Category Archives: Prayers

For the glory of God and public use.

My Pastoral Response to the Tragic Events in Charlottesville

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To my family of faith in Crozet,

As I sit here in Pennsylvania, having presided over a worship service of Holy Matrimony less than six hours ago, I am struck by the juxtaposition of that celebration of love with this day of suffering and hatred in our neighbor, Charlottesville.  While I am not with you in body, I have been joined with you in prayer, and am with you in spirit now.  I have too many words.  There are words of anger and outrage at the suffering of an entire community.  There are words of sorrow and mourning for those who lost their lives and those who have been harmed in the course of events that escalated because of hatred lived out in violence.  Mostly there are words of prayer and supplication, as I cry out to God for relief from the kind of human sinfulness that can only be satisfied by hate-filled words and causing public fear.  My heart breaks for our community.

I am not going to sit here and offer some form of analysis for what went wrong.  We do not need that, because I think it is obvious: what we experienced was sin.  It is a sin to hate another person.  It is a sin to use violence against another person.  It is a sin to make another human being feel anything less than the beloved child of God that our Lord created them to be.  It is a sin to strip another person of the dignity with which they were endowed by our Creator while they were still in the womb.  Those that gathered in Charlottesville to proclaim their hatred and cause fear sinned, and brought evil into our midst.  It literally crashed into our lives, our peaceful community and caused death.  I do not need anyone to decry that.  It is obviously wrong, a sin, and evil to murder another person.

There is no excuse, no other side, and no option to ignore what happened.  We shall not.  We shall not forget what happened when human beings decided to give into their hate and cause hurt.  Hatred never stays a feeling, a harmless sentiment.  It eats away at us, poisons our minds, and perverts our hearts until it has no where left to go internally and ruptures into our world, often in words and acts of violence.  We saw this today.  So our work as people of faith and servants of Jesus Christ has only begun.

We must now ensure that we have seen what unchecked and unquestioned hatred can do.  Are we aware of our own prejudices?  Are we actively working to eradicate it in our hearts and in our beloved Crozet?  Do we prefer people who look like us, sound like us, dress like us, and live like us?  Are we willing to turn a critical eye internally and see where our words reflect that we see some people as other while our Scriptures tell us that in Christ there is no distinction?  If the Apostle Paul were writing his letter to the Galatians today, then I have no doubt it would read:

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer native or immigrant, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer black or white, there is no longer male and female, there is no longer heterosexual and non-heterosexual; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

It is a sin to hate a person God loves, and just because you might temper that word “hate,” do not think that God is fooled.  We are all sinners.  We are all in need of the grace that only Christ provides.  We can all be transformed from sinners, and liberated from our hatred.  So we start with ourselves, and we no longer let each other speak the language of prejudice that makes hatred of another person socially acceptable.  Change starts with us, and Christ has freed us for this very purpose, this holy cause.  We need to raise the children in our homes and in our community to love as God loves, and reject the sinful divisions humankind has created to reinforce a false hierarchy that raises some up by forcing others down into the depths of an unholy social prison.  In this country, people have the right to hate, but we are not building an earthly kingdom of legalism, we are building the Kingdom of God, and there is no room for hatred here.  Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us.

When the painful reality of human sinfulness makes us suffer, we get down on our knees and lift up our prayers to the highest heaven.  Together let us pray:

Merciful and mighty God,

We come to you, our refuge and our redeemer,

Crying out from the aftermath of hatred in tangible form,

Poured out in our lives from human vessels.

Save us from this sin, Almighty God.

Protect us from this insidious evil that has taken lives,

And continues to cause pain, suffering, and bring forth violence.

We know that we have work to do to purge this sinful hatred from the world.

It begins with each of us taking on the heart of Christ,

Which rejects hatred and prejudice against any other person.

It means that we can not harbor hatred in our own hearts,

And we cannot allow it to be spoken and lived out in our community.

We seek your strength to do this,

Your guidance to help us accomplish this holy purpose.

