Category Archives: prayer

Prayers of the people: 9/16

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Loving God,

we come this day with gratitude for the gift of life,

for the beauty of your world and your people around us.

We also come this day with hurt, with grief, with confusion—

and we lift up to you those who are in pain,

those who suffer, those who live with illness.

We ask for your comfort to surround your people who sorrow,

your peace to surround your people who live with violence,

your hope to surround your people in despair.

There are many things we do not understand,

and so we pray for your wisdom.

Even as we watch news

of riots and typhoons and shooting in our streets,

we call out for your kingdom of justice and peace and love.

And yet we do not always act as if your kingdom is at hand.

Remind us, Lord, to keep our attention on you.

Set our minds on divine things, that we may be agents of your healing.

Focus our eyes on you, that we may not be seduced by other gods.

When our hearts turn to other ways, call us back to your way.

Help us, O God, to follow you, to live like you, to seek your will,

that the world may know your grace.

Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.

You have called us to let go of our own vision to follow yours,

and have promised to be with us on the way.

Walk with us and help us to be faithful.

We pray these, and all things, in the name of our Risen Lord Jesus,

who taught us to pray together…

prayers of the people–8/12

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You are—and we thank you.

You are holy, and powerful, and gracious, and forgiving.

You are love.

You are hope and peace.

You are the One who gives, and the One who calls.

And so we thank you, for your faithfulness, your persistence, your generosity.

Yet at the same time, gratitude may be simultaneously over and understatement…

for we do not understand.

We do not understand why some have more and some have less.

We do not understand why some have floods and others drought.

We do not understand why the earth shakes, or fires rage, or violence erupts.

We do not understand where you can possibly be when we are sick, or worried, or despairing.

And yet…you are.

You are here. You are there. You are within and among and around.

You remind us that we cannot know everything,

that mystery is called so for a reason.

So we do what we can do—

we come. we listen. we speak our pain and our joy.

we offer ourselves to you,

broken and healed, hopeful and lost, wondering and frustrated.

We bring our hearts, our minds, our bodies,

and pray that you would make yourself known yet again.

May your image shine in each face we see,

and in our own.

May your kingdom be visible in our community.

May your love overflow through our love.

Make us people unafraid to speak truth, to confront injustice, to show compassion.

Draw us near to you, and make us ever more in your likeness,

that all the world may know your healing love.

We pray in the name of the most gracious, Jesus the Christ, who taught us how to pray:

Our Father…

continuing the conversation: letters to God

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Did you ever have a pen-pal? They seem to have fallen out of fashion with the advent of the internet, but it used to be that we would pick up a pen or pencil, a piece of lovely stationery, and we’d write letters to people we’d never met…then wait anxiously for a return letter which could take weeks or even months to arrive. In this way, we used to build friendships across the country and even the world, though we never met in person.

What about using that same idea to build a friendship with God?

Find a pen that’s comfortable and writes smoothly and well. Find some paper–it can be plain copier paper, or nice stationery, or anything in between. Then just sit down and write a letter, as you would to a friend. Yes, the art of letter-writing is mostly lost in our technological society, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it die! Remember, this letter is just between you and God–no one else is going to read it (unless you want them to). Just write–what’s going on in your life? What do you want to ask your friend God? What are you celebrating, hoping, fearing? Write about anything you want, just as you would to a pen-pal. When you’re finished, put the letter in an envelope with the date on the outside…whether you seal it is up to you. Perhaps keep your letters in one of those photo-boxes, or a shoe-box (like we used to do with our pen pal letters!).

If you’re so inclined, you could also try to imagine writing a letter from God to you, or to the church. This is an activity we often do in confirmation class–we ask confirmands to imagine what God might say to the church, and to write a letter. The trick to this kind of prayer is to let your own intellect get out of the way, and to allow yourself to simply be a conduit for the love and challenge of God. Let the Spirit pour through your pen…don’t think too much! This year several confirmands wrote similar things in their letters from God to the church–and each was writing individually! Perhaps the Spirit was at work in those letters, and could be in yours too.

What do you think? How does it feel to write a letter to God? From God? This is a practice you may need to try a large number of times before you get comfortable–it can feel weird, and our adult brains often get in the way, rationalizing our way out of this kind of spiritual discipline. But keep at it! At the very least, you’ll have spent lots of time talking to God, and that’s always a good thing!

Want to know more about this kind of practice? Check out Rachel Hackenberg’s book “Writing To God: 40 Days of Praying With My Pen.”

continuing the conversation: snooze-n-pray

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This is one of Teri’s new favorite ways of praying…because it doesn’t even involve getting out of bed!

Set your alarm 3-snoozes early. When it first goes off, push snooze and use that time to talk with God about your day or life, things that worry you or that you’re excited about. You don’t even have to ask for anything, just chat like you would with a friend about the upcoming day, about something that’s been bothering you, or about your life. When the alarm goes off again, push snooze and use that second few minutes to talk to God about others—the church, the community, the world. Again, just like you would with a friend. When the 3rd alarm comes, push snooze and then just say “speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”…and then resist the urge to think, just relax and listen. If things come up, remember that it could be God talking back! …but if it isn’t, just come back to the word “listening” and relax—we all have cluttered minds sometimes, but God wants to break in! Voila—20 minutes and you’ve started your day by building up your most important relationship.

What do you think? What are some of your ways of starting your day with God? What’s your current favorite way to connect with God? What’s a way you want to learn more about?

continuing the prayer conversation: mind-wandering

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Have you ever felt your mind wandering when you should have been working? when you should have been praying? when you should have been paying attention to what someone was saying? when you should have been reading, watching TV, trying to fall asleep….? Have you ever ended up “shoulding” all over yourself, trying to get your brain back on task?

Well…what if letting your mind wander could be a spiritual practice?

“As we look forward to a day when we can even be productive in the shower, our last remaining space for deep thought is on the brink of extinction. How many of us have had ideas come to us in the shower, or just when we’re waking up or falling asleep, or while we’re driving through a dead-cell zone? Protecting that space—space where we aren’t expected to get things done or to be perfect—becomes a holy task. How can we encounter God the still-small-voice if our lives are constantly packed with activity and productivity and expectation? One small rebellion against that expectation to be always “on” is to take a few minutes to let your mind wander. Wonder about what you see or what thoughts appear in your head. Follow that chipmunk with your eyes. Spend a few minutes every day doing nothing—just letting your imagination go where it will. And don’t get a phone in your shower—you need that space! It’s one of the most holy, creative spaces left in our wired world. The loss of those spaces, the loss of the ability to let our minds wander off, the loss of downtime—these may very well equal the loss of creativity in our culture. The greatest inventions have often been germs of ideas that sprouted in wasted time. The greatest novels and movies and music and the solutions to nagging scientific questions came from wandering minds and long showers (not water-wasting long, of course, just long on sacred time!). So take a few minutes and just let go, and see where the Spirit leads you when you let her take the reins.”

from And Then I Just Got Really Busy: Spirituality for a New Generation, Chalice Press 2013.

What do you think? What happens when you allow yourself to wander for a few minutes with no agenda, just letting your consciousness go where it will, letting the Spirit have just a little room to breathe in you? How does it feel? Who knows…maybe you’ll end up writing the next Great American Novel in those few minutes of free space! Or hearing the next Great Idea the Spirit has for the church, or suddenly solving a problem the community’s been facing, or or or…just leave some space and see what happens!