Night Prayer

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As the day draws to the night

I thank you God for the many experiences of today

the people I have met and

the conversations have had.

I thank you that yet again

You have shown me your presence,

for you bring hope into a world full of insecurities

for you bring peace where conflict and challenge prevail

Lord, Bless those who have journeyed with me this day

those who have laughed with me

those who have cried with me

those who have listened to me

those who have just been happy to be in my presence

Keep me safe in the stillness of this night

may you also keep all those who are dear to me secure

may I rest in your presence while I slumber

may your angels guard me till I wake

 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

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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)

The two silences .. and Henri Nouwen

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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

Prayer… hints and tips.

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Over the last number of years, I have never ceased to be amazed at how prayer can be answered, although often it is in the way we least expect it!!

Prayer is something of a mystery. (p.s thanks to Jason Ingram for reflective  artwork )

We don’t know exactly how it works but we can pray corporately in church if we are church attenders, as a small group or friends praying spoken or silent prayer, or as privately as individuals, yet in faith we pray!!

I often find that I am praying ‘on the hoof’… let me explain. Sometimes I can pray in the car driving to a meeting or a visit, asking God just to be with me and the situation that I will find myself in ; sometimes I can pray while on the phone being a listening ear to someone’s pain and hurt, other times I can be gardening thanking God the world we live in , or listening to the news on the TV or radio, to the  Suffering and Injustice, or the Joys and laughter. Jesus often spoke about prayer He gave examples of prayer, of occassioanly seeking solace, of discussing what prayer is , and even instructing his friends with what words to say.

I am no expert on Prayer, but prayer has been my companion through difficult times and joyous ones

Here are some hints and tips that I have used to help people in their prayer life

  1. Prayer is the means by which we can deepen our relationship with God. It is like a telephone line, and when we pick up the phone we have a one-way trunk call to God.
  2. Prayer is not just talking to God about people or situations for which we have concern; we also need to give God time to speak to us … and that means we need to listen as well.
  3. Prayers can be said anytime during the day or night…whatever you are doing.
  4. If it is helpful, praying can be done alone quietly in a room, or as a group.
  5. 5.   I doesn’t matter too much about the quantity of people praying, but what does matter is the quality of prayer … it needs to come from the heart.
  6. If we are serious about our relationship with God then we must be serious about prayer.
  7. Sometimes we may know individuals who cannot pray because they are bereaved, depressed, or ill. It is up to us as disciples of Jesus, to pray for them on their behalf. We should pray for God to bless them and give them strength and an inner peace.
  8. Other times we may see issues in the media, e.g. conflict, injury, and global disasters. Here we should pray to God for guidance, and wisdom.
  9. We must remember that God knows our hearts before we even ask, so even if we struggle to find words to describe what to pray for, God is there already.

10. Stick with Prayer.. even if you feel as though it’s a waste of time !! God never gives up on us !!

God that breaks bounds of time and space

In our prayer life Lord sustain us ,

when the words are hard to find ,

With your gentle Spirit ,

enfold us with your grace

as we open our hearts to you

Amen

waiting …

I am quite frustrated ..as I am waiting for some personal news. However the waiting has come to the end for women Clergy in the Church of England as they have received the results for the Synod on Women Bishops . It is over .. for the moment … but many in the Anglican communion will be feeling hurt , sad, angry and disillusioned with the result . It means that women will have to wait a bit longer to have their rightful place alongside men in the hierarchy of the Church of England .Let us remember ..’ in God their is no difference with gender or  sexuality only that we are all made in the image of God , and that all are called to disciples. The woman in the Early Church were crucial t0 Paul’s ministry  and indeed Jesus’ too. I pray that justice will prevail and that true equality may happen in the one establishment, that has a woman as the head of ‘the Church’.