Tag Archives: Judith Lawrence

HOW CAN PRAYER SUSTAIN US?

Prayer Sustains Us

by Judith Lawrence

Direct Light

“Prayer is your way through darkness, prayer is your way into the light, prayer is your way into the field of grace. … Prayer is your way to God.” Entering the Castle Page 108, Caroline Myss.

Those of us who pray on a regular basis know the power and support that prayer brings into our lives. Without this prayer power we would not be able to get through the many difficulties with which we are confronted every day. As well as that, the many joys and benefits that we receive daily from God would have less impact on us without being able to give our thanks and praise to God through spontaneous prayer.

We first learn to pray by rote. We learn the Lord’s Prayer, grace at mealtimes, the night prayers for sleep, and the morning prayers for a blessing on a new day. These prayers bring us into the habit of praying to God and gradually bring us into an ongoing conversation and relationship with God throughout the day.

If we have not, as yet, cultivated an attitude of prayer as we go through our day, our rote prayers have somehow missed the mark.

Prayers said and repeated by rote are good; rote prayers that bring us ever deeper into a loving relationship with God sustain us and bring us through our dark times into the light; they lead us to praise God at all times and in all circumstances.

Prayer is our way to God.

Related articles

Judith Lawrence

Judith Lawrence lives in Muskoka, Ontario, a land of lakes, forests, and wildlife. She began to write seriously when she was in her fifties and has written three non-fiction spiritual books. Judith has also written a book of mystical poetry and one of short stories; she writes a weekly blog about contemplation and records a podcast meditation monthly.

WHAT IS CONSTANT PRAYER?

Constant Prayer

by Judith Lawrence

God’s Presence

“All these [disciples] were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers” (Acts 1:14 NIV).

What does it mean to be in constant prayer? I think that being in constant prayer means that one is living one’s life in an attitude of prayer—knowing that we live always in Jesus and Jesus lives in us.  We continue on with our regular life, yet, we are constantly aware of God’s presence within.

This is a very freeing existence. There is no need to live our lives in a sombre or rigid way—we can live in a joyful and peaceful manner. We do not need to stare up at the heavens where Jesus ascended but can be present to our regular and ordinary lives where we keep in our hearts the knowledge that Jesus still lives with us and abides in us.

This is the life and knowledge to which we are committed and to which we testify. We are not left comfortless but the Holy Spirit guides us and leads us daily into the way we should go.

Judith Lawrence

Judith Lawrence lives in Muskoka, Ontario, a land of lakes, forests, and wildlife. She began to write seriously when she was in her fifties and has written three non-fiction spiritual books. Judith has also written a book of mystical poetry and one of short stories; she writes a weekly blog about contemplation and records a podcast meditation monthly.

HOW CAN YOU BE BLESSED IN PRAYER?

Blessed in Prayer

by Judith Lawrence

His Presence – Peace

“In prayer, thought returns to its origin in the infinite. Attuned to its origin, thought reaches below its own netting. In this way prayer liberates thought from the small rooms where fear and need confine it. …

The Divine remains the one space where thought can become free. There we will be liberated from the repetitive echoes of our own smallness and blindness.

Prayer sets our feet at large in the pastures of promise. When you pray, the submerged eternal melody in your heart rises from the silence to infuse with blessing your life and your friendships in the seen and in the unseen world.” Eternal Echoes John O’Donohue, Page 202/203

When we pray, we enter into the presence of God; into the place of our origin; into the space of our creation. Here we need have no fears for ourselves, for our loved ones, or for the world because here we are in the presence of God’s love and perfect love casts out all fears.

When we pray, we are given rest in green meadows and are led beside peaceful streams. In prayer we are given assurance of God’s promise that no matter what our concerns and repeated worries, God is ever present with us, in our lives, and the lives of others. God blesses us, enlarges us, and frees us from our anxieties that would keep us fettered and tethered to our darkness and blindness.

Praying through all things, we are lifted into the light and freedom of our loving Creator; we are surrounded by the eternal melody of God’s peace, joy, love, and harmony; we are borne aloft, totally united with God in the seen and unseen world.

Judith Lawrence

Judith Lawrence lives in Muskoka, Ontario, a land of lakes, forests, and wildlife. She began to write seriously when she was in her fifties and has written three non-fiction spiritual books. Judith has also written a book of mystical poetry and one of short stories; she writes a weekly blog about contemplation and records a podcast meditationmonthly.

