I was six when my mother taught me how to talk to Jesus about the things that were on my mind. Ever since, I’ve known that it’s important to do this every day.
Sometimes it’s easy, and I’m drawn by the simple joy of getting to know the Lord better through Scripture and meditation. Other times, it’s more challenging to be faithful to daily prayer.
But I often remember what a wonderful nun told me many years ago, when I was allowing phone calls and other distractions to interrupt my prayer. “Carolyn, unless you spend quiet time with the Lord, you’re not going to have anything of lasting value to give others you meet that day.”
Her advice has stayed with me over the years. As I’ve come to see, turning to God in daily prayer keeps me more attuned to the Holy Spirit the rest of the time. When I’m alert, Jesus sometimes surprises me with an unexpected opportunity to share him or to meet him in another person.
Mom’s Prayer. I felt the Spirit’s gentle nudge one morning, while on our annual family vacation in North Carolina. It came as a simple thought that I should put a copy of a prayer into my purse before running out to do errands.
I’d found the prayer among my mother’s papers. She had typed it on her typewriter some forty years ago, but it struck me as a timeless petition for healing and wholeness.
Lord, look upon me with the eyes of your mercy. May your healing hand rest upon me. May your life-giving powers flow into every cell of my body and into the depths of my soul, cleansing, purifying, and restoring me to wholeness and strength for service in your kingdom.
O God, you are the only source of health and healing, the Spirit of calm and the central peace of this universe. Grant me such a consciousness of your indwelling and surrounding presence that I may permit you to give me health and strength and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thinking the prayer might have had special meaning for my mother, I had a few copies laminated to give family and friends. That morning, I put one into my purse, then headed for the general store.
From Awful to Awed. I finished shopping and got in line to pay. When my turn came, I handed my items to the cashier and asked how she was doing. I had seen her before but didn’t really know her, so I was surprised when she leaned forward and confided, “Just awful.”
She talked about how depressed the local economy was getting and how it had affected her family. She didn’t have enough food, she said, so her children were having to eat some meals at her mother’s.
The woman was so distressed that I really wanted to pray with her, but the line behind me was getting longer. I wanted to give her some hope to hang onto—soon I’d be going home to Virginia and might never see her again. Just then I remembered the prayer. I pulled it out and handed it to her.
She glanced at it and got very excited. “Wow, this is just what I need! Would it be all right if I made a few copies? Because I have some friends who could use it also.”
“Of course,” I replied, touched and surprised at her enthusiasm. I was struck by how much the Lord loved this woman. It was to reach and help her that he had inspired me to put Mom’s prayer in my purse. I might have chosen something different, but he had known what would touch her heart.
He Really Cares! Last June, almost a year later, my husband and I returned to vacation in North Carolina. Right away, I went to the general store, but my cashier friend was nowhere in sight. While I was shopping, though, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and there she was, smiling from ear to ear.
“I hope you won’t be embarrassed,” she said, throwing her arms around me, “but I have to give you a big hug. Thank you for what you did for me! That prayer you gave me—I carry it everywhere and say it several times a day. It’s brought me so much closer to God. I’ve come to believe that he really cares for me and my family. He helped us so much.”
The two of us stood arm in arm in the aisle, thanking God for his love and faithfulness. “I also have new confidence that I can encourage others,” my friend continued. “And I’ve been doing that—by talking to people who have been going through tough times.”
This is what it’s all about, I thought. The Father wants to reconcile all things in Christ, and he calls each of us to help build up the body of Christ. He needs our hands, our feet, and our words to reach others, but it all begins when we give him our hearts.
There are days when I’m so wrapped up in my own concerns that the last thing I feel like doing is extending myself to one more person. But in my weakness, Christ is my strength. By spending quality time with him each day, I receive the grace to push through my self-centeredness. Then, trusting that he will work in and through me, I can bring his love and hope to others.
Carolyn Bassett and her husband, Frank, live in Annandale, Virginia.