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The Lord's PrayerI find myself yet again asking for a prayer.  A dear friend is facing her third battle with cancer.  When we were in our twenties, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer of a very rare, aggressive kind. She came through treatment wonderfully.  Then 5 years ago, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Again, we prayed and yet again she came through the treatments better than we had dared hope. Recently, her energies ebbed. She was often short of breath. Again, she went to the doctor.  This time around it is a rare blood disorder that invariably leads to leukemia.

For those who love her, this is an especially difficult time and I don’t just mean her illness.

For the most part, we are a prayerful group but facing this battle yet again many of us are at a bit of a loss. What do we say?  How do we pray? “Hey, God. It’s me. Again. Look, I’m getting a little sick of this.”

Okay, that’s not it. But how do you pray when the words don’t come? When you’d rather just flop down on your face in the middle of the bed?

Here are three things that have worked for me in the past week.

  1. Ask for prayer. I know it sounds like a cop out, but ask friends for prayer.  Admit that you don’t know how to pray about this yourself because it is just too much.  Your friends will get it. They’ve been there themselves. They’ll hold up everyone involved.
  2. Resort to a time honored prayer. We all have prayer that we’ve memorized.  I love the Prayer of St. Francis. Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love . . .  Another favorite is the Jesus Prayer. Jesus, have mercy on me, the sinner.  At times like this, when someone is desperately ill, I turn to the Lord’s Prayer. May thy will be done.
  3. Pray through song. I know you expected this one from me and here it is. When I’m at a loss, I turn to music. So many of our hymns are also prayers.  In fact, my choir has sung several arrangements of the Prayer of St. Francis. Sing through some of your favorites. They speak to you for a reason.

There are times when it is all but impossible to pray.  Ironically, these are also the times in which prayer is vital. Maybe one of these ways will work for you.


Jesus PrayerI’ve written before about how to pray when you don’t know what to say.  Oftentimes, in times of crisis, the words are not important.  It is the connection to God that pulls us through.

That said, when I have no words for a given situation that lack becomes my focus.  When I should be focusing on Him, instead I am focusing on what isn’t there.  The words I need to explain a situation that He already understands.

Recently, I learned a prayer that is a great go-to prayer in times of distress, The Jesus Prayer.  While there are several versions, this is the one that I learned:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

That just about covers it.  Lord, I’m coming to you and, in my flawed way, I have no clue what to say.  Help!

That said, some people leave off “a sinner.”  Including that phrase puts them in a dark place of self-doubt and self-incrimination.

Me? I include it. At this point in my life, I can accept the fact that I am far from perfect.  I don’t like it, but I can accept it.

So when I have no clue what to pray, I have this to fall back on.  I may have no idea what to say, because I am, after all, flawed.  But I can fall back on these words and on His infinite mercy.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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