This past Sunday in worship, in lieu of a traditional sermon, we were blessed with an original piece of reader’s theater written by Dianna Warner. Everyone involved (children, young adults and adults) did a wonderful job, and we wanted to at least share the text with those of you who weren’t able to be there. Many thanks to Dianna and all those involved.
A Conversation about Prayer
Beginning: One Verse of “Oh Lord Hear My Prayer” (a Taize piece)
Voice One: Why do we Pray, when do we pray, How do we pray? The writer of James tells us in Chapter 5:13 – 18 – Are any among you suffering? They should pray.
Voice Two: “Help me, help me, help me!”
Voice One: Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
Child’s Voice: “Dear God, thank You for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.”
Voice One: Anne Lamott says:
Voice Two: Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me’ and ‘Thank you, thank you…’ I have a friend whose morning prayer each day is
Voice Two: and whose evening prayer is
Katie: “Oh, well.”
Voice One: James continues in verse 14: Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. In Prayers from the Heart by Richard Foster, he speaks this healing prayer:
John: “Lord Jesus Christ, when I read the gospel stories I am touched by your healing power. You healed sick bodies to be sure, but you did so much more. You healed the spirit and the deep inner Mind. Most of all I am touched by your actions of acceptance that spoke healing into those who lived on the margins of life-shoved aside by the strong and the powerful. Speak your healing into me, Lord -body mind and soul. Most of all, heal my sense of worthlessness. My head tells me that I am of infinite value to you but my heart cannot believe it. Heal my heart, Jesus, heal my heart.”
Voice One: The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
Katie: Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones…rest your weary ones; bless your dying ones; soothe your suffering ones; pity your afflicted ones; shield your joyous ones; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Voice One: James continues “ Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
5:17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 5:18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
Voice Two (crossing to center): prayer is like that first cup of coffee in the morning or a shower; a shower never fails you and prayer never fails me. I very often do not get what I pray for, though.
Voice One: In the movie, Evan Almighty, Evan, a modern Noah, is building an ark ,and his wife and children find it hard to be supportive of his odd behavior. When his wife expresses her frustration, God illustrates the irony of answers to prayer.
John (crossing to Voice Two and speaking to her): Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other? Well, I got to run. A lot of people to serve. Enjoy. (Return to original place)
Voice Two: One thing we need to pray for–one thing I certainly need to pray for–is the ability to bear not getting my own way. I have prayed so hard for certain people to be healed, which to me would mean they would live a great deal longer, but which seems to mean…. I’ve never seen someone die without a healing. I’ve only seen people have profound healing even though it turned out they weren’t going to live forever…So I’ve seen prayers answered. It’s just a nightmare for me that we don’t get what we pray for.
Song : Somewhere down the Road
Voice One: So how do we deal with this pain, loss and uncertainty? Nancy Gossling writes “ My daughter has a favorite expression when things go wrong:
Katie: Oh well, life goes on.
Voice One: I recently began work at a local hospital as a chaplain, Within my first week, I had experienced many incidents of loss and grief…As I attempt to process these experiences, the familiar words of my daughter take on new depth, Life does go on. For those left grieving at the bedside life does and must go on, despite the incredible pain and loss. We believe this is also true for those who have died in our midst (tho) in a new and resurrected way…God’s spirit remains present with us in between , providing the strength, courage, power, love, comfort and sustenance to carry us through.
Katie: thanks be to God. Life goes on.
Voice Three: And we are told in 1st Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing”
All readers begin saying their speeches at once…
Child’s Voice: Be Still and know that I am God
All voices stop
Begin organ (Amen from Faure’s requiem)
Shirley: If you could know
that all the time
the world would ever have
is in the moment now
in which you stand
That in your hand
the futures bent
and all the promise
of the past’s intent
is held, Would you not
wait and listen and be still?
Would you not let such mystery
poured from unimagined source
fill and fill and finally overflow
the moment, until you, a living
Fragment of eternity,
Hear its measured beat
And take its tempo
For your heart and hands and feet.
-Anne Sweetser Watson
Voice One: And so in the words of the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich:
And so our good Lord answered to all the questions and doubts which I could raise, saying most comfortingly: I may make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well, and I will make all things well; and you will see yourself that every kinds of thing will be well…
Katie: Oh, well.