by Deborah Grassman
I’m often asked to provide prayer for public functions. When I pray, I include the principles of abiding and reckoning with Soul Injuries as outlined in The Hero Within because at the core of authentic healing is prayer. Anytime I am abiding with my feelings, reckoning with life situations, I am living a prayer; I am bringing conscious intention to my thoughts, words, and actions. I am also embracing the Opus Peace Prayer: Cultivate in me the willingness to re-own, re-home, and revitalize scattered pieces of myself so that I might be restored to wholeness. Grow in me the honesty, courage, and humility to release my fears of who I am and who I am not. Fuel me with your grace. Amen
These are some of the public prayers that I have used. The first is a prayer I provide at workshops for clinicians. The subsequent prayers were provided respectively at a Women’s Day Conference, a Nurse Week Ceremony, a Martin Luther King Day celebration, a Community Prayer Breakfast, and my Commissioning Ceremony.
A Prayer for Clinicians
"I ask that we close our eyes and go into that deeper part of ourselves… that place that connects with peace… that place that connects with Love… that place beyond our material selves… to that place that generates vitality...into our souls...our souls might be carrying pain…sometimes we might get separated from our soul and lose our sense of self. For these few moments, let yourself abide in this place within your deep self.
Take a minute now to think about all the patients and families you’ve cared for in your career… Think about all the patients and families you are caring for now… Take a minute to acknowledge the difficulty of caring for some patients. Silently acknowledge the struggle it sometimes requires to bring kindness to some people who may not be so kindly themselves. Acknowledge how lonely it sometimes feels; how tiring it can be.
Now take a deep breath and let your breath take you to that deeper place within you… that place where there is energy to love the unlovable… energy to touch the untouchable… to heal the unhealable. Acknowledge your need for this energy and your willingness to receive the vitalizing energy from within your soul.
Now, think about all the patients and families that you have yet to care for at some point on their future journey… Thank them in advance for the privilege of serving them. In your heart, ask them to let you abide with them… to abide their heartaches and hope… to abide their suffering. Acknowledge the ways in which you might let them down… Be willing to own that (not in a blaming way, but simply letting it be instructive)… Acknowledge the ways in which you, too, are a wounded healer… In your heart, seek to be re-formed by the wisdom of your patients and their families as they redeem their suffering.
As you prepare to leave this interior space, may you go forth with a blessing. You can respond “Yes” after each blessing if you’d like:
May each of you leave here today with a deeper sense of who you really are.
May you gain a deeper sense of your connection with each other, your patients, and with your own soul.
May you have a deeper sense of purpose and greater understanding of your mission in life and in the agency where you provide care.
May you have a profound sense of how important you are to your patients, their families, to each other, to me, to your own families, and to the Timeless Source of Energy who created all of us together.
Mainly, I thank each of you here for having a heart that is willing to suffer the brokenness of this world. Your footprints touch my soul, and I am healed."
Prayer for a Women’s Day Conference
We are grateful we can join together this day – as women, as men, as people who work together – as people who pray together as we are now. Dear God, we are truly grateful that this country and this institution know the value of acknowledging and honoring the spiritual nature of each one of us, and that we can have this opportunity to gather as we are this moment.
Dear God, as women, we sometimes struggle with our roles in society. Sometimes we feel pulled in many different directions at the same time. Sometimes we strive to adopt a male-like image that may not exactly fit us. Sometimes we try to conform to a male-dominated culture that has not yet completely come to understand the gifts we, as women, offer. Sometimes God, we, ourselves, use sexuality in our dress or subtle ways we act to gain power in the world; we get fooled into believing the gifts valued by society are the molds we should try to become rather than the mold You would have us become.
God, help each of us guard against trying to be like men – just for the sake of being like men. Help us be able to discern between “equality” and “mimicking” lest we betray the very gifts of womanhood you have given us – the very gifts you need in this world – the very gifts you created to fulfill our soulful natures. God, help us accept those gifts and give us the courage to resist being anything other than the unique woman you have created each of us to be. Help us know and understand our inner beauty – to know and understand our soulfulness – to know and understand You. Amen."
