Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

A prayer said after the hymn “We Praise You, Creator” in Voices United # 293 and based on Philippians 3: 1-16 and Mark 9: 38 -50

Holy God,
Creator, Ruler, Maker,
Sovereign most high:
we do praise you and adore you.

We praise you and adore you because
your grace dwells among us,
your love goes before us,
your Word is truth that makes our lives
true and holy.

We praise you and adore you
and find ourselves in the company
of a long list of women and men before us
who turned toward you
and trusted you with all that they are,
with all that they have.

From generation to generation
they spoke your Word and gave hope;
they embodied your grace and brought peace;
they walked in your Way and pointed to your truth.

And now, Lord Jesus,
 you have called to us to do the same.

You know us —
searching for ways to speak
and peace
and grace
so that the next generation
is beckoned into trusting you
with all that they are,
with all that they have.

You know us —
our uncertainties
our doubts
our fears.

We hand them over to you.

In your mercy,
gather up our stumbling attempts
to be your witnesses.
Breathe your Holy Spirit
into our words and actions.
Then, open us to
your resurrection power
at work within us
and among us
and through us.

Surprise us
at every turn
and make our lives
a joyful hymn of praise.  Amen.

Assurance of God’s Grace: When you open a space for God, God pours the Holy Spirit into your life. The Holy Spirit works within you and gives you a heart that lives by the rhythms of God’s grace. Lean into this promise and live open to the world-transforming love of Christ.

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You Pray for Us

A prayer emerging from John 17: 1-5 and Acts 16: 16 -40.

Lord Jesus,
you pray for us:
you pray that we might now the one and only true God;
you pray that we shall see God’s splendour
in your life,
in the world around us,
in each other.

We live by your prayers, Jesus.
They carry us into God’s presence;
they lift us out of ourselves
and into your great love;
they become channels of God’s
resurrection action in our lives.

We are grateful.

You know us:
the prayers that are deepest in our hearts;
the prayers that we cry out in our deepest need;
the prayers that we do not say
because we are too busy
or not sure they matter
or unwilling to submit our lives to you.

Take the words and groans and silences
that we offer— poor gifts as they are —
take them into your grace;
transpose them into the language of your Spirit;
make them deep and good and true.

We open ourselves to your holy work.
Join these prayers
with those of others in your Body
till the fears that make us small are stilled,
till your people are formed by your courage and hope,
till the chains the bind people are broken,
the wounds that cripple hearts are healed,

Join these prayers with
those of others in your Body
so that a mighty chorus of praise
rises to your throne
and all the world sees the glory
you intend for all creation.

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We open our hearts to you

We come to you in prayer, O God:
Your steadfast love endures forever.

Our world that is sick in so many ways:
creation cries out in pain,
too many nations are shaped by violence,
people are judged by the colour of their skin,
economies leave the poor behind.

We open hearts to you in prayer
because we do not know how to save ourselves.
Move within us and through us
that we may be channels of your peace.

We come to you in prayer, O God.
Your steadfast love endures forever.

We bring with us
those whose relationships are broken beyond repair,
those whose hearts are broken with grief,
those who bodies are broken and hurting.

We open our spirits to you in prayer
because we trust your promises
that Jesus has come to heal us
and make all things new.
Move within us and through us
that we may know what it is
you are asking of us
in the midst of such brokenness.

We come to you in prayer, O God.
Your steadfast love endures forever.

We pray for your Church,
sent to be a witness to your creative purposes;
sent to serve in Jesus’ name and in Jesus’ Way;
sent to be signs that your Holy Spirit is at work.

We open our lives to you in prayer
because you are the God
who takes our weakness and our need
and our yearning for new life
and fills it all with grace.

We pray in the name of Jesus
who opened his life
his heart
his arms
to draw us close to you.

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A prayer emerging from John 9

Lord Jesus,
You walk with us
day by day
lighting our path
showing us the glory of God
that shines in unexpected places.
And we miss it.

