Benefice of Holy Innocents, Great Barton and St Peter's, Thurston

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Say a Little Prayer for me

1 October 2018

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images9To pray or not to pray – the difference it can make to go on the Prayer List

The moment I wake up
 Before I put on my makeup
 I say a little prayer for you
 While combing my hair, now
 And wondering what dress to wear, now I say a little prayer for you
 Forever, forever, you'll stay in my heart (For God loves you )...

I run for the bus, dear
 While riding I think of us, dear
 I say a little prayer for you
 At work I just take time
 And all through my coffee break-time
 I say a little prayer for you.
 Forever, forever, you’ll stay in my heart (for God loves you)...

Recognise the lyrics? I’ve taken a bit of a liberty with them! Yes, it’s ‘I say a little prayer for you’, sung by, among others, the 60s soul singer Aretha Franklin. Aretha died recently of pancreatic cancer but her musical legacy will live on.

There’s a lot of talk about the power of prayer. Most people, even those without a declared faith, like the idea, but many aren’t altogether convinced about what it’s supposed to do, or whether it works. After all, it’s not as if you can look up prayer in scientific papers and discover evidence which, beyond all reasonable doubt, proves its efficacy. So what is it about prayer that maintains our curiosity and keeps us trying to ‘do’ it, or being grateful for others who ‘do’ it on our behalf?

Well, perhaps this will help... Not often one to make a fuss, I was diagnosed with an eye condition earlier this year. The doctor told me I required a corneal transplant. Initially, I felt quite sanguine about it all. Sadly, that feeling didn’t last long! As failed transplant attempts came and went, I eventually ran out of emotional energy and asked the vicar if I could go on the church’s prayer list.

What happened? Well, I’m just about to get a new pair of glasses now that my eye has recovered from surgery.

Do I believe that God healed it? Frankly, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that allowing myself to be loved by others during the waiting made a vast amount of difference.

The support, understanding and empathy I received buoyed up my capacity to be patient and to trust that, whatever transpired, I’d be able to cope.

Yes, I had to field the odd question. ‘How’s your eye?’ ‘How are you feeling?’ But it was worth it because these questions kept me focussed on the power of God’s love to hold me in a safe place. The most helpful question I was asked was ‘How are you today?’ Faced with a long period of uncertainty about the future or some chronic condition that just goes on and on, it can be exhausting giving constant updates. Simply to be asked how you are today is so much easier to answer.

Looking back, if I’m truthful, I hadn’t fully appreciated just how genuinely concerned people were for my wellbeing. Nor had I fully understood just how valuable the prayers of others would be. Now, you may think that strange. After all, I’ve been an ordained as a priest for over 20 years during which time I’ve prayed endlessly for others’ healing.

But here’s the thing... I’m no different from anyone else. I have the same doubts, fears and anxieties about life. All I did, by asking for the prayers of others, was to acknowledge that we all need to be unconditionally loved and supported, especially when life gets hard.

So thank you to all who prayed a little prayer for me before they combed their hair or while sitting on the bus on their way to Bury or who remembered me as they drank their mid-morning coffee. You made a difference to my life.

‘Ask,’ says God, ‘and it shall be given unto you.’ Amen to that!
Rev’d Joy