Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lenten Prayer #30: For Prisoners and Their Families

Psalm 69:32-33  You who seek God, let your heart revive.  For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise His who are prisoners.

We pray that people in jails and prisons will hear the Good News and have opportunities to follow Christ.  We pray for the fellowship of believers to multiply.  We pray for chaplains and volunteers and others who do their best to help, sometimes under very trying conditions, restrictions and locations.  We pray for protection from violence and forces of spiritual evil.  We pray that the spouses and families and loved ones of inmates would be sustained, protected, provided for and honored rightly.  We pray that released prisoners find strength and wisdom to live abundant lives.  We pray for employment, for churches with open hearts and doors, for genuine repentence and for renewed minds. Amen

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lenten Prayer #29: For Disabled People

Isaiah 63:9 In all their distress...his presence saved them; in his love and in his compassion  he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

God, today we pray for those with mental and/or physical challenges.  We pray for physical stamina and healing.  We pray for resources and financial provision for therapy or special care.  We pray  that they will be treated with dignity and respect, and we pray that they will both know and display the love of God.

March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day in the US.  I am posting a prayer from a new friend, Sarah. Ethan is her son, but perhaps you might like to insert the name of someone you know.

Today I say a prayer... for the world that I live in. I pray that Ethan continues growing up surrounded by love. That the world grows more accepting and tolerant. That people see him for the wonderful boy that he is. I pray that people see a beautiful little boy with brilliant sparkling eyes. I pray that people see a smile that lights up a room. That his milestones are celebrated and that others have patience with his delays. I pray that people see a little boy, then a teenager, then an adult, NOT a diagnosis. That he will not be sold short before given a chance. That he will be able to share the gifts that God gave him and will be able to serve others and not just be served. I pray that he grows up to know that God loves him and that he realizes he is a work of divine art. I pray that when he acts up that people around him see a child acting like a six year old and not attribute everything negative to Down syndrome, it’s insulting. I pray that I am a good parent and give him what he needs; LOVE, Peace, joy, patience, as well as discipline and fairness. I pray that I listen to what God tells me and I do right by him. I pray that I will help Ethan use who he is for the glory of God. Lord watch over us all and keep our eyes on you.  Amen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lenten Prayer #28: For God to be Revealed Through Answered Prayer

Psalm 65:2,5
You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas...

You, God, are the hope of people everywhere.  People have always prayed and you have heard them and have sometimes answered with power and wisdom that was surprising.  Hear us now as we ask you to surprise us as never before.  Listen to the cries of desperate people as they cry to you for help!  Hear us as we pray for our neighbors and our cities.  As you answer, may those who pray become those who see you.  And may those who see you pray and believe for even greater things!

Luke 19:37
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.

Lord Jesus, each of your miracles was in some way an answer to prayer.  Continue to do the same today.  Reveal yourself by answering prayers of people who may be far from you.  Enable us to pray with empathy and faith.  Show your kindness and power so that we can celebrate as your disciples did, with the same loud and unselfconscious joy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lenten Prayer #27: For God to be Honored Among All Peoples

Malachi 1:11
"My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.

Matthew 6:9
...Our Father in Heaven, holy is Your name...

God, you are worthy to be known and worshipped everywhere!  Even now, people on the other side of the world are praising you.  Still, we know that there are many people on the other side of our towns, cities, streets...who have yet to see you or know you as you truly are.  We ourselves only know a part of your love and goodness. Reveal your greatness!  May our communities speak of you with reverence and awe.  May the fame of your name be great.  May your name be sanctified, set apart from every other name, every god, every philosophy.  May the story of what you have done establish your love in our communities and throughout the world.  Amen

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lenten Prayer #26: For God's Light to Shine on Nations

Isaiah 49:6  

The LORD says “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Luke 10:2
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Open our eyes to see the broad expanse of your family. You are the Creator of all peoples, always loving as if each one of us were a precious child of your household.  Bring your light to everyone!  Illuminate every ethnic group, every racial sector, every language cluster.  May no one be beyond Your reach!  Light of the World, let us be your light-bearer in places far and near.  Amen

Lenten Prayer #25: For the Fruit of Righteousness

Psalm 85:10-13
Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good;
And our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before Him,
And shall make His footsteps our pathway.

We ask that the life and righteousness of heaven will flourish on earth. Breathe life into our homes and workplaces. Walk before your people, Risen Christ. Guide us as we seek to follow in your footsteps, seeking ways to bring life where there was death.  May we continually bear the fruit of your divine character. Amen

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lenten Prayer #24: For Bonds of Injustice to be Broken

Isa. 58:6-8
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator* shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.