Your Spirit is at work
healing broken spirits
creating new life
making a way where there is no way.
And we miss it.

We miss it
because we are too busy
making our own way.

We miss it
because we are looking for
something different
something easier
something less risky
less difficult.

Touch the blind places in our souls.
Stoop low,
re-create us
give us new eyes to see
the world through your eyes.

grant us courage
to walk the path
that you set us on.

Grant us courage
to speak the truth we know —
as much truth as we know
as truthfully as we can
giving witness to you
to what you have done
to who you are:
God in Christ
Holy Spirit
Community of holy love
who is working
in both the darkness and the light
in joy and in sorrow
in our doubt and in our faith
to reconcile the world
and to make all things new.

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A prayer for Trinity Sunday reflecting on Matthew 28: 16 -20

Out of our ordinary, everyday lives,
you have gathered us here, Holy God,
to this time of worship,
to this time of praise.

We join with angels and archangels
and all the company of the saints
to bless you,
to listen for your Word,
to immerse ourselves in your grace,
in your love.

Open our eyes,
our hearts,
our minds
to your presence with us.

Take the chaos of the world
that has found its way into our hearts —
speak your Word
and give order and form and new creation.

Take the failures and defeats,
the guilt and the shame
that bind our spirits —
speak your Word
and set us free.

Take our longings for your goodness
to shape our lives, this community,
the hurting world —
speak your Word
and infuse us with
your courage and
your hope and
your love.

Then, awaken us to your Holy Spirit
who is making all things new,
even us.

We ask in Jesus’ name
who sends us out to speak
love and mercy and grace
to those who are waiting
for a sign
that they are not alone,
that you are a God of love,
that you are a Saviour who knows their name,
that the Holy Spirit is leading them home.


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Bread of Life,
the Resurrection,
the Way,
the Truth:
with these names we praise you.

In such naming and praising
we set ourselves under your Truth.
In such naming and praising,
we set ourselves on your Way.
Then, we find that you are indeed
the Resurrection who leads us to new life.
You renew our strength
You send us out
as ambassadors of your grace and love.

For all your blessings,
so extravagantly given,
we praise your holy name.

Lord, our God,
you have made us
to live in communion with you.
You have promised that you
will be our strength,
our refuge,
a very present help in times of trouble.
You have promised that in company with Jesus
we shall find peace that passes understanding,
abundant life,
hope for the journey.

You know the questions
that fill our fears,
the worries
that cloud our sense of your presence with us.

We turn to you with them.
We ask you to take them.
Bless them with your powerful, transforming grace.
Break their grip on our hearts and minds.
Then give us your life and truth
so we may move into this week
full of courage
full of you.   Amen.

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“Thirsty Souls”

A sermon based on Exodus 17: 1-7

In a number of different contexts, I have been encouraging people to practice an ancient Christian tradition: lectio divina, or ‘holy reading’.

You take a passage of scripture and work through four steps with it. Here’s how I have described the steps:

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is a slow, contemplative praying of the scriptures. It helps us to listen deeply for God in the scriptures and engages us in conversation with the living God.

LectioRead the scripture passage  (or a portion of it, if it is long) slowly, preferably out loud. Do this several times (at least three times).  Pay attention to the words or phrases or images that speak to you.  Some unexpected word or phrase may emerge as you repeatedly read the passage.

MeditatioMeditate on the word or phrase that has drawn your attention as you read through the passage in the lectio stage. What thoughts, hopes, memories, desires, concerns, ideas come to mind?

OratioPray the word(s) or phrase(s) that you have been meditating on. Enter into an unhurried, loving conversation with God.  Interact with God as you would with one whom you know loves and accepts you. Offer to God the experiences that emerged in your meditation. Let the words or phrases from the scripture text speak to those experiences, with God’s healing grace.

ContemplatioRest in God’s presence, allowing yourself to receive God’s transforming love.

