Tag Archives: prayer

A Prayer for Veteran’s Day 2014

This morning, I will be at First Christian, Columbia, SC. They have asked me to pray for veterans and their families.

Veteran’s day is a bit of a struggle for me. I want to acknowledge that not evey veteran is proud of their service, that often, families bear the brunt of the after effects of war, that suicide, homelessness, and joblessness are a reality of the veteran community.

I also want to acknowledge that many veterans struggle and many are doing fine, that the stereotype of the “crazy-eyed veteran” is exactly that.

Oh, and also the reality that the Kingdom of God has no borders. That service to Jesus Christ transcends all ideas of nationalistic sentiment.

And then there is the reality that war is the ultimate human tragedy, the failure of humans to work out their issues without killing one another.

Here is that humble attempt with thanks to Peter Marshall:

Prayer for Veteran’s Day 2014

First Christian Church, Columbia SC

Good morning. As an Active duty service member, I am honored to pray this morning for veterans and their families. Serving one’s country in the Armed Services is a challenge to anyone who also serves Jesus Christ. There is an inherent tension between Christ’s call to peace and the country’s call to arms. Those who have lived and served in that tension have done so at their own peril. They have offered their very lives to the service of others. They have done so not always agreeing with the action they were ordered to do, they have done so even when the result is death or serious harm, they have done so  even when they were not appreciated for that service, they have done so even when promises are not kept.

Some of our nation’s veterans this morning have served and have gone on to other work in the country having been able to work through the lasting vestiges of war in their lives. Other’s struggle with the memory of war and traumatic stress it brings. Veterans are turning to suicide as an answer to their pain. Some veterans this morning are feeling the benefit of living in this country, others are homeless, jobless, and wondering where to get care. This morning, I remember all veterans and their families. Those doing well and those doing poorly. Those who have been able to integrate their pain and those who struggle with their memories. Those enjoying the freedom of this land and those who are now behind bars. Those with homes and those homeless. Those who are still with the family of their youth and those who are now divorced and separated from those families because of the effects of war. Those who remember their service with fondness and those who daily grieve the pain of it. We remember them all and pray for them.

Oliver Wendell Homes, himself a veteran of the American Civil War once said, “We have shared the incommunicable experience of war, we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youths, our hearts were touched with fire.” I know that fire. I know that it still burns.

From one veteran to another and their families – thank you for your service.

We approach the Throne of Grace:

Lord Jesus Christ, we are the children of God. Yet we would not be human if we were not sometimes fearful, if our hearts did not ache and harbor anxiety for those we love who wear and have worn our country’s uniform – here and in the far corners of the earth.

Yet, we also know that the Everlasting Arms reach out across the world. We know the shadow of your wing covers all your children.

We know that in this world there are troubles. Whether diseases in Africa, extremists in Iraq and other places, homelessness and poverty here in America, and a host of other ills, that nothing can separate us nor those we love from your love and watch care.

We know that the bonds of the fellowship of prayer are real. We know that at the throne of grace we are all united, that our souls can mingle with those we love on earth even though separated by tumbling sea and dreary miles. In that spirit we ask for our nation’s veterans that you:

              Support them in time of need,

              Give them strength beyond their own,

              Confidence that you are their shepherd and will never leave them nor forsake them,

              Strength in temptation that they may be kept clean,

              Give them the gift of inner peace, a serenity that no tragedy can destroy,

              Give peace to spouses wondering how much longer they can hang on to their marriage,

              Keep those veterans preparing for another winter without a home or job safe,

              Calm the dreams of those who struggle with sleeping at night,

              Encouragement to those who are thinking of suicide as a way out to know that they are loved, have value and are important,

              Give us the peace that passes all understanding that keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. May Peace come to the world so that War can be no more. We look to the day when Soldiers are no longer needed with great anticipation. Until then, we serve.

May we feel your presence and see by faith that day when the love of Christ shall live in the hearts of all people everywhere. Amen.

Iraq Band of Brothers

 

 

 

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Despair, thankfulness, and paradigm shift

Robinson Crusoe has been on the island for some time. He, clearly, has been able to meet his “hierarchy of needs” – air, water, food shelter. At least enough so that by chapter 5, he is able to start thing theologically about the mess he’s in.

