Thank you to Kelli Ann Wilson for submitting this guest post to our series on Family Prayer. Kelli Ann lives in Walpole, NH with her husband Damian and their two children. She works as a writer, and in her free time enjoys reading, gardening, and photography. Kelli blogs at OurCommonHours.com, and shares her family’s faith journey through the seasons and the Christian year at AroundtheYear.org.
My dad has always been great at off-the-cuff prayers. No matter what the occasion—Easter dinner or just a family meal—he can pull together a prayer on the spot that is both authentic and meaningful. I am not blessed with my dad’s talent for spontaneous prayer, but I can still offer up words of praise or petitions for intercession, thanks to the Book of Common Prayer.
It may seem like a non-sequitur to link my inability to pray with the prayer book, but I assure you that the “Prayers and Thanksgivings” section of the BCP has saved me from myself many, many times. Sometimes it feels like the authors were anticipating my very own self when they compiled this part of the BCP, though most likely they were simply envisioning persons who longed to offer up the words of their hearts but somehow found themselves tongue-tied at just the wrong moment. Either way, the BCP’s beautifully composed prayers, for just about every occasion imaginable, have sustained me in moments of both joy and sadness.
This past winter, my family spent weeks fighting a seemingly endless stream of terrible viruses. Around the time that my husband and son were on their second round of antibiotics in almost as many weeks, I decided that it was time to get God involved. Furiously digging through my basket of liturgical bits and bobs, I eventually produced a candle blessed at last year’s Candlemas service. Taking up my prayer book and my blessed candle, I traveled from room to room, visiting with each convalescing family member to say a prayer over them.
I chose the prayer “For Recovery from Sickness” for my husband, while my children received “For a Sick Child.” Even the resident skeptics in the family seemed lifted by the warming light of the candle and the comforting words of the prayers. I’m happy to report that everyone made a full recovery, with a marked improvement seen in the hours after the prayers were said.
As a mother, I do a lot of praying on behalf of the people that I love. But, sometimes I also pray for myself. One of my favorite prayers in the BCP is “For Quiet Confidence” (isn’t that a lovely phrase?): “O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God…”. Sometimes we just need a little reassurance that we are capable of meeting whatever the day will bring; that we can be still, yet confident, in the presence of God.
It’s hard to remember sometimes that God is with us, especially when the distress of the world presses in from all sides. Perhaps this is especially true in the Information Age—sometimes it seems impossible to escape the slings and arrows of our overheated political climate. When I am feeling particularly overwhelmed, I like to pray “For Joy in God’s Creation” to remind myself that God’s goodness is in all of us, no matter where we stand on the many issues facing the world today: “O Heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works…”.
Yes, God has filled our world with beauty, including the beauty of our spoken language, which we use to express our gratitude, our despair, our longing, and our love. If you have the gift of verbal fluency, more power to you! If, like me, you find yourself full of feeling but struggling to give voice to it, perhaps you will discover just the words you seek in the Book of Common Prayer.