All of us who believe tend to use prayer in hard times. In this time we live in, fear is everywhere. Fear of Covid, fear of Covid Vaccinees. Fear of war and even fear of peace. We live in a time of individual uncertainty that the United States hasn’t seen since before World War II. People deal with fear in a myriad of ways and many of them are quite helpful and beautiful. It is here we can learn a lesson from the Scottish Celts and their prayers. The Celtic Christians main focus is a heightened sense that God is found in everything and in everyplace. If this is understood as true, then God is also present in fear.
When we are Afraid, God Still Remains
We have this concept as believers in Christ that when things occur that illicit strong emotional responses like fear or anger, God retreats. But surely as the scripture says God “did not give us a spirit of fear”, so how could God be in fear. This misunderstanding comes from lack of knowledge in the context of scripture and the sovereignty of God. God is by definition, infinite. If God is sovereign over all things, then God must be present in all things. We misunderstand context when we think if God is present then it must be only positive. God still remains.
We must understand that God is always present. God was present at creation, but also when Adam ate the fruit. God was present at the virgin birth, but also present as Christ was violently assassinated. God is present when you find the spouse of your dreams, but is also present as your spouse dies from disease. The lesson here is this- Gods presence does not equal painless. Gods presence equals comfort, if we reach out.
Its in this vein that we find this beautiful prayer from Celtic Scotland. A prayer that makes clear that the person speaking it is going through very difficult times. Yet in these difficult times, when western Christianity declares God vacant, Celtic Christianity declares God present.
Bless, O Chief of Generous Chiefs
BLESS, O Chief of generous chiefs,
Myself and everything anear me,
Bless me in all my actions,
Make Thou me safe for ever,
Make Thou me safe for ever.
From every brownie and ban-shee,
From every evil wish and sorrow,
From every nymph and water-wraith,
From every fairy-mouse and grass-mouse,
From every fairy-mouse and grass-mouse.
From every troll among the hills,
From every siren hard pressing me,
From every ghoul within the glens,
Oh! save me till the end of my day,
Oh! save me till the end of my day
Make Me Safe Forever
This prayer revolves around the concept of safety. But how can we be safe forever? Surely bad things are going to happen every day. We can be sure evil will occur every day. But our safety is not found in the absence of evil, it is found in the eye of the storm. Our eternal safety is not found in a perfect world, it is found in our drive to liberate the broken things from evil. Finally, our eternal safety is found in heaven. No matter what happens on this earth, our eternal future is secured.
Safety is Part of the Gospel Message
If God is the one who provides our safety, then we must be driven to provide safety to others. As God saves us and keeps us safe, so too, should we go out and provide safety. If we are the hands and feet of the Christ who keeps us safe and saves, then we too must keep others safe and save. We should strive to save the creation we were given, save the orphan from starvation and the foreigner from persecution. We should keep safe the widow or the homeless from the elements. Our request for safety should produce the desire to see others safe from the same harms.
Prayer to Action
In the empty “Thoughts and Prayers” world of plastic Christianity, we must strive to give prayer substance. It is okay to pray for your safety and the safety of others. But we should do far more than this. We should think on the horrible things that are happening to vulnerable people. We should pray on the safety of those people and seek the Lords guidance. And finally, we should act.
Galvanized by our minds and the protection of Christ, we should then boldly step out and spend our time, effort and treasure on making the “kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” This Celtic prayer is a prayer for safety, but not just for the person. It is a call to action for all who are unsafe. Are we bold enough to act on our prayers of safety? May we fin this courage. The world is literally dying while it waits for us to act.
You can read all of the prayers in this beautiful text online.
To see other commentary by the author on Carmina Gadelica those can be seen here