January 2024 WATERritual

Pray With Us

By Diann L. Neu and WATER staff

Watch the recording of the WATERritual here on YouTube.
Preparation: Place a bowl of water, prayer beads, and your symbols of prayer near you.
Call to Prayer – Ring a bell three times.
From generation to generation, our mothers, grandmothers, and ancestors heard bells that called them to prayer, and they prayed. Some of us still pray, reluctantly. Many of us used to pray. A number of us don’t or can’t pray. Most of us have difficulty praying kyriarchal prayers. Some of us are reclaiming women’s traditions of prayer. Others are creating new prayers.

Tonight we take our place in the stories of pray-ers. “Pray with us,” they call. And we pray in the form of contemplation, song, and dance; reading, writing, and conversations; praise, petition, and thanksgiving; tears, cries for help, and lamentations; stillness, gazing, and waiting; fasting, feasting, and Eucharist; liturgies, meditations, and political actions; and so much more.

We gather at Wisdom’s Well to pray together, and to share our experiences and struggles with prayer, bead by bead. Hold your beads as we sing.
Song: “Prayer to Friends” by Carolyn McDade, from This Tough Spun Web
To this day I bring my life
To this place where I stand
Bringing hope where once was strife
All I have, all I am

Help me to see what I must see
Help me to be what I could be
Restless faith abide ’til all are free
Fill my life, guide my hand

To this day I bring my gifts
To these friends, to this home
Finding joy that spirits live
Feeling strong not alone.

Help me today to be my best
Help me remember we are blessed
And to be with friends, to meet as friends
Like of long we have known

To this house I bring my voice
To these words, to this song
Singing out I make the choice
Open arms, welcome home

Help us today let our hearts soar
Heal us today to pledge once more
Love and courage, kind and open door
When voices blend, we are strong
Gathering Prayer
Open your hands in front of you, as we pray:
Divine Wisdom, teach us to pray.

Raise your hands, as we pray:
Divine Wisdom, Source of Life, be with us as we remember the prayers of our ancestors.

Extend your hands outward, as we pray:
Divine Wisdom, Source of Life, Healing Presence, encourage us to pray in the language of our hearts. Amen. Blessed Be. May It Be So.
Thoughts on Prayer from Wisdom’s Well
Show us your symbols of prayer. (Pause) Look around at the variety. (Pause)
Let’s listen to women’s thoughts on prayer.

The life of prayer is so great and various there is something in it for everyone. It is like a garden which grows everything, from apples to potatoes.
—Evelyn Underhill (Lucy Menzies, ed. Collected Papers of Evelyn Underhill, 1946)

For prayer is the language of the heart—needing no measured voice, no spoken tone.
—Grace Aguilar (The Spirit of Judaism. Philadelphia, PA: C. Sherman, 1842)

What we are doing when we pray as feminists in our respective traditions is something very radical in the literal sense of the word, that is, challenging our traditions at the very root. Sometimes we challenge by refusing, by using no words. Sometimes we challenge by creating new words that smash the old words. Both ways are powerful acts of resistance.
—Marjorie Procter-Smith (in Women at Worship, Marjorie Procter-Smith and Janet R. Walton, editors. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993)
Song Response: “Call to Prayer” by Carolyn McDade, from This Ancient Love
For each part is a part of each other part.
We all are a part of one another.
As for prayer, don’t burden yourself with making considerations; neither your mind or mine is good at that. Follow your own way of speaking to God sincerely, lovingly, confidently and simply, as your heart dictates.
—Jane de Chantal (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

I don’t know how I could survive the indifference and evil and violence rife in our nation and world, and the shallowness and pettiness of so much of Washington’s self-important life, without these seeds of faith, prayer, and music that were planted in my youthful soul by parents and other elders.
—Marian Wright Edelman (Guide My Feet: Prayers and Meditations for Our Children, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1995)

Prayer is essentially a process by which ideals are enabled to become operative in our lives. It may be more than this, but it is at least this.
—Georgia Harkness (The Recovery of Ideals, 1937)
Song Response:  “Call to Prayer”
For each part is a part of each other part.
We all are a part of one another.
Reflection / Sharing
Let us take a few minutes to share our reflections about prayer. How do you pray and live? How does a prayerful feminist pray and live? Hold your beads and share a glimpse of your prayerful reflections in your group. Sharing.
Song Response:  “Call to Prayer”
For each part is a part of each other part.
We all are a part of one another.
Prayers of the Faithful
With ongoing wars and military conflicts, environmental degradation, natural disasters, injustice, economic disparity, political tension, a never-ending Covid outbreak and other health issues, many around the world need us to pray with them or to pray for them this night. Let our response be “Compassionate Mercy, hear and answer our prayer.”

A daughter sighs with resignation, grieving and mourning the death of her mother.
Response: Compassionate Mercy, hear and answer our prayer.

