Friends will you pray with me?

Beloved God

You are our reliable protector. You are the one we can lean on and trust, whose strength overcomes sin, death and every evil. You are our teacher and our comforter, you do not fail to come to us when we need you and turn to you in trust. You are the source of our strength and the solid basis of our lives. You are the fountain of unfailing grace and promise, you make a path into peace from each moment of this hurting world.

I thank you for the courage and intelligence with which your people are responding to this outbreak of sickness. I thank you for all the people who are working to nurse the sick and dying, even though they and we are scared. I thank you for those who have recovered, to give hope to the sufferers. I give thanks for your people who have died and for those who bury them, for those who mourn them, and who comfort each other. I give thanks for our good leaders and scientist advisers, who have studied and researched, who have planned and who are carrying out their very best idea of how to respond, who are communicating and co-operating to care for your people and your whole creation.

Please grant peace to those who are dying. Please comfort those who are bereaved. Give strength to those who nurse the sick and those who take care of the nurses, those who clean the hospitals and other public places, and those who provide food and water, or who otherwise support those who sick or who are nursing. Give your grace and insight to all those who work on your behalf in this world, to care for each other as you care for us in the hour of need.

Grant in your wisdom good insights to those who seek to find the source of the outbreak, and to find the very best ways to mitigate it. Give your wisdom and grace to all of us who lean on you, that we might turn to you and do as you bid us without fear or anxiety, secure in your unfailing and everlasting grace. We trust that you in your grace and wisdom can make a path from this sickness into the heart of your kingdom of grace, for the healing of the world and each heart in it.

As we grow as branches from your root, each one of us learning to live as your son Jesus lived, in your grace and power, Holy God, we entrust ourselves to you.

Views: 88

Comment by Alice Yaxley on 4th mo. 30, 2009 at 1:55am
Thanks for your comment, -d-. It's good to share the knowledge we have, it's the only way it stays alive. I'd not heard either of the facts you report. The Guardian newspaper in the Uk did a feature on the first person to suffer this swine flu at the weekend though, also a survivor like Albert Mitchel - a young boy who survived it in Mexico, apologies I've not looked up his name right not.

It occurred to me last night about what is said about not being like pharisees who pray in public Matthew 6 and I felt a bit horrified. I think there is a specific warning against praying in public places like this there!

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

I hope you all know it's not out of a motivation "to be seen" that I posted my prayer above. I felt a desire to pray together with you others, as a community who turn to God together. Maybe I should have waited and tested it a bit more! Maybe this blog space could be a kind of communal cupboard where we can pray together without making much of it.

Maybe it helps if I share my motivation? Although I have been around Quakers a while now one kind of worship I often want more of is vocal prayer. I know it's been a journey for me, learning how to pray. I had to learn with people who make it a daily practice to pray out loud, members of other churchses mostly; I had to make it a daily practice to pray out loud myself for six months of so to find my way of speaking to God; then I started learning how to pray out loud. Reading Matthew 6 alone wasn't enough for me to get the hang of praying!

I know Barclay would probably go nuts at the idea of deliberately setting out to pray: his whole thing is about surrendering to the living present spirit of God, nothing deliberate about it, right? And in a way the most precious thing for me about Quakers is our listening worship, our common foundation on the ground of listening to the risen, present Christ who is with us. For me prayer is the essential spiritual toothbrushing thing, I need to pray to get myself into relationship with God, to get myself out of the way maybe so I can listen to God more effectively?

Prayer's one of my ways of talking to God, especially when I am feeling far away or out of touch. I find it invaluable to pray for/with people who are struggling, other people have said they find that useful, and unless I practice I am unable to serve in that way. I have to name God for myself, speaking to God of how I understand God - my personal interface with the divine - the way I can reach and understand a little of who God is; I have to thank God for all the good things I see, celebrating God's order breaking into the world, recognise God's power at work already; I ask God for what I feel is needed; and leave everything in God's hands, affirming my faith.
Comment by Forrest Curo on 4th mo. 30, 2009 at 1:40pm
We are, I believe, intended to participate in God's dealings with the world... being (like atheists) a sort of customer-service department...

But one function of prayer, along with helping to keep us trusting that God cares what we think of his services--is that it gives us opportunities to think about the wisdom of what we are asking for, and about God's reasons for things that we find painful.

There are evolutionary mechanisms at work among disease organisms. One effect is to weaken pathogens that require active human effort in their spread: If a person is too wretched to get up and socialize, his germs don't get around as readily as his neighbor's weaker strain, and we saw this at work in the WW I epidemic, as the death rate declined toward the end of it's dispersal. Another is that pathogens who don't need a healthy host to spread them... become stronger. If you intended to make a pathogen more dangerous, transporting it via needle from one host to another is a sure way to encourage the fastest growing, more virulent variants. The extreme virulence of that first Ebola epidemic was probably due to the fact that nurses in an underfunded African charity hospital were using unsterilized needles to provide vitamin injections. (One terminally-ill nurse wandered around downtown for hours in a large African city, without anyone she met catching the disease. How bad a disease is if one catches it--seems to have little to do with how contagious it can be. Probably there's an inverse relation, at least once people get properly scared of a bug.)

While there isn't exactly a consensus on this, it's pretty obvious that the WWI epidemic became deadly when it reached the trenches in Europe: people confined together in great misery, unable to move away from each other when they got sick--and then, sometimes, having the worst cases taken by ambulance to crowded hospitals full of men weakened by wounds. Overcrowding and misery is key to amplifying the virulence of a viral epidemic... as with the bird flu, which evidently got its start in industrial-style chicken gulags, and with this latest swine flu, which seems to have started in an industrial pig-farm & then hit some fairly wretched human populations.

So I have to be of two minds here: 1) a minimal number of human deaths, so far as it's in our power, but 2) There's a message in this plague, and we need to understand that message!
Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 2, 2009 at 6:06pm
I hadn't seen this article yesterday; but I'd done my reading in good sources before the Big Bird Flu Scare; and knew that things work this way:

If we're to talk about "arming ourselves with knowledge," this isn't the sort to protect any particular individual--but it might help more of us survive the heavy incoming collective karma that's increasingly hitting us all.


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