13 – Conclusions

Conclusions

I have been suggesting reasons about Why God may say “NO” to our prayers.  And some of you may well have become pessimists. I would not want that to happen at all. I do want to help us to pray in faith and confidence.  I want us to live with the reality of prayers that go on unanswered without feeling like we are failures in this venture of faith.

Let me make the point with a poem by an anonymous writer.

I’ve dreamed many dreams that have never come true:
I’ve seen them all vanish at dawn.
But enough of my dreams have come true, praise God.
To make me want to dream on!

I’ve sown many seeds that fell by the way –
That the birds of the air fed upon:
But I’ve held enough sheaves in my hands, praise God,
To make me want to sow on!

I’ve drunk of the cup of sorrow and pain,
I’ve lived through a night without song:
But I’ve sipped enough nectar from life’s sweetest flowers
To make me want to press on!

I’ve prayed many prayers and no answers came –
Though I prayed and waited long:
But answers have come to enough of my prayers
To make me want to pray on!

Though we may feel like failures in this matter of prayer, my counsel is – keep on trying, keep on praying, keep on learning.  G.K. Chesterton says, “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”  Perfection is the enemy of the good.

Great Prayers from the past

I have found great value in eavesdropping on the saints: saints I have known and saints from the deep past.  Some of those prayers have become s staple across the wider church of God.  Some of the lines may sound very archaic to modern readers.  But most of us have sufficient wisdom to translate them into phrases that makes sense to our generation. I post them here, so you too can be nourished by their wisdom and their beauty. They may also help you to pray well. Enjoy!

ANIMA CHRISTI – a Traditional Prayer

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O good Jesus, hear me;
Within thy wounds hide me;
Suffer me not to be separated from thee;
From the malignant enemy defend me;
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come to thee,
That with thy saints I may praise thee
Forever and ever.  Amen.

 St. Patrick’s Breastplate – 5th century

I bind to myself to day
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe. 

I bind to myself to day
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Day of Judgment.

I bind to myself to day
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
The obedience of angels,
The hope of resurrection unto reward,
Prayers of Patriarchs,
Predictions of Prophets,
Preaching of Apostles,
Faith of Confessors,
Purity of holy Virgins,
Deeds of all the righteous.

I bind to myself to day
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself to day
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke to day all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of witches, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me to day
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the ship,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself to day
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

 Te Deum (To God)   5th century

Tradition says this may have been written 1600 years ago by St. Ambrose at the baptism of St. Augustine.

 We praise You, O God:
We acknowledge You to be the Lord.
All the earth worships You, the Father everlasting.

To you all the angels lift their voices;
All the powers of heaven offer you praise.
To you the Cherubim and Seraphim continually sing
            “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts,
            Heaven and Earth are full of the majesty of your glory.”

The glorious company of the apostles praise You.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise You.
The noble army of the martyrs praise You.
The Holy church, throughout the entire world, acknowledges You,
The Father, of infinite majesty;
Your true and only Son, who is worthy of adoration,
Also the Holy Spirit, the comforter.

 You are the king of Glory, O Christ.
You are the everlasting Son of the Father.
When You took upon Yourself the task of our deliverance
You humbled Yourself and was born of the virgin.
You overcame the sharpness of death
And opened the Kingdom of heaven to all who believe.
You are seated at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father
And one day You shall come to be our judge.

We therefore ask you to help all those
Whom You have redeemed by your precious blood.
Include them with your saints in everlasting glory. 
O Lord, save Your people and bless them
Govern them and lift them up forever.

Day by day we magnify You;
And we worship Your name for ever, world without end.
Keep us, O Lord, this day, without sin,
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord let Your mercy rest upon us,
Our trust is in You.

A Prayer for My Enemies,   St. Anselm   (c.1033 – 1109)

Almighty and tender Lord Jesus Christ,
I have asked you to be good to my friends,
and now I bring before you what I desire in my heart for my enemies.

If what I ask for them at any time
is outside the rule of charity,
whether through weakness, ignorance, or malice,
good Lord, do not give it to them
and do not give it back to me.

You who are the light, lighten their darkness;
you who are the whole truth, correct their errors;
you who are the true life, give life to their souls.

Tender Lord Jesus,
let me not be the cause of the death of my brothers,
let me not be to them
a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.
Let them be reconciled to you and in concord with me,
according to your will and for your own sake.
Do this, my good Creator and my merciful Judge,
according to your mercy that cannot be measured.

Forgive me all my debts
as I before you forgive all those indebted to me.
Perhaps this may not be so
because in your sight I have not yet done this perfectly,
but my will is set to do it,
and to that end I am doing all I can.

I have prayed as a weak man and a sinner;
you who are mighty and merciful, hear my prayer.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi 1182-1226

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 A Brief Bibliography

Here are some books that have proved helpful to me over the years. They may help you.

Appleton, George (ed.)   The Oxford Book of Prayer,  Oxford U Press, 1985        Doberstein, John,  Minister’s Prayer Book,   Fortress Press
Fleming, David L.   The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius,   1978
Fosdick, H. E.   The Meaning of Prayer,  Collins, 1964
Jeremias, Joachim,  The Prayers of Jesus,  SCM, 1967
Kepler, Thomas S.    An Anthology of Devotional Literature,  Baker, 1977
Lawrence, Brother,  The Practice of the Presence of God, Fleming H. Revell, 1972
Nouwen, Henri J. M.   The Genesee Diary,  Doubleday, 1981
Webber, Robert E.   The Book of Family Prayer,  Thomas Nelson, 1986

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