Prayer and Patrick

This is something I wrote on St. Patrick’s day, 2005:

Good Irish weather this morning. Cool and overcast, a slight breeze, and all the green in the forest beginning to celebrate Spring. My shamrock windsock has been dancing around all night in a continual celebration of St. Patrick’s day.

I found out that this isn’t just a day for Saint Patrick. This is a day for Patricks in general. At least in Poland. Poland, you see, has a lovely tradition called nameday. Birthdays tend to be low key affairs while namedays are the big parties. Some names, I found out, get two or even three choices on which day to celebrate. Patrick (or Patryk) gets one, this day, this saint’s day. I think it grand.

This is a weird day for me. I’m sitting here in relative peace realizing I should be praying non stop for those I know. The few people I feel God has stirred in my heart all seem to be wrestling with something beyond them. I want to stop all I’m doing and pray, and keep praying, and continue to pray. Only I’m not like most ‘prayer people’. I don’t have a ‘gift’ I just have the solid and total realization that prayer is a mighty work. So I pray, and learn to pray, and seek steadiness in prayer.

For this, beyond anything else today, is part of my calling. I would do anything I could for these people to put things right but all I can do is pray and keep praying, while occasionally saying something helpful and worthwhile if the words come.

God is good and God is working. It’s hard to listen and watch to see people in their struggles when all I can do is pray. But that’s the rub of it all. It’s not just prayer. It is potent and powerful beyond our understanding. This potent force is easy to dismiss and easy to ignore. We worry and fret and try to arrange within our own power all the while missing this spiritual contending.

But, this is nothing new. Those who are now saints were not born this way. They grew and they prayed. Patrick once wrote:

Often during each day, I prayed and the love and fear of God ever grew stronger within me…for the Lord…regarded my lowliness and had mercy on my youth and ignorance, keeping watch over me before I came to know Him or could differentiate between good and evil. God strengthened and comforted me as a father His son…and my faith increased and my spirit grew strong, so much so that in a single day I would pray a hundred times and almost as often by night, whether I found myself in the wood or on the mountain.

Prayer, more than anything else, is the lesson of Saint Patrick’s day. Curious, that.. but absolutely true.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

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