Monday December 31 2018


Scripture: Psalm 45

Key verse: (1)
My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

Reflection: On the cusp of a new year, you might be thinking about how you’d like to be different in 2019. Do you want to get fitter? Eat healthier? Do you want to be kinder? More hopeful? More pious? Do you want to have more fun? Perhaps you just want to be more grateful.

I’d like to pray more. And pray differently. I’d like to move through life listening for God with ears attuned to prayer happening all around me. And then join in. Music is one way to pray. A walk in nature is another. Poetry helps me pray too. Here is a poem about prayer from Mary Oliver that I will take into the new year with me, trusting that God hears all our prayers, in whatever forms they come:

I Happened to Be Standing
I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.

He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

“I Happened to Be Standing” from A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver, published by The Penguin Press, New York, Copyright © Mary Oliver, 2012

Prayer: Lord, help me to pray. At all times. In new ways. Lord, hear my prayer. Amen.

Author: Julie Hester

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].


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