Tag Archives: Prayer

Third station: Jesus falls the first time

Third station-Jesus falls the first time

Reflection

My Jesus, it seems to me that as God, you would have carried Your cross without faltering, but You did not. You fell beneath its weight to show me You understand when I fall. Is it pride that makes me want to shine even in pain? You were not ashamed to fall-to admit the cross was heavy. There are those in the world whom my pride will not tolerate as I expect everyone to be strong, yet I am weak. I am ashamed to admit failure in anything.

If the Father permits failure in my life just as He permitted You to fall, then I must know there is good in that failure which my mind will never comprehend. I must not concentrate on the eyes of others as they rest upon me in my falls. Rather, I must reach up to touch that invisible hand and drink in that invisible strength ever at my side.

Prayer

Weak Jesus, help all men who try so hard to be good but whose nature is constantly opposed to them walking straight and tall down the narrow road of life. Raise their heads to see the glory that is to come rather than the misery of the present moment. Your love for me gave You strength to rise from Your fall. Look upon all those whom the world considers unprofitable servants and give them courage to be more concerned as to how they stand before You, rather than their fellowmen.

Amen.

First station: Jesus is condemned to death

The way of the cross, in my understanding is retracing the steps Jesus went through before His Passion on the cross.

It’s a prayer that has helped strengthen my faith; so now I share with you the prayer by the Vincentian Congregation, that you too may find in it the enlightenment I derive from it.

Opening prayer

Mary, my Mother, you were the first to live the Way of the Cross. You felt every pain and every humiliation. You were unafraid of the ridicule heaped upon you by the crowds. Your eyes were ever on Jesus and His pain. Is that the secret of your miraculous strength? How did your loving heart bear such a burden and such a weight? As you watched Him stumble and fall, were you tortured by the memory of all the yesterdays-His birth, His hidden life and His ministry? You were so desirous of everyone loving Him.

What a heartache it was to see so many hate Him-hate with a diabolical fury. Take my hand as I make this Way of the Cross. Inspire me with thoughts that will make me realize how much He loves me. Give me light to apply each station to my daily life and to remember my neighbour’s needs in this Way of the Pain.

Obtain for me the grace to understand the mystery, the wisdom and the Divine love as I go from scene to scene. Grant that my heart, like yours, may be pierced through by the sight of His sorrow and the misery that I may determine never to offend Him again. What a price He paid to cover my sins, to open the gates of heaven for me and to fill my soul with His own Spirit. Sweet mother, let us travel this way together and grant that the love in my poor heart may give you some slight consolation.

Amen.

The first station- Jesus is condemned to death

1.    The first station: Jesus is condemned to death

Reflection

My Jesus, the world still has You on trial. It keeps asking who You are and why You make the demands You make. It asks over and over the question, if You are God’s Son, why do You permit the world to be in the state it is in? Why are You so silent?

Though the ignorance of the world angers me, I must admit that silently, in the depths of my soul, I too have these questions. Your humility frustrates me and makes me uncomfortable. Your strength before Pilate as You drank deeply from the power of the Father, gives me the answer to my question-The Father’s Will.

The Father permits many sufferings in my life but it is all for my good. If only I too could be silent in the face of worldly prudence, steadfast in the faith when all seems lost, calm when accused unjustly, free from tyranny of human respect, ready to do the Father’s will no matter how difficult.

Prayer

Silent Jesus, give us all the graces we need to stand tall in the face of the ridicule of the world. Give the poor the strength not to succumb to their privation but to be ever aware of their dignity as sons of God. Grant that we might not bend to the crippling disease of worldly glory but be willing to be deprived of all the things rather than lose your friendship. My Jesus, though we are accused daily of being fools, let the vision of quiet dignity standing before monstrous injustice, give us all the courage to be your followers,

Amen.

No one can be a slave of two masters

Why do we get anxious? Why do we worry? If you’re like me, chances are you worry because you anticipate things that haven’t happened yet. I realized I feel anxious about the future when the present is so good, I couldn’t ask for it to be better. That got me wondering, what if I just enjoyed the present and let the future take care of its own stresses? You know, take one day at a time?

