Opinion

Whose name will you include?

Kris Garey

There is prayer that speaks deeply of why we find ourselves in prayer for others, or ourselves: “O Lord, in your mercy....

Be present where there is loneliness.

Be comfort where there is pain.

Be healing where there is brokenness”

The prayer ends, “We pray especially for….” Whose name will you include?

“Lord, Be present in loneliness.” Who would you pray for? A neighbor? Co-worker? Brother moving far away? Sister who is an addict to drugs? Prisoner in a prison? An aging parent? Or perhaps, it is your own name that you would include.

“O Lord, be present in loneliness...you see how it entraps and scares. Help me know you are present. ”

At times we all find ourselves lonely. Even in the midst of a crowd we can feel trapped in feeling we don’t fit, or that others don’t care, or that a surprising loneliness pervades, one not washed away by happy chatter. Often we feel stuck, there, with nowhere to turn.

But then, we can consider the life of Jesus, who knew firsthand about loneliness, even when with others. He had with him followers, disciples—yet they fell asleep even as he was needing them to keep watch and pray for him. Jesus knew of loneliness when those who had walked alongside him betrayed him, and then gathered among crowds that jeered him.

Jesus understands our prayer, “be present in this loneliness.”

Maybe, though, a different phrase strikes you: “Lord, be comfort where there is pain.”

Pain can be emotional, caused by being cut off from ones we’ve loved, or from being deserted by those we’d trusted. Pain can come from a mental illness that isolates us, or pain from having scars of abuse. Pain can be physical— aching muscle on aching muscle; diseases of arthritis, fibromyalgia or another that causes pain which means hands, legs, and feet don’t work right or feel right; pain can be from war wounds, accidents, aging. The pain, or the cause, can impede sleep or makes it impossible to get up and walk.

At such times we may find ourselves in prayer, “Lord, be comfort where there is pain.”

Why can we bring that pain to Christ? Because Jesus Christ, though son of God, gave up divine life to be with us, and to experience what we do so that we might begin to trust that God wants us to know God, and see “God does know. God does care. God is with you.”

Whose name will you include in prayers for comfort?

Jesus also knows of the need of healing where there is brokenness. His disciples who betrayed him or deserted him were greeted by his welcome when he was next with them. He understood their brokenness from their fear of the crowds, from their shock at his death, and from their inability on their own to remain constant in their faith.

Jesus prepared breakfast for them, invited them to the meal, gave them welcome. Jesus now prepares in Holy Communion and in faith communities a healing meal and place of welcome for us.

A writer (whose name escapes me) tells of a time when his physical illnesses caused almost constant pain. He was beleaguered by the pain and the emotions it brought. He writes of coming to a point when the pain was still real, as were the emotions it stirred—but when God’s Spirit stirred up within him a perspective that allowed him to know the pain was not what defined him, or his outlook. He found himself facing the pain and the anxiety with prayers of thanksgiving, perhaps similar to the one above: “Thank you Lord, for being present in loneliness. Thank you Jesus, for being comfort in pain. Thank you, Spirit of God, for bringing healing even in the midst of brokenness.”

Please join in prayers for those in loneliness, in pain, in need of healing from brokenness. Whose names will you include?

Each month a member of the Cook County Ministerium will offer Spiritual Reflections. This month our contributor is Pastor Kris Garey, Trinity Lutheran Church, Hovland.


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