Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Prayer Day

I spent this morning in Thousand Oaks. For the first part of the morning I was alone. Later, a good friend and colleague showed up, and we continued together until about 1:30 - through lunch.

I spent the day in prayer. I prayed for my congregation; I prayed for the other clergy I know, and many I don't know; I prayed for discernment; I prayed for an inner peace; I prayed through several hundred prayers I have collected over the past several years. 

A few years ago I was having some trouble praying. I could do community prayers, and mealtime prayers, but they began to fall into some ruts, and I began to think that maybe I ought to explore prayer a little more. I looked at several forms of prayer, and realized I was missing a great treasure right before me.

I read about 350 blogs a day. Well, not all 350 post on any given day, and many of them post a lot during the day. I don't even actually read all the posts, but I do try to skim most of them, and sort for relevant or interesting bits. I discovered that many of my blog friends were posting prayers on a regular basis. I could learn something from this.

I started picking them off as people posted their prayers, and adding them to a Google Document I keep online as well, just for prayers. This month I finally exceeded the amount of space allotted to any single document, so I had to start another page of prayers. 

Today in prayer, I read through many of them, and found some that really hit me right between the eyes. I am grateful to the original posters who found these and added them to my library and am linking to them. Here are three that really got to me.

A Prayer of Mother Theresa of Calcutta ht: Revmommy

The fruit of silence is prayer
the fruit of prayer is faith
the fruit of faith is love
the fruit of love is service
the fruit of service is peace.

Oh Lord, give me a backbone as big as a sawlog,
ribs like the sleepers under the church floor,
put iron shoes on me and galvanized breeches,
give me a rhinoceros hide for a skin,
and hang a wagonload of determination up in the gable-end of my soul,
and help me to sign the contract to fight the devil as long as I've got a fist
and bite him as long as I have a tooth,
then gum him till I die.
All this I ask for Christ's sake.
-- Early 20th Century Nazarene Evangelist, Uncle Buddy Robinson

Prayer for an Average Sunday
Kenneth G. Phifer

Eternal God, look now upon me as I wait,
stilled for a time,
subdued and quiet.
You know that it is hard for me to wait.
It is hard for me to be still.
I rush from one thing to another,
churning up my life
into hectic waves of accomplishment.
When night falls, I confess I feel a bit guilty
if I have done nothing except be myself.
I even come to prayer with the feeling
that it is apart from life,
that when it is over I had best do something.
Even in church I want to sing a hymn
or take up an offering.
And then when church is over,
I plunge back into my world where the action is.
O Lord, do I have it wrong,
twisted around?
Are there more occasions than I realize
when I would be a better person
if I didn't do anything but just stand there?
Do I fail to hear the real needs
of loved ones, friends, and neighbors,
because I am too busy figuring out
what next to do for them,
or maybe to them?
Am I so absorbed in running the world
that I am not aware of you
and of the things you have to say to me?
Calm me down, I pray.
Calm me down
to the place where I can remember
how many times you have managed to keep me going
when I thought I could not make it.
Calm me down
so that I can recall times of steadiness and fear
when a courage was infused in me
that enabled me to hold on.
Calm me down
so that I can accept my limitations without panic
and in the knowledge that I cannot do everything.
In many ways I do not do anything.
In some ways I do the wrong things.
In the silence before the mystery and the meaning,
I stand waiting,
quieted by wonder.
For life is filled with mystery, meaning, and wonder.
The mystery of being itself.
The meaning that keeps breaking through to me,
meaning encompassed in words
like faith, hope, and love.
And I wonder why when I pray, I believe,
and why when I believe, I pray.
May I be assured that what I do matters
and what I say counts,
because you are in me and for me.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Kenneth G. Phifer, A Book of Uncommon Prayer
Nashville: The Upper Room, 1981


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