WEEKLY PRAYER: DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

This very moving and honest prayer comes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letters and papers from prison. We might use it to cry out to God during Lent or other times when we come to the end of ourselves and cannot see the way forward.

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God, I call to you early in the morning,
help me pray and collect my thoughts,
I cannot do so alone.

In me it is dark, but with you there is light.
I am lonely, but you do not abandon me.
I am faint-hearted, but from you comes my help.
I am restless, but with you is peace.
In me is bitterness, but with you is patience.
I do not understand your ways, but you know the right way for me.

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A LENTEN PRAYER

Feb. 17 is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. During Lent, I like to pray Psalm 51, a psalm of repentance and restoration. Our cries for forgiveness and our knowledge of our failings are more than met by God’s mercy and loving-kindness.

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1     Have mercy on me, O God, according to your
loving-kindness;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

  2     Wash me through and through from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sin.

3     For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.

  4     Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.

  5     And so you are justified when you speak
and upright in your judgment.

  6     Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,
a sinner from my mother’s womb.

  7     For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

  8     Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;
wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

  9     Make me hear of joy and gladness,
that the body you have broken may rejoice.

10     Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquities.

11     Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

12     Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your holy Spirit from me.

13     Give me the joy of your saving help again
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

14     I shall teach your ways to the wicked,
and sinners shall return to you.

15     Deliver me from death, O God,
and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,
O God of my salvation.

16     Open my lips, O Lord,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

17     Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice;
but you take no delight in burnt-offerings.

18     The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


WEEKLY PRAYER: HENRI NOUWEN

Preparing for the season of Lent, we pray with Henri Houwen:

Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let die the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.

I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.

Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.

Amen.

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WEEKELY PRAYER: Thérèse of Lisieux

A Prayer from Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897):

I have no other means of showing you my love than by throwing flowers, that is, of not allowing one little sacrifice to escape, not one look, not one word, but by profiting from all the smallest things and doing them out of love . . .

I want to suffer for love and even to rejoice for love so that in this way I will throw flowers before your throne. I shall not come upon one without unpetalling it for you . . .

Then while I am throwing my flowers, I shall sing (for could one cry when doing such a joyous thing?). I will sing, even when I have to gather my flowers in the midst of thorns, and my song will be all the more melodious when the thorns are longest.

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A PRAYER BEFORE WRITING

Before writing, preaching, and perhaps even blogging, we all need to pray. So today, I’m featuring a prayer before writing from Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), a Dominican friar, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. Aquinas’s Feast Day is January 28.

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O Creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you, that I may bring your light to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries which you have revealed.

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WEEKLY PRAYER: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we pray with the minister and civil rights activist for peace and enemy love.

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God, we thank you for the inspiration of Jesus. Grant that we will love you with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, even our enemy neighbors. And we ask you, God, in these days of emotional tension, when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail, to be with us in our going out and our coming in, in our rising up and in our lying down, in our moments of joy and in our moments of sorrow, until the day when there shall be no sunset and no dawn.

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A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR FROM HOWARD THURMAN

As we ring in the new year, let’s pray with Howard Thurman, the 20th-century theologian, mystic, and civil rights leader.

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Through the Coming Year

Grant that I may pass through
The coming year with a faithful heart.

There will be much to test me and to make weak my strength before the year ends. In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true and do the thing of which I am ashamed. There will be errors of the mind and great inaccuracies of judgement which shall render me the victim of my own stupidities. In seeking the light, I shall again and again find myself walking in darkness. I shall mistake my light for Thy light and I shall shrink from the responsibility of the choice I make.  All of these things, and more, will be true for me because I have not yet learned how to keep my hand in Thy hand.

Nevertheless, grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart. May I never give the approval of my heart to error, to falseness, to weakness, to vainglory, to sin. Though my days be marked with failures, stumblings, fallings, let my spirit be free so that Thou mayset take it and redeem my moments in all the ways my needs reveal.  Give me the quiet assurance of Thy Love and Thy Presence.

Grant than I may pass through
The coming year with a faithful heart.

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A BLESSING FOR EPIPHANY

The Feast of Epiphany is Wednesday, January 6. Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Christ to the world, as epitomized by the visit of the Magi. This week, we have a blessing for Epiphany.

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God has called you out of darkness,
into his wonderful light.
May you experience his kindness and blessings,
and be strong in faith, in hope, and in love.

Because you are followers of Christ,
who appeared on this day as a light shining in darkness,
may he make you a light to all your sisters and brothers.

The wise men followed the star,
and found Christ who is light from light.
May you too find the Lord
when your pilgrimage is ended.

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An Advent Prayer by Karl Rhaner

This week’s Advent prayer is from Karl Rhaner, S.J. (1904 – 1984), a German Jesuit priest and theologian.

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Now God says to us
What He has already said to the earth as a whole
Through His grace-filled birth:

I am there. I am with you.
I am your life. I am your time.
I am the gloom of your daily routine. Why will you not hear it?
I weep your tears – pour yours out to me.
I am your joy.
Do not be afraid to be happy; ever since I wept, joy is the standard of living
That is really more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who have no hope.

I am the blind alley of all your paths,
For when you no longer know how to go any farther,
Then you have reached me,
Though you are not aware of it.

I am in your anxiety, for I have shared it.
I am in the prison of your finiteness,
For my love has made me your prisoner.

I am in your death,
For today I began to die with you, because I was born,
And I have not let myself be spared any real part of this experience.

I am present in your needs;
I have suffered them and they are now transformed.

I am there.
I no longer go away from this world.
Even if you do not see me now, I am there.

My love is unconquerable.
I am there.
It is Christmas.
Light the Candles! They have more right to exist then all the darkness.
It is Christmas.
Christmas that lasts forever.

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A Posadas Prayer for Advent

Las Posadas is a tradition among Spanish-speaking people that reenacts the journey of Joseph and Mary as they sought shelter in Bethlehem. Following is a traditional Posadas prayer.

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Divine and eternal Word, who descended from the Father into the heart of the ever Virgin Mary, your love for humankind leads you to Bethlehem where you are born at midnight in a poor and humble stable.

In truth, thousands of angels accompany you on this journey, and yet we, whom you came to save and lead to that Bethlehem of eternal joy, stubbornly turn away from you.

Forgive us, God and Lord of the universe, and help us to walk alongside Mary and Joseph, thus giving us the courage to fight against and triumph over every adversity. Amen.

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