When I walked into church this past Sunday, I prayed that I would learn something important; something that would guide me throughout the week. Coincidentally, the readings addressed matters anxiety:

“No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. This is why I tell you; do not be worried about the food and drink you need in order to stay alive, or about clothes for your body. After all, isn’t life more worth than food? And isn’t the body worth more than clothes? Look at the birds; they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than the birds? Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?

And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow; they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even king Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. It is God who clothes the wild grass-grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won’t He be all the more sure to clothe you?

What little faith you have!

So do not start worrying: “Where will my food come from? Or my drink? (These are all the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned about everything else with the kingdom of God. And with what He requires of you, and He will provide you with all these other things.

So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.” (Matthew 6: 24-34).

I have read this verses so many times before, but hearing the words again reminded me why worrying is really useless. Worrying won’t help alleviate whatever problems one is going through; it just weakens a person and takes their joy away. It magnifies small matters, making them seem unsolvable. So what’s the point of worrying? I have said this in previous posts, but I reiterate; one can only choose to believe in God or let fear and worry consume them. It’s impossible to serve two masters.

And the thing with anxiety is that once someone starts worrying about something, it becomes a vicious cycle; a cycle that paves way for darkness; a path that leads one into depression. When one gets used to worrying, they will always have something to worry about everyday; because that’s what fear does. It brings to focus things that on a normal day would just pass unnoticed. And it’s those small things that steal our joy away.

dark path

Do you choose to believe that tomorrow will take care of its worries? Or will you be anxious about tomorrow and let happiness seep right through your fingers today? It’s a choice one has to make. What master will I serve? That’s the question.

Beginning of Lent

Yesterday, 5th March was Ash Wednesday. It was the first day of the forty days’ Lenten fast preceding Easter. The ash used is made from burning Palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. It’s then blessed by the priest, who then puts it on people’s foreheads in the form of a sign of the cross. The ash serves as a reminder that human beings came from dust and to dust we shall return.

ash wednesday

Additionally, in the early days before soap was discovered, ash was used for cleaning. In this case therefore, the ash also symbolizes cleansing. In ancient times, the use of ash was an outer manifestation of mourning and repentance. In Job 42:6, after realizing his mistakes about questioning the will of God Job said, “So I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes.” Ash therefore shows that a sombre mood characterises the Lenten season; purple vestments are used by priests.

The three pillars of lent are fasting, reflection/penance and alms giving. It’s a period where people are called to reflect on their relationship with God. Sin separates us from God; it’s precisely for this reason that the need for repentance is greatly emphasized. It’s also a season of self-denial. People are encouraged to give up the things that pull them away from the grace of God; things they feel weaken their faith as Christians. If, for instance, anger makes you do things you regret later, give up on the anger.

The faithful are also encouraged to sacrifice the things they love. Basically this is a time of repentance; therefore we should deny ourselves those things that afford us pleasure in life. Whatever one chooses to sacrifice, they are asked to give it to the needy.

The forty days’ fast is an imitation of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, where He was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4: 1-11), immediately after His baptism. He went there to prepare Himself for the great mission He was about to embark on. During this Lenten season, we are reminded of our mortality, so we can realize the need to reflect on the relationship we have with God and repent our sins before it’s too late.

We are reminded not to put too much attention on bodily things; on material things, because they all shall pass. We’re reminded not to attach so much importance to physical things, because it’s the soul that matters. It’s the soul that carries on with the eternal journey when this life is no more.

Even though I write so much on Christianity and spirituality, I am not oblivious to the fact that not all my readers are Christians. But I hope this post inspires everyone who reads it somehow. I don’t ask that everyone converts to Christianity, but I hope that each one reflects on the lives they lead; one doesn’t need to be a Christian to help the needy, and neither does one need to be a Christian to aspire to be a better person.

Humans are synonymous with sin; our nature predisposes us to imperfections. This period is simply a time to reflect, atone for our wrongs and help those in need. One doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christian to do that.

Lord, protect me from my friends

“Lord, protect me from my friends, because I know who my enemies are.”

