We all need hope. Sometimes we forget about it until we realize our need of it. At times, the word itself seems empty and unattainable. Hope is mentioned anytime anyone aspires to encourage, rally, or inspire the masses. It resonates in our minds, hearts, and souls. It resonates because we are all in need of hope. Hope for a better, brighter tomorrow. Churchill said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”
Hope teaches. Hope is active. Hope doesn’t sleep. Hope stands up. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” -MLK Jr. Have hope. Hold it close. Never let go of it. Most of all, give it. Prayer has historically been a source of hope for humanity. The connection with human health and prayer has been studied for decades. Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular specialist at Harvard Medical School and a pioneer in the field of mind/ body medicine discovered what he calls "the relaxation response," which occurs during periods of prayer and meditation. His studies have found that the body's metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and breathing becomes more calm.
This state is correlated with slower brain waves, and feelings of control, tranquil alertness and peace of mind. This is significant because Benson estimates that over half of all doctor visits in the U.S. today are prompted by illnesses, like depression, high blood pressure, ulcers and migraine headaches, that are caused at least in part by elevated levels of stress and anxiety.
In Scripture we glean wisdom and insight not to be missed. There is much to learn from the margins; those parts of the stories that aren’t the main storyline. In most of the early text of Scripture where prayer is mentioned, you will find prayer and meditation. If we are more actively grasping for the words to voice our prayers instead of meditating on a Passage or verse while being still and silent, we are missing the full meaning and purpose of prayer. Hope rings out in the stillness of prayer and meditation.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.
-Saint Francis of Assisi