Fierce love #2


Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Here’s a prayer inspired by Genesis 32:24-28, where Jacob wrestles with God.

O Wrestler
contending with us until daybreak,
holding us in the grip of your argument,
grappling with our questions and doubts,
You who strive to deepen us through struggle,
and strengthen us through adversity:
Hold on to us now
in that fierce love that will never let us go.
Bless us, as you name us, as those who have prevailed.

~ posted on Third Space


Go deeper

– follow the Third Space link above for more on Genesis 32:24-28
– see also Fierce love #1
 

Fierce love #1


 

With Lent almost upon us, the theme for February is “wild”, as a precursor to a Lent-inspired theme for March: “wilderness”.

Here is a prayer by Bruce Prewer that touches on various dimensions of God’s love, including its fierceness, standing up for victims of wrong.

A prayer

God of all things seen and unseen, if you had insulated yourself from the pain of the world, then your name could not be love and our condition would be without hope. Thank you for being so personally involved, for revealing your complete commitment in Jesus of Nazareth. Through him we pray with hope, in him we pray with love.

Let your healing love be known this day by all who suffer ailment of body, or distress of mind, or agony of spirit.
     Please reveal your compassion,
     Loving God, bring wholeness to all.

Let your intimate love be known today by all who feel forgotten or lost, and all who are walking in the dark valley of despair.
     Please reveal your compassion,
     Loving God, bring wholeness to all.

Let your fierce love this day redress the wrongs of all who suffer exploitation, injustice, abuse, neglect, violence or unwarranted imprisonment.
     Please reveal your compassion,
      Loving God, bring wholeness to all.

Let your nurturing love today encourage those who are gathering resolve to make tough decisions, take on new responsibilities, or break free from some bondage.
     Please reveal your compassion,
     Loving God, bring wholeness to all.

Let your relentless love this day upset congregations that have become self-centred or even contemptuous of other churches.
     Please reveal your compassion,
     Loving God, bring wholeness to all.

Let your reconciling love today gather together the separated Christians, and make them aware of the fellowship and mission of the one, universal body of Christ.
     Please reveal your compassion,
     Loving God, bring wholeness to all.

Let your inspiring love this day rejuvenate pastors, priests and prophets who have become weary to the very roots of their souls.
     Please reveal your compassion,
     Loving God, bring wholeness to all.

Thank you for hearing us, most loving God. With the whole body of believers in time and eternity, we want to love, praise and serve you, today and evermore. Through Christ Jesus your true Son. Amen!

 
— written by Bruce Prewer, and posted on Bruce Prewer’s website. http://www.bruceprewer.com/
 

Hot-hearted in serving thee


Keerthana’s tasty treat (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

In this series of prayers by Chinese Christian women, practical tasks inspire prayer for parallel spiritual virtues.

Use and adapt the prayers to enrich your own daily (prayer) life.


Prayers by Chinese Christian women

Prayer when opening a door

I pray thee, Lord, to open the door of my heart
to receive thee within my heart.

When washing clothes

I pray thee, Lord, to wash my heart,
making me white as snow.

When sweeping floors

I pray thee, Lord, to sweep away my heart’s uncleanness that my heart may always be pure.

When pouring oil

I pray thee, Lord, to give me wisdom like the wise virgins who always had oil in their vessels.

When posting a letter

I pray thee, Lord, to add to me faith upon faith, that I may always have communication with thee.

When lighting lamps

I pray thee, Lord, to make my deeds excellent like lamps before others, and more, to place thy true light within my heart.

When watering flowers

I pray thee, Lord, to send down spiritual rain into my heart, to germinate the good seed there.

When boiling water for tea

I pray thee, Lord, to send down spiritual fire to burn away the coldness of my heart and that I may always be hot-hearted in serving thee.

from 2000 Years of Prayer compiled by Michael Counsell, p. 527-8


Other posts in the “Heart” series:

United by love

(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

I took this photograph of John and Ruth Robertson's wedding plaque when I last visited them in South Africa in 2015. Both have since passed away after a long life of loving and prayerful devotion in God’s service.

I first met John and Ruth the year after they were married, when I was in my 20’s, and they graciously took me (and later my family) into their hearts and prayers.

Ruth and John had been friends for years and when Ruth heard that John’s wife had died, she sent John a letter of condolence. Imagine her surprise when he came to visit her and proposed. Ruth’s initial response was “no”. She was in her fifties and happily single. But then, after praying about it, she contacted John and said, “If you ask me again, I’ll say yes”. So began a new chapter in their lives as instruments of love as a couple.

May you and I be instruments of love wherever God has called us and may we inspire and support others as John and Ruth have inspired and supported so many over the years – also me.


