THERE ARE MANY Bibles in my house – the one my mother presented to me when I was a child and the Bible that was a required text in college. On my night table is the worn, pocket-sized New Testament my mother read several times a day in the years after my father’s death. I have referred to it more frequently in recent years.

In times of peril or pain, with the hope of comfort and sustenance, I have used one or another of these holy documents as a source of prayer.

I have no doubt that the rich texts of the Bible were inspired by God speaking through human voices. The word "inspire", in fact, comes from Old English and Latin and means "to breathe into".

It is my habit to pray daily in the early morning when the alarm goes off, and in the evening before I sleep. Often I pray in the car on the way to and from work.

I begin by giving thanks, inspired by the psalmist who says, "O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks" (Ps 30:13). Sometimes, I recite the doxology written in the 17th century from thoughts inspired by fourth-century Christians: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." Then I may pray for God’s help with specific problems in my life or to address worries I have about the future.

Although I am in reasonably good health, I often ask God to keep me able: able to work, able to help my family, able to reach out to others.

Daily I ask for help with my prodigal child. I read and reread the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32. Like the father in that ancient story, I will give the fine robe, the ring, the shoes and a share of the fatted calf to my daughter when she finds her way home. All I have is hers and always has been.

The best part of being a Christian is understanding that when I am unable to make sense of life, I can gain strength from the Lord’s Prayer, given 2,000 years ago by Jesus to his disciples (Mt 6:9-13 and Lk 11:2-4). Its words promise that God will sustain me on the worst of days and heal my heart. - By Margo MacArthur

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