WHAT IS A PRAYER OF APPRECIATION?

Prayer of Appreciation

by Judith Lawrence

Deer and King: Celtic Knotwork by Judith Lawrence

Deer and King: Celtic Knotwork by Judith Lawrence

“One of the most beautiful forms of prayer is the prayer of appreciation. This prayer arises out of the recognition of the gracious kindness of creation. We have been given so much. We could never have merited or earned it. When you appreciate all you are and all you have, you can celebrate and enjoy it. You realize how fortunate you are. Providence is blessing you and inviting you to be generous with your gifts. You are able to bless life and give thanks to God. The prayer of appreciation has no agenda but gracious thanks.” John O’Donohue Eternal Echoes P, 198/199

When we were children we were taught to say “please” when we asked for something and “thank you” when we received it. After a while it became the normal thing to do and for most of us it has carried on into our adult years.

Those of us who were brought up in Christian homes were probably taught how to pray to God, often closing our days with prayer before we went to sleep. The habit of prayer may not have been carried on in our lives once we passed the time when our parents prayed with us and so it may not have been ingrained in us as much as our almost automatic pleases and thank you’s in our day to day lives.

However, as responsible Christians we usually return to the ground of prayer at some point in our adult life and as we grow in our prayer life and our love for God we also grow in appreciation for all that we have been given. Many of us ask God for what we need, many thank God for what we have been given, and many more write gratitude journals.

As we make our daily gratitude lists, we become more aware of all the gifts that surround us, whereas before, we took many of these gifts for granted. Our appreciation for the wonders that surround us grows and we cannot help but cry aloud, “Thank you, God.” So many blessings, so much love, and so much joy—thanks be to God!

Judith Lawrence

Judith Lawrence lives in Muskoka, Ontario, a land of lakes, forests, and wildlife. She began to write seriously when she was in her fifties and has written three non-fiction spiritual books. Judith has also written a book of mystical poetry and one of short stories; she writes a weekly blog about contemplation and records a podcast meditationmonthly.

SENSE OF WONDER IN PRAYER

Sense of Wonder in Prayer

by Judith Lawrence

“Prayer is the art of presence. Where there is no wonder there is little depth of presence. The sense of wonder is one of the key sources of prayer. Wonder at the adventure of being here is one of the special qualities of humans.…Sometimes in humans profound wonder can only be expressed in silence” (John O’Donahue Eternal Echoes Page 195)

Some years ago I wrote a poem titled “Guest of the World”. I have included it below as I think it sums up the sense of wonder that we have been given as humans and the prayer of thanksgiving for all that the Creator has given us in this world.

Guest of the World

As a guest of the world I want to see all its beauty; when I return to heaven I will tell of the white purity of snow, the delicate pastels of spring blossoms, the deep blue of the summer sky, the flaming reds and golds of autumn.

As a guest of the world I want to hear all its sounds; when I return to heaven I will tell about the sound of ocean waves crashing to the shore, the song of birds, the baby’s cry, the howl of wolves, the eerie night song of the spring peepers.

As a guest of the world I want to savour all its tastes; when I return to heaven I will tell of the sweetness of honey, the refreshing tang of an orange and the sourness of lemon. I will describe the burning heat of chilli peppers and the juicy delight of grapes from the vine.

As a guest of the world I want to touch all its textures; when I return to heaven I will tell of the roughness of a tree’s bark, the velvet softness of a cat’s fur, the prickliness of a rose’s thorns, the sting of a nettle.

As a guest of the world I want to smell all its scents; when I return to my heavenly home I will tell of the heady perfume of lilacs, the warning odour of a skunk, the smokiness of a wood fire, the moist earth after rain.

When I return to heaven I will tell of the wonders of the earth and the many blessings I was given as its guest. And I will thank the Creator for such an exciting and marvellous place, where I learnt so many new things. And like all weary travellers, however kind the hosts and enchanting the country, I will be glad to be home and give thanks for my safe return.

© Judith Lawrence

Judith Lawrence

Judith Lawrence lives in Muskoka, Ontario, a land of lakes, forests, and wildlife. She began to write seriously when she was in her fifties and has written three non-fiction spiritual books. Judith has also written a book of mystical poetry and one of short stories; she writes a weekly blog about contemplation and records a podcast meditationmonthly.

