Tag Archives: prayer

Prayer of Confession for Mental Health

This is a prayer of confession that we used during our three-part series called “Breaking the Silence.” It covered three weeks with three different topics of which the Church has not, historically, been helpful. Mental Illness: Silent No More; Suicide: Nothing Separates; Domestic Violence: Call Police, not Pastor.

 

All: Holy and gracious God, we confess to you our role in harming those who are already suffering. Stigma is an ugly word, and it is one that we have created with our cold shoulders, lingering stares, and unhelpful whispers. Forgive us for creating a world where those who suffer fear the very help they so desperately need. Enlighten us with new understanding, empathy, and compassion. By the power of your healing Spirit, help us to stand with the most vulnerable among us. Lead us to shalom.

(Pause for silent confession)

One: Hear the Good News: Christ came so that we may have life, and have it abundantly. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

All: By the grace of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Amen.

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Unlocking Prayer: Supplication

Date: June 21, 2015

Title: Unlocking Prayer: Supplication

Place: Two Rivers United Methodist Church

Text: Psalm 86

Description: Prayer connects us to God and others through God’s unending love. All around us people are joined in hatred, fear, and anger, but the only thing that can truly unite us is hesed – the steadfast love of God. When you open yourself to God’s love, the guilt, the shame, the fear, and the hatred can be conquered. When you open yourself to God’s love, you may find that inside there is a spark of God’s power. When you open yourself to God’s love, you might just find that baby, you’re a firework.

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Prayer for Illumination

I’ve long said that the motto of the United Methodist Church is best read as a call to action.  It is not a descriptor so much as a call to action.  I take the word “open” to be a verb.  It is a call to action to do all that I can to open hearts, doors, and minds.  Including my own.

A prayer for illumination, to be read responsively in worship before the reading of the Scripture.

One: Open our hearts

All: That the Holy Spirit may move through the reading of the Word.

One: Open our minds.

All: That we may hear again the story of salvation.

One: Open our doors

All: That all may know the love and grace of Christ.

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A prayer for the scariest room in the school

Students and teachers are preparing to go back to school.  For many students, the cafeteria is a terrifying place.  I created this prayer for those that will be searching for seats in the coming weeks.  Share this, especially with young people you know.  If they are anxious, let them know that people are praying for them.  If they are not, then remind them of how it feels to not know where to sit.  Hopefully they can show kindness in the coming weeks to someone that needs it.

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Cafeteria Prayer

 

If you would like to use it in worship, feel free (though I would appreciate an attribution somewhere in the bulletin).

 

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The Prayer of Saint Francis

I want one of these.  He would fit in well with Dwight Schrute, Walter Payton, and John Wesley.

I want one of these. He would fit in well with Dwight Schrute, Walter Payton, and John Wesley.

There is going to be so much written in the next few hours and days about the new Pope.  I for one, am intrigued by his choice of name.  I am far from an expert on Catholic Saints and church history, but I’ve always loved the prayer that is attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi.

I said this prayer today while thinking of the newly elected Pope Francis.  I said it again while thinking of my own mission and ministry.  I prayed it again while thinking of the Church Universal, with all of its imperfections, failures, beauty, and hope.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

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40 Notes in 40 Days

40notes40days2014Rethink Church has come up with a great Lenten discipline focusing on taking pictures of different themes.  It looks like a great spiritual discipline, and I’m looking forward to seeing the creativity that gets shared in Pinterest and other sites.  A week ago, I decided that one of my Lenten disciplines would be to write 40 notes to people in 40 days.  Inspired by Rethink Church’s effort, I created my own list.  Below is a list of 40 different people to write a note to.

There are no real rules to this idea.  This is just a way to write a note to 40 different people, and pray for them in the process.  I’ll leave the content of the note up to you.  Only share what you feel comfortable sharing with others.  For example, you don’t have to tell someone that you’re writing them a note to fill in their “might be fearful” slot, and you don’t have to offer forgiveness to the person on March 27.  Any note could be as simple as saying, “During the course of my prayers today, you came to mind.  I hope you are doing well.”

And if any readers feel compelled to take this idea, and create a better-looking picture to share, I wouldn’t mind (just please send it to me before you share it).

If you try it, and want to share experiences on twitter, use #40Notes40Days or #FatPastor.  Also, you can go to the facebook page and share on the wall.

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Thank you to two readers who took the idea, and redesigned it for me. I think either of these look a lot nicer than the one I created a couple of years ago.

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Sermon: The prayer we live

The Ancient Celts spoke of "Thin Places," where the distance between the Spiritual world and the material world was thin.  This is an interesting idea, and one I touch upon in this sermon.

The Ancient Celts spoke of “Thin Places,” where the distance between the spiritual world and the material world was thin. This is an interesting idea, and one I touch upon in this sermon.

