“Prayer is the harbour in the storms of life, an anchor for those who are storm tossed, the treasure of the poor, the security of the rich, the healing of the sick, the preservation of health. Prayer banishes evil things, preserves the good”. (St John Chrysostom)
Paul Pritchard used these words in the concluding part of his sermon at Benediction on the Feast of the Epiphany. Paul continued…
Perhaps much of that is difficult to swallow at times. Those times when we are struggling with life, for people who live in the fear of the threat of Herodian type leaders, for those who do not experience the kindness of strangers.
So I guess the question is often asked, why do we people of faith bother?
Well, we bother because of the promises of this King of Kings, this lowly child visited by the wise men, the source of threat to Herod the Great. Our prayers do not have to be eloquent, full of fancy words and churchy phrases but I believe they really do count for something or else why would people ask for them when they are facing peril?
Whilst searching out an Epiphany prayer for today, I came across something rather wonderful written by St Therese of Lisieux:-
“I do not have the courage to force myself to search out beautiful prayers in books. There are so many of them it really gives me a headache! And each prayer is more beautiful than the others. I cannot recite them all and not knowing which to choose, I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences and He always understands me”
So I decided to pursue that search no further and instead sat in silence for a while.
So my following the star epiphany pilgrimage this year is focussed on the journey to and with Christ; it is focussed on my worship of Him and it is focussed on opening my heart to Him through prayer. These three things are my gifts, my Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
I have sung the hymn Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar by Peter Cornelius as apart from anything else it is my favourite – so to close I invite you to listen carefully to the final verse as I think it reminds us all so beautifully what we truly have to offer our King of Kings.
Thou child of man, lo, to Bethlehem
The Kings are travelling, travel with them!
The star of mercy, the star of grace,
Shall lead thy heart to its resting place.
Gold, incense, myrrh thou canst not bring;
Offer thy heart to the infant King. Offer thy heart.
(Click here to listen to a recording of the hymn to which Paul refers)