For many people, this is a different way of engaging the scriptures. As with any new skill or habit, people can feel uncomfortable with it. They tend to say, “I don’t get it”, or “I am not getting anything out of it”. When someone is learning to play the piano, it takes some time before they actually ‘hear the music’. When someone is first training to run in a long distance race, it takes some time before they find the rhythm. You learn to dance, to paint, to play baseball by making your way through a time period when you feel awkward.

Generally, we have been used to reading a passage of scripture in order to understand it. You ask, “What does this tell me about God or about Jesus or about how I should live the Christian life?” Some people get more serious about studying the Bible and seek to understand the historical background of a passage. What was the culture like when the story was happening? What did the words mean originally?

Other people, using the scriptures in their daily devotions, may approach a passage asking, “What does this tell me about prayer? about how I should treat my neighbour?” They stand back from the passage and figure out how it applies to their lives.

Many people have found these approaches helpful. However, a lot of people could not see how the Bible applied to their lives. There were some passages they just could not understand, no matter how much background information they got. Eventually, they gave up reading the Bible altogether.

Lectio divina does not invite you to understand the Bible. It invites you to stand under it. It says, “Do not step back from the scripture; step into it.” In lectio divina, you do not go to the scriptures to find out about God. You got to the scripture to encounter the living God, who is waiting to meet you there.

I encourage people to develop this practice because I am convinced that people do not first of all need to know more about God. They need first and foremost to know God. Years ago, I was at a workshop where the instructor asked someone, “Do you know the Shepherd’s Psalm?” The participant answered, “Yes, and I know the Shepherd too.”

We have thirsty souls: souls that are parched for the living God. Do you know what a thirsty soul feels like? When our throats are thirsty, they are dry and scratchy. When a soul is thirsty, it can feel like that deep yearning that hovers in the backgrIMG_3676ound of a busy life: a yearning that, when you stop long enough to attend to it asks, “Is this all there is?”

A thirsty soul can feel like a deep loneliness that does not go away, even when you have lots of family and friends.

In today’s Bible story, thirsty souls showed up in the midst of a crisis about having no water in a desert. The people were afraid and angry and feeling powerless. They turned on Moses because they needed someone to blame.

They turned to Moses, because that’s what we often do with our thirsty souls. We look for someone or something to fill the emptiness or to stop the loneliness. We think that it is someone or something that we are yearning for.

One of the elemental lessons to learn in your spiritual journey is that your deepest yearning, your deepest thirst is for the living God.

Somehow Moses knew that. When the people started complaining to him, he knew that he could not give them what they wanted. he know that only God could do that. So, he turned to god. He prayed a direct, honest prayer. He does not begin with polite or vaguely religious words. He launches into prayer: “What can I do with these people? Any minute now, they are going to kill me!” In other words, “This is your problem, God! Do something!”

Sometimes our prayers don’t go very deep because we are too polite with God. We only bring the surface stuff into our conversation with God — the places where we are still in control; the places where we still retain the illusion that we are in control. It is harder to trust God with the ugly parts of our life, with the broken places in our souls.

Even after God provides water for the people, Moses call the location “the place of quarrelling; the place of complaint”. This, too, is part of the journey. There will be places and times when our thirsty souls cry out, quarrelling with others, complaining about what we do not have. This story signals that even our quarrelling and complaining are invitations to encounter God. Even our brokenness and yearning and emptiness are invitations to place our whole lives in God’s hands.

Interestingly, when God answered Moses’ prayer, God provided water but, more importantly, God provides God’s own presence: “Go to the rock that you will strike with a rock and water will come out AND I will be standing there in front of you.”

God is not just ‘there’ to meet your needs and to answer your prayers. God is standing there in front of you, longing to enter into relationship with you; yearning to be in communion with you. In every part of your life, God is reaching out to be with you and to share God’s great love and grace and transforming power with you.

Do you believe that?