This is a prayer I see people post a lot on social media. It makes so much sense. We all know who our enemies are, but with all the beautiful masks our ‘friends’ hide behind, it becomes difficult to tell the real friends from the fake ones; most of the people we regard as friends are just wolves masquerading as sheep (pardon me for the expression; I just thought it perfectly describes frenemies).

Naturally, friends come in different sizes and colours; it just becomes difficult to tell who’s real and who’s not. Some friends will only stick around when everything’s okay, but the instant things start going downhill, they start vanishing one by one, as if by magic. At the end of the day one finds themselves alone, without a shoulder to lean on.

It’s during these low moments in our lives that we get to really know who our real friends are…that’s what I used to think, until I realized there’s another bunch of friends, who delight at other people’s woes. They seem helpful when one is going through that dark phase. If one is hungry, they’ll be more than happy to offer them food. We love them more, because they stood by us when everything had gone awry, when everyone else ditched us.

Again, it becomes difficult to tell the fake from the real friends, because some of these friends who stay with us during the storm disappear as soon as it abates. I never understood it as a child; I thought everyone who sticks around during tough times automatically passes the true friend test. It’s only now, when I’m all grown that it’s all starting to look different from what I’d perceived earlier.

Apparently, not all friends delight at one’s success; it sounds somewhat evil when I say it, but it’s as true as the sky is blue. These are those friends who only like it when they are helping with temporary things, but hate it when someone finds a long term solution to their problem. They’ll be so quick to let one hitch a ride with them, but when one buys their own car they vanish, and when one bumps into them occasionally on the streets they’ll be in a foul mood, even though they try to hide it behind a plastic smile.

They just like to see someone dependent on them; I guess knowing someone is entirely at their mercy gives them some false feeling of power…so they know if they want to hurt/frustrate you they’ll just withhold the aid.

Then there are those friends who act all sweet and loving in one’s presence, but the minute they get out of one’s sight they spread all kinds of malicious gossip. They will snatch one’s boyfriend; go behind them so one loses that promotion at work.

The worst thing about these fake friends- frenemies if you rather- is that we allow them into our inner circles, so they know us inside out; they know our Achilles’ heels, so it becomes easy for them to carry out whatever evil schemes they have up their sleeves.

As a kid, I was really trusting; I thought people who were good to me were my friends, but in these few years I’ve lived, relatively speaking, I’ve gotten my fair share of fake friends, who’ve turned me into a real skeptic. I’ve learned to be wary. I know they could show their fangs anytime.So even though I smile at them, at the back of my head I know I should be on my guard.

When it comes to the business of making friends, I know not everyone who smiles at me is my friend, and not everyone who scowls at me is my enemy; it could just be because they’re offended by something I did. I know that sometimes the people we consider our closest friends could be our greatest enemies. It’s just that time reveals them when the damage has been done, unfortunately.

fake friends

Take it to the Lord in prayer

When you feel like things are seriously going out of hand, just look heavenwards; God has the solution to all your problems. Of the things I’m quite familiar with, anxiety probably tops the list because it’s there when I’m asleep, in my dreams (some of them), it walks with me everywhere I go…anxiety is like my shadow. When I’m making decisions I feel anxious thoughts creeping up on me…I just find it unnerving. However with my anxiety came a good thing; it made me so aware of God’s presence, in my life, in the air around me…He’s everywhere.

So while anxiety torments me dreadfully, I find comfort in God. Recently, this song came to mind; mom was going through some difficult moment at work and when I saw how troubled she seemed, I realized I couldn’t help her personally, but from experience I knew God would; so I told her to take it all to the Lord in prayer. Those words reminded me of the ‘What a friend we have in Jesus song, and as I sang it I pondered on each word; I found it immensely comforting.

What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear,

What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer,

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry,

Everything to God in prayer.

When I read those lyrics, word for word, I saw many people; myself included; people who worry through their troubles instead of taking everything to God in prayer. We forfeit peace when we worry, because worrying leads to more worrying. We bear needless pain, because sometimes, caught up in the situation, it just doesn’t occur to us that God is there to help us; that each one of us has the privilege to take his/her worries to Him in prayer.

