During the Crimean War (1853-56) groups of soldiers’ wives in England regularly met together for mutual prayer and comfort. They found that sharing and encouraging one another strengthened them in difficult days. One useful way the women found was to think about the promises of their faith, which they found in the Bible. They exchanged Bible verses with one another and talked together about the strength and comfort they derived from the verses.
From this Promise Boxes began to be developed. These were boxes containing many verses from scripture, each individually rolled and placed tightly in a box. Using a pair of tweezers a verse would be drawn at random from the box and reflected upon or discussed, and used in prayer.
An Anglican bishop describes how as a curate he had had a rather difficult day when, walking home, a lady seeing him in a despondent state, invited him into her home and asked him to select a verse from her Promise Box, which she then spoke to him about. He found the unusual event both encouraging, and inspiring.
To some this may seem simplistic or naive. However, the random selection of scripture verses isn’t to look for a magic formula to address life’s ills, but is rather an encouragement to reflect, through differing words and insights, on the hope and the goodness of God. In this way using the Promise Box can be a way of spiritual strengthening through life’s ups and downs.
At Mass today Canon Alma introduced the idea of the Promise Box (versions of which can be purchased online, see, for example, here.). A text was selected at random and Canon Alma spoke on it, and all were invited to reflect upon it though the coming week.
The selected text was Jesus’ words: I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28.20)
Why not think and pray about those words, and imagine how you would talk about the comfort the words bring.