Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, March 31, 2011

“Your Will Be Done”

To pray that God’s will be done—and mean it—is a dangerous thing to do.

How, after all, can we voice that prayer and not remember the Lord Jesus voicing it on the night that he was betrayed and arrested: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will but your will be done”?

The next day he was crucified.

O God, give us grace and give us courage that we might pray that your will be done—and mean it.

O God, give us grace and give us courage that we might in faith live into your future regardless of how we have to get there.

O God, give us grace and give us courage that we might be willing and active partners with you in the doing of your will.


“Your Will Be Done…” (Matthew 6:10b)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, March 30, 2011

“Your Kingdom Come”

The kingdom of God is the reign or rule of God. There is a sense in which that kingdom is future but there is also a sense in which it is present; the kingdom will be completed when Jesus returns but it has been right here within us and among us ever since Jesus came.

So…come, Lord Jesus.

But also…thank you for having come, Lord Jesus.

So…may your kingdom be completed and perfected one day, O God.

But also…may your kingdom be more completed and perfected in us today and every day, O God.

So…may your kingdom be obvious to everybody some day.

But also…may your kingdom be obvious in us and through us this day.


"Your kingdom come." (Matthew 6:10a)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, March 29, 2011

“Hallowed Be Your Name”

The name of God is the character of God and God’s character is hallowed—is holy and is wholly other—whether we pray that it be hallowed or not.

So to pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer is to pray that we will treat the name—the character—of God in light of the fact of who God is and how God is.

Perhaps the primary way that we hallow the name of God is in the way that we live; after all, as the children of God we bear the name of God and as the family of God we bear the likeness of God.

So God, help us to live inward and outward lives that treat your name as holy; help us to have thoughts and motives and to carry out actions and behaviors that bear witness to who you are in your grace, love, and mercy.


“Hallowed Be Your Name.” (Matthew 6:9c)

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, March 28, 2011

“In Heaven”

Jesus taught us, on the one hand, to pray to God as our Father.

Jesus taught us, on the other hand, to pray to God as our Father who is in heaven.

Whatever else that means, it surely means that in our approaching of God in prayer we should remember that God is high and lifted up, that God is exalted and holy, and that God is not at our beck and call.

It is God that we approach in prayer and God should be approached with awe, respect, and reverence.

Never let us forget when we are praying, O God, to whom we are talking.


“Our Father in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9b)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, March 27, 2011

“Our Father”

O God, we praise you for the wonderful fact that we can pray to you as…

...our Father who accepts us,
…our Father who cares for us,
…our Father who holds us,
…our Father who disciplines us,
...our Father who forgives us,
…our Father who nurtures us,
…our Father who carries us,
…our Father who leads us,
…our Father who waits for us,
…our Father who welcomes us,
…our Father who yearns for us,
…our Father who reaches for us, and
…our Father who rescues us.

O God, we praise you for the wonderful fact that we can pray to you as our Father who loves us.


“Our Father…” (Matthew 6:9b)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, March 26, 2011

“Pray Then in This Way”

On the one hand, it would be hard to call wrong any way of praying in which one honestly and openly attempts to commune with God.

On the other hand, Jesus did say that there was a way that we should pray and then he outlined it for us.

Help us, O God, to pray.

Help us, O God, to listen to what Jesus has to say about how we should pray.

Help us, O God, to be open to the spirit of what Jesus says rather than becoming slaves to some prescribed formula for prayer.


“Pray then in this way….” (Matthew 6:9a)

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, March 25, 2011

“Your Father Knows What You Need”

Help us to pray, O God, with simple words that reflect a simple trust.


“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, March 24, 2011

“Pray to Your Father who is in Secret”

Prayer is, when we get right down to it, conversation and communion between God and us; good conversation and communion between two people ordinarily takes place best when nobody else is around so it stands to reason that our best praying will be done with no one else in the room with us but God.

O God, thank you for hearing our prayers. Thank you for your willingness to have the kind of relationship with us that can be developed and deepened through our direct conversation and intimate communion with you.

Forgive us for when we settle for something far less with you than you intend for us to have; forgive us for those days when the only prayers we pray are out of habit or are for show.

Help us to find or to create environments for our praying that will enhance our speaking to and listening to you.

Thank you for hearing us in secret. Thank you even more for not being a secret to us.


“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, March 23, 2011

“They Love to Stand and Pray”

It is possible for a person praying a public prayer to offer encouragement to others; when we pray with each other and before each other as an expression of our common faith and of our community identity we can encourage each other.

