A blog from Deacon Cindy Hamilton, on “Sabbatical” in Peru…
More than a year ago a friend gave me a daily prayer book. I have used it regularly since receiving it because I always need a plan to enter into my quiet times with the Lord. This book has provided a very faithful avenue to enter into his presence.
One day there was a suggestion to use prayer beads as a tool. Because I enjoy outward expressions of my faith I was quite excited about this idea; further I thought it would be a great mother/daughter activity. So, Emily and I headed out to purchase beads and make prayer bracelets according to the suggestion on Day 25 of May.
Here was the suggestion: ‘Consider creating a chain of beads that you can use as a physical tool as you pray throughout the day. Prayer beads aren’t magic, but they can help cure some minor cases of ADD. For instance, create a chain of different-sized beads or different-colored or different-textured beads for various prayers. You might have a large bead for the Lord’s Prayer. You might have seven rough beads for praying against the seven deadly sins (pride, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, greed, sloth) and you might have nine little ones for the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). As you pray, rest on each one and pray that it would take root and grow like a seed inside of you.’
We added very little to this concept. Our beads ended up as a bracelet: though not the least bit fashionable, it has still found its way to my wrist on occasion and works as a great reminder during the day. We used the idea for rough beads to pray against the seven deadly sins in our lives. Likewise, we used small colorful beads to pray for the fruit of the Spirit to take deeper root in our lives. We used a flat pearl-like bead for praying the Lord’s Prayer.
The seven deadly sins, while not attributed to a specific scripture, have been known as such since before the Reformation. There are specific lists of sins in the Bible, Proverbs 6:16-19 for example, but this list has only pride in common with the 7 deadly sins. I wanted to use it anyway because my children memorized a song with this verse as its lyrics when they were young, but alas it did not meet my prayer needs as the list of 7 deadly sins did.
The first day I prayed through the list of sins asking God to show me how I needed to pray about each of them in my life. I came through the exercise feeling a bit smug as I had not been particularly convicted of any but pride. Pride, I told myself is everyone’s problem, it is what got us into this mess in the first place. Oh, I did repent once again, but went about my way far too quickly.
The next day as I began to pray ‘Lord, lead me to repentance according to your great kindness…’ He did. He showed me where in my life I needed to repent of pride, envy, lust, anger (an old acquaintance), gluttony, greed and sloth. I admit to wanting to pass over gluttony and greed, thinking I did not have a problem with them. But I spent time there waiting for the Lord to speak to me. ‘Beware the tiniest things that desire to take root and grow,’ I heard a soft voice saying; then found myself praying, ‘guard me and let me hear your voice according to your love for me, Father.’
Sloth raised its ugly head. Usually overly busy, I have found since moving to Peru that I have few demands and can easily become lazy. I am praying that sloth will not take root in my life, while at the same time I learn what the Sabbath rest of God is for me. But Sabbath rest is a topic for another time.
While praying for the Fruit of the Spirit to be more evident in my life, I sensed the Lord telling me that joy was not an option: even though our culture certainly makes it seem like one. I find myself often focusing on what is missing rather than what is not. The reality is that I belong to the Creator of the universe; he loves me and has begun a good work in me that he has promised to finish. If the Lord chooses to give me nothing more than the knowledge of him that saves me, well, what else is there? Really. And so I should experience joy every moment of every day, unspeakable joy because I am in Christ and he is in me; that is enough for the happy dance every day.
So, as I pray for the Fruit of the Spirit in my life, I spend more time on the pretty turquoise bead of love, and breathe in the Spirit of joy when I touch and contemplate the bead that represents joy, and certainly peace and patience will follow on their heels, and so I pray to be more like Christ…until at last I rest on the Pearl and finish with confidence as I pray the prayer Jesus taught us to pray. Our Father…Forever.