Monday, September 24, 2007

The Five Finger Prayer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Is it easy for you to pray? I know that for me, sometimes it just isn't. Not because I don't want to ask the Lord for help. And not because I don't think He'll hear my prayer. But because I can't always put into words what I want to say. I know that the Lord knows my heart. So it shouldn't really matter what or how I pray just as long as I do. But as a Catholic, we were taught prayers to say at specific times. Catholics aren't known for just praying in their own words. For instance, when I see an ambulance speeding down the road I pray the Hail Mary.

"Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen."

I ask her to pray to our Lord on that person's behalf. I ask her to intercede and pray to her Son for that person who is suffering. Now I'm sure many of you are not Catholic and you can't understand why we don't just pray to God directly. So let me clarify for you that we DO. But just as you ask other friends and family members to pray for you, just as you get on a prayer list we Catholics ask the Holy Mother and the saints to pray for us and for others. Just a little added insurance so to speak. So in case that person in the ambulance is approaching their hour of death, I ask our Lord's mother to pray for him/her.

There are patron saints for all sorts of things. St Francis is the patron saint of animals. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items. St. Christopher of travelers. St. Michael of the warrior (Police officers, fire fighters.) I joke that St. Jude is my patron saint. The saint of lost causes. That being said, the majority of the time though we pray directly to our Lord above. And some people just have a gift where they can speak so poignantly and eloquently. Their thoughts and prayers come directly from their heart and their words speak to all those who are listening. And I wish I had that gift. But I don't. I stumble, I ramble. I try to use words like Thou and Thine and a lot of the times I get frustrated. And I think that God (in His humor) is chuckling up there saying "Aw, she's trying though, isn't she?" So there are times when I can't get the words out that I pray "The Five Finger Prayer." I have taught my children this concept. And if you haven't ever heard of it, I thought I would share it with you:

  1. Your thumb is the nearest to you. So begin your prayer by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."

  2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct, and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

  3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in industry and business, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

  4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble, or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

  5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "the least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinky should remind you to pray for yourself.


Mary said...

Julie, I do the same thing when I see an ambulance! As far as spontaneous prayer, I would think that because you are an eloquent writer you would have no problem finding words. :)

Super Mom said...

great post! as always

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Brilliant! In all those years of vacation bible school,I had never heard that.

FarmHouse Style said...

Julie, Your words are so thougtful and sincere, I am sure that God must delight in your prayers. I had never heard of that reminder but I will commit it to memory and teach it to my son.
Thanks for sharing it.

Rosemary said...

Thanks for visiting me and for your nice words. Interesting post.
I know what you mean. I hadn't heard that before.

Terri and Bob said...

This is wonderful! How incredibly simple yet totally divine.

Counting Your Blessings said...

I love the 5 finger prayer! I don't think I've seen it before. Thank you for passing it along. I often go through the Lord's Prayer, breaking it down..."Father" (I can't believe you let me call you Father. I can't believe you've made me a joint heir with your very own son...) "Who Art" (You are able to be everything I need you to be. I love that your name is above all other names...) "In Heaven" (You're in another realm and your ways are not my ways. Help me to remember that I won't always understand how your hand works but to trust...) Max Lucado has a wonderful book "The Great House of God" that really broke down the Lord's prayer in such a simple way. One other thing... It touches me so deeply to remember that we intercede for each other and that the Bible says that Jesus Himself sits at the right hand of God and intercedes on our behalf. I'm not Catholic and I don't know much about the various saints, etc. but God sees us all the same, as sinners (much as I hate to put that out there) and He saves us each the same way. Ok, sorry for the long response. I enjoyed your post! Blessings... Polly

Sophie Honeysuckle said...

I also do that when I see an ambulance and when I see dead animals on the roadside too!!xx

Sandi said...

Agree totally! And not just because I'm Catholic. Sometimes it's just hard to pray. It's those times that I know I really need to.
Thanks for this post.

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Fascinating post Julie! I hadn't heard this either, so I feel enlightened and inspired today.

Thanks for sharing it!


DebraK from ~the Bunnies Bungalow~ said...

I enjoyed this post immensely, I had not heard the five finger prayer either.

Thanks for explaining about the Catholic prayers. I never understood why Catholics prayed that way.

I enjoy taking prayer walks...just praying & talking to God as you get some exercise. Afterward I always feel so good.

Esther Sunday said...

Evening, Julie - just to let you know I have been trying to respond to your emails! With graditude, Esther xx

bellacolle said...

You know what dear? I think it just matters that you pray... man puts on us how..why..and the where... God's word says "Pray without ceasing". Nice post. :)

Bethany Hissong said...

I like the five finger prayer... I might share that with my fourth grade class! I am not eloquent nor do I have the prayers memorized (being Catholic only 2 years!) but my heart is always there and I had to laugh because God knows how you talk on a daily basis!! He knows what you're going to say before you say just say it! No fancy words! He loves you just the way you are (I like to picture Mister Rogers saying that, because it's true!). The Holy Spirit will lay something on your heart and you will feel like praying-- just do it! Prayer got me through lots of difficult times as a child and I know God listened to every word! I just wish now that I had known that Mary would listen to me too! I treasure her intercession!!!

rosemary said...

I have a really hard time praying...probably because I want to go right to the top....I carry a holy card of St. Jude. I have a rosary that was blessed by Pope John Paul and I find comfort in holding it at night and just being still. Beautiful post.

BittersweetPunkin said...

I love my talks with God,,,,,,what a beautiful post Julie!
Blessings and Prayers,

Kristen said...

I have found that once I allowed myself to have some informal prayer time with God, I pray so much more often. It is not unusual to see my talking to God as I am driving around in my car. Great Post!

Cris said...

That's sweet... it's not very easy for me to pray because I grew up saying repeated prayers and now I lack words... but I am trying each day to develop a closer relationship with God.