Advent Reading, Advent Prayer
By Dorene Kilburn, Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. —Philippians 4:9 NRSV
A highlight of my spiritual experiences during the year is the opportunity to share in an online book discussion offered by the Henri Nouwen Society affiliated with the University of Toronto. This takes place during the four weeks of Advent and again during the six weeks of Lent and focuses on one of Nouwen’s books. The comments come from people of faith around the globe. They speak from their hearts, sharing insights from personal inner pain.
In the recent discussion, the comments of “Janine” drew me in. Doctors had just diagnosed her husband with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). She wrote of her concern for the uncertain journey ahead. Without hesitation, I added my comment that I had experienced this AD journey with my husband. I assured her God would be with her, and I would be praying for her.
As I thought about what I had committed to, I realized this was a classic example of intercessory prayer. I’ve always thought my prayer life was inadequate, not up to par, but here I was offering to pray for someone I would never meet, someone who might live half a world away.
I turned to Richard J. Foster’s book Prayer (Harper Collins, 2002) and found assurance in his writing. “Our ministry of intercession is possible only because of Christ’s continuing ministry of intercession.” What a blessing! It doesn’t matter that I don’t know Janine. All that matters is the assurance that Christ shares my concern and will be with her as she slides into the challenging role of caregiver. I consider it a privilege to continue to talk to the Lord on Janine’s behalf.
I know that God was with my husband and me every minute of every day as we faced the constant changes that are a part of the journey. I know also that Janine will experience the Lord’s companionship in her AD journey, and I will continue to pray for that. Whether you are on a journey through Advent, Lent, or ordinary time…journey with Christ.
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, we have the sanction to pray for others because Christ prays beside us. Thank you for the blessing of prayer we can share with others. Thank you for the peace of Christ that we can also share.
Spiritual Practice: Intercessory Reflection
Sit quietly with your eyes closed as you enter intercessory reflection and prayer. Ask God to bring people who need prayer to your mind and heart. Be open to images of the people or spiritual insight into their needs. Listen for signals from their lives and let the depth of God’s love for them become powerful and real to you. Write, speak, or think a prayer of blessing and healing for these much-loved disciples and friends. Ask God to help you see ways to affirm and support them when you meet them in daily life.
Today, God, I will take comfort knowing I do not pray alone.