Thursday, May 6, 2010

On Prayer Dottie Mark

"Accept , O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for
us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty
of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving
care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and
for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to
acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of His
Word and the example of His life; for His steadfast obedience, by which
He overcame temptations; for His dying, through which He overcame death;
and for His rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of
your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make Him
known; and through Him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks
to you in all things. In Jesus name we pray, Amen"

When asked by Bob Randolph to give a short talk on my dreams for the future, I first wondered just what could I, the wife of an MIT professor, mother of 4 incredible young adult children and their spouses, Gram of 9 wonderful children, possibly have to say that could offer some words of hope. Here are my thoughts.

Roger and I live at Sidney-Pacific, a graduate residence for 700 students, half of whom are internationals. We have been involved in SPICE (Sidney-Pacific Inter Cultural Exchange) groups which meet over dinner to discuss such topics as their families’ origins, cultures, histories, religious beliefs and inter-cultural marriages to name a few. As I watch them talk and learn to listen to one another, I realize that my dreams and hopes for peace and justice, as well as overcoming poverty, illiteracy and racism, in this world can happen through these young people as they become leaders in their countries, in universities and large companies. How can this happen you might think? Well, my answer is through the mighty power of prayer.

So, why pray? Simple, Jesus prayed! Even as the Son of God, He prayed while He was on this earth. If the Son of God needed to pray, how much more do we stand in need of prayer?

Jesus began his ministry on earth with prayer. Before He chose His 12 disciples, He spent a whole night on a mountainside in prayer (Luke 6:10). Before raising Lazarus from the dead, He prayed (John 11:41-43). Jesus also gave thanks to God before blessing the five loaves and two fishes and feeding five thousand folks who had come to hear Him (Matthew 14:19).

We also have significant decisions to make in life, but do we pray about them? Having been a Christian since high school days, I remember praying about where to go to college, what to study, what job to take, whether to marry or not (and then I met Roger and knew the answer to that prayer!). When we had our children, I felt so strongly that we needed to pray about them from the moment of conception…and still we pray for them! In fact, prayer has been a vital part of my spiritual journey. I’m not sure how I could have raised our family, reached out to elderly parents and friends, without being under girded by the strength and wisdom one gets from prayer.

Stanley Hauerwas, professor at Duke Divinity School, opens all of his classes with prayer. In one he said, “Lord of all Wisdom, we thank you for your Word, Jesus Christ. Illumine our minds and bodies by that Word so that we might see every part of your creation as a reflection of your glory. In particular help us not to miss the small and contingent rocks, plants and animals in which children so delight. Make us like children so that we might enjoy the sheer giftedness of your creations. Amen.”

Where does one pray? One example that Jesus gave was to get alone to pray. It is in such undisturbed quietness that our souls will be ready to listen to God. Often He does not shout His messages to us but gently whispers them. Being alone and silent is often not enough .We need to spend time with God in talking to Him and reading His Word, the Bible.

Oswald Chambers, in his book, “My Utmost for His Highest,” says “If we think about prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly and our breathing continues ceaselessly, even if we’re not conscious of it, but it is always going on. We are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect union with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life. Beware of anything that stops spontaneous prayer. ‘Pray without ceasing’ (I Thessalonians 5:17), keep the childlike habits of spontaneous prayer in your heart to God at all times.” In other words, you can pray to God where ever you are, even while driving your car, sitting on the T or walking across campus. We should also remember to give thanks for each day, for food, shelter, and good health…, but most importantly, we must remember that nothing pleases God more than to see us pray for His will to be done (Matt 6:10).

Our lives should be such that we glorify God. Our work and our deeds should be aimed to glorify God. Therefore, when we pray, we should pray for that answer to prayer which will bring glory to God. Jesus knew that when he prayed alone in the garden of Gethsemane, just before He was crucified. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Oswald also said, “It is not so true that ‘prayer changes things’ as that prayer changes ME and I change things…prayer is not a question of altering things externally but of working wonders in a person’s disposition.”

Therefore, as I look to the future, at our MIT students and their potential for serving others and God, if they so choose, and at my family as they work to bring peace and justice to this troubled work, my prayer continues to be that their lives will bring glory to God in whatever they do and where ever they will be in this world.

Let us close by reading together the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, “Lord make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us show love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.” Amen

Dottie Mark
Sydney and Pacific