Small beginnings

 

Some things start small and grow over time. Maybe the best things.


The Gift

This time 3 years ago I was working on 12 prayer poems for my series on the Holy Spirit which I entitled The Gift.

You might like to revisit the series as Pentecost 2020 approaches.

 
There’s also a PDF booklet available containing all 12 prayer poems and the verses that inspired them.
 


Prayer-Poems

After completing the series, I wrote the blog post, On Writing Prayer-Poems. This post continues to attract readers in increasing numbers: 18 views in 2017; 36 in 2018; 212 in 2019 and 129 and counting this year.

Prayer-poems are a great way to engage with Scripture. You could make it an online group activity, reflecting on Scripture together, writing and sharing and giving feedback in the group and later sharing your creations with others.
 


Thy Kingdom Come

Don’t forget, Thy Kingdom Come 2020 starts on Thursday.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come it is hoped that everyone who takes part will:

  • Deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness

This year’s theme is “The Father’s Love”.

Download the app on your phone (android | iPhone & iPad) or print out the PDF prayer journal from the website.
 

In small ways


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ (Matthew 17:20)

 

A prayer by John van de Laar to engage your faith, and information about Thy Kingdom Come for your prayerful consideration.

 
 

Stay safe. Stay safe. Stay safe.

 


A Prayer

We may not be able to confront queens,
    or challenge presidents;
We may not have the capacity to divert resources,
    or uplift communities;
We may not have the voice to silence the noise of war,
    or the words to negotiate peace between armies;
But, as we follow you, O Christ, we are able to do something.

And so, we pray that you would inspire us
    to commit to and act on
        the small difference we can make:
May we bring peace
    through small acts of gentleness
        and reconciliation;
May we bring wealth
    through small contributions
        and collaborations;
May we bring safety
    through small acts of consideration
        and acceptance;
May we bring wholeness
    through small acts of care
        and service.

And in the small ways, O God,
    may our small difference make a big contribution
        to your saving work in our world.

Amen.

 
— written by John van de Laar, posted on Sacredise.com
 


Thy Kingdom Come: 21 to 31 May 2020

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray from Ascension to Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus.

Check out the website for more information on how you and your church can be involved. Resources available include a personal daily prayer journal and materials for families.
 


 
From the blog
Sparks
History matters
Interpreting the times
 

Re-turn


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Call to Worship

based on Joel 2:12-13

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Rend your hearts, and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and filled with compassion and love.
 

source: re:worship
 


 
Going deeper
The book of Joel from a millenial perspective
 

Sister moon


Misty moon at tramstop in downtown Rotterdam  (Photo: Irene Bom)

Praise him, [brother] sun and [sister] moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.

 

Psalm 148:3 (NIVUK) / Francis of Assisi

 


Full Solar Spirituality vs Lunar Spirituality

In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor makes a case for “lunar spirituality” and letting the darkness teach us what we need to know. She writes,

“Full solar spirituality … deals with darkness by denying its existence or at least depriving it of any meaningful attention … it focuses on staying in the light of God around the clock, both absorbing and reflecting the sunny side of faith.”

“… my spiritual gifts do no seem to include the gift of solar spirituality. Instead, I have been given the gift of lunar spirituality, in which the divine light available to me waxes and wanes with the season. When I go out on my porch at night, the moon never looks the same way twice. Some nights it is as round and bright as a headlight; other nights it is thinner than the sickle hanging in my garage. Some nights it is high in the sky, and other nights low over the mountains. Some nights it is altogether gone, leaving a vast web of stars that are brighter in its absence. All in all, the moon is a truer mirror of my soul than the sun that looks the same way every day.”

“Even when light fades and darkness falls — as it does every single day, in every single life — God does not turn the world over to some other deity. Even when you cannot see where you are going and no one answers when you call, this is not sufficient proof that you are alone. … darkness is not dark to God; the night is as bright as the day.”

(from Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor, pp 7-9, 15-16)


Prayer

Creator God,
may we see You at work in the rising sun every day.
May we see You at work in the rolling fog or the cloudy skies.
May we see You at work in the rain that falls upon the earth.
May we see You at work in the setting sun and the rising moon,
the stars that shine, whether we can see them or not.
May we know always that You are doing something new,
every moment, every day, every year around the sun.
Great is Your Faithfulness, O God,
as You faithfully renew us every day.
Amen.

written by Rev Mindi, posted on her rev-o-lution.org blog


Digging deeper

See The Sun, the Moon, and Prayer where Vance Morgan explores solar vs lunar spirituality in more depth.

