I have mentioned several times that, while prayer is a gift from God, this particular grace is not always easy but sometimes darn hard: there is a 'spiritual battle' dimension to prayer; maybe we have faulty views of God that hinder our approaching him; there are urgent distractions like pressing assignments; there's a whole host of reasons!
So in session five we take a break from reflecting on the Lord's Prayer, and I simply provide some composed prayers for you to use when and if you wish. Sometime 'borrowing' a prayer from someone else and using it can act as a surragate in such times. I am still praying for each of you weekly (sometimes not very well!), especially as the end of semester looms, but my hope is that if you are finding prayer difficult at the moment, one or more of these might be an 'on ramp' you need, back into the throne room of the universe!
CONTENTMENT OF HEART
Lord God, our good shepherd,
Thank you that you are sufficient for us. With you we lack nothing. In you we live and move and have our being. You delight us with rest for our souls and all else that we need, you lead and guide us to living waters of your Spirit that spring up in us to eternal life.
For your own name's sake, deliver us from all the shadows and valleys that death casts over our world and lives: the evil, the trials, the suffering, the emptiness, loneliness, depression.
We praise you that your own son laid down his life for us when we were dumb sheep, astray and entangled in sin. We praise you that on the third day, Jesus took up his life again so that he could go and prepare an everlasting banquet for us. We long for the day when Jesus returns again, so that we can be in your presence, anointed with your love and goodness and dwelling in your new world, where peace and righteousness are at home forever.
Fill us with this hope, so that we joyfully and faithfully serve you in our families, with all of their fellowship and dysfunction; and in our workplaces with all of their good and grind; and in our subjects and classes, with all of their opportunities and stress; in our friendship circles with their fun and their annoyances; and our world in all of its magnificence and it’s strife; and in our churches, in both their foibles and potential under Christ.
In whose name we pray, Amen
"Prayer does not prepare us for the greater work,
prayer is the greater work."Oswald Chambers
FOR CHURCH AND NATION
Christ Jesus our saviour, thank you that you are a humble king, a gentle king, a servant king, a king who rules with grace and triumphs through truth and love. We acclaim you as the one who came in the name of the LORD, through whom and for whom all things exist, and who one day will be acknowledged universally as the one who deserves all praise, honour, dominion and power.
As our glorious head we ask you to fill us your body the church with thankful obedience to your word and heartfelt worship of you. Cleanse us of our faults for your own deaths sake, renew us from our apathy, revive our faltering hearts to love, trust and obey you. Protect us from the schemes of the evil one, from the lies of our world, from unruly desires of the flesh. When we are disappointed with you and how you govern our lives, take us deeper into your purposes and more attuned to your goodness and trustworthiness.
May our churches be full of regulars and visitors celebrating your salvation and learning how to live lives worthy of such a gift. We pray that many of the residents around us, colleagues from work, family and friends will join us in a church. We pray they will hear a true word of hope and forgiveness in you Jesus, and turn from trusting in their own moral observance or in the church as an religious institution, to finding satisfaction in you alone.
We thank your for our country Australia, even with our divides between city and country, our political divides, our social divides, our worldview divides. May we and all Christians in Australia, those who claim your name as their own, be a source of healing and social harmony, a people of peace and goodwill, a people who live such honourable lives that others will also come to glorify you one day, even if we have to go through suffering, even if we are reviled and cursed in the meantime.
We pray that our politics will be carried out with integrity, that you will relieve us from our cynicism that pulls every leader down and promotes general distrust and anxiety. Please sustain our officials with strength, energy and wisdom so that we can have good government for all.
We pray all this in your strong name Lord Jesus. Amen
A lament for our words and speach
O holy God,
We lament that we are people with unclean lips and live amongst a nation of people with unclean lips. Our homes and workplaces are full of insults and lies and backstabbing and gossip. Our public discourse and politics is tainted by slurs and innuendo and arrogant boasting.
Who can save us from our anger, our harsh words, our slanders, the way we defame others? Even when we tell of others genuine faux pas it is often to boost our own faulty image, and so we betray our own guilt. In one breath we praise you and in the next we curse your image in our neighbour.
You are a God of truth and honesty and beauty and goodness. And in your son you were rebuked unjustly, you were betrayed with a kiss of the mouth, blasphemed against by false charges of treason. You know well the human tongue, how it sets the world ablaze with the fires of hell. You also know that no one can tame the tongue, a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Please deliver us Lord, for we bite and devour each other! Rescue us from our dark words, the overflow of a heart of pride and arrogance, a heart ruled not by your grace but by unruly desires.
May we not present our tongues to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present them instead to you as instruments for righteousness for the sake of Jesus, our saviour. Thank you that in Christ Jesus we have died to sin and have been make alive to you forever. Give us this hope Lord, to know the truth of your glorious gospel, not just in theory, as a profession of faith, but also by its power in our life, renewing our hearts so we can kill the sin that we have already died to in your son's crucifixion.
a plea for glory
Lord God our Father,
You don’t often give us inside information on why humbling and testing times beset us, asking us instead to trust you in and through our confusion and grief. Where were we when you laid the foundations of the world? Who of us can direct the lightening, or care and provide for the mountain goat?
In the darkness and pain any of us may be undergoing, give us now a fresh glimpse of your infinite glory and immeasurable love, and that shall be enough for us. Renew the dimmed eyes of our hearts by your Spirit, that we will see Jesus again in his majesty, compassion and steadfast mercy: the ONE who like no other suffered without just cause, that we might - having died with him - also rise with him into hope, joy, faith, peace, and patient obedience to you in this life, with the assurance of glory to come in the next.
One of my favourite podcasts is called Mere Fidelity, and this past week their topic was on why prayer is difficult! Incredibly, they also visit some of the previous themes of this micro-prime series, such as the Lord's Prayer and the necessity of petitionay prayer (and what you shouldn't ask God for).