To most of us, worrying comes almost naturally. Take me for instance; when there’s something going on in my life, the first thing that happens is worrying. ‘What will happen now? What if…’ it’s in the midst of worrying that I remind myself to call on God.

I realized there are so many people struggling with anxiety. If I say I found something that keeps my anxiety in check, one would expect it would be some medical relief; I tried that at some point but the thing with such medication is that when it runs out one finds themselves in the same old place; worrying incessantly.

I needed a long term relief.

From experience, I’ve learned that the best way to deal with anxiety is to seek God’s help; trust that He will come through for you. It also helps to take part in things that make one happy; it’s only by embracing happiness that we can be in that perfect state of mind to know what God really wants us to do; what’s really right. During anxious moments, very little seems to put one at ease; that’s why it’s imperative for one to hold on to that thing, however small, that makes them happy…and above all, to trust in God.

take it to the Lord in prayer

 

I got nothing I asked for

I asked God for strength, that I may achieve;

I was made weak, that I may learn to humbly obey.

I asked for health, that I may do great things;

I was given infirmity, that I may do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy;

I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I may have the praise of man;

I was given weakness that I may feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;

I was given life, that I may enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything that I hoped for.

Almost despite myself, my unspoken

prayers were answered.

I am among all men, most richly blessed.

(This is the Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier).

Many people get discouraged when they spend hours praying, only to end up feeling like God didn’t grant them their wishes. The words above voice the thoughts of many, only that in our finite thinking, we only think, ‘I asked for… but I was given…’ We fail to see the importance of what we have.

You may be feeling burdened right now, but everytime you will yourself to pray you feel like there would be no point of praying because you still won’t get what you pray for. Don’t be discouraged.

For the longest time now, I’ve been praying, asking God to take my anxiety away. It makes my life feel difficult. In a previous post, I’ve talked about how I suffered from an incessant headache for close to two years. Every day I woke up, I would ask God to take the pain away, but it’s only after a relatively long time that it stopped. I would go to bed, hoping the pain would be gone the next day, but that was difficult because I couldn’t even sleep. I stayed up all night, watching the minutes tick away.

My mom watched helplessly as I cried, unable to bear the pain. I had already been to hospital, but I was still in pain. The medicine wasn’t doing me much good, not because it wasn’t effective, but because I couldn’t stop myself from worrying; there were unbearable thoughts running through my head that I couldn’t quite contain.

The cure had to come from within.

One night, my big sister came and sat on my bed. Her eyes were awash with concern, but her voice was harsh. “Is this how you want to spend each day for the rest of your life? You have to fight it.”  

Her words gave me a lot to think about. That wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. In her tough love, I found my strength. I willed myself to stop worrying; to push the anxious thoughts out of my head. The pain didn’t go away immediately, but eventually it did. The anxiety, which caused the incessant headache in the first place, didn’t go away, but with God’s help, I found the strength to manage it. Occasionally I do fall into bouts of depression but as I said, anxiety is something I struggle with.

Lately I’m trying to look at things through the eyes of faith; it’s the only way even the bizarre can make perfect sense. So now I don’t ask God to take the anxiety away, because I would love to believe He lets me struggle with it for a reason. Instead I ask Him to help me deal with it in a way that pleases Him.

 embracing challenges

When tragedy strikes

Lord, when tragedy strikes, people ask, “Why me?” “Why us?”  It’s hard for them to comprehend how something so unfathomable could happen. Grief prevents us from seeing things clearly; everything revolves around the pain. The pain of losing a loved one feels unbearable; the psychological trauma one suffers makes the ensuing days feel hellish; it makes the future feel bleak.

Lord, in your loving arms I lay everyone who is going through a trying moment; anyone who has been directly or indirectly affected by whatever tragedy, man-made/natural. I pray that Lord, you may open their eyes and hearts to faith; so that they may understand that all that happens, happens only because You will it that way; that they may understand, nothing happens without Your consent, that even though we may be greatly weighed down by life’s sorrows, we may understand, that it all happens for a reason.

It’s only by looking at things through the eyes of faith that we can reconcile ourselves to all that happens around us. Cushion the hearts of those who are suffering from the crippling pain Lord. Console them. You didn’t promise that life would be perfect; that there would be no pain; that there would be no death. But you did promise to always be there; to guide us through it all.

