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Praying on an Off Day

News St Martin – Talking Points

We’re called to worship God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. I interpret that as saying we pray not just with our heads and in words but with our bodies and our feelings and our energies.

Sometimes I sit in church early in the morning and my mind is blank because I was up too late or my heart is heavy because there’s a conversation I’m dreading. Sometimes I sit on the Tube or on a bus and it’s so crowded I can’t think or so hot I can’t relax.

At those times I pray in the simplest way. I hold my thumb, closest to me, and simply name two or three things that are in my heart, and put those on the altar for God to deal with. Then I move to my pointy finger, and name one or two things that aren’t about me, but seem really urgent today. Then I move to the tall finger, and ask God to bless those whose decisions and influence affect millions of people. Then the ring finger, and for a moment I cherish before God the people I deeply love, without whom my life would be unrecognisable. Then the little finger, where I hand to God any who have no hope, no friends, no joy, no love.

Then I clench my fist and try to name the things where I’ve got so angry, or selfish, or impatient, small minded, or greedy, that I’ve forgotten that it all belongs to God and it’s not mine to ruin. And as I open my hand out again I try to accept God’s forgiveness and offer of a new beginning.

Then I look at my open palm. I feel gratitude for the gifts and blessings of God, others, and creation, and I recall the nail marks in Jesus’ palms. Finally I look at my two hands, and realise these are the hands of the Holy Spirit, and it’s time to get to work.

Revd Dr Sam Wells