It is possible for a person praying a public prayer to offer edification to others; when someone prays publicly as a way to help others learn how to pray, beneficial education can be shared, particularly when the spirit and attitude of the one leading in prayer is genuine and humble.

But it is also possible, as Jesus points out, for a person praying a public prayer to seek exaltation for herself or for himself; given the way that we are, it is possible for that self-centered motive to be present in us even when our conscious purpose in praying in public is to offer encouragement or edification—our ego might be seeking exaltation whether or not we set out to do so.

So Lord, teach us to pray. And when we are called upon for any reason to pray in public, remind us that in our prayer we are talking to you and not to anyone else, that we should be careful how we pray because even though we are not talking to the others who are present they are nonetheless listening, and that while it is possible that others might somehow benefit from the prayer they hear us pray, we are in no way and at no time to pray so that they might hear us and somehow be impressed with our piety or spirituality.

Help us in our praying to want to be—and to be—genuine but not impressive.


“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.” (Matthew 6:5)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, March 22, 2011

“Your Father Who Sees in Secret”

Jesus does not say how God will reward us for the giving that we do in secret.

He does make very clear, however, that we should not give in ways that would cause others to give us credit or that would even allow us to give ourselves credit.

It stands to reason that whatever rewards we get from God—which may well have to do with the peace that comes from not feeling like we have to prove our worth to others or to ourselves or even to God by any means, including a public display of “generosity”—will be greater than any pat on the back we could get from other people or from ourselves.

O God, give us hearts that want to share out of what we have for the sake of those who have needs and give us hearts that are content with knowing that such giving just may be its own reward.


“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:2-4)

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, March 21, 2011

“In Order to be Seen by Them”

In this place Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them.” But in another place Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

On the one hand, then, we are not to let others see our good works; on the other hand, though, we are to let others see our good works.

The difference between letting others see our good works in a good way and letting others see our good works in a bad way apparently comes down to our motivation—do we want people to see what we do so they’ll notice what good people we are or do we want people to see what we do so they’ll notice what a great God we serve?

It is hard for us to stay on the right side of that line.

Oh God, help us to know where the line is between witness and display, between righteousness and self-righteousness—and give us grace to live on the side of witness and righteousness.


“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, March 20, 2011

“Be Perfect”

This command of Jesus is terribly intimidating even when we realize that “perfect” means “whole” or “complete” or “mature” and even when we realize that, given the context within which this saying occurs, our perfection is to be perfection in showing love to all, even to our enemies.

After all, we all know how divided and incomplete and immature we are even when we are at our best and we furthermore all know how far we have to go in loving others like God loves them.

So Lord, please help us.

Help us to know that we can in fact grow every day toward greater maturity in the love that we show to the people around us, even to those who don’t love us.

Help us to know that, if we will submit ourselves to the working of your grace, love, and Spirit and to the intentional and determined following of Jesus Christ, we can make a little progress every day so that by the time we’re done—it just may happen—we may have just about made it.


“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, March 19, 2011

“What More Are You Doing than Others?”

On the one hand and in other places, Jesus warns us against comparing ourselves favorably to others; he warns us against an attitude that leads to prayers like “God, I thank you that I am not like other people” because such an attitude indicates that we are far, far from the humility that opens us up and keeps us opened to God’s grace.

On the other hand and in this place, Jesus instructs us to compare ourselves to others with the aim of encouraging us to be better than and to do better than other people are and do.

O God, give us discernment that knows the difference between a lack of humility that causes us to think we’re better than other people on the one hand and an acceptance of your grace that causes to embrace the challenge to be and to do more than we would able to be and do apart from your grace on the other.

O God, give us the insight to know and to live in the truth that the one thing at which we are called to be and to do better than other people is all about love; we are to love other people, even our enemies, and we are to be hospitable to other people, even our enemies, in ways that would be impossible apart from the presence of your love and grace in us.

Perhaps one of the keys to the whole thing is that this “superior” stance toward life and style of life will help not only us but also everyone with whom we come into contact; in a way, then, it’s still more about others than it is about us.

O God, help us to love like we are capable of loving because of your love in our lives.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:46-47)

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, March 18, 2011

“Love Your Enemies”

What an honor it would be to look like our heavenly Father looks, to think and to act like our heavenly Father thinks and acts, and to treat people like our heavenly Father treats people.

According to Jesus, one way we do so is by loving and praying for everybody, including our enemies, because our heavenly Father sends blessings on everybody, including those who don’t want to relate to him or who stand in opposition to him.

