Spice Prayers .. A for Awake

night prayers

A couple of years ago, I wrote an collection  of Prayers relating to my emotions and feelings of each day. It helped me to be positive through a physically difficult and painful time. I kept these private, yet recently sense that God, is urging me to re-look at these again. I called them SPICE Prayers.

SPICE is used to give flavour to food. On occasions it is subtle, mellow, a gentle reminder that the spice is there, not exactly hidden but gently tickling the taste buds.Other Spices are strong, pungent, some make our mouth on fire!. We know its there, we can feel it, taste it and some people can visibly see the effect it has on our body. It provokes a reaction !!

‘Like the different Spices we have in flavouring our food, Prayers can be digested, reflected on, and can be used sparingly or liberally, depending on how we are feeling about life and our relationship with God.

Some days we want to rejoice and thank God for the wonders and beauties of the day, however other days maybe stressful and difficult. Whatever the day’s experience, it is good to know that God is with us, holding us, caring for us, and strengthening us.

A   ………. is for Awake

Lord I thank you for a new day,

With all of its expectations,

hopes and dreams.

As I wake from my slumber,

I thank you for the night’s rest I have had;

That you have kept me from harm,

and that I face a new day

knowing I am loved and treasured by you.

Loving God

Enable me to feel your presence

as I walk and talk throughout this day,

whether it is at home, work, rest or play.      

As I gaze at the sunshine

it reminds me of the brightness of your light in my life;

As I see the wind rustle the trees and shrubs,

it reminds  of your Spirit breathing through all Creation;

As I see the drops of water pour down from the sky,

it reminds me of how you drench me from head to toe with

your love .

All this you offer to me, each and every day

Amen.

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St Ignatius…. The Examen

I find ‘Spiritual Direction’ vital to my ministry, indeed I feel that anyone who is serious about their relationship with God, should have the opportunity to reflect, and ponder how to deepen it with a Spiritual companion/accompanist /director (depending on which word your feel most comfortable to use).

Many years ago I used Ignatian Spirituality help me focus on my prayer life, and my director at the time advised me to use the EXAMEN, an aspect that I still use to this day. I hope you will find it a useful response to help you as we all journey through life with the Living God

 ignatius of loyola

St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) is the founder of the Jesuits. He used prayer as a means of centring on God. More than any other prayer, The EXAMEN is the central prayer of St Ignatius. It is a prayer of looking back. It is not just reflecting on what has gone wrong, but a wider look at what has happened during my day – the good things and the bad things – trying to see where God has been moving. The Examen is best used regularly. Most people find it helpful in the quiet time before going to sleep. It takes about 15 min.

The prayer covers five points.

  • No matter what I am worrying about ….STOP!  God is with me – quiet perhaps, but always there. I remember that God has created all things. All I have is a gift from God. Is there something I would especially like to give thanks for today?
  •  I ask God to shine his light into my heart so that when I look back over the day I may be able to see God working in the things that have happened.
  • Now I remember through the day starting from when I woke up. I remember the people I met and the things that have happened.

–      On the whole , was is it a “Good” or a “Bad” day

–      Was it a normal day, or unusual in some way?

–      Whom did I meet during the day?

–      Was there something surprising? …A long lost friend …or and awkward old enemy?

–      Does something special come to mind :…a beautiful sunset…something I was told….something on TV.

God guides us through our moods and feelings. Normally God’s way is (in a deep sense) peaceful and consoling. If your day was disturbed or if you were uneasy, can you sense where the uneasiness was coming from?

Like a sailor buffeted by different winds, we are affected by many different feelings. The better we come to know these swirling breezes, the easier it is to see the perhaps subtle movements of God in our lives.

  • An important question to ask is: What can I be proud of today? (there will be things . If you can’t think of anything then you haven’t looked hard enough!)

–      I will give thanks for this.

–      But also, did I turn away from God during the day? Maybe I turned a blind eye when it suited me ? Did I recognise God in that homeless woman, that annoying child or that spiteful old man?

