Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, August 31, 2011

“Break the Tradition”

We thank you, God, for the traditions that have been handed down to us over the years and even over the centuries and even over the millennia. Help us to respect and to follow them as is appropriate but help us also to know why we respect and follow them.

And when we decide that we should or must move away from and even discard a tradition, help us to do so because we are led to do so by the spirit, grace, love, and liberty that are ours in Jesus Christ our Lord and not because we are led to do so by arrogance, contrariness, or novelty.


“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.’” (Matthew 15:1-2)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“Even the Fringe of His Cloak”

O God, help us today to be the kind of friends who bring hurting people to you through prayer, through conversation, and through intervention that they might, even in barely coming into your presence, know by your grace wholeness and healing.


“When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.” (Matthew 14:34-36)

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, August 29, 2011

“Truly You Are the Son of God”

We thank you, Lord, for those times when you remove the threats from our lives in ways that are obvious because in those times we have the privilege to offer our whole-hearted praise and worship to you since such events make it easy for us to affirm that Jesus is the Son of God.

Grace us with such a deep awareness of and trust in you, though, that we offer such praise and worship to you when events make it necessary for us to affirm that Jesus is the Son of God even when the threats still exist and your deliverance is not so easy for us to discern.


“When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:32-33)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, August 28, 2011

“Caught Him”

Give us such faith, O Lord, that we will keep our eyes on you and keep our trust in you no matter the situation in which we find ourselves.

But, given the sure thing that our doubting is, Lord, remind us that even as you wonder why we doubt you still reach out and catch us.

Thank you for your kindness and mercy.


“But when (Peter) noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out with his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:30-31)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, August 27, 2011

“Command Me to Come to You”

Lord, give us the courage to ask you to command us to come to you wherever you are.

Lord, give us the insight to understand the challenges and risks involved in coming to you wherever you are.

Lord, give us the daring, having asked you to command us to come to you and having heard your command to do so, actually to come to you wherever you are—regardless of how stable or unstable the footing seems to be—because wherever you are is where we belong.


“Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.” (Matthew 14:28-29).

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, August 26, 2011

“It Is I; Do Not Be Afraid”

Help us, Lord, to be alert for your comings to us, be they in expected and conventional ways or in unexpected and unconventional ways.

Keep us from missing you from inattention when you come in expected and conventional ways; shield us from missing you from confusion when you come in unexpected and unconventional ways.

And regardless of the circumstances out of which or in which you come to us, empty us of fear and fill us with joyful anticipation of and encouragement at your coming.


“And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost.’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:25-27)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, August 25, 2011

“The Wind Was Against Them”

Sometimes out there where we find ourselves, O Lord—at times because we chose to go there, at times because you sent us there, and on rare occasions when both realities are happening at the same time—we find ourselves being battered, beaten, and threatened because everything, despite our best intentions and even our best obedience, seems to be working against us.

At those times, O Lord, remind us to look for you because chances are excellent that you are just beyond the horizon, if not coming right up behind us.


“But by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.” (Matthew 14:24)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, August 24, 2011

“He Was There Alone”

Sometimes, O God, we really need to be with other people if we are to be who we are and if we are to be doing what you need us to be doing.

But sometimes, O God, we really need to be alone with no one else around except you.

Give us discernment to know which approach is best for the particular time or season of life in which we find ourselves.

Then help us act on the realization to which our discernment leads us.


“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…” (Matthew 14:23)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“He Made the Disciples…Go On Ahead”

On the one hand, O God, we know that we never go anywhere that Jesus does not go with us.

But on the other hand, O God, sometimes Jesus compels us to move ahead, to take chances, and to go out in ways that stretch us and that may even seem to us to put us beyond his reach.

Give us the courage, the trust, the daring—and the memory—that we need to go wherever Jesus sends us, no matter the degree to which the going stretches and challenges us.


“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” (Matthew 14:22)

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, August 22, 2011

“Twelve Baskets Full”

Thank you, Lord, that you take what we have—meager though it may be—and that you bless it and break it and give it back to us to give to the people in need who are right in front of us.

Remind us that, if we will trust in your provision for whatever crisis of ministry we face, our next crisis will be to find helpful and creative ways to use all the leftover grace and love we’ll have.


“They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” (Matthew 14:17-21)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, August 21, 2011

“You Give Them Something”

Our unfortunate tendency, Lord, is to want to send them away when their needs tax our resources—be they time, energy, money, or love.

Your fortunate tendency, Lord, when we want to send them away, is to challenge us to draw them closer to us and to dig deep to find the resources we need to help them.

Remind us, Lord, that in you we have a lot more from which to draw than we think we have or that we are willing to admit we have.

Inspire us, Lord, to rise to your challenge with grace, love, courage, and ingenuity.


