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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category


Wisdom 11:2-5: Special Providence in Exodus

First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2022exodus-gods-and-kings-review-biblical-epic-plagued-with-flaws-jpeg-198729

The Book of Wisdom prepares us for Advent, our time of Exodus from darkness into the light of truth, hope and love. God is always with us, guiding and protecting; yet in a special way God accompanies us closely when we move out of a place of comfort where our unhealthy behaviors are enabled into a place of health, where we work on our rough edges. When we make this kind of transition from being prisoners of a habit to being free to hear the surprising new behavior God has in mind for us, we place ourselves at risk. We take a leap of faith, believing that as we shed our old safety net, God will place an even better one beneath us. When we journey from a state of slavery to a state of freedom, we are accompanied by the pillar of smoke by day, the column of fire by night. God provides for his faithful in a very special way as they make themselves vulnerable for his sake.

And so we pray . . .

They journeyed through the uninhabited desert, and in solitude they pitched their tents . . .

When we feel most alone we are most attended. When we suffer we walk in the company of God’s angels . . . for we are especially loved and kept by God.

They withstood enemies and took vengeance on their foes . . .

The faithful do not need to fight; rather we need only witness to the story of God’s coming among us. The rest we leave in the hands of God who turns all harm to good.

When they thirsted, they called upon you . . .

When we are in misery, anxiety, fear of any kind there is only one place to turn. To God.

And water was given them from sheer rock . . .

Then we are to expect the unexpected, the inverse, the surprising, the paradox.

Assuagement for their thirst from the hard stone . . .

gods providenceWe are precious in God’s eyes, made in God’s image.  We are stones of a living temple to be rejected by those who build upon the sand, but placed upon a strong foundation by the one who endures.

For by the things through which their foes were punished they in their need were benefited. 

We will know how to interact with our foes when we look to their suffering rather than our own. We can expect God’s guidance and protection as we work to become God’s disciples. And so we pray.

Good and watchful God, 

We enter into our exodus journey to you. We know that you will not allow a foot to be dashed upon a stone. We believe that you will not desert us. We trust that you sustain us from your goodness. We believe that you teach us through our many trials. We ask your continued patience with us when we doubt, your continued love for us when we err, your continued hope for us when we falter. We who are made in your image strike out from a foreign land of enslavement to move homeward in freedom. Call us constantly back to you when we stray. Keep us close by you. Always. Amen.


Images from: https://www.perfectbrilliantstillness.org/what-is-page-3/hand-holding-planet-earth-crop-and-darken/ and https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/exodus-understanding-one-of-the-bibles-major-themes

A favorite from December 2, 2008.

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James: Lessons in Love512px-Bible_paper

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

We have spent several weeks reflecting on James’s letter to the people of his day and to us in our own day. We have spent a number of weeks exploring his themes and sifting through his lessons. Some of our encounters with James make us uncomfortable. We are not always willing to step out of comfort zones and into a newness that tempts but does not guarantee. We are too often content with our harvest of the obvious before us and too often afraid to imagine the harvest of hope that God asks us to undertake.

epistle-of-james-project-590x382Other encounters with James bring a quiet understanding of God’s voice we hear in the precision and honesty of James’ words. We have felt Christ’s presence in the strength of James’ verses. We have been visited by the Spirit as we dwell in the wisdom of these Lessons in Love. Today we take time to gather these teachings and pledge to make them an active influence in our lives.

When we choose a Lesson in Love and decide to live it for the next month in our lives, what new possibility will open for us?

Chapter 1: The Value of Obstacles – the barriers we encounter are lessons in finding our inner strength in God.

Chapter 2: The Value of Balance – the extremes we experience are lessons in learning to balance God’s joy with the difficulties of the world.

JamesChapter 3: The Value of Living Wisely, Justly and Well – our words and actions indicate the quality of our discipleship in Christ.

Chapter 4: The Value of Turmoil – the storms and upheaval we meet are lessons in faith and hope in Christ.

Chapter 5: The Value of Patience – our common practices and plain speech are lessons in love and life in Christ.

And so we pray . . . Wise, Gentle, Balanced, Patient and Loving Jesus, continue to shepherd us as we take on your lessons in love. Speak to us clearly through the words of your servant James. Live in us daily through the power of your redeeming Spirit. Amen. 

james-1We might bookmark and re-visit this post when we are ready to enact another Lesson in Love as shown to us by James.

Tomorrow, our abundant helper . . . 

 

 

For notes on this letter, visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/james/0

Images from: http://www.readthespirit.com/bookstore/books/ian-flemings-seven-deadlier-sins/more/c1/the-book-of-james-new-testament/ and http://bibledude.net/epistle-of-james-project-wordles/ and http://michaeljkruger.com/why-we-need-the-book-of-james-in-the-new-testament-canon/ and https://www.youracc.org/sermons/faith-perseveres-james-a-faith-to-live-by-11-18/

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yellow heart

Psalms 11 and 12: Prayer Against Arrogance

Monday, November 14, 2022

In praying Psalm 11 we can be mindful that our reliance on God bolsters us and so we need not rely on our own strength. The innocent psalmist depends on the Lord’s protection for God defends those who seek asylum in God’s temple. It is good to know that we are allowed to flee when the wicked begin to hunt down those who are “upright of heart”.

