2019 is history: Top 20 posts for 2019


Rome at twilight  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

With the current theme being HISTORY, I decided to devote a post to the 20 posts with the most views in 2019. Funny how many date back to 2017, the first year of the Prayer Matters blog.

Personally, I’m not surprised that Circle me, Lord scored high, both for its outline and examples of encircling prayer (especially the video).

Also, I’m encouraged that the thematic prayer sheets continue to be useful, as well as the series, “In the school of prayer” and “3 Prayers”.
 


2019 Top 20

 

History matters


A sawn-off tree trunk: concentric time
 

An opening litany for 2020 as our personal history with God and his people continues to unfold, year by year, generation to generation.

 


Opening Litany

based on Psalm 145: 1-8

Come, let’s praise God together!
For God is great, and worthy of our praise!

Let’s tell stories of God’s power and majesty,
His mighty acts throughout history:
for God is great, and worthy of our praise!

Let’s remember the compassion He has shown toward us;
His mercy and unfailing love, generation after generation:
for God is great, and worthy of our praise!

Let’s pass these stories along to our children and grandchildren,
so that they, too, may come to know and love our God.
For God is great, and worthy of our praise!

Let’s worship God together!

 
source: re-worship.blogspot.com
 

God loves stories


from North & South exhibition, Catharijneconvent, Utrecht  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Thank you to all who subscribe and visit the site regularly. According to my stats, in 2019 we had twice as many views and visitors as last year – visitors from 100 countries around the world.

For this post – the last in 2019 – I’ve selected excerpts from a paintedprayerbook.com post from 2014 in which Jan Richardson reflects on the significance of story and Jesus as storyteller supreme.

 

Elie Wiesel says that God created us because God loves stories.

When Christ came (in the fullness of time, the story goes), he came as the Word made flesh. A story in motion. And he went into the world with stories on his lips, weaving them everywhere he went.

A sower went out to sow.
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers.
There was a man who had two sons.

Jesus understood that in a world where it can be so difficult to know God, to know others, to know even ourselves, a story can offer a language, a doorway, a point of entry. He knew how a story can take us a little deeper into knowing, a little farther down the road in our journey of return.

What stories are you listening to? What stories are you telling? How do you attend to your own story? Where have you experienced being lost in a story, and being found? How might God be inviting you to look at your story with new eyes?
 


Blessing the Story

You might think
this blessing lives
in the story
that you can see,
that it has curled up
in a comfortable spot
on the surface
of the telling.

But this blessing lives
in the story beneath
the story.
It lives in the story
inside the story.
In the spaces
between.
In the edges,
the margins,
the mysterious gaps,
the enticing and
fertile emptiness.

This blessing
makes its home
within the layers.
This blessing is
doorway and portal,
passage and path.
It is more ancient
than imagining
and makes itself
ever new.

This blessing
is where the story
begins.

Jan Richardson

 
Source: paintedprayerbook.com
 


From the blog
Turn, pilgrim
3 Prayers for endings and beginnings
Theme: Do not lose heart [prayer sheet]
 

The story is …


Peekaboo! I see you!  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 
 
This post – originally inspired by the theme, Bright – has been on hold since August. It made more sense to wait and delay posting until Christmas came into view, the season of the church year when we traditionally think about bright things like choirs of angels and guiding stars. Only a few more days now.
 

Wishing you all a fresh encounter with the Christ child this Christmas.
 


Call to Worship

referencing Psalm 95:6, Psalm 24:1, Isaiah 9:2 and Revelation 22:16

O come let us worship and lift our hearts  …
Not because the world is good and last week was awesome,
but because the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,
the God of the whole Earth.

O come let us worship and raise our hands  …
Not because our lives are all sweetness and light,
But because even those who walk in darkness
can see a great light,
the Bright and Morning Star

O come let us worship and bow down  …
Not because God gives us what we want,
But because God gives us what we need –
the holy child Jesus, God’s Unspeakable Gift.

 
written by Leonard Sweet, posted on Preach the Story and re:worship
 

We bring our stories

The Destroyed City (Rotterdam) – rebuilt and flourishing   (Photo: Irene Bom)
Sculpture by Ossip Zadkine, inspired by the devastation of the 1940 bombing of Rotterdam

 
 
 

The first post in our December series, “Story”, features a prayer by Cheryl Lawrie that invites God to speak into the particulars of our lives with his story of transforming grace.

 


Prayer

God, we bring our stories
and we wait to be held by yours.

We bring our faithfulness:
shape it with grace

We bring our success:
shape it with generosity

We bring our weaknesses:
shape them with compassion

We bring our possibilities:
shape them with hope.

We confess, God, that the way is hard
and we are tired.
Speak into our tiredness with your story of grace

We confess that the way is unclear
and we do not know the path
Speak into our wandering with your story of vision

We confess that we are tired of waiting
and we just want to make it happen
Speak into our impatience with your story of wisdom

Let your story be our story
and we pray this in Jesus’ name
Amen.
 