PRAYER OF THE SOUL

Prayer of the Soul

by Judith Lawrence

“Prayer is the activity of the soul. The nature of each soul is different. The eternal is related to each of us in a unique way.…The words we use to describe the holy are usually too nice and sweet. Sometimes, the Divine is awkward and contrary.…The prayer of the soul voices itself in each life differently.…No one knows what divine narrative God maybe writing with the crooked lines of someone’s struggles, misdeeds, and omissions. We are all in the drama, but no one has seen the script.” John O’Donahue Eternal Echoes Page 192

God, it seems, is able to relate to everyone whatever condition they may be in. We don’t know what God is able to do with and for each person, including ourselves, so that each soul can be brought home to the Sacred One.

Sometimes, we feel hopeless about our own situation thinking that we will never get it right and give ourselves fully to God and be holy so that we will be brought home to the Divine. Sometimes, we look at another person and think that his situation looks pretty hopeless; perhaps we have judged that person as beyond redemption and that nothing could ever bring him home to God.

The truth is that with God all things are possible, that “with the crooked lines of someone’s struggles, misdeeds, and omissions”, God can write a narrative that will bring any person home to the harbour where he belongs—the harbour where God is waiting to welcome each one of us at the end of the drama of our life here on earth.

Judith Lawrence

Judith Lawrence lives in Muskoka, Ontario, a land of lakes, forests, and wildlife. She began to write seriously when she was in her fifties and has written three non-fiction spiritual books. Judith has also written a book of mystical poetry and one of short stories; she writes a weekly blog about contemplation and records a podcast meditation monthly.

PRAYER REFINES US

Prayer Refines Us

by Judith Lawrence

Unknown to you, prayer is always at the service of destiny. Your days and ways are never simply as they appear on the surface. Human vision is always limited and selective, and you never see the whole picture. The Providence that weaves your days sees the greater horizon and knows what your life needs in order for you to come fully to birth as the person you are called to be. Prayer refines you, so that you may become worthy of your possibility and destiny. The irony of being here is that sometimes it is precisely what you want to avoid that brings you further towards creativity and compassion. John O’Donahue, Eternal Echoes, Page 190

We ask in prayer for certain things because we think that’s what is needed in our lives—needed to make us better people, needed to make us whole, or needed to fulfill our calling.

However, we do not see the whole picture of our lives; God is the one who weaves our days and sees the greater horizon; Providence is the one who knows what we need in order to become the person we are called to be.

For that reason, our prayers are often answered in a way that is unlike the thing for which we asked; our prayers are answered in a way that refines us, in a way that brings us to our full possibility, through a way that we would rather not go but will bring us to God’s place for us.

Judith Lawrence

Judith Lawrence lives in Muskoka, Ontario, a land of lakes, forests, and wildlife. She began to write seriously when she was in her fifties and has written three non-fiction spiritual books. Judith has also written a book of mystical poetry and one of short stories; she writes a weekly blog about contemplation and records a podcast meditation monthly.

PRAYER IS NEVER WASTED

Prayer is Never Wasted

by Judith Lawrence

Prayer is never wasted. It always brings transformation. When you really want something and you do not receive it, you tend to believe that your prayer was not answered. Such prayer has a powerful intentionality; and it is true that at times your prayer is not answered in this direct way. You do not receive what you long for. Unknown to you, that prayer has secretly worked on another aspect of the situation and affected a transformation which may become visible only at a later stage. John O’Donahue Eternal Echoes Page 189

The kind of prayers we are talking about here are prayers of supplication—things and conditions for ourselves; and prayers of intercession—things and conditions for others.

We might ask for healing, a job, a better relationship with a friend or spouse, or a manuscript to be accepted by a publisher. Whether these prayers are for ourselves or others they are important to us; but God, who knows all our needs even before we ask, may not answer these prayers in the way we hope or expect. God, unknown to us, may work on another aspect of the situation that will give us so much more than we ever thought possible but maybe not yet.

We must never give up on our prayers. Once we have made our supplication or intercession known to God, it is in God’s heart and hands and will never be let go or forgotten. As it takes time to transform a caterpillar into a butterfly so it takes time to bring the necessary transformation into our beings in order that our prayers can be answered completely and effectively.

Judith Lawrence

Judith  lives in Muskoka, Ontario, a land of lakes, forests, and wildlife. She began to write seriously when she was in her fifties and has written three non-fiction spiritual books. Judith has also written a book of mystical poetry and one of short stories; she writes a weekly blog about contemplation at http://judith-lawrence.blogspot.com and records a podcast meditation monthly.

