Tradition can mean what major Christian thinkers have taught in the past. . . .
But there is always the danger that it has become a congealed body of ideas to which some later theologians believe they should subordinate their own creative insights and honest convictions. In this sense, tradition can become a threat to authentic theology.
~John B. Cobb, Jr.


A New Year’s Prayer

I prayer I wrote some years ago for use in worship at First United Methodist in Wichita Falls, Texas.  The closing part of the prayer includes John Wesley’s covenant prayer:

O God of our hope, in which we live,
where can we go where You are not with us?
Where can we go to escape Your love and grace?
The answer, O God, is of course, nowhere.
Every step of life that we make,
we make with You –
even if we don’t acknowledge Your presence.
Why, then, do we live as if You were not here?
Why do we live in the fear of the unknown,
thinking that we are all alone?
Why do we ignore Your being with us?

Maybe, O God, it is fear of the unknown.
So, help us to know You better.
In this New Year we have before us,
help us to actively pursue our relationship with You
as You pursue a relationship with us.
Inspire us to grow in
our knowledge, love, and commitment to You.
Then, Lord, with stronger understanding, passion, and service to You and others,
we will be less afraid to face the new joys and challenges of life.
We won’t be afraid of the unknown
as we will better know You, even as You know us.

We are no longer our own, but Yours.
Put us to what You will, rank us with whom You will.
Put us to doing, put us to suffering.
Let us be employed for You or laid aside for You,
exalted for You or brought low for You.
Let us be full, let us be empty.
Let us have all things, let us have nothing.
We freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are Ours, and we are Yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which we have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.


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A Prayer for Resurrection

O God, we read in the Bible how You never change,
and yet we look around our lives,
and it seems that ALL we see is change.
We are thankful O God that you are the one constant
in our lives that can keep us on track
against so much that would throw us off track.

O God, we all experience change.
Some change is good:
We get a new job or a new task that we enjoy; or
We meet that special someone; or
We have a child; or
We get a new house; or
We get healthy.

Of course, some change is bad:
We lose a job; or
Our task at work changes to something we don’t enjoy; or
We lose a loved one; or
We lose our home; or
We lose our health.

And yet, whether change is good or bad,
it can still be difficult as life is no longer the same.
Thus, we are in need of new life with hope.
We need resurrection.
We need You, O Lord, to breathe the Spirit of Life
into us again to help us to cope.
We need Your grace that can,
if we are willing,
lift us up to face the challenges of life.
All thing, O God, are possible with You,
and in that promise, we take comfort.

O God, we pray such a resurrection of new life
for those who are in the hospital.
May they experience new life in their health.

We also pray for such a resurrection of new life
for those who have lost love ones.
May they experience new life
through the process of their grieving.

O God, it is in Your grace that we pray.

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A Prayer for Maundy Thursday

Abba, Father. As we remember Jesus’ last supper today,
we are mindful that with you all things are possible.
Yet, like Peter, James, & John, we don’t stay awake.
We don’t pay attention to what you have called us to do.
We don’t pay attention to all the miraculous things you have a part of in this world.
All too often, we are only concerned with what we want individually.
We aren’t concerned with the needs of others or with what You want from us.
Help us to stay awake and to pay attention.
Help us to be like Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.
Help us to be like Jesus, who would have liked to have side-stepped the death that was facing him;
Yet, he looked not to his own interests, but to the interests of You, O God, and of others.
Help us to be like Jesus, who stood up to the principalities and powers of this world
to show the kind of love You have for the world.
Remind us, O God, as Jesus knew
that there is nothing that this world can do to us
that You can’t overcome by Your love and grace.
Grant that we, like Jesus, will not seek our own wills
but that Your will be done in our lives and in this world as it is in heaven.


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A Prayer for the New Year

O God, we read that You make all things new.
You do not make all new things,
replacing that which has imperfections.
You are more about transformation,
making a new creation out of that which is
flawed, void, or without the correct form.

Yet, Lord, we get stuck in a rut.
We are unwilling to hear something new
or different than what we were taught
years ago, back in the good old days.
We assume there can be only one meaning
to certain passages of Scripture,
we will not open our minds
to something new.

Yet, we are called to love You
with all of our minds.
The Apostle Paul called us to
be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Help us to discern Your desires
for us as individuals and for the world.
In humility, like children, let us
be teachable again,
not knowing all of the answers,
but being willing to hear something new.
Help us to be transformed in this new year.

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A Prayer for the Nation

This was a prayer I shared on October 31, 2010, the Sunday before election day, at a prayer rally for the nation.  It is a prayer that I believe still needs to be prayed today in this election year.  That is why I share it now.

