Within Reach of You: A Book of Prose and Prayers

by Francis Etheredge

Prayer is immediate because God is present; and, therefore, there is no nearer, quicker more “in touch” contact than prayer. Prayer is personal – because it arises out of each person’s life; and prayer is communal because we pray with all who pray for all who need prayers. Prayer is the simplest communication because we are speaking to one who listens; and, whether we use words or not there is prayer in the intention to pray. Prayer is challenging because it may not be answered as we ask – but answered according to a greater good we can scarcely see. Prayer is for the smallest need and the greatest common good. Prayer excludes no one and includes everyone; and, therefore, whether we are present or not, prayer makes it possible for us to accompany both the living and the dead into the presence of God.

Paperback: TBA | Kindle: $9.99

Contents

Dedication
Oh angel of God

Acknowledgements
And a Summary Introduction: What is Prayer?
“Working”

Foreword and Prayer
Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe Diocese, Ireland
Within Reach of You

General Introduction

A Brief Answer
Prayer-as-Relationship
The Centre of this Book: The Domestic Church
Faith, hope and love are the foundation of prayer

Guest Prayer: Martin P. Higgins (RIP)
Martin’s Prayer

Either Or (I)
The Chosen Moment (II)
A Relationship (III)

Guest Prayer: James Sale
Prayer

Part I: Place

Out of the Wind
Timeless
Pilgrimage
A Place to Pray
The Kitchen Sink
Guest Prayer: Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
A Prayer for Pilgrim Families

Part II: Faith and Reason

What Exists and Human Reason
The earth in our hands
Word by Word
Moses the Shepherd (for Archbishop Moses Costa, Bangladesh)
A New Beginning (A Prayer for those Murdered in the Nice
Cathedral Attack, in English and French)
Mercy is Your Name (A Prayer for all those Beheaded in
Mozambique)
Our Need for Help (A Prayer for those Beheaded in Nigeria)

Guest Prayer: The Revd. Neil Vigers
On Ecumenism

Part III: Talents, Business and Cultural Gifts

In the Image of the Creator
Work-in-Context
Hope in Blossom (A Prayer for China, in English and Chinese)

Guest Prayer: Eric Manuel Torres
A Devoted Student’s Prayer

Part IV: In the Family

Two Giant Mice, Lord, and Other Creatures in Other Worlds
Two by Two
Two-in-One, Lord, Even Three

Guest Prayer: I of II: Dr. Mary Anne Urlakis
The Gift of Life

Whatever Life Brings: It is Day by Day:

Lockdown: Our changing circumstances
Monday and the week
Easter Night and Early Morning
Vegetables and other activities
Alternate times of “normality”
Postscript: Christmas and St. Therese of Lisieux

Part IV: In the Family (cont.)

Prayers:
Short Prayers (I)
Short Prayer (II); Water into Wine (cf. Jn 2: 1-11)
A Longer Short Prayer (III): A Nothing into Something Day

Guest Prayer: Grace Marie Urlakis
Stained Glass

The Family Journey (in five parts plus one before the prayers):

The challenges of our children’s questions: the death of Pharaoh,
physics and vocation
Who is responsible for Pharaoh’s death?
If all is physics …
More obviously personal questions: What is the goal of life?

More Prayers
Love Loves to be Undivided
“Lord, Give Success to the Work of Our Hands” (Ps 89)
Child-Thief

Guest Prayer: II of II: Dr. Mary Anne Urlakis
If I Had the Faith of a Child

Part V: In Healthcare and in Prison

Guest Prayer: I of II: Andy Doyle, OP
Man of Sorrows

Legs: On Pain and Healing
“You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6: 68) (A Prayer to Repeal the Dutch Euthanasia Law for Under 12s and indeed for Anyone)
To Kiss the Leper (A Prayer for all Healthcare Workers with
Covid-19)
“Oh Mother of the Stairs” (Part I: A Prayer for All Prisoners with
Covid-19)
“Jesus, remember me” (Lk 23: 42) (Part II: A Prayer for All
Prisoners Who Have Died of Covid-19)
“Hell’s Hole: An Unbidden Mercy”

Guest Prayer: II of II: Andy Doyle, OP
Sweet Jesus

Part VI: “Let the Children Come to Me” (Mt 19: 14)

Your Presence in Our Loss (A prayer for those who have Lost a Child
through Miscarriage)
“I am the Bread of Life” (Jn 6: 48) (A prayer To End Child Starvation)
Where are You?

