2008/09/18

"Aspire to God with short but frequent outpourings of the heart."
St. Francis of Sales

I want to thank those of you who prayed for me while I was away. And, as a report to you, let me say that your prayers were sustaining and effectual.

It is embarrassing, really, to say how pleasant the whole evacuation was. I left home early in the morning with my dog and a few belongings. It was a cool morning and I had the top down on the car. There was traffic, lots more than usual. But, at 4/5 AM... it was nothing. I arrived in Austin around 11 and had lunch with my favorite person at my favorite cafe. Then I headed out to Spicewood where more friends greeted me. There I had a lovely suite overlooking beautiful Lake Travis. I ate the best food, we had wonderful wine, my dog waded in the swimming pool and chased deer. We talked politics, shared thoughts on sustainable living, and watched the news reports of hurricane Ike. All this while others were in shelters and giving thanks for MREs. You see how well I had it!

When I got home there was electricity, water, and minimal wind damage. I spent a pleasant day or so picking up branches with my neighbors. Others had it much worse.

It might be easy for me to start believing that God had specially protected me, that because of your prayers I was somehow specially surrounded by guardian angels and protected not just from harm but inconvenience too. And we can probably all name people who would leap to just that very conclusion. We know better, though. Like the Holy Spirit the winds blow where they will and it could just as easily have been my home with a big tree in it. Or worse.

So, while I don't think my case is in any way "special," I do believe more than ever in the power of prayer and specifically the effectiveness of many short prayers. It was clear to me that my way was clear. The evacuation, so difficult for others, was a breeze for me. So, something was going on and I can only attribute it to prayer.

If you are like me, and some of you are, then your prayers may not have amounted to much. It's OK. I do it too. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of times I've bowed my head at the computer and said a short prayer for someone. Sometimes I'll remember them later at, you know, "prayer time." But, more often, it's short. That's sometimes called an ejaculatory prayer, just so you know. Sometimes I say a prayer I know, sometimes one I make up myself, sometimes not much more than a sigh. I used to think that was kind of slothful praying. But, I've changed my mind.

I think it was Francios de Sales who said, You will be sustainedby many short prayers." It sounds like somethng he would have said. I used to think that he meant that I should say many short prayers. And I am often saying The Jesus Prayer or some slight varriant. I believe in the merits of that. That's what Jonah did in the belly of the fish, you know. Many short prayers, all of them from the Psalms. Jonah knew the prayers of his people, knew them well. And, when he needed them, those prayers from the Psalms came readily to his heart and lips. And, that happens for us too.

But now I see another aspect of that. What I see is that not only do my short prayers sustain me but yours do too! Honestly, I didn't pray much during the evacuation. I just didn't. Don't know why. But, you did! Your short prayers sustained me. Francois, if indeed I have the attribution correct on that, is still right. I am sustained by many short prayers. Just not my own.

Sometimes when I am up late at night, very early morning actually, I wonder why. Surly these pittiful little prayers do more to make me feel better than they do for anyone else. Does God even hear such vague pleas? "Be strength for the oppressed, become healing to the broken. Oh God, receive tenderly the souls of the dying. Convert the hearts of the violent..." On and on with my little prayers. I hardly even know what I am doing at that hour and, since I got my new memory foam mattress, I prefer to keep my knees in the bed and off the floor. But, what if Francios was right and my short prayers joined with yours? That seems like something worth getting out of bed for.

I don't know how prayer works, or why we do it. I've told you all that before. But, if once in awhile I can see that there's some reason, that it might even be effectual... well, that might be enough to sustaiun me in continuing.

I can't find the exact quote I am looking for but let me leave you with these few lines:

  • "As those who are influenced by human and natural love have their minds and hearts constantly fixed on the objects of their affections; as they speak often in their praise, and when absent lose no opportunity of expressing by letters this affection for them and can not even pass a tree without inscribing on the bark the name of their beloved; so those,who are possessed of divine love have their minds and hearts constantly turned toward the divine object of their love; they are ever thinking of Him, they long after Him; they aspire to Him, and frequently, speak of Him; and were it possible, would engrave in the hearts of all mankind the name of their beloved Jesus." St. Francis of Sales
  • It is an old Custom with the servants of God always to have some little prayers ready and to be darting them up to heaven frequently during the day, lifting their minds to God out of the filth of this world. He who adopts this plan will get great fruit with little pains." St. Philip Neri
Peace and love to all!

Lindy

11 comments:

FranIAm said...

Oh Lindy... what a post.

How prayer does sustain us indeed. I am glad that you felt all that was coming your way.

It is of course, not magic.

It is something else altogether.

This is why strikes me - the dynamism of prayer. So many see it as linear - I pray to God, one line. About you, an offshoot line.

It is so much more than that, unable to be captured in a simple diagram.

Diane said...

alchemy

sharecropper said...

Whatever, Lindy, prayer is important for us. short, long, half-asleep, alarmed, whatever we are, whenever we pray, that prayer has power and meaning.

Good to know you had a "nice vacation" - you enjoy those good times when you can - who knows what the next hurricane might bring.

Sending love and prayers

Presbyterian Gal said...

The books I've been reading on quantum physics are now getting to showing how our intentions influence the behavior of particles; particles which are the fabric us and the matter around us that impacts our lives. It's really exciting IMO and proves in another venue how prayer and faith indeed move mountains.

Lindy said...

Right on Presbyterian Gal! I know what you are talking about.

I think "alchemy" is a good word for it. Our presence,and our intention, does create something new.

Not into "The Secret" though. Not that.

Jane R said...

Spicewood? Spicewood the ranch? Near Austin? Chris's ranch? If so, you and I have mutual friends.

Jane R said...

P.S. Glad you are okay... And warm greetings from +Maya to you and handsome +Rowan.

Lindy said...

Spicewood is a small town on the north shore of Lake Travis. It is near Austin. I don't know Chris.

But Rowan and I do know the lovely +maya. Rowan certainly enjoyed his jaunt 'cross the pond with the other animal bishops. Now if we could just set up a parallell jurisdiction governed by an international commission of pet bishops... Yeah, that's the ticket.

Jane R said...

Absolutely. +Maya, who will flirt with anybody with any number of legs, tends to be a hetero cat (shh, don't tell) and she thinks those canine boys are awfully handsome. She is utterly professional and sisterly with them but she sure does enjoy the collegial work. She thinks your suggestion may be just the ticket. She'll need to sleep on it, as usual. Right now she is playing, because we are at home and I am unpacking some more boxes.

Lindy said...

The problem with the pet bishops is that they are alwaus napping. We'd need Callum to come round and keep them awake. He seems like an alert fella.

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