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Looking Back: Meditation

From January 1943

One of the best known of the Old Masters is a painting by Durer, entitled “Praying Hands.” The picture shows a mans hands pressed together in prayer. It is generally agreed that they are the sinewy hands of the toiler; and imagination busies itself suggesting the owner. Might they not be the hands of David, the shepherd king, or of Paul, the tent maker, or even the Carpenter of Nazareth? It is better, perhaps, to regard them as the hands of Everyman: an impressive symbol of the priesthood of all believers.

Certainly there is no gainsaying either the wide appeal of Durer’s picture, or the universal application of its noble subject – prayer.

Let life be what it may; calm or storm-tossed. Let joyful surprises throw sunshine in our path, or floods of sorrow overwhelm the soul; praying hands, with the inward entreaty they signify, will be our strength.

Does a backward glance over the past year bring regret; or a forward look into the year to come make you “guess and fear” ? Then, let prayer be both guide and solace.

Here, on earth, we know our deep need; there, in heaven, are treasures of divine grace; and the point of contact is the earnest soul of the supplicant.

How St Paul impressed the value of prayer upon his friends. “Brethren, pray for us,” he writes. And again, “I will that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands.” For prayer to the apostle was the source of illimitable power.

As for our Lord Himself, we may consider His earthly life as one prolonged supplication. “Ask, seek, knock,” is His counsel. And what better can the sorely tried human spirit do?

“Lo, I do stretch my hands
To thee, my help alone:
For thou well understands
All my complaint and moan.”

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