Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, May 31, 2011

“Why Do…Your Disciples…Not?”

Lord, give us insight into why we as your followers do what we do and don’t do what we don’t do.

Also, give us patience with those who question why we do what we do and don’t do what we don’t do.

And, give us the wisdom to know if and when we need to stop doing something we’ve been doing or to start doing something we haven’t been doing.


“Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?’” (Matthew 9:14)

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, May 30, 2011

“I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice”

Help us, O God, to do the right things; help us, O God, to respond to people in the right ways because our hearts are moved by the right motives.

Deliver us from substituting association with people of good reputation who hide their real lives behind their public masks for friendship with people of questionable reputation who know who they are and don’t try to hide it.

Deliver us from substituting public performance of religious ritual with private involvement in the lives of hurting and searching people.

Deliver us from substituting looking like we’re doing right and good things for actually doing what you regard as truly right and good things.

Deliver us from hearts that care more about how clean we look than about getting as dirty as we need to get for the sake of love and grace.

Help us, O God, to do the right things; help us, O God, to respond to people in the right ways because our hearts are moved by the right motives.

“But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’” (Matthew 9:12-14)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, May 29, 2011


Because you gave us these minds, O Lord, we ask lots of questions; one we ask quite often is “Why?”

Sometimes that is a good and necessary question; sometimes the asking of it can lead us to new places in our understanding and our faith.

Sometimes, though, it is a misplaced question, because behind it lies not a request for information or understanding but rather a need or desire to affirm our assumptions, to bolster our prejudices, or to forward our agenda.

Give us the motivation, O Lord, to ask “Why?” because we really want to know and because we are open to new understandings.

Take away the motivation, O Lord, to ask “Why?” because we think we already know and because we want to control or limit our own or someone else's understanding.


“When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’” (Matthew 9:11)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, May 28, 2011

“Sinners…Were Sitting with Him”

Thank you, Lord, that sinners were and are welcome to come and sit with you; thank you for your hospitality to them and to us.

Thank you, Lord, that sinners sat at dinner not only with you but with your disciples, which means of course that they are welcome to come and sit with those who are your disciples here and now.

The thing is, though, that sometimes we are not as welcoming, not at gracious, and not as loving as we should be. Forgive us and help us.

Another thing is that sometimes our “welcome” is offered in a condescending way. Forgive us and help us.

Grow our spirits so that we will see people as Jesus saw people and that we will love people as Jesus loved people.


“And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.” (Matthew 9:10)

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, May 27, 2011

“He Got Up and Followed Him”

In the course of being who he is and doing what he does, Jesus finds us as we are being who we are and doing what we do. It doesn’t much matter who we are being and what we are doing, apparently.

The Bible has a lot of accounts of God or Jesus calling people who were about the business of being good people who were doing good things, people like Noah, Abraham, Deborah, Mary, and Simon Peter, for example.

But the Bible also has a lot of accounts of God or Jesus calling people who were about the business of being not so good and even bad people who were doing not so good and even bad things, people like Rahab, Samson, Matthew, and Paul, for example.

What does matter is that, in some way or another, when push comes to shove, we get up and follow, and that we then do the best we can.

Lord, we confess that you call us to follow you. We furthermore confess that, whether we are being and doing good or bad or something in between, it is only by your grace that you call us. And we ask for the trust and strength to get up, to shed our failings or our pretensions, and follow you.


“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, May 26, 2011

“When the Crowds Saw It”

O God, we are the Body of Christ, we are the presence of Christ, and we are the hands, feet and heart of Christ in the world today.

What do the crowds see when they look at us? What is happening in and through us that would cause the crowds to see us and, more importantly, to see you?

Is our light shining so that others may see it and give glory to our Father in heaven?

Work in and through us, O God, that the suffering of people might be alleviated and that their need for wholeness and healing might be met.

Work in and through us, O God, that we will practice such radical forgiveness and exhibit such radical grace that people will be able to believe in and to accept your most radical forgiveness and your most radical grace.


