to help you discover the God you already know

Prayer in the Morning

After writing about finding the gift in Covid19, I unexpectedly found myself sensing that perhaps I should go on and share the opening section of my current pattern of ‘prayer in the morning’?  But I felt reluctant to do so. It’s personal and I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to share something quite so personal. Its what has emerged for me having decided 18 months ago to explore my priestly ministry outside the constraints of the institutional church, and wanting to anchor that exploration in my own pattern of prayer in the morning. In doing so I’ve brought together resources that have spoken to me over the years. So it is very personal. I make no apology for that, but it does mean that it might not mean very much to anybody but me. I am certainly not offering it with the assumption that it’s something that others would feel comfortable using.  On the other hand, I’ve learnt to trust these unexpected ideas that come to me, and so after a bit of mulling I’ve chosen to trust this latest one. I do so in the spirit of wanting to encourage others to explore what might be helpful for them their prayer in the morning, rather than assuming that there’s an ‘off the shelf option’ that will be a good fit. There might be, but there might not. If not, then maybe you, like me, already have much of what you need already: the wisdom and resources acquired so far on your journey.  It’s a matter of putting them together into some sort of shape, and then using and refining it as you go. Trust that a pattern will emerge that will nourish and challenge you.

What I’m sharing is just the opening section. It’s still evolving, it changes a bit with the seasons, as new insights come and others are discarded. This is what I used this morning! In it are prayers and words that I’ve used for decades, and others that are quite new. I use my own adaptation of the Lord’s Prayer, and ‘My story’ is just a personal reminder & celebration of God’s grace in my spiritual journey so far.

It’s all words. But what then follows this opening section is largely not.  Again I vary with the seasons, but it includes silence, music, art and poetry, readings from the Bible & other sacred texts, spiritual wisdom that I’ve collected over the years, and of course intercessory prayer.

Opening section of ‘Prayer in the Morning’

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.

There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

Souls of men! why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?

It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
’Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.

But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us
Come and gather at His feet?

FW Faber 1814-63

From falsehood lead me to truth
From darkness lead me to light
From death lead me to eternity.

HINDU PRAYER

In a world full of hatred, let us be loving
In a world full of conflict, let us be peaceful
In a world full of greed, let us regard nothing as our own
In a world full of sorrow, let us be joyful.

Buddha

The world is new to us every morning. This is God’s gift; and every man should believe he is reborn each day.

Baal Shem Tov

Lo I am with you always, means when you look for God, God is in the look of your eyes.

Rumi

O God You create, sustain, and love me into birth & life in this world.
Thank You for the gift of sleep and the dawn of yet another day, and one day for the gift of death to bring me Home.

My story
In the beginning I was called to seek and love God 
My search was awoken by questions in confirmation classes in my teens
I have lived my life out of that search, which I have enjoyed & found stimulating and fulfilling as well as challenging.
The Loving God rescued me when I was in troubletelling me “I love you, I accept you, I trust you, all will be well.’
I’ve tried to put those words at the centre of my life, to live out of them, and to say them back.
I have learnt that there’s no such thing as failure in God’s eyes: just opportunities to deepen my love, acceptance and trust in God

I no longer need to seek God, rather God comes & finds me.
I just need to stay open and aware.  I try hard to pay attention to God’s daily promptings
I continue to try & live my life in response to them, which is my primary act of Love.

Accepting God I embrace Negative Capability: living with uncertainty, mystery and doubt, with not knowing,
There is a bigger picture beyond anything I can comprehend. I accept God just as God is.

Trusting God I have nothing to fear, now or in the future. I am safe in God’s hands.

With hindsight I can see that I have always been in relationship with God & that relationship gives meaning to my life.

I try to give thanks for everything, to be full of love, wonder & awe at the sheer graciousness of the loving God,

I hope to share what God has shown me, with others.

One day God will call me Home

“I thought that I was doing this for you, but I wonder if it was the other way around, and that this has been your way of holding on to me & leading me Home”.

Pastor Jacob

God of miracle and wonder
for whom nothing is impossible, 
you long to reveal yourself to me 
that I might reach out to you 
and know myself to be your own, 
cherished and chosen. 
In silence I pause before you to confess my need for healing and grace. 