An aunt prays with her niece and nephew at bedtime. Response

A friend shows up to offer support and comfort during a time of despair. Response

A single mother pleads for comfort and reassurance during moments of crisis. Response

A woman cries in anger at a kyriarchal church. Response

A despairing teenager laments the pain in the face of physical violence. Response

A depressed youth seeks help from being bullied and victimized. Response

An immigrant woman offers a moment of gratitude for finding a new and safe community for her family. Response

A mother cries for help when her daughter gets lost in a Human Trafficking ring. Response
Song Response:  “Call to Prayer”
For each part is a part of each other part.
We all are a part of one another.
Blessing Beads
Praying with beads is a spiritual practice that was used by ancient ancestors of faith throughout the past two millenniums to assist them in prayer. Bead, from the Old English word bēde, means “prayer, request, petition, rosary.” There are almost as many forms of prayer beads as there are religions.

Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh prayer beads, called a mala, or rose in Sanskrit, have 108 beads, or 27 beads which are counted four times, usually made from seeds and worn around the neck.

Islamic prayer beads, called misbaha or tasbih, usually have 100 beads, 99 + 1 = 100 beads in total or 33 beads read three times + 1.

Baha’i prayer beads consist of some factor of 95, usually 19 of the same kind of bead with an additional five different beads hanging from the circle.

Catholic prayer beads, called the Rosary, string five groups of ten beads (a decade), with an additional large bead before each decade, and five beads for opening prayers.

Prayer beads are strung beads used to count prayers and mantras. Beads can be made of organic materials like wood, pebbles, clay, food, or seeds. They can be crafted by artisans out of glass, clay, chord, ceramic, silver, or other metals. They are often worn as necklaces or wrapped around the waist, wrist, or fingers.

Fingering and touching each bead can calm your spirit, center you, and help you focus. Beads can be used for meditation, praise, petition, and as tangible aids to involve the heart and hands in prayer.

Let hold our beads, bless our them, and pray.
Blessed be these beads.
Blessed be those who pray with them.

As we pray, fingering our beads, bead by bead,
May love surround us, and embrace those who need prayers.
May grace inspire us, and fill those who need prayers.
May faith illumine our way, and guide those who need prayers.
Amen. Blessed Be. May It Be So.
Blessing Prayerful People
Who is a prayerful person? How do we recognize one? How do we become one?
We close blessing aspects of prayerful people.

A prayerful person laughs and enjoys life during the struggles.
   Response: Let us laugh and enjoy life during the struggles.

A prayerful person resists all forms of domination with soft kind words and actions.
   Response: Let us resist all forms of domination with soft kind words and actions.

A prayerful person notices signs of new life and nurtures it.
   Response: Let us notice signs of new life and nurture it.

A prayerful person gazes in awe at the beauty of nature.
   Response: Let us gaze in awe at the beauty of nature.

A prayerful person pays attention to goodness.
   Response: Let us pay attention to goodness.

A prayerful person sees the needs of others and acts.
   Response: Let us see the needs of others and act.

A prayerful person calls the best out of people.
   Response: Let us call the best out of people.

A prayerful person is alert, aware, and attuned to the energies in the universe.
   Response: Let us be alert, aware, and attuned to the energies in the universe.

A prayerful person lets herself welcome a bold, daring, new adventure.
   Response: Let us let ourselves welcome a bold, daring, new adventure.
Greeting of Peace
Let us honor ourselves and the prayerful people around us. First kiss your right hand, then blow a kiss t0 someone you know who needs it. Next kiss your left hand, then blow a kiss to a child or elder who needs love.
Take Action
Let us put our prayers into action.

  • Some of you might remember the popular movie War Room, which came out a few years ago. It was based on creating a special place in the home dedicated to praying. Create a special place in your home where you can pray.
  • Don’t stick to one format of prayer. Try praying using different prayer forms like prayer walks, pilgrimage, praying with icons, praying with scriptures, breath prayer, meditation, body prayer, labyrinth, prayer beads, guided imagination, praying with mandalas, dance, and others.
  • Keep a prayer journal to record your prayers and check them off or date them as they are answered.
  • Hold a Rosary, mala, misbaha, or your Healing Beads. Finger each bead and pray “heal me.”
  • Make a string of 10 beads, your Gratitude Beads, and name ten things for which you are grateful. Hold each bead as you give thanks.
  • Pray a string of 10 beads, one for each person you know who is living with cancer or life-changing illness, and send them healing peace.
  • Make a string of seven beads and pray for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and Divine amazement (fear of the Lord).
  • Ask someone if there is something they would like for you to add to your prayer list and include it in your prayer.
  • Pray for the USA and the world at large. We are all cells in this great universe and we need it in order to survive.

Sending Forth
Our beads represent little cells, and we too are all cells in this beautiful universe.
Let us go forth treasuring our connections as prayerful people.
Like our beads, may we be connected with creation, with one another, with the Divine.
May we fill our lives with meaning.
May we bless the world with our prayers.
Amen. Blessed Be. May It Be So.
Song: “I Say a Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin
© 2024 Diann L. Neu, dneu@hers.com, adapted from Stirring WATERS: Feminist Liturgies for Justice by Diann L. Neu and WATER Staff