–      I will say a prayer asking for forgiveness for anything I may have done to ignore or hinder God’s love during this past day.  will ask especially for the graces of healing and strength.

 

  •  The final part of the prayer is to look forward to tomorrow. We are people of hope. Let us remember that God will be with us then.

The Examen is a prayer which helps us become aware of the presence of a loving God, and helps us move into a position where we can look more closely at how God has been moving and working in our life.

The focus the prayer is God – in the case of the Examen, God may appear to have been deeply hidden (or in heavy disguise perhaps) but God has been there nonetheless. Our task is to simply notice.

 

Prayer

Teach us, good Lord,

To serve thee as thou deservest,

To give and not to count the cost,

To fight and not to heed the wounds,

To toil and not to seek for rest,

To labour and not to ask for any reward,

Save that of knowing that we do Thy will.

St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

Sharing

house rules It has been a busy week, and in the kitchen I bought (at a church fair on Saturday) a lovely plaque for the kitchen wall. It is called Family Rules, and we have enjoying seeing it in the kitchen (although I still need to put it up yet ). One of the rules is about sharing, and my grandson and I talked about how to share .. ‘was it just about sweets?’ he said . I told him it was about sharing the gifts that God has given us as well … of being generous,  accepting  and loving. Sometimes we have to enable others share their gifts with us , that is not just about giving , but about receiving as well .

I found this story to share with you all this day .

Mother Teresa of Calcutta in India heard of a Hindu family having no food, and so she took some rice to them. She tells of looking at the children and seeing hunger in their eyes.  The mother of the children was grateful for the rice, and immediately divided it into two and went outside. When the lady returned, Mother Teresa asked her where she had been. “My neighbours, a Muslim family – they are hungry, too,” she said. And Mother Teresa told someone later: “ I didn’t take any more rice that evening – I wanted them to enjoy the joy of sharing.”

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you said that

“there is more joy in giving than in receiving”.

Inspire us to live generously,

sincerely thinking of others

before ourselves.

May others treat us

as we treat them.

Amen.

The two silences .. and Henri Nouwen

henri nouwen photo

Its a beautiful sunny day today , and after two busy Sunday services yesterday , I needed some ‘silence’ to attempt to still my inner voice. I had a lovely lunch with a friend, then attempted to file the ever increasing paperwork in my study. However i just kept on hearing a voice saying ‘be still’

My thoughts went to Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest who tragically died in 1996 and is seen as great spiritual thinker of our time. He was involved with the L’Arche community, where his prayers were rooted in the ordinary things of life. He wrote many books about living in a modern secular culture and his books reflect an honesty about his experience of God. He talks about God using us ‘as channels for God’s love and grace’. He too found it a struggle to be’ silent'(  like me, as I like to chat and listen to people’s stories)

In his book ‘With Open Hands’, Nouwen reflects on prayer and silence and confirms that  there is some connection between Prayer and Silence, but if we think about silence in our lives , it seems that it isn’t always peaceful, silence can be frightening . He also highlights that  there are two silences; one frightening, where we have the busyness of the day’s activities roaring in our head; the other peaceful…the silence which is full of sounds, the wind , the leaves rustling , our own quiet breathing , the swallowing in our throat,  hearing or feeling our heart beat.”

We are invited by God to move from our noisy world into a ‘sound – filled silence’ .” “But moving further is  to achievement of inner silence, a silence of the heart.”

 “Achieving inner silence is where feelings of love and hate.tenderness and pain ,forgiveness and greed……are separated, strengthened  or reformed by Gods grace.”

 

Dear God

Speak gently in my silence

When the loud outer noises of my surroundings

and the loud inner noises of my fears

keep pulling me away from you .

Help me to trust that you are still there

even when I am unable to hear you.

Give me ears to listen to your small soft voice

saying  ‘Come to me all who are overburdened and I will give you rest … for I am gentle and humble of heart’’

Let that loving voice be my guide

Amen

Excepts from ‘With Open Hands Henri Nouwen

Ava Maria Press