“Of all spiritual disciplines prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father.”–Richard J Foster
I have always loved holding on to something physical when I pray. I have a collection of special rocks, some painted or engraved with words, several are special gifts from friends, a cross made from olive wood gifted to me last fall from a woman I just met who is now a dear kindred sister, and a delicately embroidered handkerchief that was Dan’s grandmother’s. These objects have no power or influence over the prayers, but they keep my focus on praying.
Yesterday I received a package in the mail from a friend I met at The High Calling retreat last November. I’ve written about her before and even shared her newest book with you. She knows about physical suffering and understands the struggle to keep your mind and heart on prayer when pain overwhelms you. The gift was beautiful smooth pink prayer beads with a silver cross attached. They come from Prayerworks Studio. They are not a rosary, but Protestant (Anglican) beads. I know I will use them as I do my other objects, something to hold while I lift my heart, but they also have specific meaning as a “Full Circle Prayer.” It is described like this:
This devotion is intended to take us through a complete path to God, one that puts a “new and right spirit” within all of us: praise, confession, intercession, and thanksgiving.
Cross: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Invitatory Bead: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
1st Cruciform Bead: I praise you, Lord, for . . .
1st set of Week Beads: use each bead to praise God for His wondrous acts of grace.2nd Cruciform Bead: I ask, Lord, for forgiveness for . . .
2nd set of Week Beads: use each bead to confess your sins before God.
3rd Cruciform Bead: I pray, Lord, for . . .
3rd set of Week Beads: use each bead to list prayer concerns for yourself or others.
4th Cruciform Bead: I thank you, Lord, for . . .
4th set of Week Beads: use each bead to recall something for which you are thankful.
Invitatory Bead: recite The Lord’s Prayer
Cross: In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Sometimes I pray like I’m a child. This is the easiest. I’m just talking to my Father. Other times I pray properly, like I’m being graded for getting all the “right” things in when I approach the throne. There are prayers when I groan and no words will come at all. This is when I believe the Holy Spirit is carrying my pleas and Christ Himself is praying for me. I spent much of last year studying prayer. I now own a shelf full of books on the subject. I’m most grateful for the wisdom from Richard J. Foster’s Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. Richard writes,
“I discovered that regular patterns of devotion form a kind of skeletal structure upon which I can build the muscle and tissue of unceasing prayer.”
I realized that much of my “pray without ceasing” life was throwing out little thoughts towards Him throughout the day and calling it prayer. After reading Richard’s book I began set times during the day to pray. I haven’t always been a knee praying person, but I knew if I was to follow the discipline of a pattern of prayer I would need a place, and it might need to be a little uncomfortable. This is when I bought my prayer bench.
The past few months I have struggled the most I think I ever have to find words. I kneel at the bench with my heart broken open, and I cry. It is during these times I am grateful for the prayers of other saints lifted up and also recorded. I read them out loud. I repeat them. I thank God they found the words for me. The following prayer is one I took to the hospital with me for my surgery, and I have prayed it over and over again since.
Dear God, please take my hand and help
me walk through this fire.
Don’t let me slip away, please hold me
in your power.
Help me see the light and to hold on
tight, to have faith.
Help me to learn what it is you want
me to learn.
Help me retain my dignity and help me
to accept what I can’t change.
Guide me … sit in my heart.
Don’t allow despair to swallow me.
Please God, show me a road out of here.
Help me find the strength to cope …
and to grow.
Help me regain my health … please God.
Carry me if I can no longer manage to
and set me under the shade of your tree
so I can heal.
Please show me the path to peace, and
mend my heart.
God, I am powerless in this valley of pain,
please lift me up and always let me know
Please be in my heart and take my
A Prayer By Sherry Larsen
Is there a written prayer you cherish? Do you find discipline aids or hinders your prayer life? I’d love to know what God has taught you about praying.