Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

As women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande we work to live out this promise in retreat, fellowship, study, and ministry.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lord's Prayer

How often do we repeat the Lord's Prayer without really thinking of it? Consider taking time to really think about the words.

You can simply read it phrase by phrase, thinking about the words. When you have time, sit quietly with the prayer and meditate on each line. You can actaully take time to rewrite each line using your own words. Another thing to consider is to write each line and underneath write what it means to you.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our tresspasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
If you have other aids for praying the Lord's Prayer, feel free to comment and share them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Praying the Psalms

Many people find the Psalms in the Bible a great source of consolation. As you read through the 150 psalms you will find a variety of human emotion. There is joy, grief, anger, fear, even hatred. No matter what you are feeling, you are certain to find the emotion mirrored in one of the psalms.

How do you pray with the psalms, though? There are some suggestions:
As Maria sings in The Sound of Music, "let's start at the very beginning...a very good place to start." One way to use the psalms for prayer aids, is to start at the beginning-Psalm 1 (you can find them all at www.bcponline.org, too).

You can memorize some verses of your favorite psalm or even the entire psalm. There are many benefits to memorizing psalms and other verses from the Bible. When you are stressed, you will discover that your mind recalls a comforting verse or 2.

Another way to pray with the psalms is to take a favorite psalm and add your own intercessions or thanksgivings between the verses. Everyone knows Psalm 23. It is perfect for this kind of prayer, but many other psalms work too.

The LORD is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
         
Thank you God for all you provide for my life.                                                                                                                   

2He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
Lord you bring me times of quiet and rest. Be with those who are in times of turmoil.  

3    He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
    
You direct me in the ways I am supposed to go. Help me to be aware of your actions.

4    Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Even when there is trouble you are my God beside me. Be with my friends who are sick or in sorrow.

5    You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
I know you will never leave me. Bless even those I disagree with or am angry with.

6    Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the L
ORD for ever.
 Thank you Lord for all you do for me and all those who I love. Amen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Borrowing Prayers

There is nothing wrong with using prayers already written by other people. In fact there are lots of wonderful resources available. One of the best is the Book of Common Prayer that we use every Sunday in the Episcopal Church. Many of us are familiar with the Sunday liturgies and even with Morning and Evening Prayer. There are lots of other prayers and services between the covers.
Most of the daily prayers can be used by individuals. On page 136 you can find Daily Devotions for families. During Lent you might consider taking on these prayers as a discipline with your family. Something even more simple would be to add praying the Sunday collect each day during your quiet time. Collects (contemporary wording) starts on page 212 and the collects for Lent are on 218. Collects are simply prayers each Sunday that gather together or 'collect' the thoughts of the readings and the season. The collect for this Sunday is:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be
tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help us who are assaulted
by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of
each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through
Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
  

At the end of the Book of Common Prayer you can find some other prayers for many occasions and concerns. They start on page 814. One of my favorites is:

54. For those we Love
Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy
never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come,
knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we
can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 
You can find the entire Book of Common Prayer at www.bcponline.org. If you want the entire service online check out: http://www.missionstclare.com/english/.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Great Litany

It is the custom in many churches to read or sing the Great Litany from the Book of Common Prayer on the First Sunday of Lent. In preparation for that, a prayer aid is to sit and read through the words slowly and really think about them. You may find that rather than being a long drawn out part of the service you will be greatly enriched by the words in these ancient prayers, esp. if you have read through them ahead of time.

The Litany starts with remembering Who God is and moves on to confessing that we are all sinners and in need of saving from evil and from natural disasters. We then remember Who saves us:

O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, Have mercy upon us.
O God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy upon us.
O God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful, Have mercy upon us.
O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God, Have mercy upon us.

Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses, nor the offenses of our forefathers; neither reward us according to our sins. Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and by thy mercy preserve us, for ever. Spare us, good Lord.
 
From all evil and wickedness; from sin; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation,  Good Lord, deliver us.
 From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want of charity, Good Lord, deliver us.
From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, Good Lord, deliver us.
From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment, Good Lord, deliver us.
From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine, Good Lord, deliver us.
From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and  unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us.
 
By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity and submission to the Law; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation, Good Lord, deliver us.
By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion; by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension; and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost, Good Lord, deliver us.
In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, Good Lord, deliver us.