We are not willing to accept hatred as a reality any longer.

We are people of faith, hope, and love,

And you proclaim that greatest of our attributes is love.

Let it be so, in accordance with your will.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

We pray.

Amen.

A Prayer for the Disciple Drowning in Conflict

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To you I cling, O Lord.

I send my prayers to you,

Hoping you will save me from the tides of conflict.

There are relationships in my life that are filled with strife.

I cannot stand to discover the news of more death, violence, and warfare.

Nations battle nations, people vilify people.

I long for peace.

I desire to live in community with people who want to awaken to a world that is more than this.

I know there are others like me;

Who want something more than the drudgery of making money and spending it.

I believe that there are those who would pursue the treasures of heaven:

Reconciliation, joy, and holiness.

These are the blessings of heaven, a glimpse of the Kingdom to Come.

Help me to walk the path which will bring me to your gates.

May your grace cleanse me so I may enter in.

As I live here and now, I pray that I will be a vessel of your goodness.

I declare my desire to fill this world will acts of kindness and mercy,

Borne of love and compassion.

Do not let the evils of this world overshadow my dream.

Do not let my faith falter in the face of sin.

Gird and guide me.

Save and sanctify me.

In your love, I live.

Amen.

A Prayer of the Exhausted Servant

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Lord, who rested on the seventh day of creation,

In your infinite wisdom, you call me to rest.

To take the time to stop my rushing about seems like insanity.

But I can sense my exhaustion seeping into my body and infecting my spirit.

I do need to take time to rest, and rest in you.

I recognize that I cannot do it all, by myself, and non-stop.

I need you.

I confess that I have not always looked to you, as if I did not fully trust you.

Forgive me that slight.

Help me to recognize my limits, and appreciate your limitlessness.

Rejuvenate me with your Spirit.

Wash my aches and pains, my burdens and my sins in your grace.

Cleanse me even as you restore me.

May I wake up tomorrow refreshed and ready to serve you, and others in your name.

I pray this day will be a time to reconnect to you,

For you alone can carry me when I fall exhausted.

You will never let me down.

You never have.

Thank you for that.

Amen.

Corporate Mad Libs Prayer of Peace & Patience

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Yesterday I shared a new way of praying we practiced in the Emergent Worship service I lead in my church.  The next week after we did the individual Mad Libs prayer cards, we did a corporate Mad Libs prayer.  This time each person was invited to take a strip of card stock and write their name upon it.  Decoration and personalization were encouraged.  The prayer text was posted on the wall, and people were invited to add their name wherever they wanted.

Before

Before

Soon people were doing multiple cards with their names on them, and then people started making name cards for others who were not present, but in need of prayer and support.  Children were getting help from adults, and those who were not tall enough to place their name where they wanted were assisted by the taller ones.  It was a perfect example of peacefully working together and everyone was patient to take their turn at the prayer wall.  Sometimes we are given experiences that underscore precisely what God is conveying in Scripture, and this was one of those blessed occasions.  Before I knew it, the wall had been transformed into this:

(Image by Sarah R. Wastella)

After

Maybe this is something you can offer where you worship.  Or perhaps it is something you want to erect in a private space of your own, to keep a visual prayer for your beloved.  I offer it here, so that it might bless others as it has been a blessing to us.  Here is the prayer itself:

God of the Meek and the Strong,

The Poor and the Wealthy,

The Sick and the Healthy,

We, your people, lift up our prayers to you…

__________ needs your peace to wash over their relationships.

__________ is thankful you are patient with them.

__________ asks to feel your presence more fully.

__________ wants to become more patient with others.

__________ desires to experience a deeper relationship with you.

__________ asks for healing.

__________ wants your grace to wash over them.

__________ needs your help with a struggle.

__________ needs your strength during a time of stress.

__________ yearns for direction and divine guidance.

__________ seeks your comfort as they mourn.

__________ is grateful for forgiveness.

__________ gives thanks for your love.

__________ celebrates a triumph over adversity.

__________ seeks the peace that comes from you.

__________ wants to grow in love.

__________ wants to follow the path of Jesus Christ more fully.

__________ asks for the power to resist sinful inclinations.

__________ desires to embody the Risen Christ for others.

All the people say amen.