The image of archers hunting birds is an apt one in Psalm 11. The friends and advisors here are worried about the collapse of the foundation, but we are reminded in this prayer that God sees all, and that God “detests the lover of violence.”  We reflect today on the many forms of violence beyond the obvious physical violence. We remember as well the insidious and hidden deceit that wounds as deeply and as surely as the arrow meant to still the faithful heart.

Psalm 12 from THE MESSAGE: Quick, God I need your helping hand! The last decent person just went down, all the friends I depended on are gone. Everyone talks in lie language; lies slide off their oily lips. They doubletalk with forked tongues.

We do not know where to go nor whom to trust; and just when we believe there is no salvation the Psalmist speaks words that foreshadow Jesus’ Beatitudes: Into the hovels of the poor, into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks: “I’ve had enough; I’m on my way to heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.” It is in this way that God rescues the small and powerless from the influence and control of the arrogant. So let us pray . . .

Good and generous God, console and comfort us as we deal with backlash from our faithful witnessing to your goodness so that we might continue to witness to you.

Good and tender God, offer us your protection when anger and violence stalk us so that we might seek refuge in the temple of your Spirit that lives in us.

Good and powerful God, provide us with a refuge for the righteous at heart when slander and gossip surround us so that we might recoup our strength in the sacred presence of your love.

Good and precious God, live in us always to deflect the arrows of the arrogant and restore our fragile hearts so that we might remain in unshakeable confidence in you.

Good and humble God, abide with us as you do with the widow and orphan, the abandoned and anxious, and transform our worries and fears with your healing hope.

We ask this in Jesus’ name in communion with the Holy Spirit. Amen.


A Favorite from July 22, 2007. 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/rdjangel/love-hearts-and-other-mushy-stuff/

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James 5: A Prayer for Harvesting Hope

Wednesday, November 2, 2022earth-from-space-day-night

We have prayed for union, we have prayed for boldness. Today we pray for a harvest of hope as we reprise a Christmas MiniNoontime from 2013 when we spent time with James’ words.

Modern humankind has established an outpost in space, giving us a perspective of our world that the ancients could only imagine.  Perhaps in our century we have strayed too far from the simple tasks of reaping God’s gift of bounty.  Perhaps we have taken too much for granted the miracle that is our world.  Perhaps we have learned to ignore the miracle of the Nativity.

God says: In your rush to understand me you may lose me. Abide with me for you are Christmas people who bring the Good News to the world.  In your eagerness to explore my universe you may forget me.  Remember me for you are Christmas people who bring authenticity and honesty to the world.  In your haste to acquire and store up you may overlook me.  See me in those who have little for you are Christmas people who bring Christ himself to the world.  Behold and celebrate the importance of the Nativity.  Behold and share my generosity with others who have nearly nothing to sustain them. Behold and love those who suffer.  Behold . . . and be Christ in the world.

We will soon approach the Advent season when we will again celebrate Christ as the truth and light and hope of the world, we pray.

Open book with pages forming heart shape

Dear Lord, you have blessed us with more than we can fathom as each new day reveals. You have rescued us more often than we remember as each new dawn breaks up the darkness of night. Keep us always united with you as we move through our days and nights. Speak always so that we may hear your Word. Nudge us constantly so that we may act in your Word. Continue to call us every moment of our existence as we struggle to find our place in your immense universe. Continue to bring us your courage and energy so that we might harvest your outrageous hope and in turn might carry it to others. Abide with us in our struggle to follow in our labor of sowing and reaping, of loss and gain, of sorrow and joy, of anxiety and hope. Amen.


Images from: http://dailyreadingdevotional.blogspot.com/2015_08_01_archive.html and http://www.designsoak.com/world-day-night-space/

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James 5:7-11: A Prayer for Patience

Saturday, October 29, 2022

We have considered the difficulty of blooming in early or late rains. We have pondered the mercy we find in God’s Law of Love, and we have reflected on the importance of patience in our lives as we learn to live out mercy and humility in an authentic way. Ultimately, each of us, indeed all of us are called. Each of us and all of us are gathered in. Each of us and all of us are offered the gift of transformation. But first we must learn and exercise the practice of patience.

It is easy to define patience as a virtue and still easier to see impatience in others. Patience as a concept can be diminished to a simple exercise that we practice once in a while when there is no great demand placed on us. The more difficult task is to act continually with a patience that is not bitter or nostalgic; and it is a challenge for many of us to operate from humility, to trust God without question.

When asked to place our lives in God’s hands, we must be ready to humble ourselves before God’s plan, to trust God in both simple and grave matters, and to obey God’s call with a grateful and happy heart. This is no small request. And so we pray.

heart-shaped-bible-pageLoyal and healing God, lead us in simple obedience of your well-devised plan.

Powerful and eternal God, guide us in trusting you alone above all else.