Matt. 9:13
Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

We ask for transformation of economic structures that do not reflect justice. Reveal the ways that our own financial decisions may keep others trapped in cycles of injustice. Expose the bonds of wickedness that are within our reach to change, and give us ways to free people suffering under oppression. You gave us an assignment that we have yet to accomplish, that we will learn your fiery desire for mercy. Sometimes our lives may be so easy that we begin to think even minimal deeds are a "sacrifice." Ignight our hearts with your love for others. May we be ambitious to see your mercy and justice on a major scale. We pray for a new day, a day of blessing and abundance for all. Amen

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lenten Prayer #23: For Repentence from Violence

Jonah 3:8-98
Human beings...shall mourn...and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands.  Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.

Luke 22:50-5150
Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him.

How the violent ways of our nations must grieve You! Statistics for domestic violence, among other kinds of abuse, shock us. When young people become killers we are at a loss to understand why. We call upon you to turn us from our our hatred, fear and anger. Move upon our hearts and minds to break the cycle of violence with your love and forgiveness and healing. It is easy for us to understand the defensive rage expressed in the Garden of Gethsemane as you were approaching your death, Lord Jesus Christ. We too have brandished religious weapons that have only resulted in people becoming deaf to your voice. We pray together for those wounded and offended by people who claim to follow you. Heal the harm that we ourselves may have done, and restore hope and faith by your mercy--the same mercy you showed on that night in the garden. Call us again to join you in your suffering and to follow you in your mercy. Amen

Lenten Prayer #22 For What is True and Right

Isaiah 59:14-16
Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
for truth stumbles in the public square,
and uprightness cannot enter.
Truth is lacking,
and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
and was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm brought him victory,
and his righteousness upheld him.

Luke 19:10
For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.

God of Justice, truth has often become scarce in the "open" places of our societies.  What is publicized or televised is so diluted with falsehood that it often seems we no longer expect to hear leaders speak with genuine integrity.  Those who stand for what is right are often sidelined or marginalized or considered fools.  Do not leave us in this darkness.  Reach in, as if with your own right hand, to stabilize those who stand for what is right and true.  Expose what is false.  Sustain what is true so that we can walk in your justice.  Amen

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lenten Prayer # 21 For the Poor to be Helped

Psalm 113:5-9
Who is like the LORD our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the LORD.

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

We cry to you, Great King and Judge of all the earth, on behalf of the poor.  "Stoop down" to examine our affairs of commerce and investigate our courts and judicial systems.  Move swiftly to help those who are impoverished.  By your awesome goodness, lift, exalt and honor them with fresh dignity and hope.  Give the wealthy the desire to extend your blessings to many others.  Extend compassion to the helpless and friendless or those in difficult circumstances.  Rescue people from the ruins of unjust poverty.  Since you see them, Lord, as your sheep, cause them to see you as their shepherd.   Give us creative ways to serve others with no sense of superiority or prejudice.  Amen

Lenten Prayer #20: For Greed to Become Generosity

Luke 19:7-9

All the people...began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”  But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

When salvation came to Zacchaeus and his house, many were shocked.  People stood in the streets the next day, bags of gold in their hands that Zacchaeus, the former dishonest tax collector, had returned to them.  Save our cities that way!  Visit the homes of the rich, the poor, the powerful and the criminal so that all may be changed and everyone will know it was you.  Amen

Lenten Prayer #19: For Devastated Cities to Be Restored

Isaiah 61:1,4
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners...
They will renew the ruined cities that have been
devastated for generations.

Luke 4:43 He said to them, "I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose."

We pray that the purpose for which Jesus Christ cam will still be fulfilled in our day.  Our neighborhoods are just one small part of your infinite purpose!  Do not overlook a single town or village, ghetto or barrio, neighborhood or network throughout the land.  May the love of your kingdom be displayed and declared everywhere.  Amen

Lenten Prayer # 18 That God Will Be Praised By Those Who Once Were Lost

Isaiah 12:1-3
In that day, you will say:
"I will praise you, LORD.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

Mark 5:19  Jesus...said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

We pray to you on behalf of those who fear your anger but doubt your love.  We pray for those who are hiding from you, becoming a shadow of what they could be.  Reveal to them the love demonstrated on the cross of Christ.  Find those who are lost and wandering, unsure of their direction, of their source, of their destination.  May the good news of your love and your grace ripple throughout the families and the friendships of our towns and cities.  Give new boldness to those who have walked with you for years, and allow them to tell their stories, once again, with renewed joy.  May your mercy amaze us.  May your love become spectacular, for yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Amen

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lenten Prayer #17 For Victory Over Evil

Luke 10:17-20   The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”   Jesus  replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Psalm 68:1  May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.

