My Daily Prayer: The Jesus Creed

For Lent, my church has been studying The Jesus Creed, a book based on the response Jesus gave when a scribe asked, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?” We were challenged to get into the habit of reciting the Jesus Creed everyday, morning and night. I tried and failed.

The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:29-31

The first part of Christ’s response is the Shema, a Jewish prayer. Jews recited this prayer morning and night: ‘Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One’. Jesus added the command, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ giving it great importance. Even people who do not believe in Jesus know this great command. They watch as too many Christians fail to practice it.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is one of the greatest challenges of life. Even more so, when you understand that your neighbors are not just your friends but also your enemies.

May this be my daily prayer. God, I love you with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength. Lord Jesus, help me to love as you taught me to love.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

A Prayer for Families

Dear God, thank you for this day. Thank you for my big extended family. I miss Mom and Dad and Greg but still have 7 brothers and sisters, 8 brothers- and sisters-in-law, 24 nieces and nephews, and 20 great nieces and nephews with 2 more expected this year.

I count my blessings.

Lord Jesus, I bring my concerns about families, not just my own, and lay them at your feet.

I pray for families facing the challenges of physical distancing. I heard a story about sandwich parents who had to split up so that one can provide in-home care to a parent while the other stays home with the kids. Friends who want to visit their elderly parents have to make signs and look at them through the window. Grandparents can’t physically be with their beloved grandchildren.

I pray for families facing the challenges of physical closeness. Too much togetherness can be challenging for anyone. We get on each other’s nerves. My introverted niece expressed her frustration yesterday at how hard it is to work from home with three kids constantly interrupting and making noise. She needs peace and quiet and time to recharge her batteries at the end of the day. She could use help to juggle everything she needs to do.

Lord, I pray for those who live alone, especially for those who can no longer go outside the home to interact with other people.

Lord, I pray for dysfunctional families. Even in the best of times, dysfunctional families don’t provide the love, care, and safety that a family should provide. I bring my concerns about those who face physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and lay them at your feet. Hear their cries for help.

Amen

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Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

A Prayer of Thanks for Seasons

This is a prayer I shared on Facebook a week ago.

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Heavenly Father, thank you for a brand new day. I pray that I will make the most of it. I pray for healing for the sick. I pray for people who are struggling emotionally and/or financially.

Lord, despite all the bad news I hear every day, I woke up this morning thinking about how pleasant it was to go for a walk yesterday. Kids were out drawing on the sidewalks. Neighbors were out walking or playing golf. Last week, I really enjoyed going to the state park and seeing bison and antelope. I’m not the only one who is enjoying nature. Lynn, a photographer I follow on Facebook, couldn’t contain her joy at seeing a cedar waxwing in her yard. I feel her joy.

Lord, how I love the seasons. I don’t mind winter but eventually I tire of the snow and the grayness. I delight in the spring. Plants that lay dormant under a blanket of snow come back to life. Crocuses pop up like clockwork. They know when it is their time to bloom.

Long ago, Solomon wrote one of my favorite passages of scripture:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Lord, this is a season for weeping. It is a time to pause and to reflect and to evaluate what is really important. It is a time to heal and a time to rebuild. It is a time to come together in unity even as we maintain our physical distance. Father, I pray for the strength and patience to endure this season.

Amen.

Photo by Anders Nord on Unsplash

A Prayer for Illumination

Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. I am thankful for infectious disease experts who warned us about the novel coronavirus. I pray that government officials will listen to them and heed their warnings. I pray that you will give insight and understanding to doctors and scientists who are working to develop tests and vaccines to battle COVID-19.

Lord, going through a pandemic feels like being in the dark with unknown dangers and obstacles all around me. It reminds me of the hike Kent and I went on a couple of months ago. We walked through a tunnel in the rock. It was pitch black inside. I couldn’t see a thing. I could feel the boards on the ground moving as I walked in the dark. I felt the path get narrow in places and hoped I wouldn’t stumble. It wasn’t long before I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. When we got through, I pointed my camera toward the tunnel opening and the flash illuminated what my eyes could not see.

God, You are a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. I know that You are with me. You hold my hand to keep me from stumbling in the darkness. I put my trust in You to lead me through the things I cannot see. God, give me wisdom and understanding.

Lord, many people love darkness because they don’t want their evil deeds to be exposed. Father, I pray that you will be glorified through this crisis. Lord Jesus, you are the light of the world, a light that shines in the darkness. Help me to walk in the light as you are in the light so that other people can see You in me.

Father, again I pray for people around the world suffering from COVID-19 and for people grieving the loss of loved ones. I pray for protection for healthcare workers, for police officers and paramedics, and for all the essential workers who cannot stay at home during this pandemic.

Amen.

A Prayer for Courage

I posted this prayer on my personal Facebook page on Monday, but share it here for anyone who needs the courage to take a step out of the boat.

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Dear God, I wanted to share a prayer publicly everyday and now I am struggling to do it. For one thing, it is against my introverted nature. I don’t like putting myself out there too much. It feels like I’ve fallen back into that old trap of worrying about what people think of me. I want to climb back into the safety of my shell. I’m also struggling to maintain optimism. Last night, as You know, I fell to sleep in tears.

I have never lost my hope but sometimes I feel down. I am sad about the people who are sick and about the people who are dying. It’s especially hard to hear about the death of a doctor or first responder. It makes me sad when I see friends who have to visit their elderly parents through a window. I worry about the economic impacts of this pandemic. And I get discouraged because so many people have been deceived and put their trust in people who put a positive spin on this.

Father, I listened to Pastor Andrew’s sermon with only half my attention Sunday morning, but something he said cut through to me. I had to listen to it again.

What’s the difference between a trip and a journey? A journey is long enough to have both ups and downs. We pack up our lives to look like a trip rather than a journey. Saving face. Speaking with impeccably polite language like you’re talking to your grandma when you’re at church but rage cursing when you are in traffic. (That was me, at least when I lived in Denver). Posting one life on social media like everything is okay but never sharing your real struggles with anyone important with you. (Ouch). It can be tempting to pretend like everything is okay. That we don’t feel the pains that are coming.

No matter what hits us, good or bad, we have the assurance that God is with us. Jesus, You didn’t promise to remove our daily trials. Our comfort is not in the absence of trials, it is in the presence of You. You are with us in the ups and downs.

God, I needed to hear that message. I pray for the courage to be authentic. To have the courage to take a step out of the boat and not be afraid to keep walking when the winds come. To put myself out there even if it is uncomfortable. To share both the good and the bad, my hope and my fears.

Amen.