Fishing and Measuring Prayers
On the way to 5 Senses of Prayer Book 3 - #16
Measurement is a huge concept. We don’t get very far in our lives without measuring something. How much water have I drunk today? What size t-shirt do I wear? How many people am I buying Christmas presents for this year? What time does the bus leave? Why is my neighbour richer than me? How much potting mix do I need to buy to fill a plant pot? How many hours of sunlight will there be today? What will I need to earn this month to pay the bills?
We would be fooling ourselves if we think we haven’t ever made a comparison statement about another person or group of people based on a measurement. Our concepts of measuring shape our view of our own lives and how we fit into the society in which we live. These views also shape our world view and how we treat those who are different from us according to our criteria for measurement.
We also struggle with measurement when it comes to understanding God. How big is our God? How can we ever comprehend the fullness of God’s love and strength?
The heavens keep telling
the wonders of God,
and the skies declare
what he has done.
Each day informs
the following day;
each night announces
to the next.
They don't speak a word,
and there is never
the sound of a voice.
Yet their message reaches
all the earth,
and it travels
around the world.
Psalm 19:1-4 (CEV)
These are the thoughts running around my head at the moment. Like many of you I’m struggling to make sense of current situations in the world. I’m struggling to make sense of the depth and breadth of trauma that people inflict upon other people. I struggle to make sense of the layer upon layer of historical conflict and the compounding impact of the injuries we can do to each other. I struggle to make sense of sickness and disease, and the way those who are disabled or have ongoing sicknesses get treated as somehow of less value than the well. I struggle to make sens of the growing gap between poverty and wealth and the way it is much easier for the rich to get richer without trying very hard, than it is for a homeless person to find a bed or a warm meal. When my head gets full of things that don’t make sense I’m so grateful that I can turn to God in prayer. I’m not looking for answers in my prayers, I’m just letting out all of my thoughts, knowing God hears and understands.
Yet again I’m running late to get out this prayer room. I’ve dipped in and out of writing it for days now and I’m fast approaching being one week late. It’s not the only deadline that I’m not meeting currently. Time is not stretching out in my favour. I’m squeezed and limited in what I can fit in and this is frustrating to me. I’m not meeting the rhythm of measurment of calendar and clock. What can I do? Again, I am grateful that I can turn to God in prayer when life gets full and complicated.
And so we come to this week’s prayers. I’ve previously shared our Fishing Ground prayer in this prayer room. Variations of this prayer have been part of my worship experiences over several years. It’s an easy to set up prayer in a group setting. I actually purchased a child’s magnet fishing set for my own personal prayer kit a couple of years ago. I love the metaphors inspired by fishing, the way Jesus talked about fish, fed people with fish and made friends with fisherfolk. Fishing meets my criteria of turning an action into a prayer.
The other prayer I’ve included is a new one using a measuring tape. I often find new prayers appear based on what I’m physicallly doing or what my senses are showing me. I’m still writing our Advent resource, ‘Counting Down to Christmas’ and my head is very much in that space with a big push to get finished before Advent starts. This year I have included an interactive section which is yet to be inserted. I’ve invited participants to fill in a questionnaire and some of the answers will be woven through our daily counting down emails. One of my questions is, “What is one of the most unusual or exciting Christmas presents you’ve ever opened?” I’ve been musing on my own answers to these questions. And this is why we have a measuring tape prayer this week.
A few years ago my adult kids gave me a measuring tape for Christmas. A real, proper, tradesman quality measuring tape. I hadn’t ever hinted I’d wanted one, hadn’t even thought of buying one for myself or wishing for one, but as soon as I opened it I recognised it as a most wonderful and welcome gift. I love to measure things, especially furniture. This is because I like moving the furniture. I’m often coming up with ways of rearranging or wondering if something will fit somewhere different. When life is getting complicated, I’ll often get into a moving mode. Out comes the tape measure! How great that I now have my own!! One of our lesser known senses is called, proprioception. This sense helps us feel grounded. We get proprioceptive sensory input when we push, pull and lift. I always used to find it odd that when I’m really busy I’d feel like moving furniture - but now I lean into it. It’s just my brain organising itself and making me feel grounded. So my measuring tape is a gift that inspires grounding and grounding to me is also about prayer.
Well let’s get to the prayers!
I hope whatever is going on in your life there is a little space for prayer.
On the journey
Fishing Ground Prayer
Sense of Touch – Intercession (I.T.10)
Make a fishing rod by attaching a magnet on a piece of string to the end of a wooden spoon or piece of bamboo garden stake. Create a fishing ground on the floor by laying down a piece of rope or blue string in the shape of a pond. Think about the ‘fishing ground’ as a metaphor for the places we go to everyday, and the people we rub shoulders with who don’t yet know about Jesus. Place fish in your pond. On each fish, write a typical place people go to such as work, school, grocery store etc. Attach a paper clip to each fish and place them in the pond. Using your magnet fishing rod, catch a fish from your fishing ground on the floor. When you catch a fish pray a one sentence prayer for the people who meet in the place written on the fish. Release your catch back into the pond for someone else to fish back up again.
Getting ready checklist
· Fish shapes on light cardboard with a paper clip. Write a key word on each fish for places in your community where people meet (name of park, local supermarket, schools etc)
· Fishing rod made with bamboo stick, string attached to end with a magnet tied on instead of hook.
· String to mark the fishing area on the ground
Further suggestions and adaptations on using this prayer
Set up a fishing ground at the prayer station. Have a map displayed of your local area with some of the key meeting places marked. You may also want to display some items of interest from your local community to remind participants that this is a ‘local’ prayer. Suggest participants pray and then return the fish to the fishing ground for the next person.
Think about your own regular routines and weekly places. Where do you go each day? Who do you meet there? Write the names of places on small cut out fish. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making a fishing line then catch the fish ‘by hand’. As you pick up each card, read the place and pray a one sentence prayer for people you regularly meet in that place.
Talk together about the fishing ground where we live, the places we go every day and rub shoulders with other people who don’t yet know about Jesus. Discuss together these places and what opportunities you have in every day life to show others what it means to live as a faith-filled follower of Jesus. As you fish up a place, pray a one sentence prayer for that place and the people who meet together there each day.
Project images of some of your local places where groups gather. Set up a fishing ground at the front of your gathering space and invite some fisherpeople of all ages to volunteer to go fishing. As each fish is caught, share the name of the place with the larger gathered group and invite a volunteer to pray a one sentence prayer for that place. Invite the gathered group to also pray their own one sentence prayer for that place.
Visual Images - Static, Projected, Live Props
· Photos of local places (parks, beaches, forests, schools, shops, community halls, doctor’s surgeries, hospitals, council buildings, theatres, 10 pin bowling etc)
· Fishing with a rod and reel
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