Mad Libs Prayer of Love & Joy

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We are in the midst of a worship series in our Emergent Worship service on the Fruits of the Spirit.  Our Scripture for each Sunday is “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against things like this.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with its passions and its desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit.  Let’s not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other” (Galatians 5:22-26 CEB).  Each week we focus on one or two of the fruits in detail.

The week we did Love and Joy, I wanted us to ground those concepts in our relationship with God and emphasize that is maintained through prayer.  However, after one person told me that praying is boring, I decided to search out a new way of praying.  I made a Mad Libs prayer card that we handed out during worship, filling it out during a time of musical reflection.  It was a big hit, so I’m sharing it.  You can do it like a traditional Mad Libs, plugging in the blanks, then going back to read it.  Or you can read along and fill it in as you go, with some notion of the prayer you are composing.  There’s no right or wrong way, and it can be a different prayer each time you do it.  I and the people of #Emergingat945 hope it will be a means of grace for you, and nontraditional one at that.  See?  Prayer can be fun and exciting.

Mad Libs Prayer Cards

Mad Libs Prayer Cards


Loving God,

You pour out blessings upon me,

and offer me a joy unlike any earthly happiness.

Help me to _____(one of the five senses)_____ this truth.

Let me be grateful for what you have done for me,

and may I show it through _____(a way of loving another)_____.

There is nothing that can replace your infinite love for me.

I want to know joy, instead of _____(a negative emotion)_____,

which threatens to overwhelm me at times.

Open my heart, and speak your truth of hope and salvation into me.

Uplift me from the depths of _____(a painful place or situation)_____,

and let me discover a whole new way of being in this life.

Out of the darkness I rise in an upwelling of your love,

And though I am not without burden,

I can sense you in _____(a positive influence, person, or place in your life)_____,

and I know you are with me always.

Thank you for knowing me by the name _____(personal name or title)_____,

and calling me back home to you.

Amen.

A Benediction for the Close of the Day

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(Image courtesy of esperanto.wunderground.com)

(Image courtesy of esperanto.wunderground.com)

As the day draws to a close, my God,

My prayer rises to you.

Receive this gratitude for one more day,

Of a life that has been filled with grace.

May I have been a witness to your goodness,

A proclaimer of your mightiness.

It is only by your benevolence that I can stand,

That tomorrow I will rise to meet a new day.

Whatever trials that come, may I lean on you in humility.

Watch over me as I rest, and speak your will into my heart.

Use the stillness of my body and mind for your purpose.

I long to know what you would have me do with the gift that is tomorrow.

Let me hear you with all that I am,

And likewise fulfill your call.

Amen.

A Prayer for Christmas Eve

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(Image courtesy of designurge.com)

(Image courtesy of designurge.com)

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see– I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!'”
(Luke 2:8-14 NRS).


Lord,

We your people of Advent,

Those who await your Second Coming recall your first.

You came to us in the form of innocence,

And that form you would keep;

For you would commit no sin.

You grew in wisdom and grace into the adult that spoke divine truth in love.

As we remember your humble beginning,

May we reflect upon our own:

People called out from sin and death, unworthy and unrepentant.

But then your grace touched our beings, and our eyes were opened.

We repented, and claimed your salvation for ourselves.

Who we are and the good we have done in your name,

All goes back to the babe in Bethlehem.

Born in the night and birthed in lowly circumstances,

You give all people hope that we can rise above our means,

And truly become disciples of the Risen Christ.

May you continue to bring hope at the recollection of your birth.

Let us renew our faithfulness to you and our new birth by water and the Spirit.

Until all people gather to honor and worship you at your triumphant return,

We make room in our hearts,

And raise you to glory with our lives.

Amen.