Saturday, March 25, 2017

WISE STEWARDS: LENTEN PRAYERS 2017

Day 22 – Saturday
Matthew 18:21-35

     God of Mercy, we seek your mercy. We are lost without your mercy!
     Some days, we presume upon your mercy by acting in selfish and destructive ways while expecting to escape the consequences of our actions. Forgive us for such presumption.
     Other days, we are deeply conscious of the great gap between your holiness and our pitiful efforts at faithfulness, and we plead for your mercy, knowing we cannot pay our debts to You, knowing that our very lives are at stake. And you forgive in ways that exceed our wildest expectations. You restore us to favored places as your covenant partners.
     Yet, we turn around and refuse to act in merciful ways towards our neighbors. We hold all of their sins against them as a way to control and diminish them. We keep track of every personal offense and every dollar owed, as though all were written in a permanent ledger. We harden our hearts toward both silent and clearly voiced pleas for forgiveness. 
     Forgive us God! Transform us! Enable us to act in merciful ways, just as You have acted toward us. We cannot do so without your help, so we ask in humility and hope. Amen.

Friday, March 24, 2017

WISE STEWARDS: LENTEN PRAYERS 2017

Day 21 – Friday
Mark 6:30-42 (parallels: Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)

     God of Abundance, You who have provided so generously for us, deepen our trust in You. Help us neither to be apathetic toward nor daunted by the deep, persistent needs that we see around us. Help us not to resist when You call us to invest our resources to meet the needs of others.
     Help us to remember that You have resources that are not evident to us, and that You are able to release resources, in unforeseen ways, to respond to the real needs of people who hunger, thirst, seek clothing or shelter, and cry out in desperation for healing, rescue or liberation.  
     Fill us with your compassion. Liberate us from our limited vision that sees scarcity instead of opportunity. Enable us to serve others with gladness. Take our resources and multiply them in ways that serve your purpose of blessing, nourishing, strengthening and renewing many people. We ask in the name of Jesus who fed multitudes. Amen.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

WISE STEWARDS: LENTEN PRAYERS 2017

Day 20 – Thursday
Matthew 13:44-46

     God our Creator and Redeemer, enable us to discern what is of surpassing value as we live as citizens and stewards of your realm. Enable us to see through the false, empty promises that urge us, every day, to stake our present or future well-being in the purchase of some product, be it food, clothing, grooming supply, pill, electronic product, transportation, insurance, financial vehicle or any other item we might acquire to give us the illusion of health, security, or personal value and meaning.
     Help us to perceive our real needs and trust You to provide them. But help us to realize that You are the treasure that we most seek as we search for enduring satisfaction. You have made us for companionship with You, and everything we try to substitute for your presence and your reign in our lives is ultimately hollow and unfulfilling. 
     Forgive us for all the times we have looked in the wrong direction to quell the fears and satisfy the deep yearning within us. Help us to set aside everything that prevents us from embracing You, fully, and serving, gladly, as stewards of your wise reign among us. Amen.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WISE STEWARDS: LENTEN PRAYERS 2017

Day 19 – Wednesday
Mark 12:41-44 (verses 38-40 provide additional context)

     Generous One, help us to give with deep gratitude and bold generosity to the work of your realm. Help us not to give for show, to have others think well of us, to compete for status, or to get our names attached to monuments to our own generosity.
     Enable us to desire your reign, so deeply, that we are willing and able to risk ourselves, to invest ourselves to the point of giving up even what we believe we need, and what we truly need, in order to enhance the witness and service of Christ’s church and minister in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us.
     Enable us to give gladly, and without being overly self-conscious about what we are doing. Enable us to give with discernment, so that the resources You have provided continue the forgiving, healing, liberating, renewing, reconciling work that Jesus did among us.

     Most days we seem far from it, but enable us to be all in for You. Open our hearts wide! Expand our vision! Amen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WISE STEWARDS: LENTEN PRAYERS 2017

Day 18 – Tuesday
Mark 4:1-20 (parallels: Matthew 13:1-23, Luke 8:1-15)

     You who sow the seed of life broadly, enable us to respond to You with deep trust. Let our lives grow, blossom and produce fruit that points to your generous presence and provision in our lives.
     In spite of our history with You, and in spite of the myriad ways that You have provided for us and shown your faithfulness to us, we are still inclined to allow our lives to become tangled up in worry. We are easily deceived into believing that we need things that are nearly as ephemeral as the grass of the field. We cling to those things as though our life depended upon them, not You.
     Overcome the control that worry and delusion hold over our lives. Liberate us from anxiety and deceit. Forgive us for our paltry faith. Unleash your energizing Spirit within us in such ways that we produce abundant fruit for your realm and for your glory. 
     We want to be all yours and all for You. Amen.

Monday, March 20, 2017

WISE STEWARDS: LENTEN PRAYERS 2017

Day 17 – Monday
Matthew 6:25-34

     God, our Provider, we confess that we are, indeed, people of little faith. In spite of our full refrigerators and pantries and easy access to more, we worry excessively about what we will eat. Some days the slightest pang of hunger makes us anxious. In spite of the fact that fresh water is available to most of us in abundance, we worry about what we will drink, unwilling to be satisfied with mere water even though it is the substance of our physical selves.  In spite of the fact that many of us have dressers and closets and storage bins full of clothing, we vainly worry about what we will wear.
     God, You have provided far more than we need! Yet, we are anxious. We never seem to have enough. And though our world is filled with people who long for a small portion of what we have, we convince ourselves that we deserve all that we have accumulated. We are reluctant to share. And we continue to worry as though we lived lives of great deprivation.
     Forgive us for our lack of trust. Forgive us for clinging to false images of scarcity and neediness that leave us anxious. Forgive us for our presumption. Forgive us for being slow to share in ways that help others to enjoy glad and fruitful lives. 
     Enable us to focus on your reign of justice and peace. Enable us to be faithful witnesses to the work of reconciliation You have done in Christ Jesus. Enable us to walk away from our anxiety and trust You enough to put your desire before our own. Amen.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Prayer for March 19-25, 2017
Sermon Text: John 4:1-42

That our spirit will touch the Spirit of God in truthful ways

Jesus, we rejoice that You speak to the deepest longings of our heart. You address us in the midst of our confusion, our pain and suffering. You know the ways that we have been sinned against and the ways that we have sinned. You know what we have lost and what we have slim hopes of finding. You do not turn from us because we lack religious credentials or live as social misfits, but You are willing to meet us where we are: by a small town well, in a big city office, in our homes, on the road, wherever we will allow You to get a word in edgewise, wherever we will pause to take You seriously.

During such pauses, new life begins to flow within us. During such pauses, You answer the unspoken yearning of our hearts. During such pauses, You transform our inner and outer worlds. During such pauses, You enable our spirit to touch the Spirit of God in truthful ways. 

We pause before You now. Speak new life to us. Let that new life flow like refreshing water into the lives of others. Amen.