Thursday, December 28, 2017

Esther's Prayer: Remembrance

As the end of another year approaches, we ought to step back and take some time for remembrance. 

Esther did this in her prayer when she spoke to God about the wonders He had accomplished for her people in the past. She'd heard the tales since she was born about how God had separated the Israelites from their neighbors and made them His own special people, bound to Him by covenant. But she also recalled how God's people sinned against Him, giving themselves to other “gods,” and how God justly punished them by handing them over to their enemies.

Esther remembers the good and the bad, the joys and the sorrows, the blessings and the sins. It's all part of her past, and it all contributes to her future as she places her trust in the faithful God Who has carried her people through everything. 

God has carried us through everything, too, over this past year...and always. Now let us recall what God has done for us and how we have responded to Him by reflecting on the following questions.

* Where has God been active in my life this year?
* What miracles have I witnessed?
* In what ways has God corrected or disciplined me?
* How have I responded to God's work?
* How has my relationship with God changed over the past year?
* How has my relationship with other people changed?
* Where have I succeeded in Christian living?
* Where have I failed in Christian living?
* What have I learned about God and myself this year?

Lord, may we remember the past that we may see Your love for us more clearly. Give us the grace to know ourselves better that we may grow ever closer to You in the coming year. Amen.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Esther's Prayer: Preparation

Esther had received a nearly impossible mission, at least in her eyes. Her people, the Jews, were in grave danger; the king had already signed the order for their extermination. Esther wasn't sure what she could do to change that, if anything, but at the request of Mordecai, her foster father, she resolved to try. She would push the boundaries of her queenship to their very edges and approach the king uninvited even if it meant her death.

But even after she had made her decision, Esther did not act immediately. Instead, she took some time to prepare. Esther, “seized with deadly anxiety, fled to the Lord.” She dissolved into penance, removing her royal robes and donning mourning garments, covering her tangled hair with ashes and dung, refusing to touch food or drink, and praying long and hard for God's favor.

Esther called on God for help, realizing that she was all alone. She remembered the Lord's past aid and prayed for a new deliverance for her people. She acknowledged their sinfulness and her own abhorred position in the king's household, and she declared her total dependence on God. 

The queen's preparation paid off. She refused to jump into anything without first humbling herself before God and speaking to Him intimately in prayer. Only then, when she had completely placed herself and her mission in God's hands, did she dare to approach the king, dressed in her highest finery but also with the confidence that she had done everything she could to prepare for her dangerous, and ultimately successful, task.