It’s winter. We have snow and it is very cold. This morning, it was -17 on our back deck. It’s been Christmas and then it was New Year’s. Today is Theophany in the Eastern Churches and Epiphany in the Western Churches. Tomorrow it will be one year since my mother-in-law passed away. It has flavored the entire season. When someone who is integral to the lives around them passes away, it leaves a void and it changes things.
As some of you know, I study the Psalms at least twice a year. (Lent and Advent). I’ve been using a wonderful book by Sylvia Leontaritis called, “Songs of Praise.” (Please go to her website, which I will link here). She has now devised a new prayer companion called, “Come and Abide in Me.” I have been waiting for something like this and am so very excited. Sylvia is one of those people who incite you to think differently. She makes you not only look outside the box, but to walk around it, too. In this lovely book, she is encouraging me, urging me, and she is helping my walk with God. Wow. (Please go to her website and check it out. Not only that, on Instagram, too. She even walks you through how to use this Prayer Companion).
In one of the sections, Sylvia suggests having set things to pray for on set days of the week. To be completely honest with you, the idea never crossed my mind. I am not one of those “meatloaf-every-Monday” type of people. And it caused me to pause. What are the things I need to focus on, at least once every week this year? It would be 52 times to beseech God! Wow! Now, as I was thinking of the Anniversary of the Death of my Mother-in-Law (memory eternal, Mary) I kept thinking of her son, my husband. He loves so deeply. He is an amazing worker, friend, father, brother, husband. He is my best friend. He is my blessing in this life. Because of his love for me, we have 3 amazing sons, two daughters-in-law, and as of today, six beautiful grandchildren. He also has a brother, sister, and so many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It is a huge, wonderful, crazy family.
And so I began to think of my prayer life. What is important? Who needs my prayers at least once a week? What areas do I need to focus on more deeply this year? And even though there are seven days each week, I have far more than just six areas I need to focus on (Sunday is always a day of thanksgiving). Luckily Sylvia is pretty wise. She includes sections for requests from people who have asked you to pray for them. A section on prayers that you love. Lists of saints and what prayers/causes are associated with them. Her prayer companion is just that, a companion.
As we walk our own “Road to Emmaus,” who will be our Companion, and will we recognize Him? Will we hear Him? My challenge, to myself, this next year, is to be more present, more here, and to listen for the Word of God. To know when He speaks to me. To subsume my will to His will. I am going to pray on a myriad of things this year, but I am now better able to focus, thanks to some “Abide in Me” instructions/suggestions. We cannot do this alone; we need some sort of guide or plan. We cannot instruct ourselves in the faith, but need that bulwark of the deposit of our faith. Our Church Fathers, our Saints, the Scriptures. The wisdom, knowledge, prayers we have available to us from the Word of God and His Apostles. In addition, we have our hearts to listen to. We have so much to be thankful for. In this Prayer Companion, there is a section for gratitude, too. We need to re-arrange our thoughts, our lives, our prayers to thankfulness and then intercession, and finally, petition.
For me, I have this lovely man I married to share my journey. We made the choice to get married 35 years ago, and feel more blessed every year. I have friends in desperate need of prayerful intercession and a deeper friendship. An extra push towards the divine; an extra little bit of friendship. Family members are in need of intercession. There are world-wide and national concerns. There are local concerns. Our Lord encompasses all of them; He listens to all these requests, petitions, and words of gratitude. And here in my little corner of the world, I am petitioning God daily and pretty much on a schedule! Go me! LOL! Maybe it’s a New Year’s Resolution in disguise! Off we go…
“O Christ our God, who at all times and in every hour in heaven and on earth, art worshipped and glorified; who art long- suffering, merciful and compassionate; who loves the just and showest mercy upon the sinners; who callest all to salvation through the promise of blessings to come; O Lord in this hour, receive our supplications, and direct our lives according to Thy commandments. Sanctify our souls, hallow our bodies, correct our thoughts, cleanse our minds; deliver us from all tribulation, evil and distress. Encompass us with Thy holy Angels, that guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of Thine unapproachable glory, for Thou art blessed Unto ages of ages. Amen.”