“When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.” (Matthew 9:8).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, May 25, 2011

“So That You May Know”

Thank you, God, for those occasional glimpses we get that reveal to us in basic and obvious ways the truth that you bring about health and wholeness in our lives; thank you that you use those glimpses to teach and to remind us that you also bring about health and wholeness in ways that are mysterious to us and hidden from us but that are just as real as the obvious ones.

Deliver us from the small kind of faith that believes only on the basis of the obvious; grow in us the large kind of faith that believes in what you are doing even when we cannot see it.

Thank you for the ways in which you sometimes heal our outward brokenness but thank you even more that such healing reminds us that you also heal our inward brokenness which is after all the brokenness the healing of which we stand in the greatest need.


“For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk?’ But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he then said to the paralytic—‘Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.’ And he stood up and went to his home.” (Matthew 9:5-7)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“Why Do You Think Evil in Your Hearts?”

O God, we acknowledge that you know our every thought.

So when our doubts come—and they do come—grant that they would be motivated by a true desire to know and to understand rather than by a desire to dismiss and to avoid.

Grant that our questions about who Jesus is and what Jesus does be asked in a way that will lead to greater trust in him rather than to greater doubt about him, to greater closeness to him rather than to greater distance from him, and to more following of him rather than to more running away from him.


“Then some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” (Matthew 9:3-4)

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, May 23, 2011

“Take Heart”

Lord, it is easy for us and for others to see what is obviously wrong with us; it is easy to see our physical problems or social inadequacies or vocational struggles, for example.

But Lord, it is not so easy for us or for others to see what is not so obviously wrong with us; it is not easy to see our sin, to see that condition that blocks us from having a life that is full of meaning even in the midst of outward and obvious struggles.

So Lord, thank you for seeing and for doing something about the situation that is, when we get right down to it, our most serious problem.

Thank you that we can take heart, no matter what we are going through, because our sins are forgiven.


“He said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’” (Matthew 9:2b)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, May 22, 2011

“When Jesus Saw Their Faith”

Lord, help us to be the kind of friends who bring our friends to you for help and healing and who do so with great, great faith.


“And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith….” (Matthew 9:2a)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, May 21, 2011

“He…Came to His Own Town”

God, by your grace, by our choices, and through circumstances, we live where we live.

Sometimes—maybe often—we leave there for short or long times but we never leave completely and we always return.

Thank you for the familiarity of our place but don’t let that familiarity dull our sensitivities to the possibilities of the new and different that are present in it—particularly of the possibilities that reside in the people there, even in those with whom we are most familiar.

Thank you for home.

Help us to do your will—and thereby to do good—there.


“And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town.” (Matthew 9:1)

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, May 20, 2011

“They Begged Him to Leave”

Forgive us, O God, when we do not welcome the presence of Jesus among us.

Forgive us when we do not welcome him because he disrupts our status quo.

Forgive us when we do not welcome him because he disrupts our economic systems.

Forgive us especially when we do not welcome him because we’d rather have people remain victimized and ostracized than have to change our ways of looking down on them and refusing to accept them.

Forgive us, O God, when we do not welcome the presence of Jesus among us.


“The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.” (Matthew 8:33-34)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, May 19, 2011

“The Whole Herd…Rushed Down the Steep Bank”

O God, make and keep us mindful of just how powerfully damaging and destructive are some of the influences that threaten to control and dominate some of the people around us; remind us that some of them are struggling in their thinking, feeling, and praying selves with emotional, mental, and spiritual forces that would drive a non-thinking, non-feeling, and non-praying being right over the cliff.

Lord, have mercy on them.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Lord, let your mercy flow through us into them.


“Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’ And he said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water.” (Matthew 8:30-32)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, May 18, 2011

“What Have You to Do with Us?”

We know, O God, that we are confronted with people and with situations that are so dangerous and so disruptive that the sources of the danger and disruption seem beyond the ability of anyone—both perpetrators and targets—to understand.

Sometimes, though, we have to pass that way.

When we do, may the life of Christ be so real and present in us that we contribute to your overcoming of evil with good, to your overcoming of hate with love, and to your overcoming of fear with faith.

Remind us that the time for such overcoming is any time that we are present in this world.


