I want to share with you a prayer that I’ve been praying lately. I’m not usually keen on canned prayers, but this one is a humdinger.
It was composed by my friend Chris, who prays it every morning, and it’s based on the gesture of the sign the cross familiar to Catholics. While crossing himself, Chris says these words: “Lord, would You transform my mind (touching forehead), purify my heart (touching chest), restore my soul (touching left shoulder), and renew my strength (touching right shoulder).”
Chris points out that each of these four petitions is based on scripture:
“Transform my mind” comes from Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
“Purify my heart” is based on the beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).
“Restore my soul” is found in Psalm 23:2-3: “He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”
“Renew my strength” is from Isaiah 40:31: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”
Is there not a logical order to these four steps? Normally, before anything else can happen in my life, I need a change of mind. This might take various forms such as repentance, fresh hope, an attitude adjustment, some brand new idea or way of looking at things, etc.
Secondly, if any change in my life is to be sustained, I need a purified heart. Again, this might involve repentance, forgiveness, abandoning bad habits, and so forth, all enabled by a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit.
Thirdly, I am now ready for my soul to be restored, that is, to be healed of old hurts and wrong notions, and to experience new joy and peace.
Finally, as all this foundational work is being done, at some point—perhaps gradually, perhaps suddenly—I should experience a real renewal of strength and energy. The promise of Isaiah 40:31 will be realized: “They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
As I have prayed Chris’s prayer of the cross over the past month or so, all of these profound changes have indeed begun to take place in my life. I’m sure there is more to come, but even over a few weeks the results are palpable.
Naturally, things might have fallen out this way in any case, without praying the prayer. However, a good prayer is not something that is one’s own idea, but it echoes God’s heart, putting into words something of what He intends to do. Chris’s prayer has provided a focus for what the Lord was already doing in my life.
I recently turned 70. Approaching this milestone over the past few months, I had felt it as an uphill climb, and I was not at all enjoying the prospect of old age. The celebration of a new year has always been significant to me as a time of reflection on the past, and looking ahead to the future. On my birthday, as well as on New Year’s Eve, I always feel that God speaks to me, giving wisdom and direction.
However, New Year’s Eve, 2021, was probably the most lackluster New Year’s I have ever experienced. Neither my wife nor I was in any mood to celebrate, so we didn’t. Midnight found us out for a walk, noticing a few fireworks and hearing some merrymaking, but not entering in, and then we went to bed. My main feeling was relief that the year was over.
Why so bleak? Well, Covid for one thing. I’d also developed some health problems, and a novel I’d worked on for seven years couldn’t find a publisher. Then in November my best friend from high school died suddenly, which hit me harder than I would have imagined. And so on.
So much for 2021. But on New Year’s morning, 2022, I woke up feeling unaccountably happy and full of energy. Why, I don’t know, but I took this as a sign of hope from the Lord that this new year was going to be different. And so far, it has been. Thanks to Chris’s prayer—or rather, thanks to the Lord—I now feel transformed, purified, restored, and renewed for the next leg of the journey.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for Your goodness and faithfulness!
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