As I sat here some such thoughts as these occurred to me: What is this earth and sea, of which I have seen so much? Whence is it produced? And what am I, and all the other creatures wild and tame, human and brutal? Whence are we? Sure we are all made by some secret Power, who formed the earth and sea, the air and sky. And who is that? Then it followed most naturally, it is God that has made all. Well, but then it came on strangely, if God has made all these things, He guides and governs them all, and all things that concern them; for the Power that could make all things must certainly have power to guide and direct them. If so, nothing can happen in the great circuit of His works, either without His knowledge or appointment.

And if nothing happens without His knowledge, He knows that I am here, and am in this dreadful condition; and if nothing happens without His appointment, He has appointed all this to befall me. Nothing occurred to my thought to contradict any of these conclusions, and therefore it rested upon me with the greater force, that it must needs be that God had appointed all this to befall me; that I was brought into this miserable circumstance by His direction, He having the sole power, not of me only, but of everything that happened in the world. Immediately it followed: Why has God done this to me? What have I done to be thus used?

Rob is struggling with a little theodicy. Dwelling on these thoughts drive him to despair. His despair results in a dreadful physical malady. He searches for relief. He comes upon a plan to mix fresh tobacco and rum. (Frankly, I like where he’s going with that but the execution leave much to be desired.) This, of course, leaves him worse off. He becomes violently ill.

Sick and tired, he takes something else from a chest he brought from the ship and begins to read. The Bible he has falls open to Psalm 50 and he reads this:

“I took up the Bible and began to read; but my head was too much disturbed with the tobacco to bear reading, at least at that time; only, having opened the book casually, the first words that occurred to me were these, “Call on Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.” These words were very apt to my case, and made some impression upon my thoughts at the time of reading them, though not so much as they did afterwards; for, as for being delivered, the word had no sound, as I may say, to me; the thing was so remote, so impossible in my apprehension of things, that I began to say, as the children of Israel did when they were promised flesh to eat, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” so I began to say, “Can God Himself deliver me from this place?” And as it was not for many years that any hopes appeared, this prevailed very often upon my thoughts; but, however, the words made a great impression upon me, and I mused upon them very often. It grew now late, and the tobacco had, as I said, dozed my head so much that I inclined to sleep; so I left my lamp burning in the cave, lest I should want anything in the night, and went to bed. But before I lay down, I did what I never had done in all my life – I kneeled down, and prayed to God to fulfil the promise to me, that if I called upon Him in the day of trouble, He would deliver me. After my broken and imperfect prayer was over, I drank the rum…”

I love this passage. Might be partiality because he ends his prayer with rum. What happens next is worth the book.

July 3. – I missed the fit for good and all, though I did not recover my full strength for some weeks after. While I was thus gathering strength, my thoughts ran exceedingly upon this Scripture, “I will deliver thee”; and the impossibility of my deliverance lay much upon my mind, in bar of my ever expecting it; but as I was discouraging myself with such thoughts, it occurred to my mind that I pored so much upon my deliverance from the main affliction, that I disregarded the deliverance I had received, and I was as it were made to ask myself such questions as these – viz. Have I not been delivered, and wonderfully too, from sickness – from the most distressed condition that could be, and that was so frightful to me? and what notice had I taken of it? Had I done my part? God had delivered me, but I had not glorified Him – that is to say, I had not owned and been thankful for that as a deliverance; and how could I expect greater deliverance? This touched my heart very much; and immediately I knelt down and gave God thanks aloud for my recovery from my sickness.

And this:

“Now I began to construe the words mentioned above, “Call on Me, and I will deliver thee,” in a different sense from what I had ever done before; for then I had no notion of anything being called deliverance, but my being delivered from the captivity I was in; for though I was indeed at large in the place, yet the island was certainly a prison to me, and that in the worse sense in the world. But now I learned to take it in another sense: now I looked back upon my past life with such horror, and my sins appeared so dreadful, that my soul sought nothing of God but deliverance from the load of guilt that bore down all my comfort. As for my solitary life, it was nothing. I did not so much as pray to be delivered from it or think of it; it was all of no consideration in comparison to this. And I add this part here, to hint to whoever shall read it, that whenever they come to a true sense of things, they will find deliverance from sin a much greater blessing than deliverance from affliction.”