Guest Prayer: Kelly Jayne Lazell
A Mother’s Heart

Part VII: Within Reach of You

Let Hope Arise (After the Myanmar land slide)
A Prayer in the Midst of Destruction (An Explosion in Beirut)
In the Service of the Truth (I) (A Prayer for Alexei Navalny after
Being Poisoned)
In the Service of the Truth (II) (A Prayer for the Protection of Alexei
Navalny and the Russian people)
In the Service of Love (A Prayer for Refugees in Ethiopia)
A Temple of the Lord (2 Cor 3: 16-17) (A prayer for all the
Ethiopians Being Murdered at Religious Sites)
“I Beg You” (A Prayer for Peace in Myanmar)
“A Dark Light, Lord, Looms” (A Prayer for Nuclear Disarmament)

Guest Prayer: Gillian Cockwill
My Spiritual Journey – Good
My Spiritual Journey – Bad

The World in Turmoil

Epilogue

Your Cross
Transparent
Life Grows into Life

End Word by Bishop John Keenan, of Paisley Diocese,
Scotland


TESTIMONIALS

Extract from Fr. Tony Pazhayakalam’s review [read the full review here]: “I admire that each page of Within Reach of You is very much personal and no theme or discussion runs in the air or stands away from the personal touch of the author. It stands very much close to life and social context. Prayer becomes touching as every prayer carries a person or an event around us. When you say Thank you Lord for my nothing- being- something days – I had a laugh as I struggle to understand a day gratefully and gracefully if I have not done anything. I need to learn to appreciate my meditations and relaxations in the above title. Thanks for the meaningful and guiding Book.” – Fr. Tony Pazhayakalam, priest from Kerala, working in both English and Kerala communities

“A book treasuring the mystery of God’s Love, seen, known and recognised in the day to day of Christian living. Within Reach of You is aptly named. The perceptive attention with which it attends to both the details and the overview of things that weave themselves into our personal stories reminds one that God isn’t far off, but in the midst of our joys and our struggles. May Francis’ prayerful engagement with these mysteries inspire those who read this book not only to reflect on the words, but moved by his example seek, find and love God in all things.” – Máire Íde Ní hÁgain, Catholic writer and co-founder of Golden Rose Apostolate

Within Reach of You completes Francis Etheredge’s trilogy and follows on from The Prayerful Kiss and Honest Rust and Gold. Etheredge is not afraid to share his interior life, or his family life, with readers and this new book will not disappoint those who love his other works. I especially loved ‘The Kitchen Sink’ and find it very relatable. Before reading this book, I had prayed to God, “Lord, teach me how to pray!” I wasn’t sure if I was praying the right prayers. Is there a right prayer to pray in certain situations and circumstances? I thought that maybe there was and I wasn’t praying right. Feeling lost, confused and unsure, I cried out … Then, this book came into my life. Right on time. Not only did I benefit from reading Within Reach of You, I was asked by the author if I’d like to submit a prayer. To be part of such a powerful compendium of intensely private and personal testimonies shared by Etheredge and his guest writers, is such a privilege and honor. Initially I felt unworthy and spent much time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. Then I realized that we all have our different stories to tell. There is so much pain in the world that sharing our stories and testimonies may help to bring healing to someone who is traveling a similar path. This book brought healing and some beautiful prayers into my own life. Highly Recommended.” – Kelly Jayne Lazell, Christian Book Editor & Proofreader, Homemaker, Handcrafted Jewelry.

“‘Where is God in my life?’ Faced with the many anxieties and distractions of our world today, we might often find ourselves asking this very question. Rooted in the ordinary experiences of the everyday and the mystery of marriage and family life, Within Reach of You answers: The Lord is not only present in our lives but closer than we could have possibly imagined, even within reach. In Him, we are made close to the needs of the whole human family, and the prayers and meditations in this book are an exceptional way to unite them to our own prayer.” – Carl J. Kessler holds a Master of Studies on Marriage and the Family from the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria.

