Monday, May 28, 2007

Prayer

I'm just back from Northern Yearly Meeting. For a lot of reasons, I wasn't looking forward to going, but like a lot of things I do despite initial misgivings, I'm glad I did. We met, as we have for the last five or six years, at a beautiful Lions Club camp in east-central Wisconsin with a lake, boats of various kinds, a magnificent array of birds, lots of green space, camping and accessible cabins, and (this year) about 300 Friends.

One of the highlights for me was a workshop I took with Traci Hjelt Sullivan, FGC Gathering Coordinator, who was FGC's official representative. I forget the exact title she used, but it was something like "Prayer after the Lord's Prayer." She used a booklet by Judy Brutz where Judy, using various biblical texts, composed prayers following the basic petitionary pattern of the Lord's Prayer. (Paul Buckley has published a pamphlet with a similar exercise based on his article in Friends Journal a year or two ago.) After explaining the workshop and reading a couple of Judy's examples, we had 20 minutes to write our own prayers, after which we read them to each other aloud twice.

I am not a regular practitioner of petitionary prayer, but I've been so impressed by my friends who are and what it seems to do for them that I am trying to find a way to get it into my life. Using the framework of the Lord's Prayer was very helpful to me. (Not everyone used it, and that was explicitly OK.) This prayer was an authentic statement of the state of my soul at the moment, and I felt better afterwards. (While I'm tempted to fiddle with it, to "improve" it, to keep its imperfect, spontaneous flavor I have only very lightly edited here from the original.)

OK. Let’s talk; or, let me talk now, and
you listen this time.
Listen: I know you can hear me, wherever you are
wherever I am.

You are the one for me. I’ve forsaken all others.
(Some have forsaken me).
Yours is the name I answer to now.

That said:

When will you keep your promises to me?
I wait and wait for your kingdom to appear –
which is embarrassing when I live in a democracy –
but I can’t see may signs of it,
except in your promises and in my dreams.

Please. Help me see your kingdom coming soon
so I don’t sink deeper into despair,
Like the last time.

I say this knowing that you-are-who-you-are
and that what you say goes,
here in Minnesota as much as in the world to come.

But still.

Thank you for everything you give to keep me alive, every day:
The air, the food, and water.
Help me to remember:
I always have enough. I don’t need more.
Even when I say otherwise.

I confess I’ve let you down. Once again.
Please forgive me – like you promised –
and I will forgive those who have let me down –
like I promised.

Above all, protect me from the Adversary.
He is more treacherous now than the day you took me away from him.
And more subtle: He now has learned to speak in your voice,
and sometimes I turn to him, thinking it was you.
Help me to recognize the difference before it is too late.

It’s all yours. It’s all yours. This I know.
But please: Help me remember.

Sigh. I started this intending to give you hell for leaving me alone, once again.
But like always, I feel your own soft hand
dry the tears from my weeping eyes,
and I melt.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Let it be so.

5 comments:

david said...

I really like this.

Mark Wutka said...

This was really wonderful, Paul, thank you so much for sharing it!

wess said...

Paul, this is really great thanks.

Liz Opp said...

...protect me from the Adversary.
He is more treacherous now than the day you took me away from him.
And more subtle: He now has learned to speak in your voice,
and sometimes I turn to him, thinking it was you.


Yes, I know this experience as well.

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Phil Grove said...

Wow, I really like this prayer. You describe it as "an authentic statement of the state of my soul at the moment," and that really comes across. Write more stuff like this. And preferably don't wait six weeks between posts, unless that is what you need to do.