Humble and tender God, help us to persevere in patient living with you.

We thank you for coming to us as our human brother, Jesus. We are grateful for the abiding consolation of your Spirit. And we rest in the assurance that the humility and patience that Jesus shows us is The Way we ourselves must follow. May we today and all days live and act in patience. Amen.


Images from: https://www.happierhuman.com/patience-affirmations/ and https://unsplash.com/s/photos/bible-heart

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James 1-4: A Prayer to Resolve Turmoil

Wednesday, October 19, 2022peace-key-703x201

No matter the constraint, no matter the barriers to resolution, there is always a path to find peace when we live in Christ, James tells us. We have seen, in the last few days as we have spent time with the opening chapters of James’ letter, the steps for resolution are not complicated when we live in the Spirit. We see today when we reflect on all that James has shared with us, there is always a way forward with God. And so we pray.

Faith and works together will bring us wisdom . . . good and gracious God, bring us your wisdom. Remind us to rely on what we learn from you rather than our intelligence.

Good works bear good fruit . . . generous and faithful God, bring us your grace. Remind us that apples do not grow on vines and berries do not grow on trees.

Wars and quarrels are of our own making and not God’s . . . peaceful and sustaining God, bring us your serenity. Remind us that with you all things are possible.

God’s love is persistent, patient, strong and at the same time gentle . . . loving and courageous God, bring us your meekness. Remind us that humility can achieve more than all earthly power, fame and glory.

No matter the problem, there is always a solution . . . life-giving and eternal God, bring us your fortitude. Remind us that your love for us will never die.

Amen.


For reflections on how to find peace in today’s world, click on the image above or visit: http://www.peacepoint.com/find-peace

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James 2: Faith and Wisdom – Part IV

Wednesday, October 12, 2022faithblocks

From the Book of Wisdom 7:7-11: I prayed and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things came to me in her company, and countless riches to hand.

God’s wisdom is greater than silver or gold, more treasured than gems, beauty, or health. Prudence, prayer, and daily orientation to God’s ways bring us to God’s love.

Both Abraham and Rahab recognize that faith must be lived and not merely thought; they see that with care and practice we learn to act with God’s wisdom. They understand that through faith interwoven with works we receive God’s countless riches to hand.

Today we conclude the second chapter of James’ letter with a prayer as we reflect on how God’s wisdom becomes evident . . . through the interweaving of our offering of faith and works. And so we pray.

Faith-and-worksDear Lord, we will have to remember that our goal is not to be powerful or popular as the world so often tells us. Continue to remind us that our goal must be to act as you act, with mercy, humility and compassion. Continue to share your presence with us and keep us always close to you. Help us to integrate with you through our daily practice of prayer and works. And continue to shower on us your countless riches of love. Amen.


Images from: http://www.catholicbryan.org/blog/faith-and-works/ and http://bensternke.com/why-we-have-to-learn-faith-before-wisdom/

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James 2:1-14: Balancing Difficulty and Joy

Saturday, October 8, 2022balance

We have spent a number of days with James and although we hear his message that when we live by the rule of love above all else we begin to see life through a different lens. We may have difficulty taking in the full impact of this message.

In order to maintain a balanced view, we must first value the obstacles we meet; and as we struggle with difficulties we must avoid solutions that lead to segregation and partiality. In order to experience life and even more life, we must insist on living in God’s garden of love and on resting in the great river of life that flows from Christ. In this way we begin to more fully understand God’s mercy and compassion for each of us.

As we rest in the Spirit, let us delight in and affirm God’s love that we find in ourselves and others, let us pray.

Dear Lord, it is so difficult to trust in you alone. The world can be such a frightening place that we too often forget that you constantly watch over and protect us. In our human survival reaction to all our fears we forget to rely on you alone. Guide us to see as you see. Move us with your deep compassion. Grace us with the gift of your love. Help us to free ourselves by freeing others. May we react to both the terrors and joys of life in humility, mercy and forgiveness. We ask this in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Tomorrow, faith and wisdom intertwined.


Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/rock-stacked-as-arch.html

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James 1:22-25: Delight and Affirmation

Monday, October 3, 2022doersoftheword

More wisdom from James . . . that he learns from Jesus.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

When we read Matthew 21:28-32 we better understand James’ eagerness that we become doers of the Word rather than sayers only. The young man who does God’s will after first rejecting God’s call drinks from the river of light that is God’s wisdom. The one who promises and goes away without doing what he is asked has condemned himself to a life void of wisdom.

But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

And so we pray.

Wise and loving God, you have given us all the counsel and advice we need. Help us to be humble and patient in your Word.

Passionate and transforming Jesus, you have shown us the Way that is God’s Word. Help us to delight in the life you have redeemed for us.

Compassionate and healing Spirit, you have affirmed our lives as sisters and brothers in Jesus. Help us to affirm others as they – and we – join with you in the doing of God’s Word. Amen.

In the coming days, James defines God’s Law of Love.


Image from: https://chatsworthconsulting.com/2011/06/09/how-do-you-walk-the-talk/

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