Friday Prayer, January 19, 2018

 

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Let’s make room today. Let’s clear out what we’ve been using to numb or avoid or block. Let’s trust that in the quiet, open space there is healing.

And then let’s listen….

***

Patient, Gentle, God,

 

I can be so afraid of emptiness.

 

There are so many ways to stuff out

the echoes of hollowness….

fill the house with unneeded stuff,

fill the wallet with money,

fill the garages with spares of this and that,

fill the belly with more and more food,

fill the mind with whatever distractions can be found,

fill the time with busy-ness….

 

But it won’t pad the emptiness,

or fill the void.

 

Give me the courage, God, to clear this clutter!

To see in this empty space a sacredness,

a needed gift,

a place you will come and get to work.

 

Make me be alone with you

and with the things within me

I’ve been avoiding,

or not even aware of.

 

Use this open space to

bring about transformation

where your Spirit shapes my attitudes,

leads my thoughts,

guides my decisions,

covers my conversations.

 

You promise that

to be filled with your Spirit

is to be in formation –

to head toward the abundant purposefulness.

 

With your Spirit in me, I am never empty,

nor is my life.

 

Fill and form me, Loving One, today.

Remind me I have all I need in and through You,

and that there is no reason to be afraid.

 

Amen.

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Friday Prayer, January 12, 2018

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Have you heard the serpent’s whisper in your life recently?

“Did God really say…..”

As I myself struggle with trust in some areas of my life, I’ve heard this whisper from Genesis 3 when the serpent confronts Eve. Did God really say….

Sometimes, like Eve, I can respond forthrightly with what God said. But then, like Eve, the longer the whisper sits with me, the more I start to question. And it is there, that the whole swirl starts.

Doubts over whether what God told me is really best. Questions over whether I heard God right. Anxiety and fear that I’m somehow missing out on something.

When I’m facing a big choice or am living into a hard decision already made, it takes the deepest form of trust to brace myself from backpedaling.

Sometimes all I can do is say, “I trust,” “I trust,” “I trust,” with each push forward of the pedal. And the cadence carries me through the fog.

***

One Who knows me best,

 

There are times I sense more clearly

your direction.

I know what I have to do.

Those are the times I feel more

grounded…steady…focused.

 

But more often,

I’m in that inner fog

where the call and light are faint.

I struggle to remember if I heard

your voice at all,

and the cacophony of questions

becomes the tolling bell I hear –

each ring another round of

Are you sure?

Turn around!

You’re alone.

 

It is in this time,

I grip your hand, Jesus,

remembering that you, too,

were asked if you trusted.

And you proved,

again and again,

how you did.

 

Everyday is practice to trust again –

sometimes, like Samuel,

it will take many tries from you

before I realize it’s your voice.

 

So please keep speaking.

I will do my best to

settle my heart

in listening, availability, surrender…

 

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

just to take Him at His Word

Just to rest upon His promise

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

 

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

 

Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just from sin and self to cease

Just from Jesus simply taking

Life and rest, and joy and peace.”*

 

Amen.

 

* Stanzas from the hymn “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”

Friday Prayer, January 5, 2017

 

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Happy New Year, my friends! What’s swirling in your spirits as the new year begins? I hope you are lifting pressure from yourself. I hope you are looking in the mirror at the 2018 you and smiling. I hope you are telling yourself this will be a year of showing grace and love and lots of breathing room – to others and yourself.

 The new year gives a beckoning call to delve deeper – to get to that primal heartbeat and listen for the truest desire within its cadence. To discover – through baby steps – the life-giving rhythms that free and fuel us.

I told my husband the other day one of my intentions this year is to say, “No problem” more – and mean it. Or maybe I’ll add some variety with other good sayings I’ve heard, like “All will be well” or “Plot twist!”

As a person of rigid, “all-or-nothing,” judgmental standards, I will probably say this through gritted teeth at times. But we live and act our way into new forms of feeling and seeing.

This goes for not only what happens to me, but also what I make happen. I’ve been thinking about how I deprive myself and those around me of gifts because it wasn’t the “perfect” way I thought it should be. There is such beauty in an offering simply because it is an offering. You are giving the Spirit room to work.

***

Gracious One,

 

I thank you for holding my hand in this fresh, new year…

Against my inclination and with your help,

I let go of my desire for more control over my life.

My hunger to know what’s coming and to be ready for it.

My expectations to be in charge.

 

Have you not taught me again and again

how the joy is in the flexibility?

How all the unexpected, the unwanted, the unexplained things

coalesce to carve me into

the person I really am and want to be?

 

Even the changes I asked for,

the changes I wanted,

can cause anxiety.

Treading on this shifting soil

calls for a steadiness

beyond my own capabilities.

So I trust your hand to hold mine,

carrying me into this new land –

good but different.

 

You are my Birthing Mother,

always re-creating, always open to change.

You can keep showing me that

while change is eternally constant,

so is your presence.

 

You can help me know in my bones

how hope is born through struggle

and the fresh start brought through

change is an invitation to grow.

 

Whenever something leaves,

something new comes.

Please give me the wisdom of soul, Loving One,

to look for it.

 

For a soft heart open to change,

sensitive to others’ pain,

resilient with hope,

trusting in darkness….

this is the heart for which I pray.

 

Amen.

 

Friday Prayer, December 15, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

We are half-way through December and I wonder how your heart is faring. Winter’s taken a dramatic dive into colder temps and snow (at least in Chicagoland), and I think our inner soul landscape often feels the effect of that. The stretching hours of darkness and frigidity the earth now endures reminds me we often face the same in our hearts.

