The phrase “thoughts and prayers” has come into common usage. Sadly, it is sometimes politicized and used as a pious excuse for doing nothing — a prime example being evasion of doing anything about gun violence.
Though admittedly similar, perhaps “prayerful thoughts” is a good substitute. In a prayerful thought we consciously picture the person or situation in our mind, ponder it, and find a place of feeling for this in our divine center, and then consider how to respond appropriately.
Below are several sample prayerful thoughts for beginning the day. I have some memorized and many printed out for use in the quiet place where I try to find myself in early morning hours:
“Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.” (Psalms 5:3, Peterson translation)
“There is a really deep well inside of me … it dwells in God. … And that is all I can manage these days and also all that really matters: that I safeguard the little piece of You, God, in myself.” (Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who perished at Auschwitz)
“I offer myself to you this day, Oh Lord, all that I am, all that I have, to be wholly yours. Use me as you will, where you will, and with whom you will.” (source unknown)
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“Relying on the grace of God … I will this day try to live a simple, loving and grateful life; repelling thoughts of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, fear and self-seeking. I will this day try to cultivate cheerfulness, civility, charity, holy silence, carefulness in conversation, and speak kind words to those with whom I live and work. I will try this day to walk in faith and childlike trust in God.” (Bishop John Vincent, 20th century, revised)
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” (Rachel Carson)
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” (Civil Rights era spiritual)
My prayerful thoughts are for all who read these lines. My response is to share several that I find helpful.
Bortell is a retired United Methodist minister living in Normal. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.