Sisters in Scripture
A Conversation on Prayer
10/20/2021 Kathleen MacInnis Kichline

 Person Reading the Bible
It seems we opened a conversation on prayer with last newsletter's "Tony, Tony, come around!" Several readers shared memories of St. Anthony coming to their rescue in their childhood and beyond. "Because I’m often misplacing things, St. Anthony has become 'Tony' to me and my family just shake their heads when I mutter, 'please, Tony, help me find…..' We are old friends and I think he just laughs and shakes his head too". (- Mary K.)

But the article also brought up the thorny questions raised by prayer. Sometimes prayers are not answered as we had hoped, as was the case with the woman who was lost. And does God really need us to beg for assistance or give advice on what to do?

Most of us seem comfortable with prayer that praises or thanks, asks forgiveness, guidance, or grace. The problem seems to come in when we are asked to pray for someone or for a specific outcome. "I have great difficulty praying for specific results...Recently, many requests have come my way and I find myself praying for all of those intentions by placing them in God’s hands and trusting in the outcome. Often the outcome is different than the people requesting my prayers had hoped, but it seems the strength and courage helped." (- Mary K.)

Episcopal priest, Martin L. Smith, assures us, "God is already in the situation of need, present and active with those who are in want as their upholder and fellow-sufferer. God has reached out to us from that place and touched off a spark of response to that need. Having stimulated our caring, God recruits our love and concern by stirring us from within to offer that love and concern in intercession. God then receives the love we offer and weaves it into the combined influences which together can bring about the good that God desires" (from his book, The Word is Very Near).

The invitation to pray for another or that inner urge to do so is a sacred task. Sybil MacBeth reminds us, "When someone says, 'Please pray for me,' they are not just saying, 'Let's have lunch sometime.' They are issuing an invitation into the depths of their lives and their humanity--and often with some urgency." (from her book, Praying in Color). How, then, should we respond? MacBeth starts by imagining how she would want someone to pray for her. "When I ask people to pray for me, I am asking them to fill the universe with good thoughts, to wrap me in God's love, to give me hope, reconnect my hands and heart with God's when I'm too fraught with fear or sadness to do it by myself."

She acknowledges that "worry is not a substitute for prayer. It is a starting place, but not a staying place." It tends to happen when we forget Who it is that has invited our participation. When we focus on the presence of God, worry recedes. The love we offer, our willingness to care, the actions that arise from our concern--all of these contribute in ways beyond our knowing to the good God has in mind, whatever that may be. 

People use a variety of ways to put words on that prayer as they feel called to do. Many have prayer practices they can incorporate such as a rosary, daily Mass, psalms, meditation, etc. Others create touchstones that remind them to pray for the person throughout the day: names on a bookmark in the Bible, small papers with names in a basket by their prayer space, the coloring prayer MacBeth describes in her book, or simply setting aside the time, perhaps with coffee or tea, to sit, be still, and recall with love. These simple acts engender a tenderness and compassion that is, of itself, prayer. Sometimes it prompts us to do more: to send a card, make a casserole, place a call, enlist the aid of another, or advocate for someone in need. 

Next time a prayer request comes your way, recognize it as invitation. Know that the One who sends it is already at work and you asks only that you extend the love that is yours to give. 

photo credit: Tima Mirashnichenko, pexels

Why These Women by Kathleen MacInnis Kichline

UPDATE ON WHY THESE WOMEN? Four Stories You Need to Read Before You Read the Story of Jesus.

 The manuscript is now being formatted so I hope to soon get readable PDF's to those wonderful folks who volunteered to be part of my Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) Team. Thank you all--I will keep you posted. I will also send out a separate invitation in the near future to all my newsletter readers in case you want to join that team. The basic premise for the team is willingness to read the book ahead of time and then provide a review when the book comes out, a crucial set up for a successful book launch. I also hope in these next several months to include short excerpts from the book in our newsletters. Should be fun!

Photo for Online Retreat Once Upon a Time in a Town Called Nazareth

Once Upon a Time in a Town Called Nazareth

Friday Evening, November 19th
and Saturday, November 20th
a ZOOM presentation

Save the Date! Betsey Beckman and I have collaborated annually to bring to life this Sabbath retreat. Once again, we will journey with the young Jewish girl, Mary, as she encounters the Angel Gabriel and says "yes!” to God’s call. Through creative practices, ritual, and imagination, we will explore how God calls each of us to the gift of incarnation and invites us to the birthing of new life.  
We are honored to be sponsored this year by the virtual monastery and global community, Abbey of the Arts.
Cost: $90 USD, sliding scale.  To register and for more info go to Abbey of the Arts

Blessed is she who believed… (Luke 1:45) An Advent Retreat inspired by Mary and Elizabeth

Advent Retreat inspired by Mary and ElizabethSaturday, December 10, 2021
9 am – noon (PST)
Zoom format hosted by St. Placid Priory, Lacey, WA

This NEW Advent retreat will take us to the scene after the Annunciation, to Mary's encounter with Elizabeth in the Visitation. The joy of the Magnificat, the tender scene of reunion, the friendship between women of shared faith--what better way to celebrate the wondrous season that is Advent. Come join us for this uplifting morning--and invite a friend to come too! Cost: $45 OR 2 for $75 if you bring that friend. (Who has been your Elizabeth?)

To register and for more info go to Advent at the Priory
Picture of Kathleen MacInnis KichlineLOVE hearing from readers. Thank you to all who wrote in on "Tony, Tony, come around!" Special thanks to Mary K. whose words seemed to summarize all the rest. 

It would be great to hear how YOU respond to prayer requests. Please drop me a line!

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