The form of religion was always a trivial matter to me. . . . The pageantry of the Roman Church that first mothered and nurtured me touches me to this day. I love the Protestant prayers of the English Church. And I love the stern and knotty argument, the sermon with heads and sequences, of the New England Congregationalist. For this catholicity Catholics have upbraided me, churchmen rebuked me, and dissenters denied that I had any religion at all.
God grant that each of us here today may so live that all among us, and with us, may see, not us, but that which is divine and comes from God. With that vision of what those who have lost their way may become, my prayer is that they may receive strength and resolution to climb higher and higher and upward and onward to that great goal of eternal life and also that I may do my part in seeking to show by example, as well as by precept, that which will be the best of which I am capable of doing.
Everything starts from prayer. Without asking God for love, we cannot possess love and still less are we able to give it to others. Just as people today are speaking so much about the poor but they do not know or talk to the poor, we too cannot talk so much about prayer and yet not know how to pray.
Are you aware that your spirit needs to be fed? Did you know that your spirit would be delighted to partake in a feast of spiritual food? How about a plate full of prayer? Or maybe a few hours of succulent self-reflection. Perhaps a piping-hot selection of spiritual literature, served by the side of a lake or under a tree, would satisfy your spiritual hunger. Can you imagine feasting for a few hours on spiritually uplifting music? What about some forgiveness à la mode, topped with compassion? You cannot imagine how much your spirit would enjoy it.
Billy had a framed prayer on his office wall which expressed his method for keeping going, even though he was unenthusiastic about living. A lot of patients who saw the prayer on Billy’s wall told him that it helped them to keep going, too. It went like this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference. ” Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future.
Fasting with a pure heart and motives, I have discovered, brings personal revival and adds power to our prayers. Personal revival occurs because fasting is an act of humility. Fasting gives opportunity for deeper humility as we recognize our sins, repent, receive God's forgiveness, and experience His cleansing of our soul and spirit. Fasting also demonstrates our love for God and our full confidence in His faithfulness.
The full horror of what has happened in the United States earlier today is now becoming clearer. It is hard even to contemplate the utter carnage and terror which has engulfed so many innocent people. We've offered President Bush and the American people our solidarity, our profound sympathy, and our prayers. But it is plain that citizens of many countries round the world, including Britain, will have been caught up in this terror.