I’ve been taught many times to start prayers with praising God since this is how the Lord’s Prayer starts. Through my own experience, I’ve learned that when I focus on God’s holiness, “bigness”, faithfulness or other incredible quality at the beginning of a prayer, what I thought I would pray about suddenly changes. My perspective transforms when I realize the one listening to my prayer can still the ocean’s wildest waves. I appreciate this psalm because it starts with a beautiful acknowledgement of who God is. Not only is God greater than any being on earth, He is greater than any being in heaven. So much greater that the heavens praise Him. He is not great and powerful like a dictator (although He has the power to do that if He wanted), but loving and kind like a father. He cares about His people and makes promises to them that He doesn’t break.
God also offers the kind of relationship with His people that allows them to communicate with Him about distressing times. I really appreciate this psalm. It demonstrates that when I praise God for His mightiness and acknowledge His faithfulness, it is okay if I still have something that is causing me to feel cast out, weak, forgotten. I can know that these feelings aren’t because I’m not praying enough or not close enough with God. Instead, I can know those feelings are a part of human life and part of the walk with God. I can know that God is with me always.
Holy, tender Father. Full of mercy and grace and love. Thank You for the darkness of the night, and for the stars that are always there but also always moving. They help us glimpse Your perspective of time and space and challenge the limits of our own perception. Thank You for the morning light that tenderly and consistently breaks through, and for the sun whose heat touches everything. Nothing can hide from its heat, nothing is out of its reach. Father, sometimes I am in darkness and sometimes I am in daylight and sometimes I have to choose between the two. Help me know that You offer light and life in both places. Help me look to Your light for peace instead of looking to earthly securities, pleasures or pleasing other people. Please teach me about balance, wonder and humility. I love You. All in Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Father, You have given us so much beauty. It isn’t always time for beauty, there is suffering also, but now is a season of beauty. Each beautiful sight, sound, word, feeling reminds me of Your rest. Beauty transports me to Your rest just like struggle takes me there too. The planets and stars and the universes, the skies and oceans, the forests and deserts, the animals and humans, everything You created has so much beauty that we’re still discovering it. You even allow us to create beautiful things and feel and think beautiful feelings and thoughts. And through living for You, surrendering to You, we even get to be beautiful. Father, in the midst of confusing questions with contradicting answers, there is hope for the answer You will provide. And the answer will be beautiful for its ability to go beyond binary options and instead provide a pursuit worthy of eternity. Thank You. All in Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Hungry for nothing but prayer, you’ve called me here.
Peace in the storm.
The weight on me is imagined;
A distraction from Your strength,
From Your rule, Your power, Your might.
I live in a different kingdom.
I am ruled by Your will, Your grace, Your freedom, not the tasks, demands and pleasures of this world.
Please heal my hardened heart from putting my priorities out of order. Please soften my soul so that I can love strongly and generously. Please focus my mind so I can seek Your face. Please strengthen my body so I can work towards Your purpose. Please give me courage to change. Bring me out of the boat, help me have faith to walk with You. Help me deny myself, take up my cross and follow You. I love You. All in Your will. Amen.
Father. My King, my Savior, my Comforter. The heavens declare Your glory and the sky proclaims the work of Your hands. Help my life be like the sky. Help Your church be like the heavens. Help me get unwound from my uptight brain that can’t let go of things. Help Your church live by the expectations of Your kingdom instead of our own. Help me heal. Please be with others who need healing. Please remind me of Your presence when I am unable to remember it on my own. I love You, Father. Please provide us strength for tomorrow. All in Your Will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sitting quietly, I feel you coming near. Feel tears burning at the thought of Your grace, Your faithfulness. Because I am not so faithful. I am not so ready to extend grace at every moment. But yet You are so kind to me. So tender and sweet even though You are so powerful. You meet me with comfort and gentleness that I can’t find anywhere else. Father, You are so much bigger than any of the things I think about. You have given me every reason to trust You, and I do. But my trust is small. Help me trust You more. Help me trust in You so much that worldly cares fall away. Thank you for providing me the strength I need to get through everyday but also enough weakness to know that I need to turn to You again tomorrow. Please use me for Your purpose. I love You. All in Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Father, You always find me when I am lost. I weep in the presence of Your graciousness. I come up short, I miss the mark, I get my priorities out of order… over and over. I leave You, in a slow wandering off, and then I turn back to You when I come up empty. I turn back to You hoping that I won’t leave again, but unable to promise it. I want to promise it though. I want to tell You that I will never abandon You or forsake You, but I am not strong enough. I need You. Who am I that You care for me, that You abide in me? How could I possibly forget that You are in me and all around me? How could I possibly forget