God of Goodness, let us be more thrilled about the rise of Christ to glory than we are by the downfall of evil.  Help us not to wage vigilante warfare in our own strength or about our own pet ideas of what is "right."  May we walk in your truth, loving justice and acting in your authority.  Rise, O Lord, and break the grip of dark powers that hold captive the ones you came to save.  Amen

Friday, March 09, 2012

Lenten Prayer # 16: For Desperate People

Psalm 107:4-6, 8-9
Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to an inhabited town;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress;
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
For he satisfies the thirsty,
and the hungry he fills with good things.

God, you are the rescuer of humankind.  We dare to ask you that life's circumstances will reveal the emptiness of our self-sufficiency.  May we become sick of arrogance and rudeness and self-centered plans.  May we recall something we have known of your love, and may we turn toward you.  When we do, meet us in those moments of turning, of repentance.  May we see your loving heart.  Summon us home with hope that you can change us, and change our lives into something beautiful.  Amen

(Today's prayer made me think of one of my late mother's favorite songs.)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Lenten Prayer # 15: For Renewed Life

John 5:25  "Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."

Today we pray for so many who are dying in spirit, body and soul.  We, like they, have sometimes found ourselves seduced by distorted desires.  We understand how minds and bodies are addicted. We know how disappointment holds hearts hostage in despair so that sometimes we expect nothing new, nothing good or true.  And so we pray for those who rage in spiritual prisons that they, or others, have made.  Send your life-giving love and raise them to "life" again by the power of Your risen Son.  Draw them, and us, from living death.  Renew hope, and show the way.  Heal us, O Lord.  Amen

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Lenten Prayer # 14: For God's Mercy

Psalm 103:11-13
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.

Luke 18:13-14
But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’

We are more than qualified to stand as fellow sinners with the people of our towns and cities.  And so we sincerely pray, "Have mercy on us, a sinful people."  We already live in the consequences of the piled-up sins of many generations and we see no easy way out of our predicament.  We are desperate for your mercy, but not despairing.  Move, in great mercy, upon us O God!  Send a message to men, women and children that you yearn to embrace them with a love as large as the sky.  When you ask us to be the one who bears the message, may we be quick to respond.  Amen

Monday, March 05, 2012

Lenten Prayer # 13: For God's Love

Isaiah 30:18-19
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.

For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
 Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you.

Luke 15:20
So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

Father God, have you been watching for your long-lost sons and daughters to come home?  Awaken yearning for you.  Strengthen those who turn toward mercy to those who are not yet sure if it is possible to do so.  Run towards those who come!  Convince us of your unfailing love, no matter what we have done.  Be quick to answer when people cry for help. May this be the day, patient God, when you satisfy your desire to be known the  God who is gracious to ALL.

My Beautiful Daughter is Forty Today!

This is not the most current picture I have, but you get the idea!  :-)  I simply cannot believe the speed with which the time has passed.  Forty years ago today I was in the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton, about to give birth to my one and only daughter, Kristina.  For a first labor, it was relatively short, only six hours.  But it was painful, made more so because while changes in how labor and delivery are approached were sweeping the country, they had not affected the military medical establishment.  Well, I don't need to share any more about that!

When Kris arrived on "the outside," her eyes were scrunched shut and she was yelling at the top of her little lungs.  My first thought, after the relief that she seemed healthy, was that she looked like a little "papoose."  She was red.  Very red, and she had a head full of black hair. It was so long in back that it curled up.

She refused to open her eyes for the three days we spent in the hospital.  She also refused to nurse (and I resisted the nurses' constant pressure to give her formula).  She just wanted to go back inside and be left alone, I think.  She still can be like that...not a morning person.  :-)

When we arrived home she settled right down and nursed happily.  Yeah, who wants to hang out in a hospital anyhow? 

Memories that stand out to me, all these years later, are her first day of school.  She was very excited, and came home a little disappointed.  She had expected to learn to read immediately, I discovered. 

There was the day I came out of the church building during Vacation Bible School to see my pretty little five-year old, dressed in a ruffled yellow dress with yellow yarn bows in her hair, draped with a boa constrictor--thanks to a visiting scientist.  Yow!  (Many years later she had her own boa, which she sneaked into the college dorm.  Ugh.)

