3 Prayers for Christian unity

IK IK (ME ME) Reflect


3 prayers on the theme of Christian unity to coincide with the 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual prayer initiative that usually takes place from 18 to 25 January.

Let us pray …


Lord, we pray for the unity of your Church.
Help us to see ourselves as rays from the one sun,
branches of a single tree,
and streams flowing from one river.
May we remain united to you and to each other,
because you are our common source of life;
and may we send out your light
and pour forth your flowing streams over all the earth,
drawing our inspiration and joy from you.

~ after St Cyprian of Carthage (c.200-258),
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #527


Lord Jesus Christ,
who prayed for your disciples that they might be one,
even as you are one with the Father;
draw us to yourself,
that in common love and obedience to you
we may be united to one another,
in the fellowship of the one Spirit,
that the world may believe that you are Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

~ written by William Temple (1881-1944), from re:worship


You made us, God,
in Your own image,
and then became one of us,
proud of those you have made.

Make us proud of being part of that worldwide family,
and eager to discover and celebrate Your image
in every person, every culture, every nation,
that we are privileged to encounter.

~ from the booklet for the 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Racial justice at forefront of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Church of Scotland website).

Maker of heaven and earth

Hopscotch between heaven and earth (hemel en aarde)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
      where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
      the Maker of heaven and earth.

(Psalm 121:1-2)
A big thank you to the Scots Kirk Lausanne who summoned me to the mountains last weekend to conduct a workshop on the Psalms: Prayer book, Songbook and God’s Word, with a special focus on Psalm 121.
Wherever you are – whether there are mountains in sight or not – may you experience the Lord’s nearness; know that “the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore”. (Psalm 121:8)

Prayer: Thanks Be to the Lord

(inspired by Psalm 121)

For those who have watched over me,
for those that have protected me,
for those that have shielded me,
thanks be to the Lord,
maker of heaven and earth.

For the roof that shades me from the sun,
for the walls that shield me from the storm,
for the bed that warms me in the night,
thanks be to the Lord,
maker of heaven and earth.

To the one who keeps me from evil,
to the one who preserves my life,
to the one who watches over my coming and going,
thanks be to the Lord,
maker of heaven and earth.

~ originally from the Christian Aid website, sourced from re:worship

Walking the labyrinth

Iona Weekend labyrinth at Dopersduin (NL), outlined in flour


The labyrinth may be a set path, but it does not offer a set experience. Instead, it offers a door that anyone may go through, to discover realities that meet each person where each most needs to be met.

​– An Altar in the world, Barbara Brown Taylor

The labyrinth in the photograph was created by Mineke during an Iona Weekend organised by the Dutch Iona regional groups in mid-September 2021.

Mineke is a pastoral worker at a psychiatric hospital in The Hague and is currently involved in establishing a labyrinth (maybe two) on hospital grounds. During the weekend Mineke led a labyrinth workshop, offering participants the experience of walking a labyrinth and getting their feedback on her design. Weather conditions were very favourable, and the labyrinth, outlined in flour, lasted till well after we all left Dopersduin.

I was leading a collage workshop at the time, so I couldn’t take part in Mineke’s workshop, but I was curious and later visited the labyrinth with Mineke and my friend, Margriet (seen here in the photo), and took some photographs.

Unique to Mineke’s design is the option to take the longer way round or move straight to the centre. It’s also easy to follow the longer route as many times as you like before exiting.

Here is a longer excerpt from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the world, also on the subject of the labyrinth as a spiritual practice.

Not everyone is able to walk, but most people can, which makes walking one of the most easily available spiritual practices of all. All it takes is the decision to walk with some awareness, both of who you are and what you are doing. Where you are going is not as important, however counterintuitive that may seem. To detach the walking from the destination is in fact one of the best ways to recognize the altars you are passing right by all the time. Most of us spend so much time thinking about where we have been or where we are supposed to be going that we have a hard time recognizing where we actually are. When someone asks us where we want to be in our lives, the last thing that occurs to us is to look down at our feet and say. ‘Here, I guess, since this is where I am.’