O God, it will take a lot of intervention on your part—quite an infusion of grace, love, and mercy—for us to develop such a family resemblance. Please break our hearts open, if that’s what it takes, so that we can receive your gifts that will in turn compel us to share them—yes, even with, and even especially with, our enemies.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, March 17, 2011

“Give…and Do Not Refuse”

Our default setting is to keep and to refuse rather than to give and to loan.

Forgive us, O Lord, for our hard hearts, for our hard heads, and for our hard ways.

Forgive us for living in the oxymoronic state of being “selfish Christians.”

Fill us with the grace, love, and sacrificial spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord who not only spoke these difficult words but lived in the most extreme way possible the kind of difficult life that gives meaning, power, and authority to the words.

Fill us with a Christ-like generosity that, as big a thing as it may seem to us, is but the smallest evidence of a Christ-like life.


“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, March 16, 2011

“Do Not Resist an Evildoer”

Forgive our desire to explain away these very hard words, O Lord.

Give us the grace to accept them and the strength to live them.

At the heart of these challenging words of Jesus seems to be the idea that we who are followers of his are called to move beyond a focus on what others would take from us to a more radical focus on what we can give to others. Our desire to give, to offer, to share, and to sacrifice is to extend even to those who would and do take from us and make demands of us.

Perhaps we really are supposed to overcome evil with good, to overcome taking with giving, to overcome aggression with nonviolent resistance, and to overcome demands with offers.

It is likely that all of us praying this prayer have a long way to go, O Lord, so help us to make a little progress today; after all, a little bit of this kind of grace, especially as it shows itself in our attitudes and actions toward our enemies, will go a long, long way in this old world.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” (Matthew 5:38-41)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, March 15, 2011

“Let Your Word Be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’”

I don’t remember who said it but I remember what he said. I had just concluded a statement with the words “really, I mean it” and my friend asked me, “So, if you don’t say you really mean what you said does that mean you didn’t really mean it?”

I had never thought before about how important it is that my word stand on its own without need of other words to prop it up; it boils down to the simple truth that people need to be able to believe what I say because I say it and because my character, which is supposed to be conforming more and more to the image of Christ, reveals itself in my integrity.

God, help us to grow in our character to the point that our words are honest and sound because wholeness and integrity characterize our lives.

May the strength of our character be so obvious to everyone around us that the honesty of our words can be assumed by all. May the words that come out of our mouths match up so well with the actions that come out of our lives that our integrity can be counted on by all.


“Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes,’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”(Matthew 5:37).

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, March 14, 2011

“Do Not Swear At All”

At least part of Jesus’ meaning seems to be that it is pointless to swear by anything that doesn’t really belong to us, that we don’t control, and the destiny of which isn’t in our hands—and that eliminates our swearing by anything.

Lord, keep us constantly mindful of the fact that everything belongs to you and that we are recipients of your great blessings and that we are stewards and caretakers of your great creation.

Guard us from an arrogance that would cause us to use what does not belong to us as collateral to support our standing and our statements.

Guard us as well from a tendency to inflate falsely the value and meaning of our words by appeal to an authority outside ourselves.

Cause us to grow in our awareness of who we are and of who we aren’t so that our words will come from the center of our being and that will be authority enough.


“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.” (Matthew 5:33-36)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, March 13, 2011

“Anyone Who Divorces His Wife”

As we grow in our awareness of what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ we will come more and more to live lives that are characterized by the constant desire to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs and by a deep concern over the ways that our motives, attitudes, and actions affect other people.

So Jesus, speaking in a time when men could secure a divorce with ease while women could not and in a time when the accepted practices of marriage and divorce created an atmosphere in which men were tempted to treat women as property and women were tempted to accept such treatment as normal, focused on the responsibility of the men who had the upper hand toward the women who were easily victimized.

These days, at least in many cultures, his words would need to be applied to both partners in a marriage relationship.

O God, help us to have marriages that are marked by a commitment to one another that is based on our commitment to you.

O God, help us to treat each other in our marriages with love, respect, and concern.

O God, help us in our marriages to put the needs of the other ahead of our own needs.

O God, help us in our marriages not only to do no harm to one another but also to do great good for one another.


“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, March 12, 2011

“If Your Right Eye Causes You to Sin”

I think it was Gandhi who first pointed out that the logical end of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is a blind and toothless society.

In the same way, the logical end of the literal application of Jesus’ words here is a Christian population that has no eyes and no hands.