A prayer: Instruments of love

Let us pray to our kind and merciful God that his love for us may animate all we do and that our love may become contagious. Let us say: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That the Church, the People of God, may never cease to proclaim by its teaching, life and liturgy that love of God and neighbour is the heart of the gospel and that people are God’s gift to us, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That people may not lose their hearts in today’s economic systems of profit, efficiency, production and competition, but that they may keep giving first place to human relationships of friendship and respect, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That we may have room in our hearts and homes for refugees and strangers, that we may learn to share our goods and ourselves with the little people loved by God – the poor and the lonely and those who suffer, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That those who don’t know how to forgive, those who have not experienced much happiness in life or whose longings have not been fulfilled may encounter a bit of God’s goodness in our attention and care, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That in our Christian communities we may uplift one another rather than tear down, accept each other with trust and affection, forgive one another from the heart and go forward together in hope and love, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

Our gentle God, help us to love you and one another with your measure, that is, without measure,
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 
from Liturgies Alive, Models of Celebration,
posted on re-worship.blogspot.nl.


Related topics to explore to your heart’s content

  1. Resources for the 2018 week of prayer for Christian unity which takes place annually from 18 to 24 January.
  2. From the blog: Prayer sheet on Theme: The greatest is love

 

From a grateful heart


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)

A Prayer

based on Psalm 103:1-5

Come!
Come praise the eternal God!
Let all that is within us —
body, emotions, mind, and will —
praise God’s holy name!

Despite our failures, He forgives and releases us.
More than any doctor, He heals our diseases.
When we are famished and weak,
He fills us with good and beautiful things,
satisfying our needs,
and restoring our strength.

So come!
Come, praise the eternal God!
Sing songs from a grateful heart,
and remember all that He has done for us.

source: https://re-worship.blogspot.nl


What songs of praise and thanksgiving is your heart dying to sing today? Sing away.


See also Forgiven and forgotten

Give me a heart of flesh

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

God said to the Jews in exile in Babylon, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26, NIVUK)

Here is a prayer dating back to the 4th century asking God to work this miracle in us.

O Lord, who has mercy on all,
take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and enjoy you,
for Christ’s sake, Amen

St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397)


Related topics to explore to your heart’s content

  1. Jesus’ parable about the sower and the seed in Mark 1:1-20 (also in Matthew 13 and Luke 8). Note in particular the impact of stony ground.
  2. From the blog: Unite my divided heart
  3. www.christianitytoday.com article about Ambrose and his legacy
from www.christianitytoday.com
 
“When we speak of wisdom, we are speaking about Christ. When we speak about virtue, we are speaking about Christ. When we speak about justice, we are speaking about Christ. When we are speaking about truth and life and redemption, we are speaking about Christ.” So wrote Ambrose, bishop of Milan, biblical exegete, political theorist, master of Latin eloquence, musician, and teacher; in all these roles, he was speaking about Christ.
 

3 Prayers for endings and beginnings

Where do you go from here?
Where do you go from here? (photo: Irene Bom)
 

Here are 3 prayers for happier endings and good beginnings as we approach the end of one year and the start of another.

Go with God.

And if you’re looking for guidance on what to focus on in your walk with God in the coming year, here’s Paul’s advice, from his first letter to the Thessalonians:

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this. 19 Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. 20 Don’t despise what God has revealed. 21 Instead, test everything. Hold on to what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-21 (God’s Word translation)


A new story

Author of Salvation, write in us a new story.
Erase the sins of the past and create a new narrative,
one in which we seek Your love and justice in this world.
Write a new direction for our lives,
away from the busy-ness
    and cares of the world for success and stability,
and instead plot us towards ways of living Your compassion,
care and grace in the world.

Create new opportunities for us, O God,
to explore and live this adventure of life in bold and daring ways,
in which new insights may unfold for us.
Grant us the fullness of life by living for others,
as You taught us to love our neighbour as ourselves,
but most of all, may our story be about You,
about Your love for us,
and what Your love for us calls us to do.
In the name of Christ,
who writes the new ending and beginning, we pray.
Amen.

by Rev. Mindi, and posted on her Rev-o-lution blog.


God’s timing

O God of all seasons and senses,
grant us the sense of your timing
to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly
in the turn of the seasons.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of endings;
children growing, friends leaving, loved ones dying,
grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.

O God, grant us a sense of your timing.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth
    what is ready to be born –
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love –
in the fullness of your time.

O God, grant us the sense of your timing.

by Ted Loder, in Guerrillas of Grace.


Prayer at the threshold

And so we take the ragged fragments,

the patches of darkness
that give shape to the light;
the scraps of desires
unslaked or realized;
the memories of spaces
of blessing, of pain.

And so we gather the scattered pieces

the hopes we carry
fractured or whole;
the struggles of birthing
exhausted, elated;
the places of welcome
that bring healing and life.

And so we lay them at the threshold, God;

bid you hold them, bless them, use them;
ask you tend them, mend them,
transform them
to keep us warm,
make us whole, and send us forth.

by Jan L. Richardson in Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas, Posted on Prayers and Creeds.


Tip: World in prayer
Their final post for 2017 invites us to pray for everyone and includes a list of every nation, so we can pray for them by name.

