Friday, September 30, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, September 30, 2011

“Unless You Change and Become Like Children”

Help us, O God, to embrace the truth that the ways of your kingdom are counter to the ways of the world.

Help us, O God, to embrace humility, dependence, vulnerability, and hospitality.

Help us, O God, to embrace the reality that in the mystery of life in Christ smallness equals greatness.

Help us, O God, to change and become like children and to welcome those who do.


“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” (Matthew 18:1-5)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, September 29, 2011

“So That We Do Not Give Offense to Them”

We thank you, God, for the freedom that comes from being your children. We thank you that while we live in the world we are not bound by the ways of the world or the expectations of the world. We thank you that our citizenship is first and foremost in the kingdom of heaven.

We thank you, also, God, for the example of Jesus that inspires us not to use our freedom as an opportunity to run roughshod over the concerns of others who do not share in our freedom.

Teach us not to use our freedom to offend others unnecessarily.

Teach us to use our freedom to be in the world but not of it.

Teach us to use our freedom to love others.


“When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?’ He said, ‘Yes, he does.’ And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?’ When Peter said, ‘From others,’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.’” (Matthew 17:24-27)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, September 28, 2011

“They Were Greatly Distressed”

We confess, O Lord, that even now we are sometimes distressed by the crucifixion of Jesus.

Cause us to ponder why.

Perhaps we are distressed by the cruelty of those who would harm and kill an innocent person—and by the knowledge that such cruelty still exists today.

Perhaps we are distressed by the realization that someone could be pure of heart enough to give his life for people who don’t deserve it—and by the reality that we are among those people.

Perhaps we are distressed by the implications of Jesus’ death for those who would dare to be his followers—and by the call on our lives to take up our cross and follow him.

O Lord, take our distress and turn it into inspiration to counter cruelty with love, to counter selfishness with sacrifice, and to counter aimlessness with purpose.


“As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.’ And they were greatly distressed.” (Matthew 17:22-23)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, September 27, 2011

“If You Have Faith”

In the effort to touch hurting people and to heal wounded people, we will face situations, problems, and obstacles that seem—and sometimes are—as big as mountains, O God.

For the sake of your kingdom and for the sake of those people, those mountains must be moved, and, since the Church is the Body of Christ, we must move them.

Give us just a little bit of real trust in you—trust that is born out of our real relationship with you and our real following of you—because just a little bit of real trust in you can help us to move those mountains—and nothing else can.


“And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’” (Matthew 17:18-21)

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, September 26, 2011

“They Could Not Cure Him”

We recognize that the needs of the people around us are great, O Lord.

We recognize also the sense in which if the people around us are going to come to you for help and healing they are going to have to come to us, to the Church, to the Body of Christ.

We furthermore recognize the frustrations that arise both for the people in need and for the Church that wants to help them when we are unable to touch them as we need to do.

Give us hearts, O Lord, that want to help; give us the resources that we need to be able to help; forgive us when our inability to help is because of some shortcoming in us—particularly if it is a shortcoming that is intentionally chosen and selfishly nurtured.


“When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’” (Matthew 17:14-17).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, September 25, 2011

“So Also the Son of Man Is About to Suffer”

Teach us, Lord, that the ways that we presume that your purposes should work out are not necessarily the ways that your purposes will in fact work out.

But don’t allow us to ignore the hard truth that somehow your way is to work your purposes out through the faithful and willing sacrifice of your servants.

Teach us what it means to accept that in some deep way the truth for John the Baptist and for Jesus is also the truth for us.


“As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ And the disciples asked him, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:9-13)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, September 24, 2011

“Get Up and Do Not Be Afraid”

On the one hand, O God, it is natural and appropriate that our reaction to an encounter with you be a reverence so overwhelming that it stops us in our tracks.

On the other hand, O God, it is necessary that we experience the touch of Jesus—the touch that reminds us that you are both the awe-inspiring God of heaven and the gracious God of the Incarnation.

Thank you for knocking us on our faces and stopping us in our tracks.

Thank you for helping us back up and putting us back on the path.


“When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.” (Matthew 17:6-8)

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, September 23, 2011

“Listen to Him!”

It is good, O God, for us to be in those places and situations in which we experience the grace and love of Jesus in an especially powerful way. We admit our tendency to want to freeze such moments in time rather than to be inspired by them to move forward in our discipleship.

Since we have been by your grace made aware that Jesus is your Beloved Son, cause us to keep listening to him that in our consistent following of him we might find that you are well pleased with us, too.


“Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’” (Matthew 17:4-5)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, September 22, 2011

“Up a High Mountain”

For mountaintop experiences at their best, O God, we thank you, and we especially thank you that at their best our mountaintop experiences give us insight into the nature of our glorified Lord and allow us somehow to enter into his life in a special way that we might learn how better to have access to his life all the time.

We celebrate the fact that Peter, James, and John saw Jesus in his glorified state on that mountain for a short time and we celebrate the fact that not too many days later they saw Jesus in the glorified state that he would have for all time.

And we celebrate the fact that in his resurrection we too are raised to newness of life; may his glory be reflected in the ways that we think, talk, and live.


“Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” (Matthew 17:1-3)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“The Son of Man Is to Come”

We trust, O God, in the coming of Jesus to us, however and whenever it happens; we trust in the coming of Jesus to us in his Incarnation, in his Transfiguration, in his Resurrection, and in his Second Coming, as well as in all of his other comings to us in the ordinary and extraordinary moments and days of our lives here and now.

Whenever and however he comes, O God, grant that we will be found taking up our cross, giving up our lives, and following him.


“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, September 20, 2011

“If Any Want to Become My Followers”

Remind us, O God, that to be disciples of Jesus is to be students of and followers of Jesus; remind us that to follow Jesus daily will result in our slowly and consistently becoming more and more like Jesus.

Remind us furthermore, O God, that Jesus’ life was characterized by an utter emptying of himself that was motivated by his obedience to his Father and by his love for us; remind us that Jesus did not desperately cling to his life but willingly gave it up and thereby found it again.

We want to follow Jesus, O God. We want to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him. We want to lose our life for Jesus’ sake rather than try to save it for our sake.

See, Lord, we are taking up our cross… See, Lord, we are taking a step…


“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?’” (Matthew 16:24-26)

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, September 19, 2011

“On Divine Things”

Given that we live on the other side of the crucifixion, O Lord, it is not possible for us to think or to say that it should not happen or, if we are people of faith, that it did not happen.

It surely is possible, though, for us to live as if it didn’t happen. Forbid it, Lord!

Empower us, O Lord, to live lives that are so full of your grace, love, and Spirit that it is clear that our minds are set on the divine things that Jesus embodied, namely, service and sacrifice. And let it be clear that our minds are set on such divine things because our lives are oriented toward such divine things.


“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’” (Matthew 16:21-23)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, September 18, 2011

“The Keys of the Kingdom”

O God, lead us to acknowledge that our faith in you and our place in your kingdom give us great responsibilities, responsibilities that have to do with the lives, with the faith, and with the pilgrimages of other people.

Give us the discipline to take our responsibilities seriously and the faith to carry them out with great trust that you will ultimately work out the ultimate implications of what we decide and do.


“’I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” (Matthew 16:19-20)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, September 17, 2011

“Blessed Are You”

Bless us with the blessing that is ours, O God, when we gain true insight into who Jesus is, insight that is true because it comes from you; make us open to such truth and make us willing to embrace and to express such truth.

Help us to stand on and to live out of our trust in who Jesus is that we might be great contributors to the faithful witness of your Church in the world.


“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’” (Matthew 16:16-18)

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, September 16, 2011

“But Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Help us to be aware, O Lord, of the faulty, limited, and just plain wrong ways that many—but certainly not all—people think about you and respond to you.

At the same time, lead us to reflect on the ways that we think about you and respond to you and help us to grow in our understanding of you.

Let our ways of thinking, talking, and acting reveal that we have made much progress in knowing who you truly are.


“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” (Matthew 16:13-15)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, September 15, 2011

“Beware…of the Teaching of…”

It is so hard to know sometimes, O Lord, to whom we should listen; so many people, after all, use so many right-sounding words.

Discernment, Lord—we need discernment; wisdom, Lord—we need wisdom; insight, Lord—we need insight.

Help us, Lord, to be in tune enough with the Spirit, the love, and the way of Jesus that we can perceive whether the words that we are hearing come from someone who is also--maybe even more so--in tune with the Spirit, the love, and the way of Jesus.

Then let our words be similarly worthy of being heard.


“How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees! Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:11-12)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, September 14, 2011

“Do You Not Remember?”

Forgive us, Lord, for those times when we fail to remember; forgive us for when we fail to remember your mighty acts of the past—not only those about which we read in your Book but also those that we have experienced in our own lives and in the life of our faith community.

Give us good, active, and perceptive memories, and cause our remembering to contribute to our increasing perception of who you are and to our increasing faith in you.

Help us from our memories of you to learn better to trust in you.


“Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?” (Matthew 16:9-10)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, September 13, 2011

“Why Are You Talking About Having No Bread?”

Give us the grace, the insight, the discernment, and the faith, O God, to recognize metaphor and other figurative language when we see it, because sometimes—though not all the time—if we insist on taking your words literally we miss the literal truth that we need to know.


“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They said to one another, ‘It is because we have brought no bread.’ And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread?’” (Matthew 16:5-8)

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, September 12, 2011

“No Sign…Except the Sign of Jonah”

Give us the kind of faith, O God, that does not ask for any proofs or signs that Jesus is who Jesus is beyond the great sign that has already been given, namely, his resurrection from the dead.

Thank you that we can and do experience Jesus’ constant presence with us when we know him in and through his resurrection.

Give us a foundational trust in the only sign that we need and in the only Savior that we need.


“The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, ‘When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.’ Then he left them and went away.” (Matthew 16:1-4)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, September 11, 2011

“All of Them Ate and Were Filled”

We praise you, Lord, for the ways that you take what we have, even when it is very little, and do great things with it.

We praise you, Lord, for the ways that you involve us in sharing gifts with others.

