A calming prayer

23 June, 2024 12th Sunday Year B

The Shetland Islands are north of Scotland and just below the Arctic Circle. They are a group of one hundred islands with only sixteen inhabited. There is a daily ferry for travellers, but also private boats for hire.


A retired naval captain used to skipper a boat taking tourists to the islands, and one day his boat had a party crowd of young people. They smirked at the old captain when they saw him saying a prayer before sailing because the day was fine and the weather calm. However, they were not long at sea before they experienced a sudden storm, and the boat began to pitch violently.


The terrified passengers came to the captain and asked him to join them in prayer.


He replied, “I say my prayers when it’s calm and when it’s rough I tend to my boat.”


We are all likely to pray for help when storms come our way. However, it is also important to seek God in the quieter moments of life and to build a relationship that takes us through all the seasons of life.


We are familiar with prayers of petition in times of need and these are personal where we ask God for certain things in life. There are prayers of intercession when we make requests on behalf of other people. Equally familiar to us are prayers of thanksgiving where we rejoice in what God has done for us.


Prayer is about relationship and God invites us to grow the relationship by spending time with God. Two other forms of prayer are prayers of blessing and adoration where we acknowledge our dependence of God and prayers of praise where we express our love for God.


During our busy lives we can sometimes lose sight of the need to stop, reflect and open our lives to God, so it is helpful to heed the advice of the retired naval captain, and to develop a daily pattern of prayer rather than only turning to prayer in the ‘storms of life’. This pattern will help us grow a deeper relationship with God who is ever present but not always engaged.


We have routines for exercise and recreation. We have routines for work and for play. Routines are helpful in that they help us engage in what is essential, but they also help to free us for spontaneity because they create space by taking care of the ordinary things in life. When prayer becomes part of the pattern of the day, we are giving time to nurturing our relationship with God.


As we grow in our relationship, we become more like the disciples who were in awe when Jesus calmed the storm, and they began to recognise more fully the identity of Jesus. May we become more conscious of God’s presence by developing daily patterns of prayer.


Michael A Kelly CSsR

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