(first appeared on www.explorefaith.org)
Gracious God, there are times when I am disappointed in myself, times when I fail to measure up to my own or others' expectations of me. What begins as disappointment can easily turn to shame, guilt, and deep regret. Help me waken to your promise of mercy that will keep me from focusing on my failure. Let that mercy soften the harshness I place on my soul until I am able to rejoice in my humanity and find in that humanity the courage to begin again. I ask this for the sake of your love.
(first appeared on www.explorefaith.org)
Here are 2 new prayers I have written -- one a Daily Prayer for Purpose, and the other a Prayer for Preventing Procrastination.
We all know we are here for a reason. We each have been given unique talents, skills, desires, personalities that we use to make the world a better place. Sometimes we can find it hard to articulate our 'purpose' in life because the concept just seems too all-encompassing. Yet, in today's world, it doesn't need to be all-encompassing -- you know, one purpose for the whole of our lives. We have so many opportunities, so many paths to try, so many ways to re-invent, so many chances to shift our purpose slightly in order to reach what before was out of reach. Rather than trying to identify and claim one somewhat slippery purpose in life, this prayer will help you make a daily 'intention' for purpose that can be easily measured at the end of each day.
Because there are so many opportunities in the course of a day, we can also find procrastination has become a more faithful companion than we would like! We can find ourselves putting things off that we really want to get done, because there is so much else that keeps filtering in to our day. Procrastination is a funny little friend, however. Here's a metaphor for you: Procrastination asks you to come out and play, even when you have homework to complete. You enjoy the play alright, but the homework is still there. So, to get it done, you have to stay up late, giving it your least effective attention rather than your best, and the stress required leaves you more tired than the playtime was worth. This prayer will encourage you to keep first things first, so that play can be full and free!
NIghtmares can leave us feeling as if we're suffocating. In fact, in the mid 16th century, that was one meaning of the word. They are like goblins that steal our breath. Sometimes, we find it difficult to sleep restfully after a nightmare; sometimes, finding the images replaying in our mind throughout the next day; sometimes, finding that we are fearful to sleep again, lest we find ourselves caught in another suffocating dream. Yet, we often keep our nightmares to ourselves, feeling that they are a sign of weakness. This lets them retain their power! So, here's a prayer to help you when you find yourself having a nightmare, or when you are fearful of a recurring nightmare. Keep a copy of it near your sleeping place...
Gracious God, the time of night is meant to be a time of sleep and restoration for me. A time for my body and mind to be still in the womb of darkness, so that when a new day peers up over the pink horizon, I am ready to greet that day with a joyful heart. But, when my sleep is troubled by dreams that frighten or confuse me, my waking hours are disturbed by the nighttime images still playing in my mind. Instead of delighting in the new day, I am edgy and uneasy. When I place my body in bed this night, I pray your angels of peace will hover over me to protect me from the anxiety of the dreams that I fear. Let me rest quietly and still in the peacefulness of your presence. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.
In Scripture we are invited to believe, to trust, to exercise faith. Yet, we know there are countless examples of people in Scripture who felt doubt -- who were uncertain, unsure, lacking in faith. We also read in Scripture that " a soft answer turns away anger, while grievous words stir it up." (Proverbs 15:1). So, we are invited to live in peace with ourselves and with others and with our world. Yet, we know there are countless examples of people in Scripture whose anger was so great it led to violence.
Our lives are no different from the exemplars of the past. We have deep faith and trust much of the time, but we also find there are moments of doubt -- when we wonder if there is any truth at all in what we have been taught to believe so tenaciously. We also know that while we want our lives and words to be marked with kindness and love, we are sometimes so angry we could spit! And, often we do. We say mean things to those we love; we accuse, demean, and blame. We feel like Mt. Vesuvius ready to launch brimstone on anyone in our path.
The truth is that we will have times of doubt, and we will find anger boiling up within us. So, I've written and recorded two prayers today that I hope will help you during those times. Below you will find the prayers in audio and written form. Blessings and love!
A Prayer for When You are in Doubt
O God, I don't even know if you're there. I don't know if you're really real. I know I'm supposed to believe and most of the time I do. Still, there are times, like now, when I fear that I'm merely saying I believe because I can't face the terror of not believing. If you aren't real, what hope can I cling to? Yet, it you are real, where is the proof that will ease my doubt? Show my soul a sign of your presence. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and the courage to claim what is mysterious and often beyond my reach. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.
A Prayer for When You are Angry
O God, I feel clenched and tight inside -- as if every muscle, every fiber of my being is twisted and taut. I want to scream, or punch, or curse -- just do something that will release the energy waiting to explode inside me. I know that unleashing words will give me momentary relief, but words alone will not change the cause of my anger. Push the light breath of your Spirit through me and let me draw in that breath that has the power to soften and unwind my charred emotions, until I reach the edge of peace and stillness. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen
Life is rich with texture and beauty. Even the parts that seem unwanted hold within them seeds of grace.