A Prayer for Nurse Week Ceremonies
"Dear Heavenly Father,
We come before you this day as your sons and daughters, united in the spirit of God. We come before you recognizing the suffering from the Soul Injuries in our world. We ask you this day to open us to our deeper selves so that we might learn the lessons you would have for us in our earthly strife.
We come before you this day recognizing the many gifts that you have provided this Medical Center that allows us to do your healing work. Sometimes, though, we struggle with our humanness. Sometimes, God, we feel so alone as we tend your ill and lame. Sometimes, God, we feel burdened when we are needed to carry the load for someone else or face the tragedies we see each day.
Dear God, it is so hard to see your light in some of our patients. We get frustrated. Sometimes we feel unappreciated or even mistreated by them. Sometimes we feel at odds with our coworkers, and we don’t get along with each other. Sometimes, God, it is just so darn hard to love one another. Forgive us when we fail to do that. At these times when we cannot see you clearly, guide us into love. For it is your love that heals the unhealable. It is your love that touches the untouchable. It is your love that comforts the uncomforted.
We are often called to be your angels of mercy. Open our hearts to answer that call. Fill us with your presence so that we may know you are with us on the journey. We come before you this day as a health-care community. We ask your forgiveness when we forget that we are not the true healer. We ask your forgiveness when we forget our paychecks are not our true reward.
We ask that you break us open, God. Break our hearts of stone that keep us from feeling you in one another. Break our senses that keep us from seeing and hearing you in each other. Break our spirits open when they fail to yield to your will in our lives.
Dear God, we ask you this day to re-form us into the healing ministers you call each of us to be. We ask you to re-form us into a community of healers. Re-form the ministry this Medical Center is called to offer. Broken as we are God, bring us together as we are this day. Wounded healers that we are, help us bring you to all those in our midst. Amen."
A Prayer for Martin Luther King Day Celebration
We gather here today to remember. We gather here today to celebrate and to act.
We pause to remember that each of us here is a person of prejudice. Sometimes we don’t like to admit that, God, even to ourselves. But we know that healing is not ours until we can come before you, confess our humanness, and give you the filters of prejudice in each of our minds that keep us from each other and from you.
We pause to remember Martin Luther King, Jr., – a man of courage and vision – a man who responded to your call to help us confront those dark places in our souls where injustice lurks. These dark places in our souls seduce us into thinking that the color of our skin or the characteristics of our bodies are what are important to you.
Also, we remember Martin Luther King, Sr. – a man who calls us into holiness by his example of love for you. A man who had every reason to hate and be bitter with the murders of his wife and two sons, yet he refused to hate and be bitter. He chose to love you and your people instead. We remember the healing image of him sitting with George Wallace and George Wallace asking him to pray for him and we remember Martin, Sr. saying lovingly that he would.
And we celebrate, dear God. We celebrate that in the midst of a broken world, you are here. We celebrate that in the midst of injustice, hatred, and violence is justice, love, and peace if we but choose to turn our face from those shadows of our souls into the Light that is you. We celebrate today the gift of Martin Luther King Jr. and his Dad – men who had the courage to be you in our world – men who have been beacons calling us home to you.
Dear God, our prayer to you today is that these gifts you have given us, will call us into action. We pray the sufferings of our past as a people and as individuals are not in vain, but experiences that draw us closer to your love, your peace, your healing. You tell us we are to pray for our enemies, to pray for those that persecute us, to pray for those who hurt us. Those prayers are so hard for us to do, yet that is our prayer today. Each of us here suffer the scars of pain and injustice in our lives. Help us recognize that our pain and our anger are calling us into the action of drawing nearer to you. Our action today is prayer for all the George Wallaces in our homes, work places, and communities. We pray they might experience your healing love. And we pray for the George Wallaces in ourselves God. Those places inside us that lure us into thinking that our view is the right one and that others are not worthy, those places inside us that deceive us into thinking we are better than others because they are different and not worthy of our respect. We give our prejudices to you, God. We give you the injustice of our arrogance and self-righteousness that separate us from others and ask that you transform them with your love and forgiveness into acts of kindness and mercy that we may be lights in the midst of the darkness of a broken world. Amen.