“This book is going to be an asset to many through the Holy Spirit specially to people who are being called to get closer to God, to come into a deeper relationship with HIM. It is a breath of fresh air, a conversion of love. Life goes by too fast and this book puts or helps one slow down and breathe God’s inspiration. This book will enliven many to fall deeper in love with Christ. When we are truly in love, we want to continue learning and loving from one another. This book helps us to focus and acquire this yearning for a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.” – Gabriela Economico, MSW

“Only the one who prays can know what prayer is. There is no definition crafted on the outside sufficient for understanding. In this third book in his trilogy on prayer, Francis Etheredge brings us inside: he opens up the interior space of one who prays. What we discover is the personality and artistry of prayer. This alone cannot make us pray, but it makes it harder to resist the painful, beautiful longing to enter in. Those of us stretched and strained in modern life need guidance to find the portals between prose and poetry that allow for a mystical realism, and Etheredge shows us the way. He speaks from an everyday-ness that opens to eternity, wooing us toward the life-saving touch of God who is always within reach of those who pray.” — Leonard J. DeLorenzo, Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, author of Into the Heart of the Father: Learning From and Giving Yourself through Christ in Prayer

“‘Pray constantly’, wrote St Paul to the Christians of Thessalonika in the first century. Within Reach of You offers a cornucopia of prayers which will help Christians today to do just that. From COVID-19 to the kitchen sink, euthanasia to ecumenism, no concern of life is excluded from the conversation with God into which we are invited. Clearly the fruit of prayer, this book will surely sow seeds of prayer in many hearts to hasten the advent of the Kingdom.”  Laurentia Johns, OSB, Stanbrook Abbey, England 

“Within Reach of You is an invitation to vividly participate in a carefully curated, intimately personal recounting of joys and sufferings that span the vastness of human experience, all the while prayerfully fixing our gaze on God for ‘He is mighty in strength of understanding’ (Job 36:5, NRSV). Wounds are redemptively re-opened, as when collecting frankincense sap, so that they may then be offered up ‘as incense’ (Psalm 141:2, NRSV), to be unified with the Lord’s Passion. This is an honest and loving witness to God’s proximity in our lives; indeed, it is a special witness that I anticipate will touch the lives of countless readers.”  Vanco Hristov: BSc(Hons), GradDipPsych, PhD candidate (UoM)

“Prayer is our lifeline to our Heavenly Father. In this prayer book, Francis has a great compilation of prayers that are fitting with the issues and challenges of today. A much needed book to enhance your spiritual journey. “ — John C. Preiss- President, Fatima Family Apostolate

Within Reach of You is a lovely collection of unique prayer prose. Francis Etheredge and his guest prayer poets rekindle belief in the power of prayer as they respond to world events, such as the prayer ‘Hope in Blossom,’ a prayer for China that is written in English and Chinese, or ‘To Kiss the Leper,’ a prayer for all healthcare workers with Covid-19. There are also prayers that emerge from the poet’s life. In fact, the book is dedicated to Etheredge’s sister, Charlotte, who has struggled with severe health issues for decades and whose life is itself a prayer of trust, fortitude, and enduring love, reminding us to ‘rejoice when you can.'”  Claire Henning, D.Min., catholic-conversations.com

“The title Within Reach of You excites. It tells of live, dynamic relationship. This is prayer. I imagine God’s gaze of grace, like a search-light beam, picking us out in love and care. And down that beam pours his Spirit, and up returns our praise and prayer. I am the University Chaplain, University of Bath. After 35 years working as a doctor and medical teacher (18 as a Minister in Self-Employment (worker priest) in the Anglican Church) I came here in 2016. It is so rewarding to work with students in a new way. Many are seeking God, and the hope that he gives. Faith is re-awakening. I believe that the foundation stones of this re-awakening are a narrative of seeking Unity (John 17: 21), a practice of compassion, and a rhythm of prayer. Prayer is the life-spring. This book is an excellent resource to encourage us to deepen our prayer life.”  Revd Canon Nigel Rawlinson, University Chaplain, University of Bath, UK, and Assistant Area Dean, Diocese of Bath and Wells.

