Praying for Acceptance

I’ve read that one of the purposes of prayer is to open ourselves so that God can change us.  The prayer of acceptance is one way to embrace this.  We cannot always know what is God’s will.  We can ask for change within the pattern of His will.  And we can ask for acceptance of His will.
This is very like the old prayer which runs:

God, grant me the courage to change what I can,
The serenity to accept what I cannot,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I pray for acceptance within my own heart, but I also pray for it in the hearts of people I do NeedlePrayer pieces for.  Especially, I pray that we not be trapped in bitterness.  I pray that our hearts remain open to healing and comfort.  I pray for a spirit of acceptance and growth and not blame and hatred.  And then I try to open my heart to what is possible and the road forward.

We know that God is not like a genie that will grant our wishes.  We know that His way is not our way.  And sometimes the only path is acceptance.
Morning Prayers by dtcchc
Morning Prayers, a photo by dtcchc on Flickr.

Praying for Family

While watching out for people to do NeedlePrayer for, I found I can’t ignore the situations among my family and friends which are suitable for prayer and service.  I hope this doesn’t seem selfish or like it’s not an appropriate ministry activity.

I find that praying for family is different in a number of ways from praying for strangers.  For example, it’s harder to pray “Thy will be done.”  I have clear ideas about what I want to happen, and that colors the prayer.  So I need to pray more “show me how to minister to them.”

I’m currently working on a piece for a caregiver in my family.  She looks after her husband who has dementia, and does a lot of care for her grand-daughter.  Until quite recently she was also caring for her elderly parents, who are now passed.  And she does it all with love, care, invincible cheerfulness.  She must make complex and important decisions.  This is the design I made for her:

Tulips Design by Carmen CS
Tulips Design, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

She picked the quote.  I picked the tulips, which are her favourite flower.  The butterfly is for rebirth and freedom.

I find after I finish a NeedlePrayer session devoted to her, that night I often need to pray for myself and my relationship with them.   I need to pray for my acceptance of the situation.  I think if I didn’t do this afterwards I wouldn’t be able to continue praying mostly for her during my NeedlePrayer time.

My grace is sufficient…

 

I have had a very stressful couple of weeks.  I kept putting my concerns down at His feet, and finding a little later that they were back on my shoulders.

When I tried to work on my prayer pieces, I just couldn’t concentrate on my prayer.  So I’d put the work down until I could “do it properly”.

After several days of this I decided that wasn’t the answer.  I decided to work on the pieces anyway.  And I realized some things.

I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist.  I like things done well, but they don’t have to be perfect.  How good is good enough?  It depends on what the purpose is.  But shouldn’t a prayer offering, a reaching out to my brothers and sisters, and to God, be as nearly perfect as possible?  I think the answer is yes, as long as I remember the “as possible.”  And as long as I remember that it’s better to do something than to do nothing.

This doesn’t mean that I should just be blowing through the handwork with just a lick and a promise to the prayer.  But I think it does mean that if I really am trying to lift up someone in prayer, that intentionality, the love and concern in my heart, are enough.  God’s grace for me and for them is what truly makes the difference.

Lumen Christi by Eustaquio Santimano
Lumen Christi, a photo by Eustaquio Santimano on Flickr.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Listening to Online Sermons

Another great thing to do while engaged in NeedlePrayer is listen to sermons or inspirational lectures. My church makes sermons available online, and I know of many others that do the same. Check out this link:

Hilltown Baptist Church – www.hilltownbaptist.org

 

Some of my favorite Online Sermons are on the Ray Stedman website:

RayStedman.org | authentic Christianity

 

If you know of more great online sermons, please share them here!

Be faithful in prayer…

This week, as I was working on the Valley of Shadow piece, I kept finding my praying interrupted by thoughts of “I’ve already prayed all of this.  I can’t think of anything more to pray!” and feelings of frustration and despair.

Painting Assistant by Carmen CS
Painting Assistant, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

I sought advice from my beloved sister in Christ Rheba.  She reminded me that it is OK to pray the same prayer over and over.  I realized that is what prayer should be – not a fleeting thought but a dedicated repetition, a focussing of the spirit on the goal, whether that be celebration of God, thanksgiving for blessings, or requests.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Rom. 12:12

A Great Audiobook for NeedlePrayer

I love listening to uplifting music or audiobooks while doing NeedlePrayer.  Well-chosen listening helps me focus, and can even bring to my attention prayer requests I have lost track of.

Of the audiobooks I use, far and away the best so far is “The Lord is My Shepherd – the Healing Wisdom of the 23rd Psalm” by Harold S. Kushner.  It addresses issues that must come to a thinking person’s mind in the face of tragedy, with a God-centered approach which is truly comforting while not icing over the pain.  I often send a copy of the book as well when I deliver a finished piece.  If you haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it enough.

 

41EIxvLs3rL._SL175_ by Carmen CSThe Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm Audiobook | Harold Kushner | Audible.com.

Do any of you know of other audiobooks I might like?

Serving without Intruding

Once I decided to make a piece for someone I had never met, investing in them time, creativity, and prayer, I had to decide how much I wanted to intrude into their life.  My first thought was to stay totally apart from them, to send the finished piece totally anonymously.  It was to be a gift from God, without a person attached.

But wiser heads told me to include my name, that it would make the gift more real somehow.  I hope I have been able to steer a steady course in my NeedlePrayer ministry between intrusion and service.

Emilee Sunrise 12x12 f by Carmen CS
Emilee Sunrise 12×12 f, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

This is another piece I made for the young lady with cancer.  Because I had shared who I was, I was able to ask her what kind of design she would like stitched during her major surgery.  She asked for a beach sunrise; I know she enjoyed this finished design!