Monday, April 30, 2012

A Prayer for Monday, April 30, 2012


O God,

This week will be filled with wonder and mystery; it is possible that the light created by such realities will brighten everything we experience.

This week will also have its share of troubles and tragedies; it is possible that the shadows cast by such realities will darken everything we experience.

It is most likely, however, that we will live with and in both the light and the shadows.

Keep us from being so overcome by the shadows that we fail to see the light; keep us from being so captivated by the light that we fail to live into the shadows.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Prayer for Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Lord’s Day

As we today practice the seemingly contradictory but in fact compatible acts of Sabbath, our rest in you, and liturgy, our work of worship of you, help us to practice the artful discipline of living in both of those ways simultaneously in our daily lives.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Prayer for Saturday, April 28, 2012


O God,

Open our eyes to the beauty and wonder of your creation;
open our eyes also to the harm we are doing to your world.

Open our ears to the melodies of animal and human singers;
open our ears also to the cries of the oppressed and the brutalized.

Open our mouths to sing your praise and to speak encouraging words;
open our mouths also to protest injustice and to speak for the disenfranchised.

Open our hearts to express our gratitude to you for our blessings;
open our hearts also to feel the pain and suffering of other people.

Open our spirits to worship you according to our best light;
open our spirits also to love those who worship you according to another light.

Open our lives to the mystery, wonder, and majesty of it all;
open our lives also to the confusion, conflict, and corruption in it all.


Friday, April 27, 2012

A Prayer for Friday, April 27, 2012


O God,

Help us to think enough about what goes on in our lives today that we can get below the surface.

At the same time, help us not to think so much about what goes on in our lives today that we get bogged down in the quicksand or disoriented by the shifting sands and plates that lie beneath events.

Instead, help us to find your firm and stable place where we can stand; indeed, help us to find you who are our Rock and cause us to stand on you.

May all of our thinking lead us to you.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Prayer for Thursday, April 26, 2012


Today, O God, help us to move a little bit more beyond


and a little bit more toward



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Prayer for Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Help us today to get the first thing first, O Lord.

Help us today to love you more than we love

our traditions,
our convictions,
our opinions,
our positions,

 and even

our theologies.

Help us today to get the second thing second, O Lord.

Help us to love other people more than we love those things, too.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Prayer for Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Thank you, O God, for the gift of hospitality, whether we are on the receiving or on the giving end of it.

Thank you for those who welcome, who receive, and who help us.

Thank you for those whom we welcome, receive, and help.

Today, please expand our definition and our practice of hospitality that we might accept it from unexpected sources and that we might offer it to unexpected persons.

Today, please expand our definition and our practice of hospitality that it might go beyond being polite to being sacrificial.


Monday, April 23, 2012

A Prayer for Monday, April 23, 2012


Monday is often a day for making plans, for looking ahead to the week and for laying out our approach to it.

Remind us, O God, as we make our plans, to remember the biblical wisdom that teaches us to say, “If the Lord wills.”

Indeed, remind us to think always of your presence in all that we will experience during the week.

As we make our plans to do this thing, to talk with that person, and to finish this project, lead us to plan always to seek you in all of it—for you are surely there.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Prayer for Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Lord’s Day

On both sides of this Lord’s Day life has been and will be for us at times easy and at other times difficult, at times happy and at other times sad, and at times fulfilling and at other times draining—and at most times it has been and will be for us a combination of all of those and of so many other combinations of experiences.

On this Lord’s Day, O God, may we worship you with great gratitude for the Resurrection of your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom on both sides of this Lord’s Day we have known and we will know eternal life, which is to know you and your Son whom you sent, in ways that fill all of our days, regardless of what they hold, with real life.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Prayer for Saturday, April 21, 2012


Our Bibles teach us that we live outside the Garden and that life is about trying to return to the Garden—or arriving in a better Garden.

So maybe—just maybe—when we work or sit or walk in our backyard gardens we are experiencing a little of what God intends for us to experience and are rehearsing for life in that Paradise that awaits us.

Remind us, O God,

that we never come to our garden alone—

that you are always there with us,
that the good earth that you have made is always there with us,
that all who care about and love your world are always there with us, and
that all who have enjoyed the land before us are always there with us.

Thank you for a small paradise that reminds us of the Paradise that is to come.


