Tiistai 20.3.2018
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Blog: Prayer

in English 23.2.2018 06:41 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
I wonder why I am writing about something I know so little about and cannot do well?
”Dear Father, help me rely on the power of forgiveness, so that we would cherish with love the gift that you have given us.”
”Father, give me confidence and faith as I struggle with serious illness.”
”Father, let your light shine so brightly that my dear ones would understand the grace of repentance.”

– Father, you see into our hearts. Your will be done.

The requests for intercessory prayers at Summer Services touch me and make me pause. Intercessory prayers reveal the heart’s most painful hopes unto God. Hearing these requests, I forget my own sorrows or feel them even more poignantly. My own sighs and entreaties are easily joined to these collective petitions to God. Hymns and songs often express the earnest pleas and thanks as prayer song. I can sometimes feel that God Himself is present in prayer. 

Before one Christmas I was deeply touched by the request for intercessory prayer that was the only Christmas present one child was hoping for. He was hoping that his parents could reach a loving solution to their marital crisis. The prayer itself brought a piece of heaven down on earth and softened hearts. The prayer was also heard, and this Christmas present has been a cause of great joy and gratitude.

In prayer we turn to God. We do not need any special posture or words for prayer. We need not fear that God might misunderstand us. We can pray like we talk to a friend. Our prayer can be a sigh without words. We may be feeling our pain so strongly that we do not know what to do. We may not even know what we should ask for. We may not know what would be good for us. There is only the silence and the prayer. It is good to hold on to those two things, for prayer keeps us humble and keeps the road to the Father open for us.

In human relations forgiveness cleanses us of anger and offence, but afterwards we may need silent prayer to strengthen that which was broken. The other person may need time and space to grow. We may not find suitable words or deeds or be able to approach one another. We just have the silent petition and prayer to the heavenly Father that He would give us compassion and wisdom. This may require patient waiting, time to listen and search for God’s will and our neighbor’s mind. Sometimes the presence of a friend may bring to surface bitter memories, and we need some distance between us. Even then it is good to trust that God’s goodness shows us the right way.

I am not good at praying. I have been taught to pray by dear friends who have traveled by my side at sad and happy times. My prayers are truly sighs, quiet thanks or anguished supplications for God’s help. My grateful prayers may not have words but only tears. At a desperate moment, when a friend says she will carry me in prayers, I feel that my burden has been lifted and placed on stronger shoulders. This is more than any ordinary well-wishing, because all things are submitted to the will of the Heavenly Father.

I have also felt that temporal challenges bring me closer to God. When I find my own skills lacking, I must trust in capability greater than mine. Sometimes, when I have remained without words and understanding, I have quietly prayed and baked for my family or friend. Baking is a very small gesture, but I can use it to thank a friend for her friendship. My baking sometimes carries a prayer that we could one day discuss the matters that touched us both. But please, don’t misunderstand me – mostly I just bake because I have a sweet tooth.

It is easy to pray in the tranquility of nature. I once went on a hike on the Almendra Mountains with my husband. I had been longing for the refreshing peace of nature. Early in the morning, in a cold valley, the destructive feelings that I had been suppressing suddenly found release. I asked to be left alone for a while. I was cold and dried my tears with my gloved hands. My toes were freezing and it was difficult to walk. In the midst of many doubts, I felt I could not go on any more. I prayed. We came to a crossroads, wondering which way we should go. My mind was still numb, but we had to make a choice. Should we choose the easiest, shortest, and most familiar route or the most challenging unfamiliar one. We chose the unfamiliar route, which turned out to be partly unmarked terrain with no paths.

I no longer wanted to walk by myself and we continued together, without speaking. We began to feel the sun, and the trek up the steep mountainside made my leg muscles burn. When we came out of the valley and reached the treeless highland, my step became even heavier, but I felt I had left something behind. We stopped, looked at each other. We consoled and blessed one another. The sun was warm, and our song of praise rang out clear.  We hardly needed words, my prayer had been answered. The heaven was closer than ever before. I was reminded of David’s psalm: ”You establish the mountains by your power, robed with strength.” We did not find any signposts, but felt powerful trust and faith for the rest of our journey. In the golden light of the setting sun we reached our destination. Grateful. Our Father had heard our prayers.

The Heavenly Father’s care is our most precious gift. It is also important to humbly consider our motives and actions. God’s plans may sometimes be concealed in a simple word of advice by a dear one.

I do not pray that God would give me ready answers, but that He would keep my heart open to questions. That I would not stay where I am just because I have decided so. Or that I would not leave just because I want. I have prayed that God would show us the right questions that help us rely on His power, His will, and His protection. 

Even today it is good to feel that I am being carried in prayers. If only I would always hear in my heart the question “do you want to believe” and would want to answer “I do”.

Text: Henna Kinnunen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen

You will find the original Finnish blog post here.

Toim. Anna Illikainen, Katri Isopahkala ja Olli Lohi

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