Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Praying the Scripture - Ask

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

Matthew 15:25-28 (New International Version)
"Lord, help me!" she said.
"It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith!


It wouldn’t have been the first time that my mouth had got me into trouble. The other women had been saying that for a long time. That’s why I’m alone. That’s why my only joy, my little girl, is cursed with a demon. Too much attitude; too sure of myself, not knowing my place.

And I am, I am sure of my Self. My Self was not created to give in, to accept less than I could be, to bow down in defeat. My Self has responsibilities that I couldn’t deny; the demon was not just my daughter’s.

I would remember my daughter in her quiet times watching the sunset or a bird bathing in a splash of well water; or we’d sing a rhyme from her babyhood and her chuckles would shake both our bodies and I knew there was something outside this suffering. There was a loving power, a forgiving power, a healing power and it was up to me to find it, to seek it out and make it ours. My daughter is all I have; I am all she has. What else could I do?

I had done everything. Every petition and sacrifice in every temple to every god; pastes and potions from doctors and herbalists; spells and exorcisms from anyone who called themselves a magician or a priest and it has all been no good.

Still I sat in the market place, watching the traveller’s gate for new hopes; new charlatans; new tricks. I was there when he came through; people calling for miracles and healing. I watched and I saw. His words, his eyes, his hands speaking truth and healing – speaking to the place inside me that needed its own truth and healing. He was what I had been looking for; he had what I needed.

Even so, it was the last thing I expected – to be called a dog…But I had been called worse and there was a challenge in the words not insult. I am not so easily turned away. And the answer came, straight from that place within. Is that faith? Knowing? Because I knew I had been answered as soon as the Word was spoken.

I returned home in delight and thankfulness to a child made new. Later, holding her in my arms, looking at a new future for us both, I wondered why people though it was so hard to just know; to just ask; to just believe.

‘Just ask’
There will be a time for everyone when they will suffer, either through their own pain or often the pain of someone close to them. And it is usually then that we return to our prayers, to our church, to our faith.

But who do we return to? To a God that punishes through illness or despair, to a God that gives judgement, to a God that doesn’t care?
If so, why bother?

If we believe God is our loving parent then we return to Love. To a Father that does not want to see us suffer, to a Mother that is saddened by grief or despair.

Should we believe that God will always take the pain away – will create a miracle of healing? Well, yes we should. But it may not be the miracle we expect. Perhaps the healing will be a new attitude, a different perspective, an acceptance of the reality of life. And with that healing, the recognition that we are not alone when we suffer; God is always Emmanuel – God who is with us. Befriending, sharing, carrying, walking the journey.

If we believe in the God of Love then this is no more that what we should expect. When we pray that is the confidence we should show.
Consider times when you have felt in need of God’s Love, of God’s Grace. Did you ask as a confident child of the Father or did you try to make deals, belittle yourself, expect no better? Look again at your relationship with God and see if there is any need, any way of building bridges, making links, becoming closer.

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.Amen


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