A Prayer


There was weeping at my house last night. The old Morton Salt slogan came to mind. “When it rains, it pours.” Why does it seem that the things that trouble us “come in threes”? The obvious tip of the emotional iceberg for us today is the sudden removal from this life of a husband, father, relative and friend. We struggle, along with all who are involved, with the senselessness, the brutality, and the sheer enormity of the emotional gulf that is fixed. We find ourselves unable to cross over it. Our spirits make demands from God; demands that we know to be futile before we start. Into this chasm; a poem by Whittier. I hope it speaks to you as it did to me.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

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Marlene woke up yesterday morning quietly singing a Bill and Gloria Gaither prayer/song. I love my partner’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I am blest by the way she often ministers to my greatest need. (Even if she, for the moment, detours where I was going with this week’s Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs.)

Our community is in mourning. A prominent person somehow committed a ‘comedy of errors.’ Six lives were ripped out of the fabric of who we were. By the time the last act was finished there were no curtain calls and a vast audience was left holding the emotional bag of pain, sorrow and confusion. Not personally acquainted, we were yet somehow affected. Somehow, the tentacles of grief radiate outward until they reach every one of our lives. Paul said that no one ‘lives or dies to themselves.’

 

To speak or not to speak! And if I choose to speak, must I choose between words that are harsh and words that sound like Pollyanna?

 

And then comes the gentle reminder: “There’s no other, we can turn to…”

 

Gentle Shepherd


(Written by: W & G Gaither

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and lead us,
For we need you,
To help us find our way,

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and feed us,
For we need,
Your strength from day to day,

There’s no other,
We can turn to,
Who can help us face another day,

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and lead us,
For we need you,
To help us find our way.

One of the blogs that I read is by “Brother Maynard.” He has a weekly feature that I like. He calls it “Hymns of my Youth,” where he gives a short statement about why a hymn is important to him and then gives the words of the hymn. I am not sure if this will also be a weekly feature for me but would at least like to share one that meant a lot to me.

Shortly after our family left the Older Order Amish, I was introduced to “Open the wells of Salvation.” It is one of more than 2000 hymns written by Elisha Hoffman; it is an earnest prayer of dedication and commitment, and is number 339 in my Church and Sunday School Hymnal that we used in the Mennonite Church in Hannibal, Missouri.

As an early adolescent, I memorized all the words and sang them lustily as I walked from place to place on our 66 acres in in Pike County Missouri. The words moved me deeply then; they still do today.

Open The Wells Of Salvation

Lord, I am fondly, earnestly longing
Into Thy holy likeness to grow;
Thirsting for more and deeper communion,
Yearning Thy love more fully to know.

Refrain

Open the wells of grace and salvation,
Pour the rich streams deep into my heart;
Cleanse and refine my thought and affection,
Seal me and make me pure as Thou art.

Dead to the world would I be, O Father!
Dead unto sin, alive unto Thee;
Crucify all the earthly within me,
Emptied of sin and self may I be.

Refrain

I would be Thine, and serve Thee forever,
Filled with Thy Spirit, lost in Thy love;
Come to my heart, Lord, come with anointing,
Showers of grace send down from above.

Refrain

Elisha Albright Hoffman 1839-1929

 (I thought that this prayer was good, even if one happens to be a 66 year old retired person.)

A traditional student’s prayer by Thomas Aquinas:

Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator,
true source of light and fountain of wisdom!
Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect,
dissipate the darkness which covers me,
that of sin and of ignorance.
Grant me a penetrating mind to understand,
a retentive memory,
method and ease in learning,
the lucidity to comprehend,
and abundant grace in expressing myself.
Guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to successful completion.
This I ask through Jesus Christ,
true God and true man,
living and reigning with You
and the Father, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

FROM INSIDE A DARK CAVE

(A Psalm 143 Paraphrase)

 

O Lord hear our prayer,

Listen as we request your mercy,

In your faithfulness and righteousness

Come to our aid.

Do not bring your servants

Into judgment,

None of us who are alive are

Righteous before you

A satanic host pursues us,

We are crushed to the ground;

Our spirits dwell in isolation

And darkness;

Our inner man grows faint,

Our hearts are often dismayed.

We remember days long gone;

We meditate on your works;

We are thrilled at the things

Your hands have done.

We spread our hands to you,

We thirst like a parched land.

Answer us quickly, O Lord;

Our spirits fail.

Do not look away from us,

We would not be able to

Stand the darkness.

Let each morning bring us word

Of your unfailing love

We have put our trust in you.

Always give us your direction;

We lift our soul to you.

Rescue us from adversity, O Lord,

We hide inside your care.

Teach us to do your will,

For you are our God.

May your good Spirit lead us to

A place of wide vistas.

For your name’s sake, O Lord,

Preserve our lives.

In your righteousness

Bring us out of trouble.

In your unfailing love,

Silence our adversaries;

Destroy that, Which would

Destroy us,

For we are your servants.

Jonas Borntreger

6/24/05