I remember once I walked all night along the edge of the lake,
Talking to the stars—
Was the strange Nearness that walked with me that night God?
And when I talked to the stars
Was it God I lifted my mouth to breathing words?
I talked to the stars becuse I was happy:
My life in that hour seemed to reach itself out
In a great vista before me, holy triumphant;
I seemed in that hour to give myself over to life, grasping on all the might of the world—
Or was it God I gave myself to, and God was that giving?
And His that triumph and that holiness, and His that might of the world, that might of joy?
– Helen Hoyt
The Mood of Worship:
Consider, for example, a form of prayer used by many on the first awakening when the night has washed the spirit clean and even cells of brain and body are heightened. First a mere strong impulse to be briefly free of the body. Then a stronger impulse to transcend the mind. Then a desire to inhabit one’s own spirit and to rise with it to one’s own highest conception of God. A definite lift of being, toward God. Then the return, through spirit, through mind, to body—and the day begun thus permeated, stamped with the highest form of beauty that one knows. Though the day or before sleeping, whenever there is a moment when solitude can be entered or achieved, this same touch with the highest form of beauty that one knows. Here is a meeting place with God, not made with hands.
– Zona Gale
I climbed to heaven by a stair
Of locust tree and wind-cleaned air.
A rainbow-circled gate was wide,
Inviting me to step inside;
And there, within a dappled wood,
Felicity and Beauty stood.
I knew at once that they were kin
Of my own soul who drew me in
To share with them the ecstasy
Of law-created harmony.
Unrest, frustration, fled away;
I was at home......at home. . . to stay.
Oh, wonder-hour when tree and sky
Heard a lost starveling’s lonely cry
And made of leaf and flower and sod
A stairway to the heart of God.
– Mary Stevens
The Essence of Prayer:
Prayer is no mere feeling of exaltation, no mere hallowed mood, no mere prostration before a supreme good. It is rather a real intercourse of God with man, a living fellowship of the finite spirit with the Infinite. And just because the modern has no correct conception of the immediacy and tenderness of the relation effected by prayer in which the simple devout soul stands to God, he is constantly confusing with genuine prayer these more general religious phenomena—adoration and devotion—which have their analogies even outside the religious sphere.
Religious persons and students of religion agree in testifying that prayer is the centre of religion, the soul of all piety. The definition of the essence of prayer explains this testimony; prayer is a living communion of man with God. Prayer brings him into direct touch with God, into a personal relation with Him. Without prayer faith remains a theoretical conviction; worship is only an external and formal act; moral action is without spiritual depth; man remains at a distance from God. Johann Arndt says: “In prayer the highest and the lowest come together, the lowliest heart and the most exalted God.”
– Friedrich Heiler
A Song of Assurance:
Send forth thy light and thy faithfulness; may they guide me,
May they bring me to thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling-place.
May I go to the altar of God, to God my highest joy;
And may I praise thee with the lute, O God my God.
Why art thou brought low, O my spirit;
And why dost thou murmur within me?
Wait thou for God; for I shall again praise him,
The salvation of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 43:3-5 From “The Bible,
An American Translation.”
Almighty God, who art beyond the reach of our highest thought, and yet within the heart of the lowliest; we pray thee to come to us in all the beauty of light, in all the tenderness of love, in all the liberty of truth, and make thyself known to us. Mercifully help us in the struggle to be pure and good; encourage us in every effort to be true, loyal and loving; to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Thee. Sanctify all our desires and purposes, and upon each of us let Thy blessing rest. Amen.
– Presbyterian Church of South Africa Service Book
The Malaysia Message
Vol. 48 No. 3