“Serving the Missionaries of the Holy Family as mission advancement director, I am often surprised by Catholic families who have little or no devotion to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family is the standard of holiness for all families, and Francis Etheredge makes this connection a living, breathing reality throughout Within Reach of You. Simple and profound, visible and invisible, from understanding each other’s needs, to questions about the universe, to fulfilling our relationships, growing closer to God through this book of prayer is Within Reach of You. +JMJ+”  Maurice Prater, Mission Advancement Director, Missionaries of the Holy Family (MSF)

“This book gives what this world desperately needs: Relationship and Family. When the world has been intentionally or unintentionally creating egocentric people who do not need God or family, I feel that Francis’ call is to bring people back to the right relationship with the Triune God and to cherish the “koinonia “ of a family, our own family and God’s family. As a musician, I enjoy reading this book as going to a Choir Festival, a Prayer Festival. With all the deep sharing of guests through their prayers. This book gives us a way to satisfy the desperate need of this world and it is PRAYERS. True deep and intimate prayers to open our eyes to see Jesus, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to experience God with us – Emmanuel!”  Rt. Rev. Dr. Silas Ng, Chief Bishop, Anglican Mission in Canada

“This is a brilliant book. We think of insight as coming from the mind; and prayer as coming from the heart. In this wonderful book we find almost a new genre – insights about the most difficult and puzzling aspects of our present crisis, infusing the prayers with imagery that open our hearts to a new understanding of God’s truths. I thought “Hell’s Hole: An Unbidden Mercy” was an especially wonderful description of despair turned into prayer.”Ronda Chervin, Ph.D., Retired Professor of Philosophy, author of numerous Catholic books, and TV and Radio presenter.

“Rabbi Menachem Mendl of Kotzk once asked his disciples “Where is the dwelling of God?” His disciples wondered at his words: surely God was all around. Then Rabbi Menachem answered, “God dwells wherever human beings let him in”. The truth is we do not let God into our lives. Francis’s book, through his meditations and prayers is a gentle introduction to allowing God into our lives. We begin to see with the eyes of faith and all things appear new in this transformed vision.”  John O’Brien, ofm, author of At Eternity’s Gate: Artists of the Infinite

“I have read Francis Etheredge’s book of prayers and reflections with the greatest of interest. He offers a mixture of deep faith and lived experience which greatly enhances the value of this book: it is not a ‘mere’ academic exercise. As a former prison chaplain, I was particularly struck by the section on prisoners, which resonated very deeply. He captures the despair, but also the deep hope and faith that can exist in prisons, sometimes side by side. This book would be an excellent companion during a silent retreat, for those working with the most disadvantaged in our society (there is more than a touch of Pope Francis here) and for all who wish to experience prayer as more than a set text, but as a lived dialogue with God. A great book.”  Deacon Dr Harry Schnitker, Obl.O.Ss.S, Director, St John Henry Newman Centre for Pastoral Theology, Maryvale Institute, Birmingham; Associate, St Andrews Foundation, University of Glasgow.

“The prayers rise to God, but their perfume lingers with us on earth.”  Fr. Michael Collins: http://www.fathermichaelcollins.com/

“In a time of uncertainty and change, prayer is both a support and a tool for all Christians to use.In this  third compilation of prayers and thoughts “Within Reach of You”, we are given helps for many different occasions. I commend this work as very useful spiritual and pastoral resource for anybody living the Gospel life.”  Prof. Giorgio Giovanelli, Pontifical Lateran University:  https://www.giuristiperlapastorale.it/.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mr. Francis Etheredge is married with eight children, plus three in heaven.

Francis is the author of Scripture: A Unique Word, and a trilogy From Truth and Truth (Volume I-“Faithful Reason”; Volume II-“Faith and Reason in Dialogue”; Volume III-“Faith Is Married Reason”), all of which are published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing; and of The Human Person: A Bioethical Word, The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads through Dead Ends, The Prayerful Kiss, Conception: An Icon of the Beginning, Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration,  and Honest Rust and Gold: A Second Collection of Prose and Poetry, all of which are published by En Route Books and Media.

See Francis’ other books, too, entitled Scripture: A Unique WordFrom Truth and truth: Volume I-Faithful ReasonFrom Truth and truth: Volume II: Faith and Reason in DialogueFrom Truth and truth: Volume III: Faith is Married Reason.

Francis is currently a freelance writer and speaker and his “Posts” on LinkedIn can be viewed here. Poetry; short articles; autobiographical blog; excerpts from books; and “Philosophize: A Ten Minute Write.” He has earned a BA Div (Hons), MA in Catholic Theology, PGC in Biblical Studies, PGC in Higher Education, and an MA in Marriage and Family (Distinction). Enjoy these additional articles by Francis Etheredge:

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