The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on Prayer:On Prayer by Kahlil Gibran*The Universal Prayer By Alexander Pope*Praying by Mary Oliver
Agnus Dei instrumental
You pray in your distress and in your need;
would that you might pray also in the fullness
of your joy and in your days of abundance.
For what is prayer but the expansion
of yourself into the living ether?
And if it is for your comfort to pour your darkness into space, it is also for your delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart.
And if you cannot but weep when your soul summons you to prayer, she should spur you again and yet again, though weeping, until you shall come laughing.
When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour,and whom save in
prayer you may not meet.
Therefore let your visit to that temple invisible
be for naught but ecstasy and sweet communion.
For if you should enter the temple for no other
purpose than asking you shall not receive:
And if you should enter into it to humble yourself you shall not be lifted: Or even if you should enter into it to beg for the good of others you shall not be heard.
It is enough that you enter the temple invisible.
I cannot teach you how to pray in words.
God listens not to your words save when
He Himself utters them through your lips.
And I cannot teach you the prayer of the seas
and the forests and the mountains.
But you who are born of the mountains and the forests
and the seas can find their prayer in your heart,
And if you but listen in the stillness of the night
you shall hear them saying in silence,
"Our God, who art our winged self,
it is thy will in us that willeth.
It is thy desire in us that desireth.
It is thy urge in us that would turn our nights,
which are thine,into days which are thine also.
We cannot ask thee for aught,for thou knowest
our needs before they are born in us:
Thou art our need; and in giving us more
of thyself thou givest us all.
The Universal Prayer
Father of all! in every age,
In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!
Thou Great First Cause, least understood:
Who all my sense confined
To know but this—that thou art good,
And that myself am blind:
Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
To see the good from ill;
And binding Nature fast in fate,
Left free the human will.
What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do,
This, teach me more than Hell to shun,
That, more than Heaven pursue.
What blessings thy free bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
For God is paid when man receives,
To enjoy is to obey.
Yet not to earth’s contracted span,
Thy goodness let me bound,
Or think thee Lord alone of man,
When thousand worlds are round:
Let not this weak, unknowing hand
Presume thy bolts to throw,
And deal damnation round the land,
On each I judge thy foe.
If I am right, thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, oh teach my heart
To find a better way.
Save me alike from foolish pride,
Or impious discontent,
At aught thy wisdom has denied,
Or aught thy goodness lent.
Teach me to feel another’s woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
Mean though I am, not wholly so
Since quickened by thy breath;
Oh lead me wheresoe’er I go,
Through this day’s life or death.
This day, be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun,
Thou know’st if best bestowed or not,
And let thy will be done.
To thee, whose temple is all space,
Whose altar, earth, sea, skies!
One chorus let all being raise!
All Nature’s incense rise!
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.