Sunday, August 11, 2013

Meditation Monday: On Praying for Others

I don't know if my idea for "Meditation Monday" will continue or if this is a one-time deal, but it's something I thought of earlier today while on the way to church, and something I'd like to try to continue as I go along. This is the spiritual focus I'll be working on this week. I hope you'll join me as we work towards a healthier spiritual life!

The Scene:

Sunday morning, getting scones together for the kids's breakfast and generally preparing for church. 

An ancient place to pray: The ruins of Melrose Abbey in Scotland
The Events:
  • The general "stress" of making sure everything was ready to head out the door on time
  • Keeping the food from burning
  • The to-do list, coupled with being (roughly six-months) pregnant, and having a still-tired undressed toddler to take care of
  • The blessings of older kids getting themselves ready without too much instruction from Mom. 
Such stress, as you can imagine, takes its toll sometimes. When the old dog peed all the way down the stairs (again!), and the stairs then needed to be steamed before we left, the irritation and anxiety led me to a difficult moment. I had to stop for a minute and just. breathe.
Just breathe and focus on that one moment. That moment led me to the impetus for this post:

Something I've been doing without thinking lately, just as a way to keep prayer in my heart and mind as I move through the day, worked well this morning: Pray for other people and take the focus off of myself and my own (first-world) "problems." 

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~ 1 Thess. 5:16-18

In these times, I often use a prayer bracelet, and focus on prayers that follow a few key components. They are: 
  • specific: I pray for one or two people in particular, by name if possible
  • intentional: I ask for a specific thing for them if I can - an answer to something they may be struggling with
  • short: these prayers are meant to be easily repeated, so I keep them to around a maximum of ten words
  • repeatable: I like to say them ten times or so in a row, then I might switch to someone else or a new prayer
If you're stuck for such a short prayer, start with the Jesus Prayer:

 Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner!

As a priest friend says: "There is power in Jesus' name!" And this is the honest truth; use it when nothing else comes to mind! I'd imagine that Mother Theresa used such a technique all through her years in ministry to others (I certainly would have!) 
I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live ~ Ps. 116:1-2
In those moments when I am too self-focused, I can break that pattern of selfishness, irritation, despair, etc., by focusing on the needs of others in my prayers. This is a lesson that will come frequently in the near future for my growing boys, as they enter puberty with all its "hormonal" angst, etc. In serving others, we save ourselves.

This week in the Orthodox Church, we are continuing, and completing, the Dormition Fast of the Theotokos - Mary, Mother of God, in Greek: God Bearer. For all the painful moments it brought her, the Theotokos was special - she said yes. She could have told God that she didn't want to take part in his Grand Plan, not that part, anyway, but she didn't. She. Said. Yes. She served the world in that sacrificial step. That is part of my prayer this week as well - to remember her example and attempt to pass on that sacrificial attitude to my family.

In your hardest moments, what do you turn to overcome the pressure?
Where is your spiritual journey leading you this week?

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