“When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’” (Matthew 14:15-16)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, August 20, 2011

“He Had Compassion for Them”

If our ways of thinking, talking, serving, helping, loving—if our ways of living—make it obvious that we bear the healing power of your grace and mercy, O Lord, then hurting people will find us wherever we are.

When they find us, we will see them.

When we see them, let our first reaction be one of compassion.

When we feel compassion, cause us to act on it by offering your help and healing to them in whatever ways we can.


“But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.” (Matthew 14:13b-14)

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, August 19, 2011

“To a Deserted Place by Himself”

When John the Baptist died, it was a personal loss to Jesus that also had terribly serious implications for his own life and ministry.

And so he—the Son of God, the Savior of humankind, God’s Anointed One—acted on his heart-felt need to be with nothing but his thoughts and prayers and to be with no one but his God.

Remind us, O God, to respond in such healthy ways to our grief, to our losses, and to our challenges.

Remind us, O God, to take time to get away and to be alone.


“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” (Matthew 14:13a).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, August 18, 2011

“They Went and Told Jesus”

Sometimes we lose someone or something that means a lot to us.

After the burial, O Lord, help us to remember to tell Jesus about our loss.

In our telling and in his hearing there is peace, help, and purpose.

Thank you, Lord.


“His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.” (Matthew 14:12)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, August 17, 2011

“Out of Regard for His Oaths”

We have it in us, O God, to let ourselves get boxed in by what drives us—anger, fear, insecurity, lust, greed, ambition, for examples—so that we let ourselves get further boxed in by our words that in turn commit us to some action that we know, on reflection, would be wrong, but, one from which, driven by our pride, we won’t back down.

So first, O Lord, help us to grow so that we are driven by positive realities—trust, hope, love, peace, and mercy, for examples.

Second, may our words be inspired by those positive realities but, if we are tempted to let them be driven by negative ones, halt our tongues.

Third, if we rashly decide to or state that we will carry out some action that is driven by wrong desires or motives, give us the courage to swallow our pride and to change our minds.


“Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.’ The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother.” (Matthew 14:5-11)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, August 16, 2011

“For This Reason”

We thank you, Lord, for our consciences, and we ask you to cause them to have a realistic and rational effect on our moral and ethical decisions.

We also ask you to cause a conscience to take root in those who seem to lack one.

May our realization of our sins cause us to repent and to ask for your help in going in a different and better direction; may it not cause us to be so guilt-ridden that we become obsessive and delusional.

Give us a clear and rational acceptance of the way things are with us and inspire us to seek and to accept your forgiveness. Protect us from refusing forgiveness and from letting our sin and guilt separate us from reality.

Remind us that your grace, while unbelievably abundant, is not unbelievable.


“At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’” (Matthew 14:1-4)

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, August 15, 2011

“Is Not This the Carpenter’s Son?”

Protect us, O God, from the presumption that because we know something about Jesus we in fact know Jesus; protect us from the tendency to close our lives to the gracious power of Jesus because of our presumed familiarity with him.

While it is unlikely that our familiarity with Jesus will breed contempt toward him, do not let it breed carelessness or indifference toward him.

Keep us open to who he is even as we embrace the mystery and wonder of who he is.

Thank you that we know about Jesus.

Grant that we will know him.


“He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this? And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.’ And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:54-58)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, August 14, 2011

“What Is New and What Is Old”

Give us understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus, O God, but guard us against thinking that we have understood all that we should or as well as we should.

The way we feel our feelings and think our thoughts and say our words and do our deeds will tell the tale, anyway.

As we grow in our understanding, O God, cause us to bring together what understanding we have attained in the past and what understanding you give us in the present.

Help us to hold on to what has stood the test of time even as we are open to new ways in which your Spirit might be moving.


“‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’ When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.” (Matthew 13:51-53)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, August 13, 2011


Lord, when we hear these words of Jesus about the separation of people that is to come at the end of the age we might be filled with relief that justice will one day be done or with sadness that some will choose a way that takes them away from you—or both.

But Lord, if we are in fact counted among the “righteous,” cause us to weep and gnash our teeth over the ways that our attitudes, words and actions might be part of what keeps the “evil” from drawing close to you rather than pulling away from you.


“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50)

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, August 12, 2011

“Sells All He Has”

Help us, O Lord, to stay in deep touch with the deep joy that is ours for having found you.

And help us, O Lord, to live in deep awareness of the priceless nature of being known by you and knowing you.

And help us, O Lord, to remain constantly aware of the great value of being in your kingdom, a value so great that we would give up anything and everything—even and especially ourselves—for its sake.