O God of heaven and of earth
On this day before All Saints day,
we give thanks for all who have gone on before
who have been a shining example and beacon of truth and light.
We pray that these examples of faith and courage
will give insight and wisdom as a nation going forward.

Lord, we are definitely in need of insight and wisdom in our country
as we are a divided nation.
We have many opposing views on how
our country should be run
and how we should deal with varying issues.
The sad thing is that in many instances,
we are not approaching these differences
from an attitude of love – agape love – unconditional love.
Rather, we forget what the Apostle Paul wrote about
unconditional love in 1 Corinthians 13.
We forget that he said that
“Love does not insist on its own way,”
and we insist that the only way is our own way.

Lord in the midst of these divisions that we all face,
let us remember the true words that Jesus spoke,
“If a kingdom, a nation is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
Lord, we pray that we may not be divided
but may find common ground to better our nation as a whole.

Lord, we are definitely in need of insight and wisdom in our country
as we are a divided nation
and many of these divisions come from fears:
fears of the unknown;
fears of ways that we are not accustomed to;
fears of people who are different than us.
Lord, You bring light and salvation to all,
whom shall we fear?
You are our stronghold.
Of whom shall we be afraid?
Lord, You are our helper;
let us not be afraid, for what can anyone do to us ultimately?

Lord, in the midst of these fears that we all face,
remind us and our whole nation of these words in 1 John 4:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear;
for fear has to do with punishment,
and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
We love because You, O God, first loved us.
Those who say, “I love You, God,”
and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars;
for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen,
cannot love You, O God whom they have not seen.
The commandment we have from Jesus is this:
those who love You, O God, must love their brothers and sisters also.”
Lord, we pray that these words from Scripture may inspire us not to fear,
but to look beyond our fears to love all people unconditionally –
friend and enemy both,
loving as You love O God.
You show no partiality.
Help us not to show partiality,
for as Jesus rightly said,
“You cause the sun and rain to come down
on both the righteous and the unrighteous.”
We need to be like You in this way.

Lord, we are definitely in need of insight and wisdom in our country
as we are a divided nation,
many divisions coming from forgetting the two greatest commandments
that Jesus gave us:
First, loving You with all we have: heart, soul, mind, and strength;
and the second like it, loving our neighbors as ourselves.
We have forgotten the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2
where he reminds us that we are to have the mind of Christ,
looking not to our own interests, but to the interests of others.
At times, we are driven to treat others harshly,
forgetting that Jesus said to
“Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”

O God, I’m reminded that Jesus was very much concerned with bringing healing.
Not only did He heal people himself,
but when he sent the disciples out two-by-two,
an instruction he gave to them was that they were to heal also.
Lord, inspire each citizen of this country to accept Your healing balm,
and to share that healing balm with each other,
following that command of Jesus to his disciples.
Draw us together; may we find peace and unity.

Lord, I pray that when it is time for judgment,
when the Son of Man judges the nations
I pray that all of us will be counted among the sheep,
“for we saw those who were hungry and we gave them food.
We saw people who were thirsty and we gave them something to drink.
We saw folks who were strangers and we welcomed them.
We saw those who were naked and we gave them clothing.
We saw people who were sick and we took care of them.
We saw some in prison and we visited them.’
For in so doing, we believe we were doing this for Jesus, who taught us to pray saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory forever.

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Prayer on Prayer

Our Ever-Present Refuge & Hiding Place,
we come to you again, today, to worship You
and to seek refuge and to hide from the troubles and worries of life.

O Great God, as we pray this morning,
we are mindful of our need to pray
in order to grow in our relationship with You.
Yet, we have difficulty with our prayer life.
How should we pray?
Is there a book that will tell us how to pray?
How will we know we are saying the right words to You?
How will we know that You, O God, are happy with our prayers?

O Lord, calm us in our anxieties.
Remind us that prayer is a dialogue with you.
Remind us that our prayers are just communicating with You
as we would a beloved friend or a loving parent.
Help us to be so close to you that we are not afraid to say anything to You
just as we are not afraid to say anything to our closest friends –
even if we are mad, sad, confused, or excited – just as the writers of the Psalms often did.

Yet, O Ground of our Being, calm us and slow us down more to remind us that
prayer is dialogue between two parties.
Help us to listen to You, as well.
Remind us that our communication is a two way street.
Lord, You are ALWAYS with us, no matter what.
Help us to see, then, that You are always trying to speak to us.
May we hear You in people that we speak with.
May we hear You in the people that we help.
May we hear You as we read our Bibles and other writings as well.
May we hear You in the music we listen to and the music we sing.
May we hear You in the beauty of nature.
May we hear You in the routine of life.
Help us, O Lord, to take the time to listen.
Help us, O God, to listen with great expectancy
for what You have to say to us.

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