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Prayer after the Evening News

The Evening News as an Agenda for Prayer By Father James Chelich
December 1992

An Invitation Do you watch the Evening News? Do you find that you are depressed when it’s over? Would you like to do something about the way it leaves you feeling? Then this is an invitation for you. The Evening News is generally a litany of personal human tragedies, blended with several accounts of graft and oppression at work on a grand scale, and lightly sprinkled with something just cheerful enough to both accent the vastness of the evil at work in our world, and make what little good there is look pathetic. The result is depressing! Whether it is planned that way or not, the News leaves us with a growing conviction that we really are powerless in the face of the dark forces at work on so large a scale in our human existence. We find ourselves counting ourselves lucky that these forces of human malice, greed and violence have not found their way to our door, and secretly resolving that we are certainly not going to tempt fate by raising our voices against them — after all, what can we do against evil and tragedy on so vast a scale? The effect of this, day after day, on our human spirit is devastating. We find ourselves shrinking more and more into ourselves. We find our spirit cowering before the human tragedies and evils that grip our world. We find ourselves less and less equipped to engage and deal with the sin, sadness and evil that does draw near or enter our life. Our manhood or womanhood collapses inward and we become victims — perhaps even more a victim than any we see portrayed on the news. Is it any wonder that Wheel of Fortune is TV’s most popular evening program? It comes right after the news. Anything to slip comfortably into a world of fantasy — where if the wheel turns just right and you have the right guess in hand, you end up a winner. So what is to be done? Complain? Refuse to watch? I want to suggest another alternative. I believe the effect of the Evening News can be turned on end and reversed. I believe that instead of leaving us with a sense of being powerless, it can be used to instill in us a new sense of being empowered. Instead of giving us the feeling that we can do nothing it can be employed to help us do plenty. Instead of leaving us victims, it can be used in a way that leaves us victors. And what is going to pull off this 180 degree turn of effects? PRAYER! — prayer and FAITH in the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and the powers of death! Instead of being an obituary for the death at work in our world, we can make the Evening News an AGENDA for prayer — an aggressive prayer that reaches out to every place where evil is at work to destroy human life, decency and hope; a prayer that brings the healing and liberating grace of God into the lives of both those caught in the grip of sin and those innocently victimized by the evil that sin unleashes. Father James Chelich HOW THIS PRAYER WORKS The Word of God for what we are about to do: “Do not live in fear, little flock. It has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 “If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you. Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not. If you say, ‘I know not this man!’ does not He who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and He will repay each one according to his deeds.” Proverbs 24:10-12 1. While you are watching the News: Watch the Evening News with a note pad and a pen in hand. Briefly note each story you see on the newscast — for example: 1. Starving people in Somalia 2. Murder in Downtown Grand Rapids 3. Torture in Bosnia-Hercegovina 4. Earthquake in Iran 5. Bombing in Northern Ireland 6. A new drug to combat AIDS 7. Corruption in the Department of Housing and Urban Development 8. The Pope visits Africa 2. When the News is over: Turn OFF the TV. Take a CRUCIFIX into your hand (you can use the one on your rosary if you wish). Sit with the Crucifix in your hand and your little list from the Evening News in your lap. 3. Make the Sign of the Cross over yourself and say: “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own. Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:19b-20 4. Put On The Armor of God in prayer: Father, I desire to be strong in your Holy Spirit and faithful to Jesus Christ, my Lord. In obedience to your Word, I put on the ARMOR OF GOD as spiritual protection against the forces of darkness. I take TRUTH as the belt around my waist. Jesus, alone, is the Way the Truth and the Life. I am resolved to walk in the light of his truth. Satan is the Father of Lies. I renounce him, and all lying speech and deception of any kind. It is the lie that keeps us in bondage; it is the truth that sets us free. Lord, give me discernment to know the truth, and courage to speak it and act upon it. I take RIGHTEOUSNESS as my breastplate — not my own self-righteousness, but the righteousness won for me by Jesus. He took on my sin-addicted humanity so that I could become the very holiness of God. I accept His call to that holiness and commit myself to it. I put on the shoes of ZEAL to spread the Gospel of Peace. I have no faith in the peace this world offers. I seek the peace of Christ. By your love and your grace, help me disarm my own heart. Wash it clean of anger, bitterness and resentment. Let me assist in the healing of the hearts of others, and together let us break down the barriers of hostility that keep us apart from You and one another. I take FAITH as a shield to hold up before me in the face of every evil and harassment from Satan. My trust is in you, Lord, and you alone! Over my head I place the helmet of SALVATION. I recognize that my mind is the favorite target of Satan’s deceiving ways. By illusion and desire he draws my thoughts to things that destroy the integrity of my body, soul and spirit. Constantly he tempts me to place my hope for salvation in my own wisdom and strength, in that of another, or in the things of the world. I choose instead, to place my hope in Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection. I want to share in his sufferings. I want to be formed into the pattern of his death to sin and his life for God. In this way I hope to arrive at resurrection from the dead. Finally, I take up the Sword of the Spirit, that I may unsheathe the WORD OF GOD and its promises against the forces of evil that hold our hearts and our world in bondage. Enable me to use the infallible Word of God not only to defend myself against the forces of darkness, but to claim its promises of freedom and salvation for others. Lord, send forth your Spirit to lead me into the spiritual battle. You know the weakness of my faith and the hesitancy of my words. Most Holy Spirit, enter into my prayer and supply all that is lacking. I ask this in the name of JESUS, my Lord. Amen. 5. Unite yourself to the Communion of Saints in the Body of Christ : Lord, I cannot stand alone against the sin at work in my own life, let alone dare to stand alone and confront the evil that grips the lives of those around me. I will not stand alone! I will pray as member of the Body of Christ, in communion… with Mary, the Mother of the Household of God and my mother; with the angel powers of heaven, especially my guardian spirit _______________; with the saints, my older brothers and sisters in the Household of God, especially my patron saint(s) _______________; with my fellow christians everywhere who are in prayer at this time, especially my prayer-partner(s) _______________. Jesus said: “I tell you, if two of you join your voices on earth to pray for anything whatever, it shall be granted you by my Father in Heaven. Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” Matthew 18:19-20 6. Claim the Promises of God: “It is no part of my Father’s plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief.” Matthew 18:14 “If you live in me, and my words stay part of you, you may ask what you will — it will be done for you.” John 15:7 7. Begin to pray for the items on your list: Take up your list from the Evening News and start with the first item — for example: 1. Starving People in Somalia Begin by saying: With the Cross of Jesus , I move in the power of the Holy Spirit to… Name the place: …Somalia. Next say: In the Name of Jesus , I ask… Offer a personal prayer asking assistance or protec-tion for the starving people in Somalia. Try to pray for a specific person or family — for example: …that food be received by one starving family and that the life of just one child be spared. Finally say: May the Blood of the Lamb fall upon and break the evil of … Name the particular power of evil over this situation or this person’s life — for example: …famine and greed that is oppressing the lives of these people. Move to the next item on your list — for example: 2. Murder in Downtown Grand Rapids. Pray in the same three-part pattern as before: With the Cross of Jesus, I move in the power of the Holy Spirit to… Downtown Grand Rapids. In the Name of Jesus, I ask… …that the family of this woman murdered on our streets be consoled, and that whoever committed this crime comes to justice, and finds redemption at the hands of God. May the Blood of the Lamb fall upon and break the evil of… …violence in our streets. * * * * * Always use the same introduction for each item: With the Cross of Jesus, I move in the power of the Holy Spirit to… Then name the place. Next, offer your personal prayer for the person or situation. Start by saying: In the Name of Jesus, I ask… Finally, ask that the power of evil at work in the person or situation be broken by saying: May the Blood of the Lamb fall upon and break (heal, wipe out) the evil of… (name the evil). Here are more EXAMPLES from our sample list: With the Cross of Jesus, I move in the power of the Holy Spirit to…Bosnia-Hercegovinia. In the Name of Jesus, I ask…that an innocent family with children be protected from harm. May the Blood of the Lamb fall upon and break the evil…bitterness and hatred working in the hearts of these terrorists. With the Cross of Jesus, I move in the power of the Holy Spirit to…the site of the earthquake in Iran. In the Name of Jesus, I ask…that the heart of the world be opened in charity to the victims of this disaster and that the heart of one grieving person be strengthened with the knowledge of God’s love through this prayer. May the Blood of the Lamb fall upon and heal the evil of…this terrible destruction. With the Cross of Jesus, I move in the power of the Holy Spirit to…the side of a victim with AIDS. In the Name of Jesus, I ask…Lord, encourage the heart of one person suffering from this terrible disease. Let them know your love for them. Guide the minds and hands of the researchers in finding a cure. Open the hearts of us all in compassion to the victims of this disease. May the Blood of the Lamb fall upon and wipe out the evil of…this terrible disease. With the Cross of Jesus, I move in the power of the Holy Spirit to…the federal offices in Washington. In the Name of Jesus, I ask…Lord, defend the poor against the greedy and the powerful. Open the heart of just one political official to the desperate plight of those they are appointed to serve. May the Blood of the Lamb fall upon and break the evil…hold of greed over the hearts of those in power. With the Cross of Jesus, I move in the power of the Holy Spirit to…the side of our Holy Father in Africa. In the Name of Jesus, I ask…that his words touch the hearts of the people and turn them to the light of Christ and the truth of His Gospel. May the Blood of the Lamb fall upon and redeem… all who remain in darkness and the shadow of death. 8. Conclude by praying: OUR FATHER, who art in heaven… SAINT MICHAEL, the Archangel, defend us in the battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, drive into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who wander throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. HAIL MARY, full of grace… Copyright: December 1992 Father James Chelich Basilica of Saint Adalbert, 456 Davis, N.W., Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Daily Prayer Time

