U.C.M. Newsletter of Joy, Humor, Laughter, and Inspiration
I am a prayer partner with God!
Prayer Really Does Help!
As many of you have heard, my Mom, Elenore “WOW” Ostroga, passed away on Sunday the 2nd of August. She had been quite ill and hospitalized for the past three weeks. Many of you placed her name in the UCM prayer bowl, and we prayed for her to make a speedy recovery or a speedy release. My Mom was ninety years old and was unable to talk, walk, understand her family and refusing to eat. She was slowly shutting down.
On Sunday morning while I was getting ready for church, I stood in my shower and asked my brother Bart (who died ten years ago) to come take Mom’s hand and dance her away to spirit. Mom and Bart were great dance partners!
I got to the Center and was preparing my sermon when Dr. Mace called me from Watsonville Hospital and said, “I don’t think your Mom will last more than thirty minutes.” Dr. Ayleen Augustine was walking by my door as I put down the receiver. I grabbed her hand and thrust my sermon at her. “Ayleen these are my notes – could you do church for me?” At this point I was crying, my hands were shaking and my nose was running.
Ayleen took everything I threw at here and said, “Sure we can do this.” I ran through the church crying and calling out instructions to my Associate Pastor, Rev. Donna Zehner, and anyone else watching me leave the sanctuary.
Rev. Corky got behind the wheel and we raced over Highway 17.
All the time I was praying, “Please God, let me make it to my Mom before she transitions.” I had promised her that she would not die alone and now God needed to help me keep my promise.
Forty-five minutes later (Yes, it is a record breaking time racing towards Santa Cruz beach on a Sunday morning in the summer) we screeched into the hospital parking lot.
My mom was quietly reclining on the bed in ICU. I walked in and looked at her monitors. All of her vital signs were normal! Nurse Kathy told me that my Mom had rallied about an hour before – at the same time I had been doing my frantic praying!
Mom opened her eyes and I took her hand. I talked to her, stroked her forehead and told her of all the wonders she was going to encounter as she made her journey to Spirit. I reminded her that her son Bart, husband Dan, sisters and brothers and friends would be having a welcoming party for her.
Her vital signs were slowing down. The nurse came and said that Dr. Mace was calling me from his home. That he had been monitoring her progress and felt she was getting ready to leave.
A peace came over my Mom, Corky, even the nurses as she slowly made her transition at 1:50pm. Once more my prayers were answered. I could feel my brother Bart and her husband Dan come and take her hands and lead her away. My Mom died the same way she lived, with dignity and purpose.
Since her death I have received numerous phone calls, e-mails and Facebook writings from all over the world. Each message has said, “She is in our prayers” or, “Our prayers are with you.” And I know, that these prayers and the wonderful support from my church community are keeping me and my family moving forward at this difficult time.
Thank you to all the folks from South Africa, Mexico City, Chile, Calgary, Canada, Thailand, Miami, Cleveland, Vancouver, Washington, Ashland, Salem and Portland Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Rhode Island and numerous towns and cities in California who have kept my Mom and family in your prayers and in your hearts.
Please say this prayer in memory of my Mom, who was a Baha’i;
“Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city,
and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified.” — Bahá’u’lláh
If praying is an effort for you, try these tips for making
your prayer life more focused and effective.
For some talking with Mother/Father God is as easy as breathing; it happens almost effortlessly. When you ask them how they do it, they simply shrug and reply, “I just pray.” Unfortunately, that’s as helpful as Serena Williams saying, “I just hit the ball,” when asked for some tips on more effective tennis. It may be easy for her to “just hit the ball,” but most of us need more fundamental instruction to get the job done. With that in mind, here are some practical guidelines that might help. The suggestions may not apply to your situation, but if you begin by incorporating a few of them, I know your prayer life will improve.
1. Choose a specific place to pray away from distractions so you can concentrate. Ringing phones, e-mails, cell phones and crying children will sabotage your “quiet time” before it gets started.
2. Pray at the same time every day, if at all possible. Make it part of your regular routine and it will become habit. Write it into your schedule and then treat it just like a daily appointment.