A Prayer for a Community Prayer Breakfast
I feel honored to be here especially when I read the history and mission of this prayer breakfast, and for the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about my role today in offering prayer, and the conclusion that I’ve come to is to offer a prayer ABOUT prayer itself. To provide a context, however, I need to tell you that two days ago, I returned from 3 weeks in Guatemala. I had planned to go there with a friend to visit her brother who lived in a small village. BUT then we heard that the best place in the world to celebrate holy week is Antigua because they take it very seriously there. So, my vacation changed into a pilgrimage. Now for the past year, I had made a commitment to take prayer more seriously and to do it twice each day, using quotes from the Bible as the springboard for my reflections. So, Antigua fit right into my prayer commitment.
One day, my friends were going to explore Antigua, but I stayed behind to pray. Then, I realized that I wasn’t praying. I was just going through the motions because my heart was with my friends and my desire to be with them. So, I prayed: “Dear God, Help me stop being a hypocrite during my time with You.” And then I left to be with my friends. An hour later, I realized that I had left my paper with the quotes and all my notes on the chair of the hotel balcony. So, I raced back to retrieve it, and it was gone! Nowhere to be found: “All right God. I get it. You’re showing me my hypocrisy.” But, it didn’t stop there.
That night I had a dream: In the dream, my house was flooded. I went to see if my neighbors could help. They weren’t home, but I could see that their house had NOT flooded. So I thought, “I’m going to need their help as my house gets renovated but I didn’t even get them a Christmas present.” So, I went back to my house and found some token gift (or re-gift) and took it back to their house so they would think that I cared about them. Then I woke up and I immediately recognized what prayer hypocrisy is:
- I get in some kind of flood…some kind of trouble. I go to ask God for help. He’s not home. Why? Because I’m giving him TOKENS of my attention: time when it’s convenient, my love as long as it doesn’t cost me too much or is too much sacrifice.
Well, I went to the Bible and looked up the word “prayer” and in Isaiah 55, I found this: “Come to me with your ears wide open. For the life of your soul is at stake. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are completely different than yours.” That’s when I realized that I didn’t have a clue about what prayer is really about because I didn’t know how to LISTEN to the voice of God; I was trying to change Him to fit in MY mind.
So, I come before you today with a contrite heart, sharing my struggle of prayer with you, and feeling a bit unworthy of standing before you. But, somehow it seems fitting, that before we can pray for others, we must come to grips with our own TRUTH about prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come before you today confessing that we often do not know Your ways…we often do not know how to enter Your silence so we can listen to You. We come before You confessing that we sometimes go through the motions of prayer when our hearts are really elsewhere. We ask that You deliver us from our pride that makes us think that we are praying when we are not. Deliver us from our inability and sometimes unwillingness to pray. Grow in us, instead, a CLEAN HEART – a heart that is honest so we don’t fool ourselves into thinking that we’re praying when we’re not; Grow in us a heart that is humble so that we can learn Your ways including how to pray. And grow Courage in our hearts, Dear God: that each man here, that each woman here, will be leaders in their homes, workplaces, and this community by coming to You with a heart that is first and foremost, WILLING to pray. Amen
And God Said No!
I share this next prayerful reflection often. It is written by Claudia Minden Weisz and has helped hundreds of people cultivate more courage and peace in their lives:
I asked God to take away my pride, and God said, “No.”
He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole, and God said, “No.”
He said her spirit is whole, her body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience, and God said, “No.”
He said that patience is a byproduct of tribulation. It isn’t granted, it’s earned.
I asked God to give me happiness, and God said, “No.”
He said he gives blessing. Happiness is up to me.
I asked God to spare me pain, and God said, “No.”
He said suffering draws me apart from worldly cares and brings me closer to Him.
I asked God to make my spirit grow and God said, “No.”
He said I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful.
I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me.
And God said, “Ah, you finally have the idea.”
(Claudia Minden Weisz)