Full audio of the sermon: The Prayer We Live

The Lord’s Prayer is one of the first things that children are taught in Sunday school.  It has been prayed by the congregation in nearly every worship service I have been a part of.  For many Christians, the words “Our Father” trigger the rest of the prayer to flow easily.  There is power in having the words of Jesus so readily available.  There is also a danger.  The danger is that the power of the words in the Lord’s Prayer can lose their edge.  They can become something that we recite without thought.  That is partly why I love the Common English Bible’s translation of the prayer.  It is different from the prayer that I memorized as a child, and the difference points to something that is important that is sometimes lost.  I’m lucky to have studied with a great pastor who opened up the Lord’s Prayer to me in a powerful way.  The translation of the Common English Bible picks up on this:

When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask. Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:7-13, Common English Bible)

“The Lord’s Prayer can’t be just words that we recite.  It is a prayer that we live.  It is one thing to say the words of the Lord’s Prayer, but it is an entirely different thing to live the Lord’s Prayer… When you live the Lord’s Prayer, it becomes more than words that you say.  It is the choices you make, the grace you show, the forgiveness you give, and the bread you share.”

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I Dislike (reacting to tragedy on FB)

News spread quickly on cable TV, but I wasn’t near a TV.  I was online, hooked up to facebook while I was supposed to be working on something else.  Then I read this

D.H. – “This is just sad” with a link to the headline “Congresswoman, 6 others killed by gunman”

M.C. – ” This is terrible!! As I look deeper into the story and some of things that have been done and said leading up to this……It was only a matter of time!!”

I read the story and find out some details.  Like a good FBer, I decide to share the headline, with this is my comment: “No need for political commentary now, as it is too early. This is just sad.”

The comments then started to flow as more headlines were posted.  At least four other friends posted similar headlines, and the cross-pollination of the comments became confusing.  I thought I would share some of the comments that were made within three hours of the first headline being posted:

  • I’m afraid that the rush to answer “why” might get ugly and political real fast. I hope people can take time to grieve and process emotions before name-calling, fighting, demonizing and retaliation begins (Me)
  • Unbelievable……really?? WHY??? This is my question…why???? Praying for all those killed and all those injured and the families who lost their loved ones……this is just so upsetting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (JC)
  • (My response to above)  I’m afraid that the rush to answer “why” might get ugly and political real fast. I hope people can take time to grieve and process emotions before name-calling, fighting, demonizing and retaliation begins
  • Words cannot express my sadness of there. May God be with Cogresswoman Giffords, her family and staff….as well as the people of Tucson. (DW)
  • May the presence of Peace flow into this tragedy and transform it. May the presence of Love be with the victims and their families. May we be led into a better future by the One who brings hope. (AS)
  • I sit in wonder and disillusion sometimes – crying out to God. Praying for the peace that Jesus taught and flows from the Holy Spirit to be present in our broken world. Gracious God please use me for your will, be with those affected by this tragic act of violence and those who caused it. (SM)
  •  For the most part, while vile and harsh, politics don’t typically end up in such violence as this. (SC)
  •  I pray that this tragedy brings NEW light and awareness to what is transpiring in our country……I’m not sure exactly what words to find here!!!! (JC)
  • Damn that situation in Arizona is all f***** up. My prayers r with her and her family. (JB)

And finally, my last status update for awhile:

Robb McCoy wants to cry out to God. Why have you foresaken us? Then I realize, it wasn’t God that left. It was the other way around. I pray for peace to flow through this tragedy. I pray for reconciliation and grace to replace anger and despair. Holy Spirit, work in the lives of those that survive, and speak a new word of life in the face of death.”

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Pastor Dawg: My prayer

The Twin City Dawgs walk by Chenoa United Methodist Church during the Chenoa Fourth of July parade

We’re halfway through the season, and I thought I’d take some time to reflect on my adventure as a semi-professional football player.  It has been frustrating, exhilirating, sobering, and rewarding.  So far I’ve played in three games (one was an exhibition).  In two of them I was the starting right tackle.  Our team record is 3-2.  We started 1-2.  We have five games left, and still have a shot at the playoffs if we keep winning.

I’ve been frustrated by my body and my schedule.  I’ve missed three games.  I missed one for a wedding I officiated.  I missed another on the weekend I was ordained (Yes, it’s officially Rev. Dawg now).  I missed a third because of an injury.  The whole season I’ve gone from one annoying ailment to another.  Right now  I feel relatively good, and I’m looking forward to five straight games without a bye starting on July 10.

I want to share a little about what goes on in my mind on a Saturday as a game approaches.

One of my favorite parts of the day is arriving at the field.  There are guys getting ready around the team bus.  I am greeted with hand shakes, fives, fist-bumps, and nods.  I am with my teammates, getting ready for a game, and I feel good.  There is a special relationship between teammates before a football game.  I think this feeling, above all else, is what I was wanting to find again when I started on this preposterous adventure.  I take my time as I prepare my pads – putting them in the right place, adjusting straps, and taping parts.  Eventually I walk down to our bench.