Perseverance in such conditions can be hard when we might find ourselves overwhelmed or stressed in preparing for the “happiest time of year.” If you’re feeling this way, you might read a prayer of mine from December last year.

I think about Mary and Joseph making their own journey toward Bethlehem. I’m sure it required every ounce of trust and perseverance they had. I bet that each day, they had to freshly overcome their fear and questions about what awaited them upon arrival. Their trust in God’s promise had to be bigger than the swirling apprehension or flat-out exhaustion (Mary was very pregnant!).

So, I pray you are encouraged today, my friends, as you walk a path that might be taking all scraps of strength you’ve got left. Keep your eyes on the star.

 

***

Warm, enveloping One,

You gather me in when

the wind of anxiety and fear whips,

when I feel my face, my heart,

tighten against the cold’s force.

 

With wide, warm arms,

you bring me into your heart

where my angst melts by

the fire of your love.

 

And it is there, as I rest and thaw

that you remind me…

 

Remind me of the unbelievable power in perseverance,

the choice to open my eyes each morning and say,

Yes, I will keep going.

And I will find joy here

and grace

and I will live with courage even when I’m uncomfortable

in this brutal winter.

 

As my brittle fears drip to my feet,

you let my real self come through.

A self you love so much…

 

My path toward transformation comes through acceptance,

through affirming that I will be

gentle and forgiving toward myself

because that’s how you are with me.

I will lean with all my weight into your ‘enoughness.’

Into the warmth I feel here.

My solace and strength in life’s winter.

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, December 1, 2017

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Advent – this holy time of transformation and waiting and pain and trust – begins on Sunday. I wonder what you are waiting for right now….

I wonder where you, like Mary, have been asked by God to do something you don’t feel capable of doing.

I wonder where you, like Joseph, have been asked to proceed with trust in a decision when everything you initially thought crashed down – hard.

I wonder where you have longed for the end of corrupt abuses of power (#metoo has become the very air we breathe…)

I wonder where you feel the togetherness of light and dark in your own life. It’s something I find so meaningful about Advent – how Christ comes to us in darkness. When we don’t see. Don’t expect.

And so I pray that each of us will be wide-eyed, broad-hearted, and open-minded, that God might cultivate in us a deeper awareness of God’s working.

***

God, my Light…

I step with hope, anticipation, trust,

into this holy season of Advent.

This season of waiting and longing.

 

A single star overhead

is enough light to lead me through this darkness…

to shine into even the smallest crevices of my

heart and life.

 

I need your light, God,

to shine on this path you’ve asked me to walk.

You say I only need light for the next step,

and once I make that one, I’ll have light

for the one after that.

 

So I will trust you’ll show me

what is mine to do

and where is my place to walk

and how my very living

is testimony to your

transformative work.

 

Jesus, you are the light of the world.

Fill me and make me a lamp as I journey….

Amen.

Friday Prayer, November 17, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Rowe

I’m thinking of you, friends, as we approach Thanksgiving next week. It’s a time when we feel the full emotional gamut, don’t you think?

There are kids home from college and cross–country journeys to visit grandparents. There are crazy, frenetic, expensive trips to and fro at airports. There’s the ache of loved ones who are missed at the table, and the joy (albeit cacophonous noise!) of babies who’ve been added.

There is a freshly inflicted pain we feel in broken relationships at holiday time, just as there is a deeply-seated hope and trust in God’s promise to heal all things. There is the realization this past year wasn’t at all what we’d planned on or hoped for alongside the reflection that much unexpected beauty was also harvested.

And there is this recurring challenge and perpetual prayer that God might open our eyes to the blessings buried right beneath us – the ground, the place, on which we stand right now. Maybe it’s a place we love and maybe it’s a place we don’t want to be – buried treasure’s been found even beneath feet stuck in mud.

Wherever this time of year finds you – know that with God is holding you in it, and has more good yet in store. Because that’s the beautiful God we love and serve.

I think it was Richard Rohr who said, “Choose gratitude until you are grateful.”

And we can.

Because of God.

Who is with you.

And in you.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

***

 

Loving God,

In all things, I can say thank you.

 

Not because I am comfortable,

but because I am not alone.

 

And not just companioned in this journey,

but held, loved, supported, blessed.

 

By You.

 

The One who promises

there is always, always abundance.

 

The One who soothingly says,

‘All will be well.’

 

The One who gives

enough light,

enough wisdom,

and enough peace

to embrace today

with vulnerability

and humble gratitude.

 

Your gifts come in all kinds of ways.

Please help me not to miss them.

Especially the little ones.

 

And as I am witness to your work,

still my soul long enough to pause,

and say, Thank You.

 

Through Christ, who lived gratitude

in all times….

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, November 10, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Rowe

 

Loving God,

Today, with your help,

I release ruminating on what I can’t control.

 

Today, with your help, I will welcome what is –

not in resignation,

but in trust.

This, too, can be an instrument in my transformation.

Life won’t always be this way.

And maybe, just maybe, I need this

in order to get where I’m going.

 

Today, rather than taking consensus

from everything and everyone around me

about what I need to do,

I will stop.

I will let myself be in that uncomfortable quiet.

I will do my deepest listening for the most important voice –

the Voice within.

And I will realize I have my answer.

 

I can choose these things today, God,

because these are your promises –

to handle what I can’t,

to use what I’d rather not endure,

to give me the exact wisdom I need for each choice.

 

So I say thanks, praise, and yes.

 

Amen.