Have mercy on Your people Lord, in Your Holy name I pray, Amen.

Please take a listen to the song-The Promise, by the Martins- below; I find it uplifting when I’m going through some difficult moment. May Our Heavenly Father heal all those who are hurting.

 

 

Walk with me

Walk with me

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know my steps won’t falter.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll make the right choices.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll get to my destination safe.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll finally get to spend forever by your side.

Anxiety could be exhausting; it is actually exhausting. I wake up one morning, I’m doing something I feel is right, then the next day I’m not sure it’s right. Currently I’m in a phase where I feel the choices I make now will impact my future greatly; I’m at a crossroads, trying to decide what I should give first priority between my career that I’ve always dreamed about, and my hobby that I’m seriously in love with. I’ve been in this phase for a while now.

I realize it’s possible for me to actually do both eventually but for the moment I need to do one at a time. It’s difficult trying to choose between two things I love; plus there’s the other concern, if what I want to do is aligned with God’s will. It doesn’t feel like a good place to be at; the uncertainty is just overwhelming.

When I was saying my morning prayers today, the prayer (in italics) came to mind, and as I said it, I felt a calming wave engulf me. I share it with you because I know there are so many sailing in the same boat as I; it could be frustrating trying to make choices, but I do believe if we let God guide us, if He walks with us, leading us by the hand, we will make it through.

Why God will say “NO”

God says no

The first post I ever posted on this blog was how to pray. It wasn’t a ‘mistake’ that I chose to give a guideline on how to conduct personal prayers when clearly my blog is all about memoirs and personal opinions (the way I see it). It is something I did, to honour the presence of God in my life, because my life-who I am-revolves around Him. My thoughts; the essence of who I am is based on my faith. So when all’s said and done, everything comes down to my relationship with God.

In ‘how to pray’, I mentioned that one shouldn’t expect immediate results as that could dampen one’s faith if a prayer isn’t answered immediately. One crucial fact a person should always have in mind is that God’s answer to our prayers could be YES, WAIT or NO.

In Luke 11: 1-4, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray- The Our Father Prayer. It is basically a prayer that’s short and precise. Then Jesus went ahead to tell them how they should be persistent in their prayer; in Luke 11:5-13 He says to them, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say to him, ‘friend let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house and I don’t have food for him!’

And I suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me!’ The door is already locked and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.

And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and he who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks.

Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Jesus teaches us to pray with persistence and with hope. Our prayers will be answered; that’s His promise. One would wonder then, why even after all this-Jesus encouraging people to ask, and they shall receive… would God the Father still deny us some of the things we ask for? Why would God say NO?

God is infinitely wise; He’s omniscient; if He knows whatever one is asking for will bring them harm, He will say NO. He loves us too much to give us things He knows would hurt us.

If one is asking for a problem e.g. an illness, anxiety, financial problems, etc. to be taken away and God knows that in His mysterious ways the particular problem will help one achieve salvation. For instance, in Matthew 26: 39 when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane praying, shortly before He was arrested He threw Himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what You want”.

He was asking God not to allow Him to go through the intense pain and torture He knew awaited Him-it had been written in the scriptures. But even though He is God’s only begotten Son, The Father didn’t grant Him that prayer; because He knew His Son would achieve so much more in death. To date, we celebrate the fact He conquered death; it gives us hope. If He didn’t die, we would be telling an entirely different story.

God will say NO, if one isn’t doing much to make the situation better. If a student is praying for success in their examinations, they should revise; if a farmer is praying for an abundant harvest, he must sow…one should give God something to work with. Our faith must be in sync with our actions.

God will say NO, if one isn’t being persistent in prayer. Jesus teaches us to pray without ceasing; the prayer might not be answered instantly, but eventually it will be. If one wants something, they should pray for it in faith, believing that they will find what they seek. Sometimes it is difficult to hold on, but one should keep the faith. In the bible, the story of Isaac’s birth, Samuel’s birth, Jacob’s marriage to Rachel… this stories are all about faith and persistence…