 
Other posts in the “3 Prayers” series
3 Prayers to the Sacred Trinity
3 Prayers for Wayfarers
3 Prayers for Refugees

2017: Advent Hope #7


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

OUR HOPE

Luke 2:28–32  (NRSVA)

28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29       ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
                according to your word;
30       for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31       which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32       a light for revelation to the Gentiles
                and for glory to your people Israel.’

Thought

What do you hope for this Advent? Simeon had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah and he lived in the hope of that promise being fulfilled. When he met the baby Jesus he knew immediately that he had not waited in vain.

In his prayer of thanksgiving, Simeon also prophesied that Jesus would not only minister to the Jews; he would be the hope of the Gentiles too. That gives hope and a promise to me and you. The child of Bethlehem, the Christ upon the cross, Jesus the Saviour of the world, our Redeemer.

Poem: Advent hope

Advent, a time of waiting in expectant anticipation
For the celebration of Messiah’s birth
For the visit of shepherds and wise men
For Angels singing peace on earth

Advent, a time of earnest preparation
For the return of the king
For the establishment of his kingdom
And the peace that it will bring

Advent, a time of trusting and hoping
For God’s promises to come true
For the love of God to fill the earth
Beginning with me and with you

Advent, a time which God has set aside
For each to watch and pray
To seek a deeper understanding
Of his purposes for us each day.

Prayer

Our hope is in the Lord.

Lord, help us to hold onto our Advent hope as we journey with you through these days, getting our hearts ready to welcome Jesus this Christmas.

Help us to listen for your word and be directed by your spirit so that when Jesus returns he will find us ready for him. May we truly be servants who act upon your word and live in hope of your coming to reign.

Come Lord Jesus!
Amen

 

XTRA XTRA XTRA
Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 

2017: Advent Hope #6


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

ISRAEL’S HOPE

Isaiah 11:1–3  (NRSVA)

1 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
      and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
      the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
      the spirit of counsel and might,
      the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
   He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
      or decide by what his ears hear;

Thought

Have you ever been told the same thing by several people? God had sent prophet after prophet to tell his people Israel about the one to come, the one they called the Messiah and yet the people still did not understand. Often we have to be told something many times by many different people before the information drops from the head to the heart, before we begin to hope for what is promised.

Poem: The prophets

The prophets promised a Messiah
Would be born to save the Jews
But the people never listened
To their message of good news

They promised them a future King
Who would rescue Israel
They promised he’d save the gentile too
That didn’t go down so well

They said a child would be born
In Bethlehem in Judea
That his mother would be a virgin
And he’d be named “God is near”

They told them the Messiah
Would be born of David’s line
That God would send his servant
At the appointed Time

They told them of the servant
Who would suffer and die
“Surely not our Messiah”
Was the people’s cry

For they wanted a Saviour
A great and mighty King
Who would lead forth his people
And bring the kingdom in

The people wanted a warrior
To lead them on to victory
They didn’t want a preacher
Who would die upon a tree

But the prophet’s message was clear
Through the centuries it came
The promise of a Messiah
Immanuel by name

God would send his son
The Servant King
To carry his people’s burdens
To redeem the world from sin

Prayer

Father God, you sent your prophets to your people Israel and yet they refused to listen to their message and missed the promised Messiah. Help us to listen to the message of your prophets today so that when you come among us we are prepared and ready to respond.

 

XTRA XTRA XTRA
Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 


TIP … from the blog
Children’s prayer #1

2017: Advent Hope #5


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

JOSEPH’S HOPE

Matthew 1:18–21  (NRSVA)

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

Thought

Have you ever had your hopes dashed? Joseph was looking forward to seeing his hopes fulfilled as he married his fiancé and they started a new life together. Then, in an instant, everything he had hoped for was taken from him. His hopes were dashed, or were they? He received all he had hoped for but not in the way he expected. It reminds me of these words from a prayer written by an anonymous Confederate soldier in the US civil war: “I got nothing that I asked for but got everything I had hoped for.”

Poem: Joseph’s Diary

I wonder what would you do
If something like this happened to you
The wedding was only a few weeks away
We were all prepared for our special day
When Mary who was the love of my life
The woman who was to be my wife
Told me that she was to have a child
Any other man might have gone wild
Because the baby she carried wasn’t mine
She told me God had given a sign
That she hadn’t been with another man
This was all part of God’s plan
Well I didn’t know what to do
Being a good God-fearing Jew
So I decided to send her away
She could go to Elizabeth’s and stay
While I organised a quiet way
To call off the wedding with least affray
Then an Angel visited me
The brightest light you ever did see
He told me what Mary said was true
He told me what I had to do
To believe the message of this Holy one
Her child would be God’s own Son
I wondered if I was going insane
But the wedding was back on again

Prayer

Father, sometimes I feel my hopes have been dashed. The things that I long for elude me and yet I know that you have plans for me, plans to give me hope and a future. Help me to trust in your purposes. Amen

 

XTRA XTRA XTRA
Church of Scotland Advent Calendar
Journey daily with characters in the Nativity through video, reflection and prayer

 


TIP … from the blog
Theme: God makes all things new (Prayer sheet)