The next set of intercessions are for the world and those in it:

We sinners do beseech the to hear us, O Lord God; and that it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy Church Universal in the right way, We beesech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to illumine all bishops, priests, and deacons, with true knowledge and understanding of thy Word; and that both by their preaching and living, they may set it forth, and show it accordingly, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
 
That it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to send forth laborers into thy harvest, and to draw all mankind into thy kingdom, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to give to all people increase of grace to hear and receive thy Word, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to give us a heart to love and fear thee, and diligently to live after thy commandments, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
 
That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servants, the President of the United States (or of this nation), and all others in authority, that they may do justice, and love mercy, and walk in the ways of truth, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
 
That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world; to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord; and to bestow freedom upon all peoples,  We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners and captives, the homeless and the hungry, and all who are desolate and oppressed, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
 
That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the bountiful fruits of the earth, so that in due time all may enjoy them, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to inspire us, in our several callings, to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of heart as thy servants, and for the common good, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to preserve all who are in danger by reason of their labor or their travel, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for, all women in childbirth, young children and orphans, the widowed, and all whose homes are broken or torn by strife, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to visit the lonely; to strengthen all who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with thy presence those who are failing and infirm, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
 
That it may please thee to have mercy upon all mankind, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to thy holy Word, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand; to comfort and help the weak-hearted; to raise up those who fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to grant to all the faithful departed eternal life and peace, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to grant that, in the fellowship of  all the saints, we may attain to thy heavenly kingdom, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

At the end we turn to our Lord for help in accomplishing all that we prayed for:

Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
 
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, Grant us thy peace.
 
 O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.
 
Lord, have mercy upon us.                   
Christ, have mercy upon us.                     
Lord, have mercy upon us.    
               
Almighty God, who hast promised to hear the petitions of
those who ask in thy Son's Name: We beseech thee mercifully
to incline thine ear to us who have now made our prayers
and supplications unto thee; and grant that those things
which we have asked faithfully according to thy will, may be
obtained effectually, to the relief of our necessity, and to the
setting forth of thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spoonful of Sugar

Prayer draws us closer to God as we bring our joys, sorrows, requests, and yes, even our fears and anger before God. It is true that God knows "our needs before we ask," yet we are called to pray anyway-to articulate to our Creator what it is we are happy or sad or worried about.  
Sometimes we need a reminder of just how easy prayer can be. Yesterday's blog talked about 'ACTS' as a formula. There is an even easier one, that reminds me of Mary Poppins song "A Spooonful of Sugar".  She sings: "A Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, The medicine go down-wown, The medicine go down . Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down In a most delightful way."
The prayer formula is called the Teaspoon Prayer or TSP: Thanks-Sorry-Please.  

You cannot get much simpler than the basics of Thanking God for all things in life, saying I'm Sorry for the things I did wrong, and finally asking Please help me do better and Please help those I am thinking of!
Prayer helps us see, like the bee in Mary Poppins' song, that living in relationship with God is 'not a grind':
The honey bees that fetch the nectar. From the flowers to the comb, Never tire of ever buzzing to and fro. Because they take a little nip From ev'ry flower that they sip. And hence They find Their task is not a grind.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ACTS

When we are just starting to take time for prayer it can be hard to find a pattern that "fits". We think there has to be a set of rules somewhere that spells out how to pray. Really there isn't one right way for every day or for every person or for you as an individual on a given day. Sometimes we feel thankful and on others we know our sinfulness. We may be lost in love for God or have many needs to bring before the Throne.  There are days when all we can do is sit and say "Why?", too.
There is, however, an acronym that can help us remember the basics kinds of prayers. It is ACTS. As women of God we are called to Adore our Lord, Confess our shortcomings, give Thanks in all things, and offer Supplication for our needs and for others. These four items can be done in a variety of ways that we'll explore here over the next few weeks. 


 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday Prayers

Through Lent, I'm going to try and post a prayer idea a day. I'd love to hear from you if you have a favorite prayer discipline that enriches your walk with God.
Today, of course, is Ash Wednesday a time for stepping outside our normal weekday routine with special intention. We remember, as the prayer book says "Dust you are and to dust you shall return." Not a comfy reminder by any means, but one that does inspire me to sit quietly for at least a brief time and be with God.
One way I have found to help center myself is to slowly and thoughtfully repeat this prayer that narrows everything down to what is important-being God's own beloved child. Sometimes it takes me several repetitions to finally still my heart, mind, and soul enough to sit quietly in God's arms. When you do find yourself in that quiet centered place-allow yourself simply to BE for a while! 

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
Be still
Be