"When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted out, ‘What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?’” (Matthew 8:28-29)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, May 17, 2011

“They Were Amazed”

O God, we acknowledge that we have lost something vital if we ever stop being amazed at what Jesus does and if we ever conclude that we know all there is to know about who Jesus is.

So God, help us always to be amazed and always to live in wonder.


“Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’” (Matthew 8:26b-27)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, May 16, 2011

“Why Are You Afraid?”

Lord, sometimes we are afraid; sometimes we are very afraid.

We are afraid because we perceive that we are in danger; often the danger is imaginary but sometimes it is very, very real.

Lord, please don’t chastise us for our little faith; we are already well aware of just how little it is.

Lord, please increase our faith; help us to learn the good and sound lesson of your faithfulness that we know we should have learned long, long ago.

Maybe, Lord, we show a good kind of faith when we trust that you know our predicament whether we tell you about it or not and that you will save us whether we ask you to or not.

When the involuntary response of fear comes upon us, Lord, let it be quickly followed by the voluntary reaction of trust in you.


“And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’” (Matthew 8:25-26a)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, May 15, 2011

“He Was Asleep”

Lord, we thank you for the gift of sleep that we receive when we are tired.

Lord, we thank you even more for the gift of sleep that we receive because we are at peace.

Help us to know that, no matter what comes, we can in trust rest in you.

Help us to have the kind of peace that our Savior had, even in the face of the greatest danger.


“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.” (Matthew 8:23-24)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, May 14, 2011

“First, Let Me…Bury my Father”

Thank you, God, for the privilege of being disciples of Jesus Christ.

Fill us, God, with the commitment we need to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

Remind us, God, that it is in following Jesus Christ that we find real life.

Thank you, God, that ordinarily we can and should express our discipleship and live our lives in ways that allow us to show great care and concern for our families.

Still, God, create in us a sense of true priorities so that there is in our minds and hearts no doubt about who and what come first.


“Another of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’” (Matthew 8:21-22)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, May 13, 2011

“Wherever You Go”

Lord God, may it be our heart’s desire to follow Jesus wherever he leads us.

At the same time, may our commitment to following him be made and carried out with our eyes wide open so that we make that commitment with as full an acceptance as possible of what will be expected of us.

Cause and enable us to realize that to follow Jesus could lead us to just about anywhere or even to what to most people would look like nowhere.

Give us the courage to follow anyway, O God.

And give us the faith to know that if we are truly trying to follow you we are in fact following you and that if we truly want to be where you want us to be then we are in fact where you want us to be.


“A scribe then approached and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’” (Matthew 8:19-20)

A Prayer for Thursday, May 12, 2011

“To the Other Side”

Lord, fill us with compassion so that we will see the needs in the people around us and then do what we can to help.

But Lord, also give us discernment to know when it is time to get away, for sometimes it is in removing ourselves from a situation that we do the best thing for those around us and for ourselves.


“Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side.”(Matthew 8:18)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, May 11, 2011

“He Took our Infirmities”

We praise and thank you, O God, that Jesus Christ your Son came to this world to take our infirmities and diseases onto himself, ultimately doing so in his death on the cross.

Help us, O God, as the Body of Christ in the world today, to do all that we can to help those who are sick and suffering; empower us, O God, to share in and to take on their burdens in whatever ways we can, even at great personal cost—all for your glory.


“That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.’” (Matthew 8:16-17)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, May 10, 2011

“She…Began to Serve Him”

Thank you, Lord, for the ways in which you have by your touch brought healing and wholeness to us.

Cause us, Lord, to go in that healing and wholeness to serve you in whatever ways we can.

Lead us to celebrate our blessings not by sitting back and enjoying them but rather by going in the strength of them to do whatever we can for you, which almost certainly will mean doing whatever we can for someone else.


“When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him.” (Matthew 8:14-15)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, May 9, 2011

“From East and West”

Dear Lord,

Grant that we who are the privileged insiders—those who have heard about Jesus and professed to follow Jesus for as long as we can remember—would not take our standing for granted but rather look to you with great trust and humility.

Grant also that we would not look with disfavor upon those who seem to us to be on the outside because they may well have greater trust and humility than we’ve ever thought about having.

Keep us from presumption and bless us with trust; keep us from arrogance and bless us with humility; keep us from exclusiveness and bless us with inclusiveness.


