Archives

PRAYER: How and Why Short Prayers Pierce Heaven, from The Cloud of Unknowing

Why does this little prayer of one syllable (such as, “Lord!” or “Father!” or “Jesus!”) pierce the heavens?  Surely because it is offered with a full spirit, in the height and the depth, in the length and the breadth of the spirit of him who prays.

In the height: that is with the full might of the spirit; in the depth: for in this little syllable all the faculties of the spirit are contained; in the length: because if it could always be experienced as it is in that moment, it would cry as it does then; in the breadth: because it desires for all others all that it desires for itself.

It is in this moment that the soul comprehends with all the saints what is the length and the breadth, the height and the depth of the everlasting, all-loving, almighty and all-wise God, as Saint Paul teaches; not fully, but in some way and to some degree, as is proper to this work.

The eternity of God is his length; his love is his breadth; his power is his height, and his wisdom is his depth.  No wonder, then, that the soul which is so nearly conformed by grace to the image and likeness of God his maker is immediately heard by God.

Yes, and even if it were a very sinful soul, one which is, as it were, God’s enemy as long as it should come, through grace, to cry out with such a little syllable from the height and the depth, the length and the breadth of it spirit, it would always be heard and helped by God in the very vehemence of its shriek.

PRAYER: The Golden Arrow Prayer

The golden arrow prayer differs from the ones I just posted in a number of ways.  First, it is not a prayer sent to God; instead, it is a prayer that was given by Jesus to a French Carmelite nun by the name of Sister Marie of Saint Peter and of the Holy Family.  It is described by the church as a prayer of reparation for blasphemy, and for the profanation of Sunday and of Holy Days of Obligation.

That’s official.

In addition to this turn around of archers, the golden arrow prayer, which has a more dignified title: The Golden Arrow Holy Face Devotion, the prayer is not as short and sweet as others we have seen.  It is a multi-lined, poem-styled prayer that, instead of seeming to be a spontaneous expression of the heart, is a devotion to be read off a sheet of paper.

Here it is:

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable,
most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God
be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored
and glorified in Heaven, on Earth,
and under the earth,
by all the creatures of God,
and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Amen.

For those taken by this prayer, there is a You Tube video of it being recited, to the usual accompaniment.

PRAYER: The Short and the Sweet — Arrow Prayers

Arrow prayers are, essentially, one-line (or two) prayers said in the moment.  They are characterized as very heartfelt and sincere petitions that sum up the problem nicely.  The term, arrow prayer, was coined by Augustine to describe an early Coptic form of monastic prayer.

Since the arrow is mentioned, I will describe these prayers as going to the heart of the matter in a most swift and efficient manner.

What do you think?

One of these days I want to set aside some time to sit down and come with some of my own.  But, perhaps, setting some time aside to sit down and create these would be defeating the purpose — they are supposed to be spontaneous, and instant in their creation, after all.

Oh well.

Here are some examples:

O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day; if I forget you, do not forget me: for Christ’s sake. – Jacob Astley, before the battle of Edge Hill in 1642

O Lord, baptize our hearts into a sense of the conditions and needs of all people. – George Fox

O God, help us not to despise what we do not understand. – William Penn

Make us remember, O God, that every day is your gift, to be used according to your command. – Samuel Johnson

Those things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us thy grace to labor for. – Thomas More

Teach us to pray often, that we may pray oftener. – Jeremy Taylor

Thy will be done, though in my own undoing. – Thomas Browne

And so I sometimes think our prayers
Might well be merged in one;
And nest and perch and hearth and church
Repeat, “Thy will be done.” – Thomas Browne

My God, I love you. – Deathbed words of Therese of Lisieux

O Lord, let us not live to be useless, for Christ’s sake. Amen. – John Wesley

Pardon, O gracious Jesus, what we have been; with your holy discipline correct what we are. Order by your providence what we shall be; and, in the end, crown your own gifts. Amen. – John Wesley

O God who made this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive your saints? How long, O Lord, how long? – George Bernard Shaw

O Lord, I do not pray for tasks equal to my strength: I ask for strength equal to my tasks. – Phillips Brooks (author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)

O Lord, deliver us from the need to build ourselves up by cutting others down. – Ernest T. Campbell

From silly devotions
and from sour-faced saints,
good lord, deliver us. – Teresa of Avila

Keep us, Lord, so awake in the duties of our callings that we may sleep in your peace and wake in your glory. – John Donne

O Lord Jesus Christ, save us from the error of wishing to admire you instead of being willing to follow you and to resemble you. – Soren Kiekegaard

Especially we pray to make Christianity more Christian. – Harry Emerson Fosdick

Lord, take, take my lips and speak through them. Take my mind and think through it, take my heart and set it on fire for love of you. – W. H. Aitken

Holy Spirit
think through me
till your ideas
are my ideas. – Amy Carmichael