Friday, June 25, 2010

Prayer is Listening

Psalm 17: 1-5

Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea;
listen to my cry.

Give ear to my prayer—
it does not rise from deceitful lips.

2 May my vindication come from you;
may your eyes see what is right.

3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night,
though you test me, you will find nothing;
I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.

4 As for the deeds of men—
by the word of your lips
I have kept myself
from the ways of the violent.

5 My steps have held to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.

· Listen to hear, really hear, what is being said.

· Listen to understand.

· Listen to learn.

· Listen without comment, even if you do not agree with what is being said. You don't have to agree. Just listen.

· Listen completely focused on the speaker. Don't try to come up with counter arguments or to frame your reply. Simply focus on what the speaker is saying.

· Listen with respect, no matter whether the speaker is on "your" side or "theirs," regardless of the speaker's status or position.

· Listen to find links between you and the speaker.

· Listen with empathy.

· Listen with your heart, always with your heart.
Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Group of Los Angeles, California

As we bring our hearts in prayer this week, may we come with confidence that God listens and truly understands their depths better even than we know them ourselves. In this, may they be opened for us to learn more about our own truths and the truth of God’s grace for our living. May we bring our longing hearts to the deep Silence; may we bring them, especially when they come reluctantly, for simply in the coming can they know the great mercy which is there.

May they pray in silence for the grace to attend most fully the One Heart which they seek, listening there for its Fullness and their own. May they find assurance that it is on their own “side,” and may they pray with all their strength for the blessed grace to be drawn closer in to the “side” of the Heart they seek in prayer. In these may each of us find the wholeness which we seek, the understanding for which we long and the Heart to continue along the path which offers pleas and cries and prayers for every heart which seeks wholeness and understanding and to be heard. Amen.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Prayer at a 30th Anniversary of Ordination to the Ministry

The head of staff at our Church celebrated 30 years of Ordained Ministry yesterday.
In gratitude and thanksgiving, I offered him the following prayer:

Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees;

then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
(PS 119: 33-35)

As you turn your heart of prayer, in the coming thirty years, to study and to worship with God’s Word, may your prayerful heart continue to learn the truth of the Lord’s wisdom for your living. Many you continue to seek at prayer that deeper understanding of the presence of God written large upon your heart from most ancient days. And may you, in that ancient place of silent speaking, increase in wisdom and comfort of the Truth, so that in all the years to come, your path will find you delighting in the Lord all your days. Amen.

Congratulations. Thank you for your years of conscientious dedication and service among God’s people.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Psalm 55:1-2
“Hear my prayer, O God;
don’t turn away form my plea!
Listen to me and answer me;
I am worn out by my worries.”

“There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed; when the man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all been broken, and he learns a different wisdom: distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from the dry land, and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill.” - From No Man is an Island. Thomas Merton.

As we bring our hearts in prayer this week may we pray to set aside, even for the briefest of moments, all our broken promises and unfulfilled hopes and paralyzing fears, offering our pleas before the Lord as if for the first time. May we come with no reserves or strengths, no judgments of ourselves, our families, our neighbors or our God. Let our hearts seek, unburdened in this place, the wisdom of creation which discerns the truth of the world in which we live. And in that seeking may our hearts find that wisdom which sees more clearly the truth of those we love, of our friends and neighbors, of our selves and of our God. Amen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

“Starry Night on the Rhone,” Van Gogh

Psalm 19

“The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.” v.8.
“Discerning the will of God is therefore not something one can do on ones own, from one’s own knowledge of good an evil. It is…—for those who are ready to live in the will of God because the will of God has already been carried out in their lives.” (Dietrich Bonheoffer, Ethics)

As we bring our wondering, questioning, struggling hearts prayer this week, may we ask for the grace that they might find some rest in the recollection before God of the joys they have already known. May their dark corners be illumined by the soft and ancient glow which has guided them through their darkest nights and gloom filled days. May they seek in these days to live in the confidence of joy, as yet unknown, and by that light which comes only in their darkest hours. Amen