Quote: “If prayer is lunar rather than solar, then everything changes. Prayer becomes a matter of reflecting the divine light into the world in whatever way that light is shining on you and in you at the time. It is not up to me to generate the light; rather, it is up to me to reflect divine reality in ways that are unique to me and represent the seasons and cycles of my life.” (Vance Morgan)

Also check out this article by Moshe Benovitz on the Jewish ritual of blessing the new moon.

Revisit the blog post, In the school of prayer with St Francis.

(song by Donovan from the movie, Brother Sun, Sister Moon)

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

 

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]
 

A healing blessing


The Shepherd (1930) by Arturo Martini  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 
 
 

An unusually short blessing from Jan Richardson. She calls it “a [healing] blessing small enough to carry in the hand or in the heart”.

 

And All Be Made Well

A Healing Blessing

That each ill
be released from you
and each sorrow
be shed from you
and each pain
be made comfort for you
and each wound
be made whole in you

that joy will
arise in you
and strength will
take hold of you
and hope will
take wing for you
and all be made well.

 
by Jan Richardson, from paintedprayerbook.com
 


 
TIP
Check out Jan Richardson’s online Advent retreat, Illuminated 2019, now open for registration.
 


 
From the blog
Balm to heal the world
Worthy of trust
Fearfully and wonderfully made
 

Embrace the cities and towns


York Minster  (Photo: Irene Bom)
 
 

Here’s a thoughtful meditation by Ann Bell Worley, based on Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles headed for the city of Babylon.

The meditation is taken from the Cities and Towns issue in a series of publications on faith and ethics produced by Baylor University (and available for free download).


Meditation: “Babylon”

Not simply an evil territory
     or a dirty word,
     as we are prone to believe.
But a place where God’s people were sent
     in exile
     on purpose
     on mission
         to offer their culture
     to the culture there
     in love.
For God so loved the world.

Like Israel in exile, still we hope
     for our homecoming in the city of God,
     where there will be no more tears.
Let us hope not
     in closed communion
     in isolated sanctuaries
     apart from the Babylon-world.
Rather let us hope
     in the fullness of God’s love
     in the life of the cities and towns
         where we work
         and love
         and worship
         and play.
And remember
     that God so loved not only us,
         but the world.

Let us hope for Babylon
     as we hope for ourselves.
Let us embrace
     its people
     its buildings
     its streets
     and fill them with the beauty
         of God’s temple.
Let us hope
         with doors wide open,
     welcome the city in
     and pour ourselves out.
For God so loved the world.
 

~ written by Ann Bell Worley, copyright © 2006 The Center for Christian Ethics. Posted on the Baylor University website.
 


… more on Cities and Towns

Other subjects included in the Cities and Towns issue:

  • Dysfunctional Cities: Where Did We Go Wrong?
  • Citizens of Another City
  • The New Urbanism
  • Saint Benedict in the City
  • Crate and Castle
  • Cities and Towns in Art
  • Salt in the City

… and loads more on Faith and Ethics …

Check out the Baylor University’s Christian Reflection Project for materials on other areas of life where faith and ethics intersect – to inform your thoughts and your prayers. Also a great resource for group discussions.

Note: Besides articles, there are also study guides provided, for example this one on Consumerism.
 


 
From the blog

Prayer prompts
Sola gratia – Deo gratias
Sabbath rest

 

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:

Benediction

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.
Amen.

 
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

 

Consolation joy


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

(Psalm 94:19, NIVUK)

 


A prayer

How can I tell of such love to me?
You made me in your image
and hold me in the palm of your hand,
your cords of love, strong and fragile as silk,
      bind me and hold me.
Rich cords, to family and friends,
music and laughter echoing in memories,
light dancing on the water, hills rejoicing.
Cords that found me hiding behind carefully built walls
      and led me out,
love that heard my heart break and despair and rescued me,
love that overcame my fears and doubts and released me.
The questions and burdens I carry you take,
to leave my hands free – to hold yours, and others,
free to follow your cords as they move
and swirl in the breeze,
free to be caught up in the dance of your love,
finding myself in surrendering to you.
How can I tell of such love?
How can I give to such love?
I am, here am I.

 
by Catherine Hooper
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #177
 


 
Recommendation
 
I’m thoroughly enjoying Ingrid Fettell Lee’s book, Joyful.
Check out her website, Aesthetics of Joy, for details and additional resources.