"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
The time has come again. The day where we re-evaluate our lives. We examine how we lived in the past year and make resolutions about how this next year can be better or different! The top of the list is usually, weight loss, eating healthier, going to a gym and so on... This year lets make some spiritual resolutions as well.
Examine your spiritual life this past year and lets make a spiritual resolution for this coming year. Just make a few, baby steps. Don't put too much on your plate. One step at a time. If you fall, don't get discouraged. Remember, "it doesn't matter how many times you fall, what matters is how many times you let God pick you up" Don't be hard on yourself. Everyday is a new day, every moment is a new moment. So just be present in the moment and just be.
Here are a few ideas:
Pick a Patron Saint for the New Year
There are so many other ways to ignite your spiritual life. So many little things we can add to our life to help us on this prayerful path.
Trust where God is leading you and have faith. Remember when Peter stepped out into the water from the fishing boat and then took his focus off of Jesus? He saw the wind and cried out: “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" We all struggle with having the stamina to step out in faith.
Let us have the stamina to ignite our spiritual life, let us have the stamina to say "Yes" to God, and let us have the stamina to strive to love the Lord more each day this year by putting Jesus at the center of our life.
Let us grow in holiness this year!
By: Chaplain Mike
One of the books I will be reading and meditating upon during my sabbatical is Thomas Merton’s Thoughts In Solitude.
A well-known passage from this book has been called, “The Merton Prayer” (see below). This prayer acknowledges that, despite our human tendency to think we know what life is about and how we can manage it, we really have no clue. As the Jews say, “Man plans; God laughs.”
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov 16:9)
In the chapter following this prayer, Merton writes,“In our age everything has to be a ‘problem.’ Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.
“…Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man. But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.”
Merton suggests that it is learning to live in “silence” that enables us to live at peace with the contradictions that lie within us. The contradictions remain, but they cease to be a problem for us.
The prayer that precedes this counsel expresses the peace that comes from knowing and trusting in God’s presence in a life with so many unknowns and irresolvable conflicts.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
By Stephen Davey
"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
I read a gripping story of a godly old man whose days were coming to an end. A priest went to visit him in his hospital room and noticed an empty chair beside the man's bed. He asked, "Have you had a visitor?" The man replied, "No, I haven't had a visitor. But when I became a Christian as a youth, someone told me that praying was like talking to your very best friend. When I heard that, I decided to pull up an empty chair beside me every day and invite Christ to sit and talk with me. And I just finished my conversation with the Lord."
After the man passed away, his daughter wrote of her visit to the hospital room. She said of her father:
"He seemed content, so I left him for a few hours. When I returned, I knew that he had gone to be with the Lord. But the interesting thing was that his head was not resting on his pillow. His body had turned and his head was resting on the seat of an empty hair that had been pulled up close to his bed."
Isn't that a remarkable picture? We, who are weak and frail like this dying man, have been given the opportunity to rest our head on the loving, omnipotent breast of God. Death is only a continuation of the pursuit we begin in this life to know God. That is why prayer is a taste of heaven on earth. God, in His humility and love toward us, stepped down from His heavenly throne and seated Himself upon the chair of our heart where we can intimately and personally converse with Him.
George Macdonald, the Scottish pastor who had a profound impact on C. S. Lewis, illustrated this beautifully when he said:
"I used to play a game with my two children when they were young. I would clutch some pennies in my hand and allow them to pry open my fingers to get the coins. My children would sit in my lap and work feverishly to get the money. Once they captured the coins, they would scream with delight and jump down to treasure their prize. I loved having my youngsters laugh and play while sitting on my lap—the pennies were insignificant."
Macdonald went on to apply this truth: "While God, in His grace, does give good gifts to His children, He offers us more than that . . . He offers us Himself. Those who are merely satisfied with the trinkets in the Father's hands miss the best reward of prayer—the reward of communicating and communing with the God of the universe."
As we go to God in prayer, let's remember that the greatest thrill in praying to Him is not in seeing how He will answer our petitions, nor in discovering what trinkets He might be holding in His all-powerful hand. The greatest privilege is actually being able to have a conversation with God Himself!
Perhaps prayer will become a personal conversation . . . if you pull up an empty chair.
Prayer Point: Go ahead—pull up a chair beside you right now and tell God how grateful you are for His friendship. Spend a few moments talking with Him: tell Him your struggles, your joys, your thoughts; ask Him your questions; thank Him for allowing you to have a conversation with Him, much less a personal relationship with the Lord of all the universe.
Extra Refreshment: Read John 17
When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place… —Matthew 6:6
The primary thought in the area of religion is— keep your eyes on God, not on people. Your motivation should not be the desire to be known as a praying person. Find an inner room in which to pray where no one even knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret. Have no motivation other than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to carry on your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.
“When you pray, do not use vain repetitions…” (Matthew 6:7). God does not hear us because we pray earnestly— He hears us solely on the basis of redemption. God is never impressed by our earnestness. Prayer is not simply getting things from God— that is only the most elementary kind of prayer. Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness with God. If the Son of God has been formed in us through regeneration (see Galatians 4:19), then He will continue to press on beyond our common sense and will change our attitude about the things for which we pray.
“Everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). We pray religious nonsense without even involving our will, and then we say that God did not answer— but in reality we have never asked for anything. Jesus said, “…you will ask what you desire…” (John 15:7). Asking means that our will must be involved. Whenever Jesus talked about prayer, He spoke with wonderful childlike simplicity. Then we respond with our critical attitude, saying, “Yes, but even Jesus said that we must ask.” But remember that we have to ask things of God that are in keeping with the God whom Jesus Christ revealed.
By Mary Ellen Dunford, affiliate
For every individual there are many different approaches to prayer. It is a personal preference with one way not better or worse than another. Yet we would all agree that the purpose of prayer is to bring us closer to God. Prayer nurtures our relationship with God and deepens our spirituality. During this past Lent a local church held a Prayer-A-Thon. For 40 hours they offered 40 different types of prayer. Each prayer session was one hour. Some of the prayer types included the rosary, Stations of the Cross, Litany of Saints, Lectio Divina, praying the 10 commandments, dance, singing, Taize, journal writing, prayer with nature, drumming, couples prayer, healing touch and walking the labyrinth. It was a wonderful opportunity for people to experience different ways to connect with God and share their experience with others.
To St. Francis and St. Clare prayer was an important part of their tradition. They set aside time for daily liturgical prayer, community prayer and praying alone. Francis felt prayer was a necessary condition for following in the footsteps of Jesus who encouraged his followers to “pray always.” Like Francis and Clare, Jesus calls us to live a life of prayer and to live in communion. To pray always is to find oneself in prayerful communion with God and others while working, playing and experiencing all of the extraordinary and ordinary activities of daily life. Our daily living activities are not distractions from prayer but the source of meaningful prayer. Quoting Richard Rohr, “Prayer is the life of the one who prays.” Prayer is a relationship with God and the universe. Like all meaningful relationships, it takes intentional time and energy. If we are awake and present to the moment, we will grow in our relationship with God through every life experience.
St. Therese of Lisieux states, “For me prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up one’s eyes, quite simply, to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or through despair.” Her emphasis is on the simplicity of prayer and that we turn to God in times of our joys and in times of challenges and discouragements.
Prayer is the path to following in the footsteps of Jesus. The Christian life calls us not only to take time out to pray but to live a life of service and to pursue peace and justice. Those that pray always are empowered and risk boldly the future.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen