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Readings for Reflection: February 2010
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Elizabeth Powell Bond (1841-1926) wrote this passage during her tenure as the first Dean of Women at Swarthmore College (1890-1906). A lifelong member of the Society of Friends, she played an important role in the development of coeducation at Swarthmore, wrote two books, and in her retirement continued her interests in peace, women's rights, and racial justice. (From “An Inventory of the Elizabeth Powell Bond Papers, 1856 – 1958” in the Friends Historical Collection of Swarthmore College.) In this passage, Bond presents us as co-workers with God, yet always to be led by Him.

Companionship with God

And so I would say that the highest purpose of prayer is to lift the soul into close companionship with God. Such prayer is not an attitude of the body; it is not a formula of words. It is an impulse of the soul that often cannot express itself in words. In the midst of our busiest occupations, when hands and mind and heart are bent upon accomplishing the purpose of the hour, there may come a flash of divine illumination, flooding our souls with light, showing us how God is the center of all things, the life of all that lives. In that moment’s deep revealing comes to us the secret of faith that need not question; of hope that foresees its own fulfilling; of strength that wearies not in the walk with God; of love whose beneficent impulses go out to all the needy, and sweeten all life’s relationships; of peace that bears the soul upward to the regions of perpetual calm. It is not the cell of the convent, nor the pillar in the desert where such illumination is to be sought. When we are most about our Father’s business – and I believe we are in the world as co-workers with God – when we are most faithfully doing the good thing that belongs to the hour, whether it be the occupation of the mechanic or the merchant or the house-keeper or the teacher or the student, or whether it be the recreation to renew spent nerves and tired brains, then are our souls most in harmony with the requirements of our heavenly Father and most open to the divine light, most tender to divine impressions.

To my mind, it is to pray without ceasing if, with child-like trust, we commit our ways to our Heavenly Father, to be led in His wisdom and according to His will, and if we consecrate humbly all our powers to His divine service.

Elizabeth Powell Bond, Works by the Way (1895), pp. 147-149,
as printed in Faith and Practice, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1955,
pp. 204-05 (also 1972 edition, pp. 80-81).

All Readings for Reflection
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