Brennan Manning was an author and public speaker who, often, would invite people to trust that deep love of God and to enter into it. In one talk, he says, “In the forty-eight years since I was first ambushed by Jesus in a little chapel in the Allegheny Mountains in western Pennsylvania, and then, in the literally thousands of hours of prayer and meditation, silence and solitude over those years, I am now utterly convinced that on judgement day, the Lord Jesus is going to ask us one and only one question: “Did you believe that I loved you, that I desired you; that I waited for you day after day; that is desired to hear your voice?”  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQi_IDV2bgM)

Do you believe that? That is what your soul is thirsty for. Jesus offers you himself — living water to quench your thirst. That is the invitation the lectio divina offers: an invitation into the heart of God’s love and God’s great longing for you.

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A prayer based on Matthew 4: 12 -23

Call to Confession

We come into God’s presence with nothing but ourselves
and our attempts to follow Jesus in imperfect ways.
That is enough, because it is by God’s grace that we are saved, not by our own works.
God takes what we offer
and fills our emptiness with his redeeming power.
Let us open our lives to God’s good and holy work.

Prayers of Adoration and Confession

God of the Truth that sets us free,
God of hope that lifts us up,
God of the Life that sends us out,
you have set us in the midst of this community
to be a sign of your love
to witness to your truth
to offer a foretaste of your new creation.

We are unsure what it would take
to offer that love to the people we do not know,
to speak your truth in the midst of lies and hate,
to be the radical community of faith you need us to be.

You know us
through and through.
Yet, still, you choose us
to be ambassadors of Jesus’ Way
here and now
among the people
we meet day by day.

So, we ask you to send your Spirit among us;
clear our minds to hear your Word to us;
enlarge our vision to see where you
are already present and working;
overcome our fears
so that we do and say
what you need us to do and say
to draw other people into your
impossibly wondrous love and grace.

We ask in Jesus’ name
who summons us to leave what we know
and follow him on his Way.  Amen.

Assurance of God’s Grace

In your baptism,
God names you “a chosen race”,
“a royal priesthood”,
“God’s own people”,
“a colony of heaven”.
Be assured that God
gives you all you need
to be what God has made you.
Open yourself to the Holy Spirit
and let God guide you
each day as you seek to
follow in Jesus’ Way.

The peace of Christ be with you.


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A prayer based on Luke 7:36 – 8:3

Great is your faithfulness, O Lord, our Saviour,
Faithful in loving us
Faithful in finding us when we lose our way
Faithful in forgiving us
and healing us
and bringing us home to you.

Great is your faithfulness, Lord,
and we are grateful.

There are times when each moment
shines with your grace and your goodness;
we know ourselves bathed in your holy care
and our hearts sing out your praise.

There are times when we struggle
to keep going
and you shepherd us,
holding us with a love
that does not let us go,
feeding our souls
with your presence,
speaking your truth
that gives us strength and courage
for one more step,
and we gasp out our
‘thank you’, ‘thank you’, ‘thank you’.

But there are also times when we
barge through our lives
oblivious to your presence,
your gifts,
your call;
unaware of all we have received
from your abundant love.

Speak to us today:
speak the words that
draw us back to you;
words that recall all you have done;
words that deepen and renew
our love for you.

We open our and our minds
to your Spirit’s work,
for you are the one
whose broken body
and poured out life
are the food and drink
we need.


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You Pray for Us

A prayer based on John 17: 17-26

What a great gift you give us, Lord:
you pray for us;
you pray that we may be united
more and more deeply with you;
you pray that your love will flow into us
and through us into all the world;
you pray that others will see your glory in us
and be drawn into your circle of love.

What a great gift that you pray for us,
and in us
and through us,
for we could not be what you have called us to be
without your prayers
your presence
your strength
your grace.

We open our hearts and our spirits
to the powerful work of your prayers:
Let your Spirit flow into the wounds that have damaged our souls.
Let your Spirit bring healing into the broken places.
Let your Spirit renew and restore us in your image.
Then, grant us grace and courage
to do the holy work
you have given us to do,
risking great things for your glory.


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