She was a born evangelist and told all her friends that God loved them.  She loved the outdoors, books, animals, music and dancing  to her grandfather's "swing" music, much to his amusement.

She was a wonderful big sister to little brother, Joshua, when he arrived six years after she did.  Of course, little brothers can be a pain, but she was usually patient and all her friends loved sweet little Josh too, so that helped. 

Kris had an alarming way of getting into trouble without ever intending to, because she trusted everyone and loved life.  She frightened me many times.  Sometimes she still does.  We bought her a poster of a puppy with his head stuck in a knothole and the words "Just about everything is easier to get into than it is to get out of."  I don't think it helped.  She was always ready for  an adventure and to try something new, always trying to jump higher, run faster, see what was around the next corner.

There were sports, at which she was determined to be just as good as the boys (and she was the best player on the 6th grade football team), choir concerts, occasional plays, high school basketball, a badly damaged knee and the sadness of sitting with her in the hospital after a painful surgery.  

There were difficult times in high school, and there were some unhealthy relationships that caused her dad and me a great deal of anxiety, a few very long nights, many prayers and not a few tears as she struggled to overcome some very traumatic experiences.  Even then, our Kris had a faith that, while sometimes dimmed, never left her. 

She is a woman with a great big heart of love for just about everybody, a terrific photographer, a whiz on the computer, a minister with a rare gift of relating to people from all walks of life, a wife (finding a husband and life partner after she had decided to be contented being single), and a really wonderful mom.

Love you, dear Kris, and wishing you many more decades of life, love and ministry.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Lenten Prayer # 12: For Opened Spiritual Eyes and Ears

Isaiah 55:6-8 
Seek the Lord while he may be found,

call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

Matt. 13:15 
For the people's hearts have become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.  For this people’s heart has grown they might not look...and listen and understand with their hearts--and I would heal them. 

Lord, we pray that you would free us from the self-defeating thoughts that blind us.  Assure doubting hearts of your magnificent love!  We pray for those who have rejected you and your love in their lives.  Be merciful in not allowing them to continue to stumble blindly, hardened in heart and deaf to your voice.  Open eyes to your beauty and ears to your wisdom.  Grant to those who turn, even slightly, a time of healing and repentance.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Lenten Prayer # 11: For God's Presence & Glory

Ezekiel 37:27-28   I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  And when my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I am the LORD, who makes Israel holy.”

John 1:14   So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Dwell among us, most Holy God.  Form us into the people that you have long desired.  We welcome you to be in our midst, right with us and in us--not just somewhere nearby.  Jesus, we have glimpsed the brilliance of the Glory of God in you.  In your flesh, you anchored Heaven's life here on earth.  None of us imagines that we have known you fully, but we ask that you open our eyes to encounter you with fresh understanding.  Come like an avalanche of grace.  Incinerate lies and denials in the fullness of your truth and love.  We want to see you, Lord, not just sentimental ideas of what seems popular and "nice" to us.  Finish what you came to do as you make your dwelling among us.  Amen

Friday, March 02, 2012

Lenten Prayer # 10 For Families

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers...Malachi 4:6
He said to her, "Go and call your husband and come here"...They went out of the city and were coming to him.  John 4:16
God, we have often failed to heed the words and wisdoms of generations before us.  Turn our hearts to elders and help us to honor them so that we may also honor our heritage and the life lessons they have given us.  At the same time, we acknowledge that many children have been left alone to make their own way.  Strengthen our hearts to believe for great things for the coming generations and help us to do all we can to care for those who will follow after. 

And thinking of the Samaritan woman at the well reminds us there are many desolate women around us...women who are abandoned, divorced more than once, abused, seperated from loved ones...some are completely without hope. 

Bring together the shattered peices of our families.  Confront them with your healing grace, and may we now, as happened then, come to you.

The following video (or the song at least) was on a CD my son recently gave me.  Enjoy! 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lentern Prayer # 9: For Obedient Hearts

Ezekiel 36:26-27
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

Mark 12:30-31
And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Hear us, God of Mercy, on behalf of those who have become discouraged and have drifted away from loving you.  Some have been wounded  by the Church.  Others have been enticed by things that look good but are not, in fact, wholesome or good for them.  However these have fallen, we ask that they will live in joy and hope and obedience once again.  We too have known the dullness of a stony heart.  We pray in humility for them, and for ourselves.  Fulfill Your ancient promise to change hearts. Spirit of God, come upon us all in life so that we are able to obey with gladness.  Amen