This truth is borne out by the labyrinth – an ancient spiritual practice that is enjoying a renaissance in the present century. For those who have never seen one, a labyrinth is a kind of maze. Laid out in a perfect circle with a curling path inside, it rarely comes with walls. Instead, it trusts those who enter it to stay on the path voluntarily. This path may be outlined with hand-picked stones out-of-doors or painted right on the floor indoors. Either way, it includes switchbacks and detours, just like life. It has one entrance and it leads to one center.

The important thing to note is that the path goes nowhere. You can spend an hour on it and end up twelve feet from where you began. The journey is the point. The walking is the thing.

from p. 56


More on labyrinths


Walk for peace

Logo for PAX Walk of Peace

PAX is the largest peace organization in the Netherlands. They work to protect civilians from the violence of war, to end armed violence and to build inclusive peace. They do this in conflict areas worldwide, together with local partners and people who believe, as they do, that everyone has the right to a dignified life in a peaceful society.

In 2015 PAX teamed up with the Dutch Council of Churches to organize their first Walk of Peace. More than 100 Walks of Peace have taken place all around the country since then.

The Walk of Peace is a walk of and for peace. A walk to experience and to show that, despite our differences, we can still get along.

PAX’s 2021 Walk of Peace will be held in Zwolle this coming Saturday, 18 September.

You can go on a Walk of Peace too, anytime, right where you are – to pray for peace and peacemakers and affirm your commitment to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, our Prince of Peace. And take some friends along with you.


From the blog
A Peace Garden
Lively concern
imagine … no war …

Safe to play

I have joined forces with my sister, Daphne (seated in the distance). Together we started this low-key outdoor art project in my neighbourhood in Rotterdam, open to passersby. We meet for a few hours on a Friday afternoon when we can, weather-permitting. We call ourselves “ZO MA outdoor art”. (ZO MA is a version of “zomaar” which means “just like that”.) Daphne’s medium of choice is chalk and mine is frottage, standing up against a tree and transferring some of the texture of the bark onto paper using a thick graphite stick or pencil. I usually turn the results into mini zines (A4 sheet of paper folded and turned into an 8-page booklet). You can find examples of my frottage experiments and mini zines on instagram (irene.bom)


A few quotes on the topic of play from a conversation between Esther Perel and Krista Tippett on onbeing.org:

“… playfulness comes with a certain element of letting go.”

“… play and curiosity are so intimately interwoven.”

“… play is when risk is fun. You can’t play when you are in a situation of danger, anxiety, or contraction. So you have to feel safe in order to play.”

May you find a safe place to play risk free and follow your curiosity, and may you pass on this gift to others too.

A benediction

May God’s blessing rest on each one of you.
May God’s light shine on you, and make your path clear.
May hope carry you through the challenging times,
and gratitude be your response when life is good.

May your days be filled with curiosity and adventure,
and may you discover the incomparable joy
of living lives that bring honour and glory to God.

~ written by Christine Longhurst and posted on re:worship

From the blog
To dance with God
Ding! Dong! Curiosity
Heart’s desire

A holy kingdom

[from the Prayer Stations handout]



From Ascension Thursday to Pentecost (13 to 23 May 2021) Christians all over the world are once again invited to join the annual global prayer movement called Thy Kingdom Come.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, the hope is that all who take part will:

  • deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • pray for the Holy Spirit to empower Christians everywhere for witness, just as He did the early disciples at Pentecost

Prayer resources – catering for ages 5 to 105, suitable for churches, families and individuals – are available online.

A prayer

Jesus, we believe in your kingdom coming. Even amid pain and despair, we believe that with each brave prophet – with each unknown disciple who stretches her arm as a bridge between a broken world and a holy kingdom – you are laying another brick for the New Jerusalem.

from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro, p. 274

On pilgrimage

From my book shelf  …  links included below

Quotable quotes and a prayer from the To be a pilgrim workshop I led in Geneva recently.


People of all faiths seem to recognize pilgrimage as an essential spiritual practice. In researching WHY this should be the case, there seems to be very little complex theological reasoning involved. Pilgrimage, it seems … has to be walked, and experienced.
Some walk to escape, others walk towards. Some walk in companionship, others alone. Some always have an eye on a destination, others live for a far horizon. … We are all of us, sojourners. A long way from home.