It is possible that Jesus was making his point through the use of absurdity and indirection; he could have meant something like “Of course your eye and your hand are going to cause you to sin but what are you going to do about it, rip out your eye and cut off your hand? Better, then, to concentrate on the state of your heart, from which your sinful attitudes sprout and from which your sinful actions emerge.”

It is also possible that Jesus was making his point through the use of hyperbole; he could have meant something like “Lustful looks lead to adulterous actions and so if you find yourself falling prey to such sins, it’s serious business and you should do anything you can to avoid such sins; it’s so serious that I can describe the lengths to which you should go to avoid them in terms like ripping your eye out and cutting your hand off—but for goodness’ sake don’t’ take me literally.”

Regardless of the rhetorical method employed here by Jesus, though, his point is clear: we should take very, very, very seriously our responsibility to let God in God’s grace and love develop hearts in us that want to view people in the right way and to treat people in the right way.

So God, work that great work in us. Help us every day to treat the people that we see and with whom we deal with a little more love, a little more grace, and a little more respect.


“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, March 11, 2011

“Everyone Who Looks…with Lust”

To pray that we will not look on another person with lust in our hearts is actually to pray for several things at once.

So let us pray.

God, help us to see people as people and not as objects to be used for our own gratification.

God, help us to seek relationships with people that are meaningful and enduring rather than shallow and selfish.

God, help us to develop hearts that want to care about and to cultivate healthy relationships with other people.

God, help us to be empowered by your love and grace to give our lives to developing the very real relationships that we have rather than to expend our mental and emotional energy in distracting fantasies.

God, help us to celebrate the good gift of our sexuality through its healthy expression in a relationship that is based in a life-long commitment to you and to each other.

God, help us to be sound and mature adults in the ways that we think about and behave toward other people and in the ways that we think about and behave toward ourselves.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, March 10, 2011

“Come to Terms…with your Accuser”

We who are citizens of the kingdom of heaven still have to live in the real world and in that real world relationships can become frazzled and damaged and even broken.

Sometimes we do not deserve the anger felt toward us or the accusations brought against us—but sometimes we do.

O Lord, when we do deserve them, give us the strength of character to acknowledge our fault and to embrace our responsibility. Then, inspire us to take steps to make things right with the one or ones whom we have wronged. May our motives in taking such action be driven by a desire to be faithful to who you are, to who we are in you, and to who our fellow people are to us because of you.


“Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:25-26)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“First Be Reconciled”

In God’s way of looking at things, our relationship with the Other and our relationship with others are very closely connected.

God, forgive us for our efforts to compartmentalize our relationships, for our tendency to kid ourselves into thinking that somehow things can be right with you whom we have never seen when they are wrong with our sister or brother whom we see every day.

God, forgive us for our efforts to compartmentalize our worship, for our tendency to kid ourselves into thinking that somehow we can lay our lives before you in the sanctuary when we refuse to lay our lives before each other in our daily lives.

God, as we revel in the truth that Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection reconciled us to you, cause us to grow in the related truth that we are to be reconciled to each other. Give us the grace both to seek reconciliation and to accept the reconciliation that is sought by another.


“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”(Matthew 5:23)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, March 8, 2011

“If You Are Angry”

Chances that we will murder somebody are thankfully slim; chances that we will get angry enough at someone to want him or her dead or hurt or at least knocked down a few notches are regretfully great.

So Lord, work in our hearts to take away the negative and dangerous attitudes we sometimes harbor toward others.

But that’s not enough.

Lord, work in our hearts to cause us to grow in respect, in care, in compassion, in mercy, and in love for other people—and especially for those who hurt us or who do things that make us angry.

We pray these things most earnestly, Lord, because clearly we can’t make such outlandish progress on our own.


“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, March 7, 2011

“Unless Your Righteousness Exceeds”

In their day, there were probably no more “righteous” people around than the scribes and Pharisees, at least when it came to knowing what the Bible said and making every effort to do that.

Jesus seems to be saying, then, that to be his disciples and to gain entry into the kingdom of heaven requires that we do more than know what the Bible says and make every effort to do that.

Somehow, O God, we must let you help us get to the heart, to the spirit, to the essence of it all; somehow, O God, we must grow to live out of a relationship with you that forms not only our actions but also our motives, our attitudes, and our relationships.

Work in us, O God, so that we become every day more of who you mean for us to be so that we can then do more of what you mean for us to do not only because the Bible says so but because our relationship with you causes that way of life to be more and more natural to us.


