Esther de Waal has written a book about The Celtic way of prayer. Two characteristics of the Celtic prayers stand out for me. 1. The physicality (earthiness, ‘full surround sound’, wholeness or completeness, immediacy) of the gospel is expressed in the prayers and songs. And 2. The theme of journey is frequently found, either a journey towards another town, another country, or a journey inwards to find God who dwells within us.
Are you sometimes tempted to ask God for healing for your body but you think you ought to be able to “get over” the anxiety on your own? Or that when you ask God for help, your prayer doesn’t “get through”—God is too far away. The Celtic way of prayer written by Esther de Waal describes the physicality and immediacy of the Gospel as expressed in prayers to the Holy Trinity, using the activities and objects in front of you as prompts to pray.
Three folds of the cloth, yet only one napkin is there,
Three joints in the finger, but still only one finger fair
Three leaves of the shamrock, yet no more than one shamrock to wear,
Frost, snowflakes and ice, all in water their origin share,
Three Persons in God alone we make prayer.
(as quoted by deWaal, 1997, The Celtic way of prayer).
Every event, every activity is an occasion for prayer. When you meet the new baby in your family:
The blessing of the Holy Three little love, be dower [inheritance] to thee,
Wisdom, Peace and Purity. (de Waal).
Many times a day, we are driven to the point of need and help. A prayer for healing and help reminds us of the specific activities of each person of the Trinity:
I send witness to the Father , Who formed all flesh:
I send witness to Christ, Who suffered scorn and pain;
I send witness to Spirit, Who will heal my wound
Who will make me as white As the cotton-grass of the moor.
[or the snow on the ground]. (de Waal).
Perhaps you could form some prayers of your own physical and timely reminders of God who is always present as Trinity?
How about when you get up in the morning and you splash your face with water three times: “in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, in the name of the Spirit—be present as I start my day”.
How about when making your way to work?
Head, hands, feet – Father, give me wisdom in my decisions, Jesus guide my hands as I do your work, Holy Spirit, give me your ears to hear and comfort to share as I listen to my client today.
Please share your prayers with me in an email. If we get a few prayers, I’ll share them via the Deacon’s corner or the community blog.
Next week I’ll talk about the Journey with the Holy Trinity.
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.