Heal me for I have been too preoccupied 
or distracted to notice the extraordinary in the ordinary. 
Lord, have mercy.

Heal me for I have failed to recognise you 
in the faces of both friends and strangers.
Christ, have mercy.

Heal me for I have let the sound of my own voices 
drown out your call. 
Lord, have mercy

May simple things speak to us of your mercy & tell us that life can be good.
And may these sacramental gifts make us remember those who do not receive them.

Ruebem Alves

Each new day comes as a gift
What will happen will happen
What will not happen, will not happen
Welcome whatever comes, as gift.

How am I going to use the wonderful gift of life today?

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
Wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing;
There is yet faith 
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: 
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing

TS Eliot

O Lord grant me to greet the coming day in peace.
Help me in all things to rely upon Thy holy will 
In every hour of the day reveal Thy will to me
Bless my dealings with all who surround me 
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day,
with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that thy will governs all. 
In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings 
in unforeseen events let me not forget that all are sent by Thee. 
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. 
Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day, with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will
Teach me to pray
Pray Thou Thyself in me.

Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The Courage to change the things I can
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

God You are both Mother and Father to us all.
May Your name be Holy throughout all of creation
Bring in Your Kingdom here on earth
Help us to be faithful followers of Jesus, our brother, who calls us.
Gift us with what we need for today
Forgive us as we forgive others
And uphold us in our times of trial.
Amen

We believe in God, 
Maker and Sustainer of all life. 

We believe in God beside us, 
Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, 
born of a woman, servant of the poor, 
tortured and nailed to a tree. 
A man of sorrows, he died forsaken. 
He descended into the earth 
to the place of death. 
On the third day he rose from the tomb. 
He ascended into heaven 
to be everywhere present, 
and his kingdom is coming on earth. 

We believe in God within us, 
the Holy Spirit of Pentecostal fire, 
Life-giving breath of the World 
Spirit of healing and forgiveness, 
source of resurrection and of eternal life.
Amen.

After The Iona Community

Heavenly Father
Open our hearts to the silent presence of the Cosmic Christ
Lead us into that mysterious silence where your love is revealed to all who call
‘Maranatha….Come, Lord Jesus.’

After John Main

1 Comment

  1. Hugh

    Thank you Henry for sharing this. I wonder why there have been no responses. Perhaps because you give a personal disclosure – something to be received rather than commented on.

    Over the last thirty years, I have often felt a little guilty in not saying the Office every day – a requirement placed on the ordained as you know. Part of the reason is that I have been working in so-called secular jobs all that time, and carving out time has not always been easy (and until the advent of modern media, carting around the office book, scriptures etc was a problem).

    I have wondered how many parish-based clergy comply with the requirement to say morning and evening prayer. And, inevitably, I have wondered what value a mechanistic saying of these things has, for that must sometimes be the case.

    For many years I carried a piece of paper in my wallet that contained a highly abbreviated Office I’d put together, rather like your own approach. It included e e cummings’ I thank You God:

    i thank You God for most this amazing
    day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
    and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
    which is natural which is infinite which is yes

    (i who have died am alive again today,
    and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
    day of life and love and wings and of the gay
    great happening illimitably earth)

    how should tasting touching hearing seeing
    breathing any-lifted from the no
    of all nothing-human merely being
    doubt unimaginable You?

    (now the ears of my ears awake and
    now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

    But these are words. I have also, over many years, observed a practice within my imagination that goes beyond words. I am not sure how it started. It happens on most days. Whether in bed on waking or traveling (tube, train, ‘bus) or walking Murphy I look down and see myself and then ‘helicopter’ upwards and notice that I am planted on a small astonishing planet which is rotating on its axis at c460 meters a second; that it is orbiting our sun at 490,000 miles per hour; that our sun and galaxy themselves have an orbit as part of the Milky Way, believed to be moving at 448,000 mph. This simple visualised practice – which I find just happens – puts ‘me’, tiny me, into a glorious perspective which always brings joy and a sense of wonder. Of course, I reckon this to be prayer.

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