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By virtue of my wordy prayers

by davesandel on October 8th, 2021

Friday, October 8, 2021                                  (today’s lectionary)

By virtue of my wordy prayers

Taking a shower is mostly a morning joy. Sometimes I’m in a hurry, today I was not. We’ve been in Illinois since Tuesday, and I used our upstairs shower for the first time since May.

Which was not a problem, everything worked. The water was hot, just right. Then I looked up at a window in the roof, a skylight, above the bathroom.

This isn’t a replay of Psycho. I didn’t shriek, but … well, maybe I did. A big limb was sitting on the window, broken off a tree beside the house in one of the several storms Urbana has suffered through in the last few days.

Suddenly I was caught in the “tyranny of the urgent.” Even with many people to see and promises to keep, those important parts of my life suddenly took second place. I couldn’t change much, really, but always too close to the front of my mind was this nasty vision of a big tree limb resting uncomfortably on the roof of our house.

This morning I’ll be taking another shower, and maybe see that the limb is gone? I don’t think so, but I might see that it has cracked the window. Uh oh, I’m getting that Psycho feeling again. This is a fine time to pray that away. My friend Kevin said he gives people advice to pray when things are good, and pray when things are bed. Pray all the time with Thanksgiving. But he forgets to follow his own advice, and then feels really guilty.

Gird yourselves and weep, O man. Come, spend the night in sackcloth. Proclaim a fast, cry to the Lord.

That’s a trap, and it gets sprung on Kevin just at the very end. Instead of seeing his way through to repentant prayer about not praying, he just curls up and feels guilty. God is not doing that to him, and I hope eventually he (and I) learn that down deep inside our souls. We are being ripped off by the devil.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain.

Thomas Merton says it’s a risky thing to pray, but it’s a risky thing not to pray as well. Merton says to let God pray within me; still, I know how important my words are to the maturing of my will. An active, regular prayer life might become an idol I settle for and therefore no longer seek God, or it might become a beating heart within me that compels me to seek Him, and keep on seeking.

I will give thanks with all my heart, I will declare your wondrous deeds. I will be glad and exult in you, I will sing praise to your name.

This kind of wordy prayer protects my house and my heart from those homeless evil spirits looking for a place to sleep, the ones Jesus talks about in today’s gospel. Like the Rosary and the Jesus Prayer, gratefulness and praise simplify my thoughts about God and sweeten our relationship.

It is by the Finger of God that I drive out demons, and the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe.

Margaret’s birthday is tomorrow. It has been 114 days since her heart valves and tissue were replaced. In some ways her recovery has barely begun. In other ways it is remarkably complete. Can we praise God, give thanks, declare his wondrous deeds, and ask for his presence each day and every day? Of course we can. Lord, don’t let either of us forget the important and get caught up in the web of the urgent.

We belong to YOU.

(Joel 1, Psalm 9, John 12, Luke 11)     

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