One of the things that is very evident from the prayers recorded in the Carmina Gadelica is that prayer itself was a lifestyle. Those who spoke these prayers understood prayer as transcendent of just words and necessary not for communication but survival. The early Celtic Christians understood prayer not as a pillar, but as the very foundation of a journey with Jesus Christ. This evident in the many different types of prayer seen in the Carmina Gadelica. It seemed that nothing could be accomplished, without prayer.
A Narrow View of Prayer
This type of prayer is missing sorely in our western churches today. In ancient Ireland there were towers, some of which remain today. These towers would ring a bell, reminding the Christian that it was time to reengage in prayer with Christ. In Celtic life, prayer was central, prayer was personal and prayer was necessary for livelihood. The following is a prayer about rising in the morning and immediately thanking God for waking up. Imagine if our prayers were so constant and so intense, the type of lives we could lead!
Thanks be to thee Jesus Christ,
Who brought me up from last night.
To the gladsome light of this day,
To win everlasting life for my soul.
Through the blood thou didst shed for me.
Praise be to thee O God forever,
For the blessings thou hast bestowed on me,
My food, my speech, my work, my wealth.
And I beseech thee,
To shield me from sin.
To shield me from ill,
To sain me this night.
And I low and poor,
O God of the poor!
O Christ of the wounds!
Give me wisdom along with thy grace.
May the Holy One claim me,
And protect me on sea and land.
And lead me on from step to step,
To the peace of the Everlasting City.
The Peace of the Everlasting City!
Prayer is for More Than Asking
One of the things that strikes me about this prayer is a theme it shares with the Lords Prayer in scripture. We are halfway through the prayer before the praying person asks for anything. I think in our modern world we have been taught to only use prayer to petition God. Rarely do we ever just thank God, or just spend time with God. This is because we have been conditioned to believe prayer is for asking, not for thanking or thinking.
This doesn’t mean asking God for things is wrong, its just a narrow use of prayer when it is the sole use of it. Think on many of the prayers you have prayed or those written in the modern era. Many are simply lists of requests. If all people ever did was ask you for things, that would be an annoying and narrow conversation.
The Carmina Gadelica gives us a look at what prayer could look like if we engaged it is a source of constant communication with Christ. A communication that went beyond asking and into thinking and being thankful for what we have been blessed with. The Celts communicated with God as if God was everywhere because that is exactly what they believed. What does your prayer life say about where you think Christ is in your life?
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