by Aaron Farnham
March 16, 2015
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 (ESV): 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[c] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies,21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
On the trips to Honduras I have attended recently I have considered myself lucky to oversee obtaining communion supplies for a short Sunday evening service at the Ranch. This year, as one of three seminarians (1 presently at Duke and 2 Asbury graduates) I was tapped to expound on verse 17 of the above passage while the other two had “Rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances.” I found comfort in that because it was an example of the Holy Spirit meeting me where I am; Andrea and I had both elected to engage the habit of prayer this Lenten season.
While I cannot speak for Andrea, I intended to pursue the example of Brother Lawrence, a 17th century Carmelite in Paris who understood his daily tasks and duties as acts of prayer and through that found satisfaction in his work. Thus, the goal I had put before me was one of praying without ceasing. Frankly, I went that route because it was something familiar to me through multiple readings of Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God. It was going well until the trip and I was without the triggers I had associated with my prayer, i.e. folding laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, and washing dishes. Furthermore, wouldn’t you know that when I got back Andrea was all about pitching in with those tasks?
Once again, the Holy Spirit met me where I was. On the last day at the Ranch a local artisan store is open to visitors. That is the store in which I purchased the painting on display in 717 (the old parsonage). This year I happened to pick up a Catholic rosary with the thought that it would look good hanging on the wall. Nevertheless, my curiosity caught up with me and I learned that the Anglican Church, which Methodism grew out of, had developed its own rosary in the 1980s. With that inspiration I used the rosary from Honduras to make an Anglican rosary, the praying of which I have found quite fulfilling the last few weeks.
From this it is not my hope that we would all start praying the Anglican rosary (Should you find God speaks to you through that practice, so be it.), but rather that we would be reminded by this short illustration that God will meet us where we are as we seek God… So long as we listen. As Teresa of Calcutta said, “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” In my opinion, listening is the key to praying without ceasing and ultimately the key to recognizing God before us and it is also the keystone holding together everything else Paul included in the above passage.
For the closing prayer I turn to an adaptation of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate as found at http://www.kingofpeace.org/prayerbeads.htm which has more information about the Anglican rosary if it is of interest to you.
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate
I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
1. I bind this day to me for ever, by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
2. his baptism in Jordan river;
3. his death on cross for my salvation;
4. his bursting from the spicèd tomb;
5. his riding up the heavenly way;
6. his coming at the day of doom:
7. I bind unto myself today.
1. I bind unto myself the power of the great love of cherubim;
2. the sweet “Well done” in judgment hour;
3. the service of the seraphim;
4. confessors’ faith, apostles’ word,
5. the patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
6. all good deeds done unto the Lord,
7. and purity of virgin souls.
1. I bind unto myself today the virtues of the starlit heaven,
2. the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
3. the whiteness of the moon at even,
4. the flashing of the lightning free,
5. the whirling of the wind’s tempestuous shocks,
6. the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
7. around the old eternal rocks.
1. I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
2. his eye to watch, his might to stay,
3. his ear to hearken, to my need;
4. the wisdom of my God to teach,
5. his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
6. the word of God to give me speech,
7. his heavenly host to be my guard.
Words: attributed to St. Patrick (372-466)
translated by Cecil Frances Alexander, 1889
Adapted for use with Anglican Prayer Beads by Laura Kelly Campbell