“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-45)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, August 11, 2011

“The Harvest”

Cause the powerful images and symbols employed in the words of your Son, O God, to teach us the important truths to which they point; prevent us from getting so hung up on the pictures painted that we fail adequately to assimilate the facts being communicated.

Help us to assimilate the fact that you are God.

Help us to assimilate the fact that history has a purpose and a goal.

Help us to assimilate the fact that who we are and who we choose to be matters.

Help us to assimilate the fact that the ways that we develop or don’t develop our lives under you have enduring consequences.

And help us to assimilate the fact that since we are still able to assimilate facts we are still able to have your grace and love shape us so that we become now more of what we can be for all time.


“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” (Matthew 13:37-43)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, August 10, 2011

“He Answered”

Thank you, God, that we can pose our questions to you.

Thank you also that sometimes we seem to get a straight and clear answer from you.

Thank you also that sometimes, though, we don’t.

Either way, our faith can grow. Either way, cause our faith to grow.


“Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered…” (Matthew 13:36-37a)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“What Has Been Hidden”

We acknowledge, O God, that Jesus speaks the truth that was previously hidden; we furthermore acknowledge, O God, that Jesus reveals that truth in ways and in words the hearing and understanding of which require an insight that comes only by grace through faith.

Open our eyes, hearts and minds to that grace, to that faith, to that understanding—to that truth.


“Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.’” (Matthew 13:34-35)

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, August 8, 2011

“Like Yeast”

Lead and inspire us, O Lord, to embrace our place in the midst of our neighborhood, our town, our nation, and our world so that we can, by living out your grace and love among people, be a positive and creative influence on them.


“He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’” (Matthew 13:33)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, August 7, 2011

“Nests in its Branches”

Grant, O God, that our local branch of your kingdom will be one in which all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds will come and make their home—and will be most welcomed by the birds that are already on the branch.


“He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’” (Matthew 13:31-32)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, August 6, 2011

“At Harvest Time”

We thank you, O God, that the sorting of people—that the determination of who we are and whose we are—is in your hands and not in ours.

We know that you will in every case get it right. We know that we would in many cases get it wrong.

Given the fact that you and only you can make the ultimate determination as to who and whose people are, guard us, O God, against trying to draw firm temporal conclusions on that subject.

Give us assurance but not arrogance about our status; give us insight but not judgmentalism about the status of others.


“And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:27-30)

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, August 5, 2011


Help us to remember, Lord, that in your kingdom not all the seeds are sown by you and not all the plants will be good ones; help us to remember that the weeds do come up and that, in some strange way, they may even play their role.

May we who are the wheat learn to co-exist peacefully with the weeds.

And may we who are the wheat not, in the ways we relate to the weeds—or to the rest of the wheat, for that matter—appear weedy ourselves.


“He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field, but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well.” (Matthew 13:24-26)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, August 4, 2011

“What Was Sown on Good Soil”

Lord, cause our lives to be good and fertile soil that is ready to receive the seed of your word; give us not only ears to hear your word but also minds to understand it and hands and feet to apply it.

May the fruit that our lives bear demonstrate our understanding and incorporation of your word; may it be the kind of fruit that we see in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And give us grace not to compare the amount of fruit—the amount of observable results—that is produced in our lives with that produced in the lives of others; give us grace to be grateful for whatever you choose to produce through us.


“But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:23)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, August 3, 2011

“Choke the Word”

O God, help us not to allow the cares of the world—the worries, problems, conflicts, and fears—to choke your word in us so that it produces no good fruit.

And God, help us not to allow the lure of wealth—the constant drive to attain more, the temptation to gain more money at any cost, and the focus on seemingly satisfying but ultimately transient things—to choke your word in us so that it produces no good fruit.

And God, help us to develop a trust in you that causes us not to focus on the cares of the world but rather on your care for us and help us to develop a focus on following Jesus that causes us not to focus on the lure of wealth but rather on the lure of a Christ-like life.


“As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.” (Matthew 13:22)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, August 2, 2011

“Has No Root”

Lord, cause your word—the word that we must have if we are to live—to take deep root in our lives.

Cause our initial enthusiasm for your word—as valid, legitimate, and heart-felt as that enthusiasm may be—to give way to a deep and abiding relationship with you that issues in such solid trust that nothing can ever shake it.

Constantly remind us that the way of true joy goes through real trouble; guard us from a shallowness that is surprised at that reality.


“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21)

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, August 1, 2011

“The Evil One…Snatches Away”

O God, give all of us—because all of us need your word—the ability not only to hear your word but also to understand it.

May our understanding of it penetrate deep into our hearts and change us so that we know what it is to follow Christ and to be led by your Spirit.

Plant that understanding so deeply in us that neither the evil one nor anyone else has a chance to take it from us.


“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.” (Matthew 13:18-19)