Praying in an emergency | Preparation Prayer
In order to be really present to today’s prayer session, let’s take a little time to prepare ourselves. This will involve quietening ourselves literally and figuratively. Firstly, find a good place to pray. If you are confined to your room, there’s not much choice. But remember, prayer is about real connection and not just perceived perfection. So find yourself in the best place you can.
Secondly, get in touch with what needs to be quietened in you today. You could think about three sites- your head, your heart and your body.
Notice what is going on inside your head. What are you thinking today and how does it differ from yesterday? Don’t get caught up in any thought in particular. Just notice how your thoughts are.
Notice what is going on inside your heart. What are you feeling today and how is that unique to this day? Again, don’t allow yourself to get too caught up in any feeling. Simply notice your feelings.
Notice what is going on in your body. How does your body feel today in comparison to yesterday? Notice the sensations you have- comfort, discomfort, pain, tiredness, restfulness.
Begin, now, to notice your breath. Perhaps breathing is difficult today. If so, go gentle and breathe as well as you can. As you do, acknowledge that each breath, however laboured, is a sign of the gift of life within you. Give thanks to God for this gift.
As you sit, breathing and giving thanks to God, allow your body to become heavy where you sit or lie. Allow a sense of quietness to come over you. This may take a few minutes. Stick with it until you feel ready to proceed with our prayer session for today.
Prayer theme: Praying in an emergency
A friend struggling with mood swings hit some shocking lows in the past where he felt useless, despairing and unloved by all, including God. He talks about it now as a frightening experience, and about the hidden depths of the mind and extreme abandonment. He often thought about giving up on what he calls ‘this hellish existence’. He often felt himself surrounded by darkness, threatened by despair and clinging on to faith by his fingernails. In these emergency situations he needed something to sustain him.
Trying to help him in these dark hours it was helpful to get him to focus on the positive, on his achievements and the people who love him; but this helped only a little.
The only thing that really worked was reminding him that Jesus was there for him, someone who knew similar pain, and that he himself didn’t have to do anything to merit this love. Jesus who is pure love felt his pain, was with him in the darkness and wanted to bring comfort and relief. Most important for him to know was that he didn’t have to do anything, didn’t have to change or be different. It helped to alleviate the anxiety and tension he felt. It was an anchor in the storm.
Call to mind your favourite image of Jesus. Breathe deeply to remind yourself you are not alone.
Take your time to look at the picture, notice the face of Jesus, his hair, his skin. Notice that his eyes are looking at you – Jesus is seeing you just as you are. He sees only the best in you and his look is one of great compassion and care. He wants you to know the great love that he has for you. Remind yourself that your pain or suffering is only temporary but his love is for ever. Stay with this exercise until you come to appreciate this love in your heart. Finish by giving thanks for what you have received, find the gratitude in your heart even if you don’t always feel it. Place this picture in your sacred space; remember, you can come back to this at any time.
Isaiah 40:28–31 (NIV)
He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Mark 14:32–42 (NIV)
And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’
2 Corinthians 4:8–9 (NIV)
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
1. What are the moments of great darkness in my life?
2. What helped me get through them?
3. Can I see God working in those moments?
Lord Father God, thank you for this time of prayer that I have undertaken, united with all others who are praying this day.
I am also united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning with love for all creation. In this unity I sit, one of many and one of your beloved.
I ask for the continued help of your Holy Spirit as I end this time of prayer to enter back into the business of my day.
Help me to take the lessons I need from this prayer time today. Help me also to leave behind me anything that I do not need to take with me.
Above all, help me to know that I stay connected to you at all times and that I only need to pause, breathe and pray to become deeply aware of this.