We praise you, Lord, for the ways that people are filled when they receive that which we have to offer and which you have blessed and multiplied.

We praise you, Lord, that in our sharing, in your blessing and multiplying, and in their receiving, grace is experienced.


“Jesus asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ They said, ‘Seven, and a few small fish.’ Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.” (Matthew 15:34-39)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, September 10, 2011

“I Have Compassion”

Fill us with your kind of compassion for the crowd that is with us and around us, Lord—the kind of compassion that cannot bear the thought of sending them away hungry and of thus running the risk that they might in their weakness and need not make it all the way home.

Give us an awareness of the resources that we have—resources given to us by you—out of which we might feed them.

At the same time, give us an awareness of the fact that we sometimes are in the desert along with the crowd and so resources are hard to come by; in such times, give us a deep trust in and reliance on you to give us what we need so that we may in turn give it to the hungry people around us.

Fill us with your kind of compassion, Lord, and with the desire and the ingenuity we need to act on it.


“Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?’” (Matthew 15:32-33)

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, September 9, 2011

“Bringing with Them”

As we come before you today, O Lord, do not let us forget to bring with us those who are hurting, who are broken, and who are marginalized; do not let us forget to put them at your feet so that you can cure them and make them whole.

Do not let us forget that we come before you best when we do not come before you alone but rather in the company of those who may need you even more than we do.

In our bringing and in their coming we and they will find much reason to praise you.


“After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:29-31)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, September 8, 2011

“Great Is Your Faith”

O God, keep us from shallow pride that leads to a sense that we are entitled to that which we cannot possibly deserve but which you will nonetheless give us.

O God, teach us the hard lesson of deep humility that leads to deep trust in your deep grace.


“But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.’” (Matthew 15:23-28)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Prayer for Wednesday, September 7, 2011

“From that Region”

Here we are, Lord, where we are, Lord.

There they are, Lord, where they are, Lord.

And you, Lord, are in both places with both groups; you, Lord, are in all places with all groups.

All of us in all of our places will cry out to you because of the great hurts and needs that we and our loved ones have.

Hear our prayer, Lord: “Lord, have mercy.”


“Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’” (Matthew 15:21-22)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Prayer for Tuesday, September 6, 2011

“From the Heart”

We cannot know for sure, O God, from where those things that proceed out of our hearts and defile us come. We do know for sure, though, that they are there, and that they come out in our thoughts, in our motives, in our words, and in our actions.

Lord, have mercy.

Cause us to confess, with great realism and honesty, those harmful and destructive attitudes in our hearts, whether they are in the open so that we are very aware of them or they are in hidden corners so that we have to look hard to see them.

And would you please, O God, by your grace and mercy, not only remove them bit by bit but also replace them with positive and helpful attitudes such as good intentions, love, respect, generosity, truth-telling, and affirmation.


“Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.” (Matthew 15:17-20)

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Prayer for Monday, September 5, 2011

“Without Understanding”

On the one hand, O Lord, it is good for us to ask you for explanations of your teachings that we don’t understand. Give us the willingness to do so.

On the other hand, O Lord, it is good for us to hear your question to us when you ask why we have not made the progress in our understanding that we should by now have made. Give us the willingness to do so.

In all circumstances and in every way, O Lord, increase our understanding.


“But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding?’” (Matthew 15:15-16)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, September 4, 2011

“Blind Guided by the Blind”

As we have need to be led, O God, give us discernment to follow those who have been and are being led by you.

As we have responsibility to lead, O God, help us to lead out of those deep places where we have been and are being led by you.


“He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’” (Matthew 15:13-14)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Prayer for Saturday, September 3, 2011

“Took Offense”

Sometimes, Lord, the words that we hear from Jesus, from your Spirit, from your Book, and from those who speak your Word hurt us because they challenge us at the point of our most cherished assumptions about you, about us, about others, and about life.

Give us the maturity to face the fact of our wrongness and of our need for correction.

Give us the humility to accept your correction and to assimilate needed positive change in our lives.

Give us the perspective to be more concerned with how our words offend you than we are with how your words offend us.


“Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand; it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?’” (Matthew 15:10-12)

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Prayer for Friday, September 2, 2011

“In Vain Do They Worship Me”

O God, form hearts in us that that are attuned to your ways—to your love, grace, and mercy; give us integrity so that the words that we offer in worship will reflect that attuning.

Draw our hearts ever closer to you so that our worship, be it offered in the sanctuary or outside it, will be pleasing to you.


“You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’” (Matthew 15:7-9)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Prayer for Thursday, September 1, 2011

“For the Sake of your Tradition”

On the one hand, O God, we realize that no words on a page, not even those on the pages of the Bible, can be read without being interpreted; it is not possible simply to read and do—so we ask that we will be guided by your Spirit, your grace, and your love in our interpretation and application of your words.

On the other hand, O God, we confess that our interpretation and application of your words is all too often guided instead by our selfishness, our short-sightedness, and our fear.

Grant that we will come to your words with sound motives rather than with unsound ones that we might understand and live them out in sound ways rather than unsound ones.


“He answered them, ‘And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God.’” (Matthew 15:3-6).