Sep 28 at 1:32 PM
Here are my notes on prayer. I hope you will read the new book.
How Do You Pray? Exodus 17:1-7
Pastor Dan Damon, Richmond 1st UMC, 9-28-14
I found a new book in a surprising place. Have you seen the September
edition of the free magazine, ³Common Ground?² The yoga picture on the cover
caught my eye, but as I looked through the magazine, I was amazed to see a
good article on prayer from various perspectives (including Christian). The
title of the article in the magazine is ³How Do You Pray? Insights from the
Illumined.² The ³illumined² part makes me nervous, because I don¹t know if I
am illumined enoughŠ There are pretty color pictures that help tell the
story. Eileen ordered the book for me. The book is entitled How Do You Pray?
Inspiring Responses from Religious Leaders, Spiritual Guides, Healers,
Activists and Other Lovers of Humanity. It is compiled and edited by Celeste
Yacobini, Monkfish Book Publishing, 2014. I will read some highlights as a
way of showing the many ways that people pray. The book includes brief bios
of the people who are quoted, but, in the interested of time and
objectivity, I will let you research that information on your own, if you
choose to buy the book. You may agree or disagree with what you hear. Prayer
is a deep and wonderful mystery:
My personal prayer is the prayer of the heart‹a prayer born of need and
longing, an opening to the mystery of love that is always present within. It
is a deep prayer of silence and love in which the heart looks toward its
Beloved. Llewelyn Vaughan-Lee
Here is the vital heart of the matter: in the Tibetan language, the word for
prayer is monlam, literal meaning ³aspiration Path.² Prayer power has much
to do with intention, resolve and motivation, focus and clarity, as well as
who we may be praying to and what for. All languages are understood in
prayer, for the prayerful heart has the gift of tongues in which no
translation is necessary. Lama Surya Das
I often say that if I had a prayer, it would be this: God, spare me from the
desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen. Byron Katie
I so appreciate having heard, once, Terry Gross interviewing the gay bishop
of New Hampshire. And she asked him, ³What¹s your prayer life like these
days?² He said to her, ³The best thing that I can do is just sit there and
let God love me.² I was so moved by what he shared, I sent him a fan letter
right away. Because that¹s true‹we all say, ³God so loved the world, God
loves me, Jesus loves me,² and so on, but we hardly ever sit down and let
ourselves be loved. That¹s become part of my practice too. Rabbi Zalman
Let¹s start with the definition of prayer, the most classical definition
that you learn in Sunday School: ³the lifting up of heart and mind to God.²
It is not saying prayers, obviously; it is not even an action doing this or
that. It is an attitude, an attitude of lifting up heart and mind to God.
So, start the other way around and ask, ³What lifts up your heart and mind?
What gives you a lift?²
I [sometimes] get the impression that the fishing rod is just an excuse for
sitting by the river and meditating. I wouldn¹t be surprised if in many
cases it was really a very deep prayer. Brother David Steindl-Rast
[Feeling as a form of prayer] Without any words, without our hands held in a
certain position or any outward physical expression, this mode of prayer
simply invites us to feel a clear and powerful feeling as if our prayers
have already been answered. Through this intangible ³language,² we
participate in the healing of our bodies, the abundance that comes to our
friends and families, and the peace between nations. Gregg Braden
I pray through poetryŠ I spent most of my life being afraid of poetryŠ I
fell into an extreme depression that was unshakeable. Even though I was a
therapist and spiritual teacher at the time, none of the teachings or
techniques I had access to could touch the place that felt so broken in me.
Until one day I heard a man reciting poems unlike any I had encountered in
school. These were the poems of the inner life, the poems of Rilke and Mary
Oliver, of Rumi and Kabir. Something about the words, the spaces between
them and the resonance of the voice cracked me open. For the first time
since the depression had gripped me, I felt releaseŠ I became inspired to
start memorizing poems myselfŠ I allowed myself to be opened and changed by
the poemŠ Here are a few lines from Walt Whitman¹s Leaves of Grass:
I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.
Retell the Scripture Story
Briefly re-tell the story so farŠ
And Moses said, ³What shall I do? These people are about ready to stone me!²
What kind of prayer is this? What kind of relationship did Moses have with
God? What relationship did the people have with God at that time? Has
anything changed since then?
If we use some broad categories to understand how people pray, we might
choose: thanks, praise, petition, and meditation. These may be formal or
informal, active or passive. Talk about theseŠ
How do you pray? There are many ways. The way you pray is okay. Choose one
or more, and pray daily. Pray alone. Pray with others. Pray your joys. Pray
your sorrows. Give thanks for each new day, and reach out in concern and
service to the world.
And here is one more for the road:
I am through with everything but You
Dying into the mystery
I open to Your majesty as an orchard welcomes rainŠ
Let us be in prayer.
Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from Sean Malone who leads Crisis Relief International (CRI). We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts.
“We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food too. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated it’s staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!”
Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of the people of Northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians across this region.
Fri. Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m. – Point Acoustic Series opens the Fall Season with Calaveras – Singer-songwriters Greg Beattie and Victoria Blythe, along with instrumentalists Dave Decker, Sam Bevan and Mark Holzinger, combine voices and a half dozen acoustic instruments into original songs that are both fresh and timeless – from the roots of American traditional song forms to explorations of contemporary sounds. See wwwcalaverassongs.com for more info. Opening the show will be California banjo sweetheart, singer-songwriter Erin Inglish. For more info, please visit http://www.erininglish.com/ . Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door. Get tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets Season Pass: Save $60 and get preferred seating by purchasing the entire series for just $100 for all eight shows. Front row seating will be held for season pass holders until 10 minutes before the show. Another great deal: The 2×4 pass. This entitles 2 people admission into any 4 shows of their choice and also costs $100. (2×4 pass holders do not get preferred seating.)
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