A Guide
Fr. James Chelich
Pentecost, 1992

stainglass1How To Use This Booklet

This nine-step format for a personal prayer time is set out for you to get you started. Each step is deeply rooted in the Catholic Spiritual Tradition. Begin with the format as it is, and use it until you become thoroughly comfortable with it — especially the way it flows. As time passes, you may find that the Holy Spirit invites you to make adaptations. The Holy Spirit is the true teacher of prayer. Follow his inspiration. Prayers indented in the text and printed in bold print are suggested patterns for the kind of prayer that should be offered at that point in your prayer time. Use these pattern-prayers as they are. After you have used them a good while and understand what they express, you may want to form prayers in your own words. You may find substitute prayers or litanies that you like better (but still express the same thing), or you may elect to continue to use the pattern-prayers as they are and make them your own. No matter what you do, in the long-run, the most important thing is that at each point during your prayer time, you are truly praying from your heart. Beginning: Begin with a half-hour for your prayer time each day. It should be at the same time every day if possible. It should be at a time when you have the least number of distractions around you. You may want to inform your family that you need to be left alone for this period of time. Carefully explain to them the reason why you need the time alone. Find a comfortable place to pray. It should be a pleasant place somewhere within your home or garden. You may choose to pray in a church, if one is conveniently located and available for a daily visit. Remember that prayer becomes a particularly powerful force in your life when you take time for it daily. This point cannot be stressed enough. A regular time for prayer each day is all-important. This will make your prayer time an “Oasis of Peace” in the constantly changing, sometimes turbulent, atmosphere of your day. Prayer time in the morning or early in the day can be of tremendous advantage. It exerts an influence on the rest of the day and the way you make your way through it. Prayer time in the middle of your day may allow you just the time-out you need to regain your balance and re-collect your spiritual energy. Prayer time in the evening allows for reflection on the day if the evening does not regularly find you weary or drowsy. The bottom line is that it is improtant to pray at a time when you can best focus your mind and heart on God with loving attention. 1. Invoking the Holy Spirit “The spirit too helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech.” (Rom 8:26) Ask the Holy Spirit to help you focus your attention on God. Ask the Holy Spirit to protect you in this prayer time when your mind and heart are open and vulnerable. Ask the Holy Spirit to pray with you and within you — giving strength to your faith and power to your prayer.

Come, Holy Spirit, I need you! Come, Holy Spirit, I pray. Come with your strength and your power; Come in your own gentle way.

2. The Sign of the Cross “May I boast of nothing but the cross our Lord Jesus Christ! Through it, the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14) Trace the Sign of the Cross over yourself carefully. Be midnful that by Jesus’ cross your life was redeemed and the power of sin over your life was broken (see Rom 6:6 and Col 2:12-14). As you do so, invoke the name of the Living God:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Now claim as your own the mystery of the cross:

“I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:19b-20)

3. Clearing your Mind “Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions of gratitude.”I> (Phil 4:6) Now center your attention within yourself. Many thoughts, concerns, anxieties and pressing needs crowd your mind. One by one, identify them and set them aside. Create a stillness in your mind and a clear place in your heart. If a persistent or annoying thought enters in, simply pick it up and move it aside. As soon as your mind is reasonably quiet, lower your mind into your heart as you might lower a bucket into a well. Now move on to the next step. 4. Calling on the Name of Jesus “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13) From deep within yourself, call out the name of “Jesus”:

“Come, Lord Jesus! The Holy Spirit within me and the bride of your Church say, ‘Come'”! (Rev 22:20,17)

5. Welcoming the Presence of the Lord “Venerate the Lord, that is Christ in your hearts.” (1 Pet 3:15) Jesus hears your call and is present with you. He loves you. Picture Jesus standing before you — love fills his eyes and his hands are extended toward you. This is not just an exercise of your imagination, Jesus really is present with you. He is true to his promise: “Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Mat 28;20) Spend some time praising Jesus in your heart:

Jesus, Word of Creation Shepherd of my Soul Light of the World Bread of Life! Jesus, Vine of Israel Gate to Glory Lamb of God Resurrection and Life! Jesus, You are my Redeemer Jesus, You are my Savior Jesus, you are my Lord! Jesus, You are my Teacher Jesus, you are my Physician Jesus, you are my Friend! Jesus, You are my Way Jesus, You are my Light jesus, You are my Love! You are all-Poweerful, yet you are most compassionate. You are all-Just yet you are most merciful. You are all-Knowing, yet you are most forgiving. You are all-Holy, yet you are most patient! Jesus, lift me up. Jesus, cleanse me of sin. Jesus, restore my health. Jesus, respond to my cry for help. Jesus, deliver me from my terrible bondage to self. Jesus, free me from the unhappy prison where sin holds me captive. Jesus, release me from the misery of my self-made aloneness. Jesus, give me the courage to love. Jesus, I praise you! Jesus, I thank you! Jesus, I honor you! Jesus, I worshp you! Jesus, I give you glory! Jesus, I love you! Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All!

6. Speaking: Opening Your Heart to the Lord “God is our refuge! Trust in Him at all times, O my people! Pour out your hearts before Him…” (Ps 62:9) Now is the moment for releasing your heart and pouring out before the Lord all that you need him to see and hear: the sin that needs to be conquered, the pain that needs relief, and heartache that needs consolation, the emptiness that needs filling, the love that needs giving, the attitude that needs to be changed, the person you need to forgive, the loved ones and friends in need of attention, the poor and destitute in need of assistance, the oppressed and suffering in need of hope, the laboring in need of strength. Do you find that words seem to fail you at this moment? Then simply pour out your raw feelings: weep for the wounds that you carry within you, weep for the pain that you have inflicted upon others, cry for the plight of the destitute and the oppressed, shed tears of grief if you have suffered loss, rejoice before the Lord if you are full of gratitude, sing if your heart is full of joy. Always give thanks to the Lord for each blessing that is part of your life. Jesus is present with you in this moment of prayer to accept all that you pour out to him. 7. LIstening: Entering the Throne Rom of the Spirit “Lord, You love truth in the heart, then in my inmost being teach me wisdom.” (Ps 51:8) Jesus meets you in your heart, the “place” within you where everything you are as a person comes to a center, to a touching or meeting point with one another: your mind with its thoughts and memories; your body with its senses, its drives and needs; and your emotions and feelings. It is here in your heart that you open the contents of your heart to the Lord and speak with him. After speaking with the Lord, it is time to turn with Him and enter the Throne Room of the Spirit. The Throne Room of the Spirit is the vast emptiness that you sometimes sense within you. It is “located” right off your heart. You might say that your heart is the lobby or vestibule of your interior spirit. We seldom go there because we think that this part of ourselves is empty and filled only with a great “aloneness”. In fact, this part of yourself is the Throne Room of the Presence of God (Rev. 4:1 ff). While it appears empty to your mind and bodily senses, it is not empty at all. God’s Presence cannot be grasped with the human mind or the body’s senses – in the Presence of God our mind and bodily senses “draw a blank”. Do not let this deter you. Enter the Throne Room focusing on one thing and one thing only: an intense love for God. Let your mind do no thinking at all. Be filled instead with a desire to love God, “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” It is your desire for God and your desire to love Him that will let you sense the Presence of God in your interior spirit. Picture yourself opening the doors and entering the Throne Room with Jesus. Worship God by simply being in His Presence – loving Him and desiring Him with your whole being. Be quiet and very still. If your attention wants to wander, choose just one word and say it slowly, over and over again: “Holy” or “Father” or “Lord” Let yourself feel the warmth of God’s Love fill your entire being. Let it begin at the top of your head and pass slowly through you to the bottom of your feet. Let this Love touch every wound within you and let it surround any knots of sin and frustration and begin to dissolve them away. Rest in the loving Presence of God. Often, God will make an impression on your mind in some way: Perhaps a thought, a word or and image will come to you in the silence. If it does, don’t think about it, just receive it. If it doesn’t, don’t fret or worry about it. Trust God completely to provide you everything and anything you truly need. When you are ready to leave the Throne Room, begin to say over and over again: “I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me.” (1 John 4:16) 8. Opening the Scriptures (optional) “Indeed, God’s word is living and effective, sharper than a two-edged sword. It penetrates and divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) It is vital for your spiritual life that you open the Scriptures (the Bible) every day. Many people like to do this during their prayer-time. If you wish so, it should be done at this point. Opening the scriptures can best be done in either of two ways: A. Choose a book of the Bible, for instance one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). Read for five or ten minutes. Go back over what you read and ask yourself: What particularly strikes me about this passage? What drew my attention? Why was I drawn to it? What is it saying to me? B. Randomly open your Bible and read the first verse your eyes settle upon. Do this a second and third time. Go back over all three randomly selected verses and ask yourself: What might the Holy Spirit be saying to me personally in these verses. 9. To Conclude Your Prayer Time “This is how you are to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses as we forgivet hose who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen. (Mat 6:9-13)