— written by Cheryl Lawrie, and posted on her [hold this space] blog.
 


 
Digging deeper
More details about Zadkine’s statue, The Destroyed City
 

A Peace Garden


 

The Lord’s directions for growing a Peace Garden

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. (James 3:18)

– Sow some seeds (hardy ones like mercy and forgiveness)
– Feed them with love.
– Sprinkle them with truth.
– Weed them every day.
– Give them room to grow.
– Wait.
– Share the goodness with everyone you know.

 
by Anne Osdieck, and posted on The Center for Liturgy Sunday website.
 

mud mud mud


Baked mud: tiled floor in “Auditoire de Calvin”, Geneva  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Faith and Love in the First World War by Anne Richards and the Church of England’s Mission Theology Advisory Group is a compilation of reflections and prayers, “looking at little things which affected the lives of all who were involved [in the First World War], friend and enemy alike.”
 
Themes included: mud, rats, lice, poppies, cigarettes, daughters, ghosts, guns, wire, gas, shrapnel
 
 
Excerpts and a prayer from the entry on MUD:

 

When we repeat the lines from Laurence Binyon’s famous poem … ‘at the going down of the sun and in the morning/we will remember them’ … we should remember the pain, cold, wet and mud and what those conditions do to the human spirit. Mud forms part of the spiritual landscape of the First World War, representing destruction, dirt, pain and soul-sapping work. When carefully tilled fields and entire landscapes turn to featureless mud it is like the undoing of creation and a foretelling of death.

It was possible to drown in the mud of no-man’s land. If wounded soldiers fell into the mud, they might well asphyxiate before they could be reached. Mud was therefore also the enemy, lying in wait to claim you. Yet mud was also what kept you safe in the trenches …

So if we ‘will remember them’ we should remember what it is like to live on the edge of life and death in the mud, the soil of God’s good creation, sheltering you, but also ready at a moment’s notice to become your tomb, to turn you, wet and dirty, back into the mud itself.
 


Prayer

God of the earth, God of dirt and mud,
at the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember all those who endured
the cold, clinging wet and fluid soils.

We will remember the tilled fields once white for harvest,
the stands of trees, smashed to pieces,
the landscapes of human toil and habitation,
reduced to ruin, the spoil heaps of waste.

We will remember the mud-sounds of war,
the buzzing of bees that are bullets, zinging into soil,
the wet explosions, fountain splatters of earth,
the strange sucking and gurgle of submerged deaths.

God of the earth, God of the lost and buried,
help us to value your good soil, to tend it, plant it,
restore what is broken and ruined to its beauty,
and when we wash the dirt from our hands, remember them.

 
Source: www.churchofengland.org
 


 
From the blog
In the school of prayer with St Francis of Assisi
Desert wisdom
The wells of salvation
 

Too beautiful for war

 

 

Two prayers by Simon Bailey – written from a teenage perspective – expressing distress at the ongoing threat of nuclear war and violence and recognising the comfort that comes when we bring our fears to God who is “warm enough to take all [our] shivers away”.

 

#1

They say we can destroy the world
twenty times over with nuclear bombs –
it’s probably more by now.
I see those pictures of the mushroom cloud
and I shiver –
the world is too beautiful for that,
people are too beautiful.
Father, it’s so wrong – and so frightening.

Jesus told us to love our enemies –
I don’t think you can love your enemies with a bomb.
It’s such a mess but somehow, somewhere
we have to turn round and really say:
‘We want to live in peace together.’

So send your Spirit to remind our leaders
how beautiful things are,
how beautiful their ‘enemies’ are,
to remind them to keep telling themselves:
‘We want to live in peace together.’

 
by Simon Bailey
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #1001
 


#2

There were wars and riots on the news tonight,
Father, and now I’m very frightened –
bombs and killings and rows don’t seem too bad
in the daylight, but it’s dark now …
I don’t let other people know I’m frightened
of the dark but I am.
I’m scared of lots of things –
evil spirits and heights, being beaten up,
of pain and dying,
and even looking silly in front of my friends.
Now I’m scared of going to sleep in case I dream.

Be near me,
Be a warm presence round me
and a light inside me.

You know what it’s like to be very scared,
so you can help me now.
I’m nearly shivering with fright,
so help me to know you are in charge,
you know what darkness is,
you are brighter than the darkness
and warm enough to take all my shivers away.

 
by Simon Bailey from Still with God, p. 36
referenced in How to Pray: Alone, with Others, at Any Time, in Any Place by Steven Cottrell
 


Church of Scotland at prayer

Together we pray
Each week, from late September until late November, new prayers written by people from across the Church of Scotland and our partners will be shared on the Church of Scotland website.

This week’s prayer for radical change, written by Doug Gay
 


From the blog
Consolation joy
Wild hope #1
Theme: Do not lose heart [prayer sheet]