For pilgrimage to be real it has to be a moving experience in more than simply a physical sense. … We do not merely clock up places we have been to and sights we have seen: we are also on a journey of being, an inward journey which cannot be easily catalogued or grasped but is a great adventure nonetheless.
~ David Adam, The Awesome Journey, p. 1


We recognise that we journey in hope; our travelling will be accompanied and celebratory; we pilgrim to Christ and to redemption in him; we will challenge each other in our discipleship and spiritual nurturing to press on with perseverance; we will learn from the wisdom of brothers and sisters down the ages and across all human divides.


On the journey of faith
Far I have come, far I must go.


A Pilgrim’s Prayer

Christ our Guide,
stay with us on our pilgrimage through life:
      when we falter, encourage us
      when we stumble, steady us
      and when we have fallen, pick us up.
Help us to become, step by step,
      more truly ourselves,
and remind us
      that you have travelled this way before us.

~ by Angela Ashwin, from The Book of a Thousand Prayers, #167

Book list
Finding our way again  by Brian McLaren
We make the road by walking  by Brian D. McLaren
A Pilgrim Way  by Ray Simpson
Pilgrimage of a soul  by Phileena Heuertz
The Awesome Journey  by David Adam
Ancient Paths  by David Robinson

To be a pilgrim

In a village just outside Geneva  (Photo: Irene Bom)


I was in Geneva recently to conduct a workshop on the theme, To be a pilgrim.

We reflected on our life journey thus far and what it means to be a follower of the Way (the name given to the early Christians). We also shared the pilgrim songs that lift our spirits; got creative in pilgrim expressions, like writing haikus and short short stories; and made time for pilgrim prayers.

Here is a prayer from our opening devotions:

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

When we feel alone, when we feel rejected
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
When we feel drained and dried up, and we can’t give any more,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
When we are unsure of how to move or where to go or what to do,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
Come, Holy Spirit, revive us, move in us,
and encourage us on the journey of faith.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come! Amen!

~ written by Rev. Mindi, and posted on Rev-o-lution.

From the blog
People of the way
3 Prayers for refugees
Light on my path


If you’d like to know more about the To be a pilgrim workshop, do get in touch.


Proclaim the wondrous

Garden at Colomba Le Roc Retreat, France  (Photo: Irene Bom)


But you are a chosen people,
set aside to be
      a royal order of priests,
a holy nation, God’s own;
so that you may proclaim
the wondrous acts
of the One who called you
out of inky darkness
into shimmering light.


(1 Peter 2:9, The Voice)


Literally part of “a royal order of priests”

Pentecost weekend I had the privilege of representing our Presbytery at the dedication service of Colomba Le Roc Retreat – a truly ecumenical celebration.

As part of the “Blessing of Colomba le Roc and all present” at the end of the service, I used this benediction by David Adam:


The Father of many resting places grant you rest;
The Christ who stilled the storm grant you calm;
The Spirit who fills all things grant you peace.
God’s light be your light,
God’s love be your love,
God’s way be your way.

The eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit
shield you on every side.

from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p.112

From the blog
Body talk
Prayer sheet: Called into community
Show me the way


Pray: ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (2019)

(Photo: Irene Bom)

We’re in ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ season, from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost.

What started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

“After the very first Ascension Day the disciples gathered with Mary, constantly devoting themselves to prayer while they waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Like them, our reliance on the gift of the Holy Spirit is total – on our own we can do nothing.

Through the centuries Christians have gathered at that time to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ picks up this tradition.”


A prayer

On Ascension Day a number of people from my church attended a service in the local Anglican Church. To mark the start of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ season, the minister selected the following prayer from ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ online resources for the close of the service.

God of our salvation,
hope of all the ends of the earth, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the world may know Jesus Christ
as the Prince of Peace, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That all who are estranged and without hope
may be brought near in the blood of Christ, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the Church may be one in serving
and proclaiming the gospel, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That we may be bold to speak the word of God
while you stretch out your hand to save, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the Church may be generous in giving,
faithful in serving, bold in proclaiming, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the Church may welcome and support
all whom God calls to faith, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That all who serve the gospel may be kept in safety
while your word accomplishes its purpose, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That all who suffer for the gospel
may know the comfort and glory of Christ, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

That the day may come when every knee shall bow
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, we pray:
Your kingdom come.

from www.thykingdomcome.global


‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer ideas (including resources for families) from engageworship.org