Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Walking with Prayerful Humility

Walking with Prayerful Humility
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
14 March 2018

A Vespers reflection based upon Psalm 51; Hebrew 5:5-10; John 12:20-33

Will you pray with me?  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer. Amen!

So we have been walking in the wilderness of Lent for over four weeks now, pondering, thinking, suffering, hopefully learning while praying.

Over the past few weeks in this Lenten Wilderness,
we have been considering perspectives.  
We have considered how suffering impacts our lives
and how to look above the mud-pit of suffering.
We have looked at how to improve our kindness and generosity.
We have wondered how we can be better stewards of
God’s love and grace here on Earth.

In all of this, you might have noticed that we have prayed.
We have read and heard Psalms.
We have offered invocations and confessions.
We have prayed and reflected.
I would add some meditation, Tai Chi and more.
These are ways to lift joys, to express concerns,
to quiet our minds, to make space,
and to be in the presence of God.

Why do you pray?
Better, how do you pray?
At the core, there are general categories of prayer used to deepen expressions of humility, grace and love through us.

Is your prayer one of praise?  
A little “praise Jesus” here and there can be nice.
Some like to poke fun at more guttural praising – diaphragm praises.

There is something more here.
Moses brought down a set of commandments with this at the top.
At worship and many hymns,
we celebrate and praise the glory of God.  
We are happy to praise God in good times,
celebration or new lives welcomed into our family.
(Isn’t it great to have this Church that is welcoming and loving all of God’s Children? )

Of praising prayers, how about sadness and suffering like funerals?
That might feel awkward while singing or praying powerful praise
during times of immense sorrow.
Perhaps, that is when we should be praising God for the lives we have
and the souls that touch us.
I enjoy the service as a “celebration of life” where people celebrate this relationship. 
The question is raised of what are we doing to honor that relationship now and going forward?  What are we doing to give praise to the lives around us?

Then, we have prayers of supplication.
We ask for protection, for intervention,
or for guidance for paths through suffering.
As an athlete,
I have often asked for help in matches and sparring with varied results.  
I would even bargain with God:
for a win, I would give up say chocolate …for an hour?
A biblical example is Jesus in the garden before the infamous arrest
and on the cross.
(Hebrew 5:5-10 reminds us of this.)

That Jesus knows suffering, pain and fear
might help us realize, again,
that we are not alone in our suffering and brokenness.  
Jesus has been there and has walked a few miles with us.
Then, there are prayers for forgiveness. (I have done this many times.)
This is not the “sorry-you-were-offended” prayer.
That might need a two-fer prayer.  
Still, what good is asking for forgiveness
when you are not willing to atone?
Instead, when we have strayed, when we forget, or when we degrade someone, we did that to God.  Jesus reminds us of this. (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 9:46-48)
In order to receive, we must first be willing to give ourselves.
Are you willing to forgive others? Are you willing to forgive yourself?
We don’t need to stay on strayed paths,
and I know that we can be our own worst critic.
Thus, we might need to forgive ourselves.
We can be humble because God is ready to mother us any time.

Finally, there are prayers of thanks.
We are want to ask and ask and ask,
but how many times do we stop and give thanks?  
How often do we give credit where credit is due?
Be thankful you woke up, for your breath, for your family and friends
— the many gifts you have.

Be thankful that you were able to play a good game.
Be thankful with humble heart and your head up .

Despite our brokenness and suffering,
When you pray, remember
You are worthy of celebration;
You are worthy of guidance;
You are worthy of compassion;
because You are a child of God.

Whether you pray quietly or with hands in the air,
I submit to you pray with your heart and go ahead
— let the spirit move you. 
Can I get an amen?
While you are praising, thanking, or asking God,
if you listen carefully, you may realize the presence all around you.

You can tap into that spirit anytime and anywhere.
 (No matter where you are on life’s journey.)

Praise, supplication, contrition, and thanksgiving are ways
that we can call to God
and ways that we can respond to God.
Are you willing to hear what God has to offer?
How will you respond?
Are you doing anything that prevents you from responding to God?
Are you ready to work with the gifts that you have?
God is all around you nudging you and listening.
Yet, are you listening?

As Children of God,
With prayer and humility, we can witness God’s love, patience, kindness and generosity to us.
In these many ways, we pray to God because we know that

God is good all the time
and all the time, God is Good

Let us share those prayers with God.

Thanks Be to God.