If you read what I put on Facebook, you will know I am thinking for myself about prayer. Have not finished that yet, but with the help of Henri Nouwen in particular I have seen that prayer is about having open hands to God..
I found myself praying the following prayer to sum up where I felt I was at, at this moment with my thinking, and felt I should type it as I prayed it. I have gone through it to give a bit of structure to make it readable, but it really is the utterance of my heart. I am sharing it not because I am a great prayer, far from it. I am sharing it as a learner, privately in public! If it helps you, I am glad.
“Lord, in your presence I am always a child, with growing still to happen. In your presence, I feel the need to take off my shoes for I am on Holy ground. In your presence I am aware of my poverty. Every good thing I have, every righteous element in my being, comes as a gift from you in your Only begotten Son, the friend you have given me, Jesus Christ. To you belongs the earth and all its fullness, the world and all its inhabitants. To you alone belongs righteousness; salvation is from you, the Lord, the giver of life. I long to be one more step, even in this passing moment of prayer, toward truly honouring you as the One who gives and who takes away for your glory and for my good to that same glory.
Teach me to pray to the One to whom all things belong as one to whom nothing belongs save the gift and gifts of your grace. Teach me that when I pray, I am asking you to take me further into your growing Kingdom on this earth advancing amongst all flesh, not further into my Kingdom, for the Kingdom of Me is an illusion and a dark spell. It lures me to be content to live in the pride of life , what I have known, what I have seen even of you and done even for you, content with sharing how good you have been to me with photographs and scribbled notes to prove it. The next part of the path may mean new gifts require to be given by you and received with my open hands, but with these same open non-clinging hands, old manifestations of your grace, favoured views and resting places, places of familiar learned craft and labour, may have to be left with gratefulness and thankfulness in the past.
To pray to you is to confess my incompleteness in the completeness of Christ, my desire to move into every spiritual blessing including those not yet experienced, tasted, understood or glimpsed, into a future that is certain but not clear in its every step.
With what else can I come but with open hands? I would not cling to past mistakes or triumphs, for held tight in my fist both could make me lame. Save me from the power of regret that could kill my hope… ah yes,…Hope! Above all, may I see prayer, not as my prayer, but as your gift of hope making its presence known within my body, soul and spirit: hope that today and every fresh day, every new even momentary turning to prayer is a marker, a milestone on the journey not a memorial where the journey ended.
I have not reached the stage of outliving the need to pray, “Show me Thy ways O Lord, Thy paths O teach thou me.” Keep that prayer alive within me. I saw not long ago someone who has only old stories to tell. God help me not to become Yesterday’s man. As long as I pray with open hands, I can know for sure I will be saved from becoming such a tragedy. Others who love me may not know how to tell me the tragedy has happened. But your gift of prayer means I am reaching out to the Living God and to His Christ who is ever saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the God who is coming soon.”
Thank you for prayer, a sign you have placed your hope within me.
In the Name of Jesus, the Shepherd who goes ahead of me,
P.S:The prayer may sound sort of formal to some ears, but it’s the way I pray in private!