Friday, April 20, 2012

A Prayer for Friday, April 20, 2012


We will be faced today, O Lord, like all days, with lots of

stress and struggle,
conflict and confusion,
death & doubt,
asininity & absurdity,
foolishness & faithlessness, and
testing & temptation—

and that’s before we even encounter any other people!

Gift us, O Lord, with the blessing of laughter; after all, sometimes the best way to deal with ourselves and with our situations is to recognize the humor in our efforts at control and at coping.

Let us laugh, O Lord, and may our laughter be a prayer that releases it all to you.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Prayer for Thursday, April 19, 2012


Sometimes, O Lord, it hurts.

Sometimes our bodies hurt because of injury or illness.
Sometimes our joints hurt because of work or exercise.
Sometimes our heads hurt because of thought or stress.
Sometimes our hearts hurt because of loss or betrayal.
Sometimes our spirits hurt because of sympathy or empathy.

We thank you that usually, with time or treatment, our hurts subside or disappear.

Sometimes, though, we are too anxious to rid ourselves of a particular pain. Give us wisdom to know when a pain is best left alone because it teaches us something that we need to know, such as the true cost of being a human being or the true cost of being a follower of Jesus.

It can be good to be rid of a pain.
It can be helpful to be ridden by a pain.

It can be love to share a pain.

Help us, O Lord, to evaluate and to deal with our pains in the ways that best befit a disciple of the One who showed us how to love through the sharing and bearing of pain.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Prayer for Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Given all the ways that our vision gets clouded, O Lord, it is difficult for us to know what is best.

Oh, we know the ideal—we know that it is best that we live our lives in the ways that befit worshipers of God, followers of Jesus Christ, and recipients of the Holy Spirit—and we believe that we can live in those ways much more than we do.

But we also know that we all too often settle for far less than the ideal, that we live as servants of our impulses toward self-protection and self-gratification rather than as servants of the One who showed us your way of self-abandonment and self-sacrifice.

So today, O Lord, help us to grow away from our human common denominator and to grow toward your ideal.

Give us the desire to move away from the worst.

Give us the initiative to move toward the best.

Give us the grace to live in the better.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Prayer for Tuesday, April 17, 2012


O God,

There is in this world great cause for great concern and even for great despair.

But in you, there is much greater cause for a trust that is much greater than our greatest concern and for a hope that is much greater than our greatest despair.

Help us so that in our thoughts, in our conversations, in our prayers, and in our actions the greater realities that we know because we are known by you and because we know you will predominate.


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Prayer for Monday, April 16, 2012


As this week stretches out ahead of us, O Lord, we think of the many responsibilities we will fulfill and of the many tasks we will perform.

Thank you for them.

Along the way, though, there will be many distractions, many things that will vie for our attention while we are trying to concentrate on what we should be doing.

Give us focus, O Lord, that we might leave peripheral things on the periphery and that we will keep central things in the center.

At the same time, though, give us flexibility that we might shift our attention when someone shows up in our peripheral vision on whom we need to focus our full attention. Help us not to let the completion of our tasks stand in the way of the privilege and responsibility of being with or of helping another human being.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Prayer for Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Lord’s Day

O Lord,

As we continue to celebrate the resurrection of your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, may we celebrate as a fellowship of forgiveness, as a fellowship of people who have been and are being forgiven by Jesus and as a fellowship of people who through Jesus have forgiven each other and who do forgive each other.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Prayer for Saturday, April 14, 2012


For those who work long and hard to provide us with the things on which we depend—everything from computers to phones to food—we thank you, O Lord.

On those whose work conditions, expectations, and compensation amount to unfairness or even exploitation and abuse, we ask for your mercy, O Lord.

For we who enjoy our low-cost products with no thought for the high cost paid by those who produce them, we ask for forgiveness but we also ask for greater awareness that will lead to action.


Friday, April 13, 2012

A Prayer for Friday, April 13, 2012


O Lord,

As we anticipate the future, which we can do with limited accuracy, we tend to categorize expected events as either major or minor.

But as we evaluate the past, which we can do with better but still limited accuracy, we realize that often what we thought would be a major event turned out to be minor and what we thought would be a minor event turned out to be major.

Indeed, if we stop and think about it, we really can’t know what the consequences of any event, however we have categorized it, were and continue to be; only you know the whole picture.

So, O Lord, we trust all the events of this day and all the events of our lives to you.

We trust that you are somehow working in all the events of our lives to accomplish your gracious purposes.

