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Seven days without prayer makes one weak.

It's no surprise that a lot of people ask me to pray for them, or that I hear about prayer requests at church. I'm a pastor's daughter and have spent (hold on while I do some quick math) upwards of 12,000 hours at church over the course of my lifetime. Some people might assume I'm an expert pray-er. 

Those people might be surprised to learn that I'm actually a stumbling, bumbling pray-er most of the time. Oh, sure, I have intimate conversations with God on a regular basis but when people ask me to pray for them, I freeze. I probably say the right things to them and produce the right facial expressions to show I care, but inside I'm scrambling for the kind of empathy that makes other people drop to their knees and send impassioned prayers up to heaven.

The weird thing is, I think of myself as a sensitive, compassionate person. But when my friend texts me to say her sister (whom I'm acquainted with) has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, or when my father describes the unimaginably desperate circumstances of families we love in Armenia, I sometimes don't know how to react. I think it's because (a) I can't draw from my own life experiences to comprehend the gravity of these situations and (b) I haven't truly learned what compassion (or its Greek counterpart sympathy) really means: feeling or suffering with someone. It's more than pity. It's more than wanting to help. It's more than saying kind words. It's opening your heart to understand and experience the pain another human being is dealing with.

So when I found myself struggling to pray for my friend with lung cancer, I stopped and imagined I was in her place... the physical pain she will endure, the treatments, the fear, the concern for her teenage daughter and her husband. I tried to imagine what the days ahead will be like for her. And then something twisted in my heart. With tears I began to really pray for her. 

There's a prayer, found in an old English church and attributed to a 17th century nun, that I'd love to make my own until my heart is soft enough to instinctively respond to others with compassion. I've shared a variation of it below and hope it inspires you, too.


MOVIE / MUSIC: Wild Mountain Thyme is a gorgeous love story set in gorgeous Ireland. Emily Blunt and Christopher Walken deliver wonderful performances. The soundtrack is gorgeous, too, so I've been listening to that for a few days. I'm also listening to MercyMe's latest album inhale(exhale), depending on what kind of music my activities call for.

Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am growing older and one day will be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybodys affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all; but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details, give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint, some of them are so hard to live with, but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.

Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talent in unexpected people, and give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. 

AMEN

whimsy & wisdom from the world wide web

A hat-tip to my friend Guy for passing this one along to me. An adoption centre for cats thought it would get creative in describing the felines' likes and dislikes on their information cards. Some of these are really funny!  

Whether or not you're a science nerd, I encourage you to take five and a half minutes to watch this fascinating explanation of the size of atoms. It's kind of mind-blowing, especially when you consider that the same God who created an infinitely immense universe put so much thought and detail into these virtually invisible particles. (If you ARE a science nerd, please forgive any errors in that sentence!) :) 

A couple of weeks ago, during the Evangelical Press Association virtual convention, winners of the 2021 awards were announced. I'm pleased that in the freelance article category, one of my articles won fourth place. The first-place winner was this inspiring piece by my friend Seana Scott. I suggest you don't start your week before reading this!

METANOIA

(n) a transformative change of heart; especially: a spiritual conversion

Life ought not merely to contain acts of worship, it should be an act of worship.

– John Blanchard

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