3. Pray out loud. Many people can pray under their breath or in their minds for long periods and still maintain intensity, but for most of us it’s a quick ticket to dreamland. When we pray out loud we have to form intelligent sentences. We have to concentrate more on what we’re praying about.
4. Keep a note pad handy so you can jot down different things that come to mind. Sometimes you’ll get great ideas totally unrelated to what you’ve been praying about. If you jot them down you can quickly get back to the topic at hand without being too distracted.
5. Make a list to keep track of your prayer needs. This can be done several ways. Prayer needs can be listed by category like “Church,” “Family,” or “Friends.” Or, they may be listed by the days of the week. Each day you pray for a different set of needs. You may want to include prayer everyday for a different area of society that has a tremendous influence on the direction of our nation. These seven categories include: (1) church and religion, (2) family and the home, (3) the media, (4) government, (5) education, (6) business and commerce, and (7) the arts and entertainment.
6. Redeem time for praying out of unused corners of your schedule. Those who drive to work can use the time praying instead of screaming at traffic (just don’t close your eyes!). Busy homemakers can combine prayer with housework, especially during the “mindless” chores. Joggers, swimmers and cyclists can use their workout time for prayer. My best times are in the shower or just before I go to sleep.
7. Change the pace during your prayer time. Include praise, thanks- giving gratitude and singing. Spend some of your time reflecting on your own spirituality, meditating on it and digesting its meaning.
8. Keep a prayer journal. Here are two ideas: Keep track of what you prayed for and when you prayed for it. Leave a space to jot down the answer when it comes. This will help you to keep alert to God’s answers. Sometimes answers come in the back door and you don’t want them to slip by you. The second variation is to write the entire prayer in your journal. Make it a personal letter to God or Goddess on a daily basis. Just write “Dear God” instead of “Dear Diary.”
9. Pray with someone else. Though some prayers can only be said in private, there will be times when you’ll want to join hearts with another person in prayer. If you commit to meet on a regular basis, the accountability can really help build consistency. Such prayer events can become powerful and life changing.
10. Pray one-sentence prayers. If the thought of worrying over a prayer topic wears you out, pray short, sincere prayers instead. A sentence or two may be all that’s needed to send your “request” to God. Then, just move on to the next item without feeling guilty for being brief.
11. Put your prayers in a prayer bowl or prayer basket. Each Sunday at CCL we include prayer request slips in your program. These go to UCM headquarters where they are prayed over and once a month placed into a spiritual flame. Writing prayers down really helps!
A mother was teaching her 3-year-old the Lord’s prayer. Several evenings she repeated it after her mother. One night she was ready to solo. Mom listened with pride as she enunciated each word, right up to the end. “Lead us not into temptation,” she prayed, “but deliver us some e-mail, Amen.”
A 5 year old boy was sitting down to eat when his mother asked him to pray for his meal. He replied, “Mom we don’t have to. We prayed over this last night.” His mother had prepared leftovers from the day before.
A dad was listening to his child pray “Dear Harold,” at this, dad interrupted and said, “Wait a minute, how come you called God, Harold?” The little boy looked up and said, “That’s what they call Him in church. You know the prayer we say, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, Harold be Thy name.”
One night Mike’s parents overheard this prayer, “Now I lay me down to rest, and hope to pass tomorrow’s test, if I should die before I wake, that’s one less test I have to take.”
A five-year-old said grace at family dinner. “Dear God, thank you for these pancakes.” Her parents asked why she thanked God for pancakes when they were having chicken. She smiled and said, “I thought I’d see if He was paying attention tonight.”
A little boy’s prayer: “Dear God, please take care of my daddy and my mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and me. Oh, please take care of yourself, God. If anything happens to you, we’re gonna be in a big mess.”
Little Johnny was softly saying his night prayers kneeling down, and his mother was beside him. “Say your prayers louder, darling, I can’t hear you,” said Little Johnny’s mother. “But I’m not talking to you” was the instant reply.
One Sunday a young child was “acting up” during the morning worship. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer the little one called loudly to the congregation, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”
And this particular four-year-old girl prayed: “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”