“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, March 6, 2011

“Whoever Does and Teaches”

Perhaps no line can be drawn between doing and teaching; maybe the best way—maybe even the only way—we really teach somebody something is by doing it ourselves. This much is clear: the right words don’t matter much if they are not backed up by the right actions.

O God, help us to be people who teach by our actions; help us to be people who by the way we live our lives provide a sound example to those around us by offering an accurate reflection of who you are.

O God, help us especially to teach by our lives the ways of Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose actions, words, death, and resurrection we see the fulfillment of the way that you mean things to be.


“Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, March 5, 2011

“Not to Abolish but to Fulfill”

All of us, whether we recognize or acknowledge it, have a worldview, a way of looking at and of interpreting reality that conditions our responses and reactions to people, to events, and to our thoughts and feelings.

Lord, does our worldview coalesce with our identity as people who follow Jesus Christ? He is, after all, the One in whom all things are fulfilled and in whom all things will be accomplished; he is, after all, the One who is the Center of all things and through whom all things can best be perceived, understood, and approached.

Forgive us, Lord, for when we let a competing worldview have more influence in our lives than our worldview as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Help us, Lord, to see Jesus as the interpretive key that, in time and through faith, has, does, and will unlock everything.


“’Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not a letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.’” (Matthew 5:17-18)

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, March 4, 2011

“You Are the Light of the World”

Lord, form us into reflectors of light; may the light that people see in us come from you so that it will be good and true light that will lead people in the way you would have them go.

Lord, form us into deflectors of light; may the light that people see in us, which comes from you anyway, be deflected so that it will shine clearly on you that they might come to know your light in their own lives.

Lord, form us into people who at the same time do not hide the light nor try to hoard the light.


“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, March 3, 2011

“You Are the Salt of the Earth”

Salt makes things taste salty; if it doesn’t make things taste salty, it isn’t salt. When you stop and think about it, non-salty tasting salt is useless; in fact, it isn’t what it is.

God, don’t let us be what we aren’t; help us always to be what we are, namely, faithful disciples of Jesus whose motives, words, and actions permeate our homes, our churches, our neighborhoods, our communities, our towns, our cities, our states, our nation, and our world with the grace, love, and peace of our Lord.


“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot” (Matthew 5:13).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, March 2, 2011

“Blessed Are You When People Revile You”

O God, please give us grace and wisdom to remember a few important things.

First, help us to remember that when people talk behind our backs or criticize us to our faces because we are Christians, it usually does not, at least in American or Western culture, rise to the level of being reviled or persecuted.

Second, help us to remember that sometimes when we are criticized the criticism is justified, even if we are being criticized for allegedly Christian attitudes or behaviors; it is possible, after all, to be “religious” in the worst sense of the word. Jesus said we are blessed when people revile us and persecute us and utter all kinds of evil against us falsely, not truthfully.

Third, help us to remember that Jesus said we are blessed when people revile us and persecute us and utter all kinds of evil against us falsely on his account. In other words, we are blessed when we are persecuted or lied about because we think and talk and act in ways that are like the ways that Jesus thought and talked and acted. Help us to take very seriously this question: what are the chances that we would be reviled or persecuted because our thoughts, words, and actions have been too gracious, too forgiving, too merciful, too truthful, and too loving?

Fourth, help us to remember that a martyr complex is unbecoming even as you help us to remember that martyrdom does come to people who don’t seek it but who, when it comes, accept it.

Finally, help us to be as in tune with you as your prophets were so that, whether we suffer here or rejoice there, we will always know the joy of your presence.


“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, March 1, 2011

“Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted”

There are people all over the world who are being persecuted—truly persecuted—for righteousness’ sake, for the sake of their faithful witness to their relationship with God and to the ways of God’s kingdom. Some are economically marginalized, some are attacked, some are imprisoned, and some are executed.

O God, thank you for the blessings that are theirs both because of the joy they find in their faithful testimony to you in the present and because of the utter joy they will find when they are in your presence in the future. Keep them safe and protect them from harm; no matter what comes to them, give them the strength to be faithful.

O God, give those of us who live in places where freedom of religious expression is the norm the perspective and the class to acknowledge that the little slights and even the large criticisms we receive for our faith do not rise to a level where they can be classified as persecution.

At the same time, so fill us with your grace, love, peace, joy, and mercy that it will at least be obvious to all those around us, if such persecution ever comes here, that it should come to us.


“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).