We trust that you are somehow guiding us as we seek to do your will.

Help us to treat all the events of our lives as so major that we must trust them to you and as so minor that we need have no anxiety about them.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Prayer for Thursday, April 12, 2012


In all that we experience today, O Lord—

in all of our thoughts,
in all of our motives,
in all of our actions,
in all of our conversations,
in all of our efforts,
in all of our decisions,
in all of our crises,
in all of our failures,
in all of our successes,
in all of our words,
in all of our impulses—

help us to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and
help us to live so as to reflect the great truth that you are Lord of all of it and Lord in all of it.

Help us to remember that you are our All in all.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Prayer for Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Things will happen today, O God, that will provoke us; we know this is true because things have happened every day of our lives that have provoked us.

Something might provoke us to be afraid.
Something might provoke us to be angry.
Something might provoke us to be happy.
Something might provoke us to be melancholy.
Something might provoke us to be confused.
Something might provoke us to be arrogant.
Something might provoke us to be humble.
Something might provoke us to be judgmental.
Something might provoke us to be anxious.
Something might provoke us to be relaxed.

Whatever provokes us today and however it provokes us, O God, keep us so aware of your presence with us that it also provokes us to greater fellowship with you and to greater trust in you.

Help us to grow in our relationship with you, in our relationships with others, and in our relationship to our environment that more and more our initial response to events will be provocation toward trusting in you rather than toward our emotional and all too often knee-jerk reactions.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Prayer for Tuesday, April 10, 2012


O God of Grace,

Thank you for your patience with us.

Thank you that you give us time and opportunity to learn and to grow; thank you that you give us chance after chance to move toward becoming the people that you intend for us to be.

Help us to live in ways that will justify your gracious patience.

Help us also to learn from your patience toward us that we might exercise patience toward ourselves and toward others.


Monday, April 9, 2012

A Prayer for Monday, April 9, 2012


O God,

As we walk through this week, keep us aware that we walk with you and you with us.

Keep us aware that with each step we take we renew our commitment to follow Jesus in the way that he showed us how to walk, which is first the way of the Cross, the way of self-emptying sacrifice and service, and which is then the way of the Empty Tomb, the way of your vindication of those who walk faithfully in the way of Jesus.

Help us to grow with each step we take in the awareness that while the cost of following Jesus is a life lived in odd and costly ways the result of following him is a life lived in a way that leads to real life.

As we walk through this week, O God, keep us aware that we walk with you and you with us.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Prayer for Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Tenses

Almighty and Gracious God,

Enliven us to celebrate resurrection in three tenses today:

The past tense—Jesus Christ was raised from his tomb all those years ago;

the future tense—Jesus Christ who was raised will come again and we shall be raised;


the present tense—Jesus Christ is risen and because he is risen we who have been buried with him in this life also rise to new life here and now.



Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Prayer for Holy Saturday, April 7, 2012


After Jesus died on the cross, his body was taken down and placed in a tomb on Friday evening.

Jesus’ body entered into its Sabbath rest.

“The Sabbath was made for people, people were not made for the Sabbath,” Jesus had said, and there is biblical evidence that even as his body lay entombed Jesus was somehow active in his ministry of love, grace, mercy, and reconciliation (1 Peter 3:18).

Even in death Jesus offered grace.

Even now, Jesus through his death offers grace.

On this day when we reflect upon the reality of Jesus in his tomb, O God, help us to reflect upon how we follow him when we share your love in and through our own death.

Give us grace to die to ourselves that we might live to you and that we might live by giving ourselves to others.

Give us grace so to live and die in you that we will offer a witness to you and grace to others in the ways that we approach and experience our own death.

Whether we live or whether we die, may our way be a way of loving ministry and witness.


Friday, April 6, 2012

A Prayer for Good Friday, April 6, 2012


Jesus died instead of Barabbas, literally.
Simon of Cyrene carried the cross of Jesus, literally.

In different ways, both of them experienced grace.

O God,

Show us today what it means that

Jesus died on the cross for us

and that

we must take up our cross and follow him.

Lead us to celebrate the grace that

compelled Jesus to die for us

and that

compels us to die with him.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Prayer for Maundy Thursday, April 5, 2012


According to the Gospel of Mark, on Thursday of Holy Week Jesus shared in the Passover meal with his twelve disciples. During the meal, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me” to which they individually responded, “Surely, not I?”