I walk out onto the field.  I feel the sun on my face.  I look at the field, the clean white stripes.  I look out at the sea of green corn fields.  I look up at the watertower.  I look over at our opponents getting ready in much the same way we are.  I find a place to sit, a little seperate from the rest of the team.  I pray, usually something like this:

“Thank you God for all that you have given me. Thank you for my wife and daughter.  Thank you for the incredible blessings in my life.  Thank you for my church and my home, and for the chance to serve you.  Thank you for the ability to play this game.  Thank you for my teammates, for the relationships that I have built.  Thank you for allowing me to pray and to play with them.

“I know God, that it is a violent game.  I know Jesus said that the meek that will inherit the earth, and that meekness is seldom valued on a football field.  Yet meekness is about putting the glory of others in front of my own.  That is, after all, the job of an offensive lineman, right? And so I feel in my heart that you have sent me to this field.  I believe you have called me to play for your glory.

“I ask that you bless this field.  Send your Holy Spirit to guide me, my teammates and my opponents.  Let us play this remarkable game with dignity and respect.  Keep us free from injury, and allow us to go home from this place with heads held high.

“Again, I thank you God for this chance.  There is no way I could be here without you.  Use me today, as you do everyday, for your will.  Let me be your instrument of grace so that someone may know the love of Jesus Christ, even on a football field.

“I thank you above all for your Son Jesus Christ.  I thank you, the source of life, life abundant, and life everlasting.  I pray these things in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.”

After I pray, we usually stretch as a team and do some warmups.  One of the first things I do is find my wife and daughter.  I almost always tear up  when I see them – its a wave of emotions I cannot really describe.

I try to take it all in as much as I can.  I savor every moment.  I enjoy the sweat dripping off my brow.  I enjoy taping my hands to get ready for battle. I enjoy looking into the eyes of my teammates knowing that we are in this together. I enjoy looking out at the crowd that is gathered, knowing they have come to watch us play our game.  I enjoy hearing guys whoop and holler.  I am usually quiet, yet inside my stomach is turning, my blood is pumping.  I am simmering, ready to boil over.

It is time for football.  It is the greatest game I have ever played, and I know that there are thousands of men wishing they could be doing what I am about to do.  I thank God again for the chance to be doing something I love.  I am ready.  Kick-off.

If you want to read about the earlier parts of my journey, you can read my previous posts called “Putting on the pads,” “Pastor Dawg,” and “Glory Days.” You follow the Twin City Dawgs by CLICKING HERE.

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Prayer in schools: No thank you

A state judge recently ruled that an Illinois law mandating a moment of silence in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. I applaud the decision.

Prayer is an important part of a spiritual life, and I wish that more children had a regular prayer life. Heck, I wish that I had a more regular prayer life. I do not, however, feel that it is appropriate for a public school to have a time set aside for “prayer and reflection.”

Students should be allowed to pray in school, and unless school has changed a lot since I was there (which it probably has), there are plenty of times when a student can engage a prayer life. Saying a small grace before lunch, saying a prayer of thanksgiving during recess, praying for guidance before a quiz or a test, or getting to school early to pray before class starts, or on the bus ride, or while a teacher hands out worksheets – all of these times are perfect opportunities for anyone to pray.

A mandated moment of silence for prayer and reflection, however, is not. I even believe that a moment of silence is a good thing. Allowing kids to take a few moments to pause, allow their brain to slow down, or even wander periodically during the day is a good thing. Most brain studies have shown that the brain needs rest too. If the law had simply required a “a moment of silence,” that might have been okay, but I’m not sure that is matter of state lawmakers to decide. Every teacher should allow their students moments of silence, with or without a state law.

I have nothing against prayer in school, I have nothing against moments of silence in school. In fact, I am a proponent of both. What I am against is the government mandating either. School teachers are trained to teach academics – math, reading, writing, music, art, physical education. They should not be teaching their spiritual practices or their religious beliefs. Do their religious beliefs inform their teaching? Of course, but I do not want my daughter to be taught how to pray at school.

That is what church is for. Separation of Church and State should be something that all religious people should demand, because I do not want the government telling me how and when I can or should worship and pray. When the government starts mandating religious doctrine, it will inevitably be dumbed-down, watered down civic religion that replaces country with God.

I am all for prayer in school. Students and teacher should be allowed to pray as much or as little as they want, but a school is not a house of prayer.

For those that are outraged because their child has been deprived of a moment of silence, I suggest that instead you take this as an opportunity to pray with your child – today – right when they get home from school, and again before dinner, and again before you go to bed, and again when you wake up in the morning. Pray at home, pray at church, and even teach your child the right times to pray at school. We cannot get enough prayer in our lives, and in our world. Pray without ceasing. Please, do not ask our government to tell us when to pray. It’s just un-American.

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