Notes
A. Keeping a Prayer Journal

You are strongly encouraged to keep a Prayer Journal. In it you should record the fruit of your daily prayer times. When you entered the Throne Room of God’s Presence and were resting in His Presence, did God make any impression upon your heart? Write it down. If you were given a word or image, write it down as well. When you opened the Scriptures, whether it was as part of your prayer time or at another during the day, what verses did you open to or what drew your attention in the passage you read? Note it in your journal. What do you think the Holy Spirit was personally trying to say to you in the verse or in the part of the passage that drew your attention? Write this down as well. Every week or so read back over your Prayer Journal. Is there anything being consistently said to you or drawn to your attention by the Holy Spirit? Make a special note of this in your Prayer Journal. B. Your Favorite Daily Devotions People often ask if they have to give up their favorite prayer devotions like the Rosary, Novena Prayers, or Devotions to Mary or to the Saints. Absolutely not! Like the time for the Opening Scriptures, they can either be done as part of your daily prayer time or at another time during the day. If you want to offer these prayers and devotions as part of your daily prayer time, they should be done either before beginning Step 1 or at the end of your prayer time (after Step 7 or 8). C. The Holy Spirit in Your Day It is no accident that you begin your prayer time by invoking the Holy Spirit (Step 1). It is vitally important to begin both your day and everything you do during the day with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to enter into fellowship with you in all you say and do. The Holy Spirit brings both clarity and a transforming power. When we act in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we see more clearly, we hear more deeply, we experience a greater compassion and we act with a greater simplicity and purer love. What we say and do in the Holy Spirit takes on a power that effects change both in others and in ourselves. If your prayer time is not at the beginning of the day, use the following prayer-pattern to ask for fellowship with the Holy Spirit during the day ahead:

O Lord and Giver of Life, I seek and ask fellowship with You. I need Your help in the day ahead. Soften the hardness of my heart. Keep my heart open to Jesus and to the people and events around me today. Keep my eyes focused on Jesus so that I may learn from Him. Let some small part of His powerful, healing love come alive in my attitude, words and actions during the day. Act on my behalf! By the powerful grace Jesus won for me in His death and resurrection, defeat the terrible hold that my sin, my addictions, my fears and my compulsions have on my life. Holy Spirit of God, be the Counselor of my every thought, word and deed. Amen.

Before everything you do during the course of the day, pause and in your heart pray:

Come Holy Spirit, I need You; Come Holy Spirit, I pray; Come with your strength and Your power; Come in Your own gentle way. Holy Spirit, let me see with the eyes of Jesus, let me hear with the ears of Jesus, let me feel with the heart of Jesus, and with Your Wisdom, let me respond.