Give us courage, O God, to look deep into our hearts in order to look for ways in which we might be tempted to betray our Lord, however painful that process might be.

Guard us, O God, against a misguided zealotry or a misunderstanding discipleship that could cause us to betray our Lord by trying to shape him in our image of power, control, and manipulation rather than letting him shape us in his image of love, service, and sacrifice.

Keep us, O God, from sharing in the fellowship of his table but then breaking that fellowship in the ways we represent him in the world.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Prayer for Wednesday, April 4, 2012


According to Mark’s Gospel, on the Wednesday of his last week on Earth, Jesus was at Bethany in the home of one Simon the leper when a woman came and poured expensive ointment on his head. When some of the people present complained about her extravagance, Jesus said, “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.”

In other words, the woman was somehow aware of Jesus’ impending death; she for some reason had the openness and insight to understand what Jesus had been saying about the sacrificial nature of his life where Jesus’ other followers—including the ones who had supposedly followed him most closely—did not.

If she understood that, then she probably also understood what Jesus had said about the required sacrificial lifestyle of those who would follow him.

Lord God,

Make us aware.

Give us a spirit of openness and insight that we might see, understand, and accept who Jesus was and is.

Give us a spirit of openness and insight that we might see, understand, and accept what it means to be the followers of a Messiah who died on a cross.

Give us a spirit of extravagant sacrifice that we might give our all for the sake of loving you and loving others.

Give us an awareness of who Jesus is and of who we are that leads to the living of a life that is motivated and dominated by a desire to give, to love, and to serve.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Prayer for Tuesday, April 3, 2012


According to Mark’s Gospel, on Tuesday of Holy Week Jesus engaged in a series of debates with various religious leaders who were out to get him; in the midst of those debates one biblical expert approached Jesus with a sincerely interested and non-skeptical question: “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus responded, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Let’s put ourselves in the place of that inquisitive expert.

O God,

Cause us to want to know—really to know—what it is means to follow, love, and serve you.

Cause us to listen to Jesus’ answer, to process it, and to ponder it.

Cause us to be compelled to love you by giving ourselves over in service to you and to love others by giving ourselves over in service to them.

Cause us to know that only through love, in love, and by love do we live as your people.


Monday, April 2, 2012

A Prayer for Monday, April 2, 2012


According to Mark’s Gospel, on the day after he entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of many, Jesus returned to the city and “overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves” (11:15) and then he said, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers’” (11:17).

Given that the booths for the merchants were set up in the outermost area of the Temple, namely, the Court of the Gentiles, it seems that Jesus’ indignation was prompted by the fact that such business activity interfered with the ability of the Gentiles—the outsiders—to worship God.

Let’s imagine ourselves as among those money changers and dove sellers.

O God, how open are we to others? In what kinds of activities and practices do we engage in our churches that interfere with the ability of others—of those who are outside the church—to come and worship you? Do we let the “business” of the church get in the way of the purpose of the church—namely, to foster prayer for all people and to enable worship of you by all who will?

On this Monday of Holy Week, with much trepidation, we ask you to overturn our tables, to upend our lives, and to refocus our churches as you need to do.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Prayer for Palm Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Lord’s Day

This Lord’s Day is Palm Sunday, the day that we remember the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

This Lord’s Day is also Passion Sunday, the day that we begin to turn our full attention to what happened—and to what will happen—on Thursday and Friday.

The transition is jarring.

As we worship today, we will likely see ourselves in the role of those who shouted out their welcome to Jesus as they spread palm branches and even their cloaks in front of the donkey on which he rode into the city; we will proclaim him King and will welcome the present and coming Kingdom of God.

Perhaps those who did those things on the original Palm Sunday were sincere in what they said when they said it; unfortunately they had no idea of how the truth of what they were saying would express itself in the days to follow—they had no idea of the cost to Jesus and, no doubt, to some of them.

Lord God, as we sing praises to Jesus, as we proclaim him King of our lives, and as we welcome your present and coming Kingdom, help us to deal with what we now know to be the truth of our words—that the Kingdom comes only through betrayal, rejection, suffering, and death.

Help us to deal with the truth that as it was for Jesus, so it is for Jesus’ followers.

So, as we wave palm branches and welcome Jesus again to our cities, to our churches, and to our lives, keep us mindful of what is coming for him on Thursday and Friday—and of what comes for us every day.