“I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 9:11-12)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, May 8, 2011

“In No One…Have I Found Such Faith”

O God, am I capable of having faith that would amaze Jesus? If I had it, would I realize it? And if I realized it, would I be proud of it?

Or could I just be matter-of-fact about it like the centurion was?

O God, help me to grow into amazing faith; help me to take such progress in stride.


“When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.’” (Matthew 8:10)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, May 7, 2011

“Only Speak the Word”

God, give us humility that keeps us from expecting more from you than we ought and from behaving as if we somehow have you at our beck and call.

God, give us respect that is in awe of your authority and that accepts that you can and will accomplish what you want to accomplish in the way that you want to accomplish it.

God, give us faith that trusts in your grace, in your power, and in your purposes.


“The centurion answered him, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.’” (Matthew 8:8-9)

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, May 6, 2011

“Appealing to Him”

We appeal to you, Lord, to take care of those about whom we care.

We trust you, Lord, to take care of them according to your mercy and grace.

We accept, O Lord, whatever forms your mercy, grace, care, and curing takes.

We thank you, Lord, for hearing and responding to our appeals for the sake of others.


“When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.’ And he said to him, ‘I will come and cure him.’” (Matthew 8:5-7)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, May 5, 2011

“Say Nothing…Show Yourself”

O God,

We praise you for the wholeness and wellness that we know in our lives because of the grace and love that touch us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Make us sensitive to the ways in which we should live in our always developing wholeness and wellness; give us discernment as to how, given a particular circumstance or situation, we should bear witness to others of the healing and help we have found in you.

If we need to tell, lead us to tell; if we need to keep silence, lead us to keep silence.

If we need to seek deeper fellowship with the people who share our faith, lead us to seek that deeper fellowship; if we need to stay to ourselves for a while, lead us to stay to ourselves.

If we need to go and do, lead us to go and do; if we need to sit and wait, lead us to sit and wait.

As we gratefully accept and embrace your gifts of wholeness and wellness, O God, help us to be sensitive and discerning in our reactions and responses.


“Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’” (Matthew 8:4)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, May 4, 2011

“I Do Choose”

O Lord,

I know what I think I need; after all, some of my symptoms are obvious to me whether they are obvious to anyone else or not.

I also suspect that I need many other types of help and healing because I suspect that I have infirmities—be they physical, mental, emotional, social, vocational, or spiritual—of which I am not even aware.

So Lord, I ask: please make me clean.

And Lord, I ask: give me faith to accept whatever you choose to do—or not to do—to me, in me, with me, or through me.


“When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matthew 8:1-3)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, May 3, 2011

“As One Having Authority”

The difference between the authority of Jesus and that of the scribes was that while Jesus’ authority was intrinsic to him that of the scribes was external to them; Jesus’ authority came from who he was while that of the scribes came from what they knew.

Real authority comes from within, not from without.

Lead us, O God, to listen very, very closely to Jesus; lead us to take his authority very, very seriously.

Cause our astonishment to give way to obedience; may we follow Christ so closely that our witness comes to flow naturally from within us or, perhaps better put, from our faithful response to your presence in us.


“Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29)

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, May 2, 2011

“Great Was Its Fall”

God, thank you that in your great grace you sent your Son Jesus to this world to live, to die, and to rise from the grave; thank you also that in your great grace you sent your Son Jesus to this world to share his life and his words with us.

God, help us to grasp the truth that his words are the words of life; help us to grab hold of them, to learn them, and to do everything in our power--and more importantly in yours--to follow them.

After all, to fail to do so it is to cut ourselves off from the greatest wisdom there is; to fail to do so is to leave ourselves defenseless against the onslaughts of this life.

We want, O God, to make a great stand, not to experience a great fall.

So help us to listen to what Jesus says to us…and to do it.


“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” (Matthew 7:26-27)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, May 1, 2011

“It Did Not Fall”

O Lord, the hard times will come…they do come.

O Lord, we want to be able to stand when they come.

So Lord, help us to hear and do the words of Jesus, even his most challenging words that we read in the Sermon on the Mount. Help us to be wise and not foolish.


“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)