His condition never changes. He was no more rescued physically that morning than any other morning since he got on the island. It was his paradigm that had changed. He went from seeing himself as a victim of God to being a child of God who had experienced deliverance. The prayer did not change his dreadful plight but simply showed him the “other side” of his misery. His “blessing.”

The verse quoted is from Psalm 50. This week. This will be my sermon – asking “where is God” is the wrong question. The better questions might be – “where am I and where has God been all along?” And then find the answers.

My condition began now to be, though not less miserable as to my way of living, yet much easier to my mind: and my thoughts being directed, by a constant reading the Scripture and praying to God, to things of a higher nature, I had a great deal of comfort within, which till now I knew nothing of; also, my health and strength returned, I bestirred myself to furnish myself with everything that I wanted, and make my way of living as regular as I could.”

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Prayer against “the tyranny of trifles”

May this be your prayer today as it is mine:

“In this, the day that the Lord hath made, help us, O God, to appreciate its beauty and to use aright it’s opportunities.

Deliver us, we pray, from the tyranny of trifles. May we give our best thought and attention to what is important, that we may accomplish something worthwhile. Teach us how to listen to the prompting of thy Spirit, and thus, save us from floundering in indecision that wastes time, subtracts from our peace, divides our efficiency, and multiplies our troubles. In the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

– from The Prayers of Peter Marshall

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A Prayer for Boston… and us.

God of grace and God of glory. We are in the need of comfort. We live in a world with evil and evil makes us afraid. Angry. Vengeful. We want justice. On days when an 8-year-old is killed to make a point, we want justice. Give us patience. Grant us peace to wait in our judgement to ensure that the right person or persons are brought to justice rather than the wrong. Grant our leaders supernatural wisdom in dealing with this situation that they might make the best decisions. Discernment to see through the passion and anger to the truth.

Be with the helpers this morning. The doctors, nurses, and EMTs who have spent the night working on survivors – give them peace and rest. The police, fire fighters, Soldiers who have responded and secured the area, grant them rest. I pray for the mental health workers, pastors, and chaplains who will spend the next weeks helping others work through this tragedy. All of those that helped – the professional and the volunteer.

Give us grace as we remember the dead, the dying, the living and recovering. Be with us and grant us peace. Amen.

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Good Friday Prayer

Today is Good Friday. In my tradition, its one of the most significant days of the year. It’s the day that Christians everywhere commemorate the death of Christ.

On this day, I’m reflecting on the fact that in the name of Jesus, people have been killed. Nations have been brought low. People have been abused. Of course, hospitals have been built, churches established that have helped countless people on their journeys. Lives, including mine,  have been changed.

The problem with Christianity has rarely been Christ particularly, it’s with Christians. But then, that’s the thing with all religions – regardless of the belief system, it worked out by people and people have issues!

Few doubt the gravity of the sacrifice commemorated by this day. Few doubt the love that drove Jesus to take up his cross, endure the humiliation, and die for humankind. Whatever issues you might have with Christians or the church, I encourage you to think about the heart of Christianity  – Love. “Herein is love”, the Apostle John wrote, “not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to pay for our sin. And not for our sin only but for the sin of the entire world.”

This Easter, I pray that God’s peace be upon you. That the Blessing of the Resurrection be upon your family, your children, your work, your play – upon you. Amen.

A Prayer for Good Friday.

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us
hast willed to be crucified
and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood
for the redemption and salvation of our souls,
look down upon us here gathered together
in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death,
fully trusting in Thy mercy;
cleanse us from sin by Thy grace,
sanctify our toil,
give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our
daily bread,
sweeten our sufferings,
bless our families,
and to the nations so sorely afflicted,
grant Thy peace,
which is the only true peace,
so that by obeying Thy commandments
we may come at last to the glory of heaven.

Amen.

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