trouble. It will definitely not fit me. Similarly with spiritual practices – one size does not fit all.

I often feel that my purpose in spiritual formation is to provide a rich smorgasbord of spiritual practices and ideas which participants can taste and experiment with. Many of the practices I talk about in my book Return to Our SensesLectio divina, vision divina, prayer walks, breathing prayers, exercises in gratitude and thankfulness, labyrinths and prayer flags are just a few of the tasty dishes that God gives us to choose from. Allowing people to choose what suits their palates without expecting them to eat everything on the table is a liberating and faith strengthening process for all of us.

3. The power of story. In his book A Hidden Wholeness, Parker Palmer talks about using stories that encourage people to come at the truth slantwise. What he means is that we can use stories effectively to draw the truths that the Spirit of God is stirring within a person’s soul. We can use a person’s own story. We can also use as stories that sometimes seem on the surface to have no relationship to what we are discussing yet trigger thoughts and understandings in peoples’ minds.

Jesus used parables in this way. Often they had many possible interpretations, all of which could contain Godly truths and so might speak to people from a broad array of backgrounds. No wonder what Jesus said excited not just Jews but also Greeks, Romans and other nationalities.

4. Enabling people to ask the right questions. I once heard British theologian John Stott say The answers we get depend on the questions we ask. And it is true. New experiences, new encounters, new reflective exercises all raise new questions in our minds. Our purpose in spiritual formation is to give people the freedom to ask the right questions. Not so much why does God allow this to happen but rather what is God doing in the midst of this situation?

These are only a few of the tools that can assist any person’s spiritual journey. We are meant to lead gently from behind, encouraging the footsteps of our followers along the pathway God has chosen for them.

A Hidden Wholeness – A Great Read by Parker Palmer

A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer

A couple of days ago I mentioned how a story in Parker Palmer’s book A Hidden Wholeness changed my perspective of the seasons. This book has been very helpful in other ways too.

As many of you know, here at Mustard Seed Associates we have adapted the Quaker discernment process as the way to run our meetings. Palmer’s book is the most helpful I have read in recent years in relation to this. It is a book written for schools and businesses on the creation of circles of trust. It brings together many of Palmer’s popular themes which I will summarize here is some simple quotes.

  • the shape of an integrated life: Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life
  • the meaning of community: Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather it means never losing the awareness that we are connect to each other….we need solitude and community simultaneously; what we learn in one mode can check and balance what we learn in the other. 
  • teaching an learning for transformation: When you speak to me about your deepest questions, you do not want to be fixed or saved; you want to be seen and heard, to have your truth acknowledged and honoured. 
  • not violent social change: imagine the heart broken open into new capacity…into greater capacity to hold more of my own and the world’s suffering and joy, despair and hope…. broken open to a largeness that holds the possibility of a better future for us all.

I think this is a must read book for any follower of Christ seeking to develop healthy community minded ways of interacting with their colleagues, friends and even families (which I think should be all of us). A Hidden Wholeness  is I think my best read of 2012.

Its All A Matter of Perspective – Lessons from Parker Palmer

Ready for spring planting

Ready for spring planting

Like most of us keen gardeners here in the Northern Hemisphere, I am starting to think about planting the spring garden. Next week I will get early greens and peas into my seed starter kits, shortly after I will get the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages going and then the tomatoes. From my perspective spring is the planting season. Imagine my surprise as I read Parker Palmer’s wonderful book A Hidden Wholeness a couple of weeks ago (more about that in a later post). He talks about autumn as the season of planting – the season when nature begins her work again by dropping and scattering seed. This is also the season when trees set buds which contain the leaves and flowers for next year’s growth. Winter then is a season of dormancy, a time of hibernation when growth has gone underground, and even what is above the surface is pruned and cut back in preparation for a new spurt of growth.

As I thought about this I realized the power of this perspective, a perspective that is distorted by our man-made cultivator’s view of seasons. Palmer talks then about spring as a season of surprise – when winter’s deaths give rise to new life. It reminded me of how much I love to go out in the garden to see what has sprouted without my help. These are often the strongest seeds in my garden, the ones that give rise to the best and hardiest crops.

This view is similar to the Jewish view of the day which begins at sunset with us going to sleep and God at work inviting us each morning to join the work God has already begun. Part of the strength of this perspective is the understanding that all of us have hidden untapped potential planted deep within our souls, just waiting for the warmth of spring to allow it to emerge. It also reminds us to be patient when we have planted and not seen the growth we had hoped for. Remembering God is at work and invites us to join the work already begun is a heart warming and faith building concept.

You might, as you prepare for spring this year, like to ask the questions Palmer suggests: What seeds were planted when you arrived on earth with your identity intact? How can we recall and reclaim those birthright gifts and potentials?

Books I am Reading That I Want to Recommend

Books I'm Reading

Books I'm Reading

These last few weeks have been an orgy of reading for me. As I glanced over the books on my desk this morning it occurred to me that I rarely find such a rich assortment of books at one time. I thought that you might like to know what they are:

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp – this is the best book I have read for a long time and I am currently on my third read of it. I would highly recommend it for a book club as well as individual reading.

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Hayley Barton. Those of you who read my series on Leading Spiritually  know that this was one of my best resources for group discernment and spiritual leadership. I think it is a must read for anyone in spiritual leadership.

Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality by Richard Rohr. This is a book that had sat on my shelf for a couple of years. When I finally started reading it last week I was riveted. There is much about the upside down nature of God’s power and the wonder of God’s love. It is a revolutionary invitation to move into the ways of God.

A Hidden Wholeness:The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer. I have just started reading it, but am already hooked. Listen to this quote: The soul is creative: it finds its way between realities that might defeat us and fantasies that are mere escapes. All we need to do is to bring down the wall that separates us from our own souls and deprives the world of the soul’s regenerative powers.

Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes:Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians by Kenneth e Bailey. This commentary has blown all my ideas about Paul. It is a gold mine of new discoveries that I am thoroughly enjoying. I can’t wait to get my hands on his earlier book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. 

The Cost of Community: Jesus, St Francis and Life in the Kingdom by Jamie Arpin Ricci. This deceptively simple little book has been more challenging than I wanted, once more calling me to consider the cost of true discipleship.