In our Sunday morning services over Zoom, our minister includes about 30 seconds of silence, in which people can say the words of any prayer that’s most meaningful to them.
Many, I’m sure, repeat the traditional Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, Which Art in Heaven…”
Some might remember the Latin words: “Pater noster, qui es in caelis…”
Some, possibly, turn to a creed.
I suspect many just fall silent, because they don’t know what to say, or to whom.
Why don’t we all just say the Lord’s Prayer?
Because a few people – I’m one of them – have genuine difficulties with the all-knowing all-seeing old-man-in-the-sky image I used to accept unthinkingly.
I have no hesitation about the word “father.”
If God could be like my dad, I’d be delighted.
But I have trouble with God as the hyper-engineer who keeps everything running, who fixes things we can’t fix for ourselves, who feeds us sliced bread, and steers us out of temptation. That’s more like a fairy godmother. Or Superman.
Rather, over the years, I’ve become convinced, beyond any doubt, that God is not out there, somewhere, but right here. Right now.
As the Corrymeela website puts it, “God is for, with, and within us.”
So for that 30 seconds of silence, I turn to some of my favourite prayers, which are about the right length to fit the silence.
In case you’re ever in that same situation, here are three of them.
The first is a paraphrase of the traditional Lord’s Prayer from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, slightly modified:
Holy One, holy one-ness, in us and around us and beyond us,
Your wisdom come, your will be done, wherever you are found.
Give us each day sustenance and perseverance.
Remind us of our limits as we give grace to the limits of others.
Separate us from the temptations of power, and draw us into your community.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us, now and always. Amen.
The second comes from Father Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest who founded the Center for Contemplation and Action in Texas:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us.
May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings.
Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and each other’s joys.
Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world.
(Insert here any specific reference or concerns.)
Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking,
we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.
The third isn’t even a prayer, in any formal sense. It comes from a passage in Richard Wagamese’s book Embers:
I am the trees alive with singing.
I am the sky everywhere at once.
I am the snow and the wind bearing stories across geographies and generations.
I am light everywhere descending.
I am my heart evoking drum song.
I am my spirit rising.
I am my prayers and my meditation, and I am time fully captured in this now.
I am a traveller on a sacred journey through this one shining day.
Jim Taylor lives in Lake Country.