the world is so much bigger than my version of it? And that in the end, this world is not what’s important. Cleanse me, purify me, create in me a clean heart. Against You and You only have I sinned. Please, Lord, have mercy on me. Please heal my hardened heart, my undisciplined mind, my weary body. Please heal our world. Please heal Your church. Help us join You in Your healing mission. I love You. All in Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Holy Father. All praise, nothing but worship, to Your precious name. Your fullness is all around us, tangible and intangible, in pleasure and in pain. You offer the wholeness we crave, the meaning for our limited amount of time. You offer boundaries and freedom in perfect balance. You offer love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and companionship overflowing. You don’t expect us to be perfect or uniform or anything else, but instead You hope and yearn for us in all things to turn to You. You are always near, waiting for us to turn and come closer to You. We come to You with all that we have, our joys and our pain, our gratitude and our requests, our fears and our hopes, our lament and our praise. And You are with us in all of them. You know them intimately. You listen as we share them. You occupy the space that creates relationship. You make us full of awe as we think that the Eternal Creator and Sustainer of all is here to listen, to guide, to fill us up, to reconcile with us so that we can be in relationship. You are King of my days and all that is in them. I will worship You forever. Please help me live by faith. I love You. All in Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
There once was a girl who sought the meaning of life. She found someone to love and loved them unconditionally. She thought she had found her purpose. But then her loved one went away. So she found someone that she could help. And another, and another. She helped lots of people and thought she had found her purpose. But her health failed and she could no longer help. She could do nothing but lie in bed. So she listened. She listened to the rain falling on the car port, to the breeze blowing the leaves and to the silence of snow falling on snow. She listened so carefully she could hear the stars singing their nightly hymns of praise. She joined the praise. She felt the grace falling on her like the rain, she felt love in the breeze and peace in the silence. She sought the Creator of these physical and spiritual blessings. She studied His word and prayed for hours on end. In time, she prayed every moment of every day. She found her purpose.
Gradually, her health improved and she began to do chores around the house, still praying every moment. She found herself putting love into her cooking and patience into her cleaning. When she could leave the house, she noticed humility in her interactions with co-workers and grace in her shopping, buying a little extra to give to those in need. And she kept praying, every moment of every day. She kept listening, and this time she heard opportunities calling her name to love and help. But loving and helping others was different than before. Now, when the ones she loved went away, she still had her purpose. When she could do nothing to help, she still had her prayers. She always remembered the days when all of her control was stripped from her. The days when she learned her purpose was not to depend on her own abilities, but on her Creator, who cared for her always.
Many times I wonder where I’m going to get the energy to get out of bed tomorrow and get through the experiences that I know are coming, much less the ones that I don’t expect. Not only the energy, but also the courage.
Many times each new idea I have also makes me tremble with fear. Because I know these are not just ideas, they are ideas God has given me the responsibility to act on. I tremble because I forget He has also given me or will give me the energy, courage, support, resources and whatever else I need to act on them.
Right now I feel so open to where God is taking me that I also feel empty. And right now I feel scared. And right now I feel alone, but also not alone. And right now I feel my faith changing into something real.
I’ve learned that God will draw near to me when I draw near to Him. I’ve learned that He is all I need in any circumstance. I’ve learned that He still works miracles and He sometimes uses human hands to do them. I’ve learned the mission of the church is healing. I’ve learned that sin is anything that is destructive or distracts from the mission of healing. I’ve learned that the Bible is a multitude of stories and experiences that provide us a means of reflection on our own stories and experiences so that we can make sense of them on God’s terms. I’ve learned that God’s terms are not bound by space or time and that they are founded on grace, love, mercy and justice. And I’ve learned that in this transforming faith, I may have many fears, but there is no room for letting fear prevent me from moving forward. It is simply not an option.
And what is my plan for conquering this fear? Simply being present. Showing up and staying. Showing up, staying and letting God take care of the rest. So I show up to the blank page on my computer to express and organize my thoughts. I show up to my Bible and prayer journal for guidance and assurance. I show up to the various tasks and commitments of my life to seek God and learn about Him, to thank Him and to share Him with others. I show up to various relationships to let God work His most powerful miracles, teach His most powerful lessons and move and shape my life in His most powerful ways. Sometimes I don’t show up and that is my greatest sin. I’ll try to ignore the thoughts that I am scared to express, I’ll do something else rather than pray, I do daily tasks without being present with God in them or I’ll neglect or avoid a relationship. But every time I do show up, God is there, every single time.