A Night Prayer for the Suffering

O God our Father, we ask you to bless those for whom there will be no sleep tonight … those who this night will not sleep because of the pain of their body or the distress of their minds; those in misfortune, who will lie down in hunger and in cold;

those who are far from home and far from friends, and who are lonely as the shadows fall.

Grant that in our own happiness and comfort we may never forget the sorrow and the pain, the loneliness and the need of others in the slow, dark hours. This we ask for your love’s sake.

William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible

All of Life is a Pure Gift

Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don’t receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.

Gratitude, however, goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. … Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized … I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty … I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.

There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: “You are with me always, and all I have is yours.”

There is the option to look into the eyes of the One who came out to search for me and see therein that all I am and all I have is pure gift calling for gratitude.

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

A Broken and Needy World

If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead up to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others.

When we move from petition to intercession we are shifting our center of gravity from our own needs to the needs and concerns of others. Intercessory Prayer is selfless prayer, even self-giving prayer.

In the ongoing work of the kingdom of God, nothing is more important than Intercessory Prayer. People today desperately need the help that we can give them. Marriage are being shattered. Children are being destroyed. Individuals are living lives of quiet desperation, without purpose or future. And we can make a difference … if we will learn to pray on their behalf. …

There are as many ways to go about the work of intercession as there are people. Some like to keep lists of people they are concerned to pray for with regularity. … [Prayer] keeps us moving beyond our provincial little concerns and into a broken and needy world.

Richard Foster, Prayer

God is Looking for You

Trust and gratitude are disciplines for the conversion of the elder son. …

Without trust, I cannot let myself be found. Trust is that deep inner conviction that the Father wants me home. As long as I doubt that I am worth finding and put myself down as less loved than my younger brothers and sisters, I cannot be found. I have to keep saying to myself, “God is looking for you. He will go anywhere to find you. He loves you, he wants you home, he cannot rest unless he has you with him.”

There is a very strong, dark voice in me that says the opposite: “God isn’t really interested in me, he prefers the repentant sinner who comes home after his wild escapades. He doesn’t pay attention to me who has never left the house. He takes me for granted …”

At some point, I must totally disown my self-rejecting voice and claim the truth that God does indeed want to embrace me as much as he does my wayward brothers and sisters. … Living in this radical trust will open the way for God to realize my deepest desire.

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

What Skills Do You Have?

As we pray for the needy around us, God may open our eyes to what we can do to help in that immediate need. He may use us as an answer to our own prayers.

As we pray for the need of education of falsely informed people concerning abortion, one answer may be that, along with others in our church, we do something practical about it such as having an educational series, or purchasing a house to open as a crisis pregnancy center. 

As we pray for families with older people or handicapped children to care for, we may need to prepare a place where perhaps one day or more a week these children could come to play or to have a special treat such as wheelchair races or whatever your imagination can think up!

What skills do you have?

Edith Schaeffer, Common Sense Christian Living

Letting Go of Rivalry

“In the house of my father there are many place to live,” Jesus says. Each child of God has there his or her unique place, all of them places of God. I have to let go of all comparison, all rivalry and competition, and surrender to the Father’s love. This requires a leap of faith because I have little experience of non-comparing love and do not know the healing power of such a love. As long as I stay outside in the darkness, I can only remain in the resentful complaint that results from my comparisons. Outside of the light, my younger brother seems to be more loved by the Father than I; in fact, outside of the light, I cannot even see him as my own brother.

God is urging me to come home, to enter into his light, and to discover there that, in God, all people are uniquely and completely love. In the light of God I can finally see my neighbor as my brother, as the one who belongs as much to God as I do.”

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son