Visit and help me, for thy great mercy’s sake.
I visited strangers one year at Mercer Medical Center. I sat with them, talked with them, prayed with them, listened to them. I’d refill empty water glasses and remove food trays. Some were patients, some hospital staff, some were family or friends. I had the honor of hearing many life stories and the privilege of finding the Spirit awaiting my visit, already embracing the sick and the healthy. I saw enough pain to break my heart, and found enough grace to heal it.
I know that the Spirit is always present, so I don’t really need to ask God to visit; it’s asking for what’s already been given. But I misplace this truth when I need it most. I’m so focused on what’s bothering me that I can’t see beyond it. So when I ask for God’s help and visitation, I’m really asking for God to remove my spiritual blindness. God is merciful, patiently giving me eyes to see what I already have.
Jesus visited and helped so many people during his time among us. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and brought peace to the possessed. He restored lepers to their families and villages. He is the answer God gave to this prayer, and he comes to us today in the Spirit. This prayer is always answered.
Another wonderful thing: sometimes we are the answer to this prayer, sent by the Spirit. We have the honor of being the hands of Christ and the grace of serving the Christ we meet in those around us. We just don’t see it most of the time…
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)
Prayer for the Acceptance of God’s Will
O Lord, I know not what to ask of thee. Thou alone knowest what are my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I myself know how to love. Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me. I dare not ask either a cross or consolation. I can only wait on thee. My heart is open to thee. Visit and help me, for thy great mercy’s sake. Strike me and heal me, cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence thy holy will and thine inscrutable ways. I offer myself as a sacrifice to thee. I put all my trust in thee. I have no other desire than to fulfil thy will. Teach me how to pray. Pray thou thyself in me. Amen. (From A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1991, p.24)
About the Author of this prayer:
Metropolitan Philaret was the son of a Russian Orthodox priest who became a priest himself. He taught at St. Petersburg Theological Academy, and eventually became the Metropolitan of Moscow – a ranking somewhere between archbishop and patriarch. Not quite on par with the pope, but awfully close. He worked for offering scripture and other teachings in Russian so more people could read them. He wrote a catechism that is still in use. I suspect Philaret was a very busy man who had his share of difficulties.