DELIGHT IN PRAYER

Delight in Prayer

by Judith Lawrence

“Prayer should help us develop the habit of delight. We weight the notion of prayer with burdens of duty, holiness, and the struggle for perfection. Prayer should have the freedom of delight. It should arise from and bring us to humor, laughter, and joy. Religion often suffers from a great amnesia; it constantly insists on the seriousness of God and forgets the magic of divine glory. …

There is a subtle rhythm to joy. Until you break forth to embrace it, you will never know its power and delight. Every day of your life joy is waiting for you, hidden at the heart of the significant things that happen to you or secretly around the corner of the quieter things.” John O’Donahue, Eternal Echoes Page 186

Delight is probably not the first thing we think of happening to us when we come to a time of prayer. Perhaps we think of prayer more as a task or, as John O’Donahue says in the above passage, a duty. How can this be? Prayer is the time when we talk with God and God talks with us. How can this not be a time of delight for us?

If I visit a cherished friend, or speak with her on the telephone, or even write a letter to her, it brings me great joy. I look forward to my time with her, I anticipate the good time we are sure to have together, the secrets and stories we will share with one another, and when the visit, telephone call, or letter is finished I will continue to be filled with happiness, joy, and delight at the thought of our time together.

When we develop “the habit of delight” in prayer, we will find the same kind of happiness and joy in talking with God as we find with our life-long friends. Prayer will give us “the freedom of delight”. We have learned from childhood to put on a more sombre and careful tone when we speak to God but perhaps it would be possible for us to discover “the magic of divine glory” and so discover the spontaneity of “humor, laughter, and joy” in God’s presence, God’s world, and God’s people.

Judith Lawrence

Judith is a Professional member of The Word Guild and author of two non-fiction books, Prayer Companion: A Treasury of Personal Meditation, and Glorious Autumn Days: Meditations for the Wisdom Years, as well as one book of mystical poetry, Grapes from the Vine. Judith writes a monthly meditation, which can be found on her website: www.judithlawrence.ca.  Judith’s latest spiritual book, Highway of Holiness: Soul Journey is now available. You can purchase it through Wipf and Stock Publishers.

 

LEARNING TO PRAY AND WAIT

Learning to Pray and Wait

by Judith Lawrence (reprinted with permission)

Mystics are what the word implies—people called to know the divine through its mysteries. Many people today want the mysteries and challenges in their lives solved and resolved quickly, but mystics know that we all have a deeper task: to accept that some challenges come into our lives in defiance of human reason, logic, order, justice, fairness, and even common sense. They know that underlying these challenges is a divine order and sense that may be revealed in time. …you invite the sacred into your life; you learn to pray and wait, to ready yourself for direction. Mystics know that their instructions will come along with the tasks God sets for them. Caroline Myss, Entering the Castle Pages 16/17.

In this day and age we are used to having things instantly. Almost as soon as we think about a meal we can pop something in the microwave and eat within a very few minutes. People who live in an urban area can go to a store close by and pick up something they forgot to get when they went grocery shopping. One can think of what one wants and it almost magically appears.

This may be less so for those that live in a rural area. When you live outside of town you can’t get pizza or Chinese food delivered, you have to go in to town and pick it up yourself. It is not as easy to borrow a book from the public library—you can’t just walk over—you have to get in the car and drive in to town. There isn’t even any public transportation where I live.

So those who live in rural areas may be closer to knowing how to wait for something, not expecting things to come instantly to hand or mouth. It may be easier, therefore, for rural people to learn to pray and wait.

When we receive challenges in our lives we may not immediately recognize them as coming from God. But if we are in the habit of praying to God as a regular discipline we are more likely to be aware that difficulties, mysteries, or challenges may well be sent to us from God.

Does that mean that we will understand what God expects of us right away? Not necessarily. You learn to pray and wait, to ready yourself for direction. Mystics know that their instructions will come along with the tasks God sets for them.

Judith Lawrence

Judith is a Professional member of The Word Guild and author of two non-fiction books, Prayer Companion: A Treasury of Personal Meditation, and Glorious Autumn Days: Meditations for the Wisdom Years, as well as one book of mystical poetry, Grapes from the Vine. Judith writes a monthly meditation, which can be found on her website: www.judithlawrence.ca.  Judith’s latest spiritual book, Highway of Holiness: Soul Journey is now available. You can purchase it through Wipf and Stock Publishers.