Prayers for the Journey

Bonnie Harr prayer

Bonnie Harr prayer

Its the end of the week. Time to post prayers from my facebook page Light for the Journey. You will notice that there is a lot more to post this week. I am enlisting the help of others in posting on this page and am excited at the broadening richness of prayers and reflections this will make possible. New contributors to the page include Jamie Arpin Ricci author of The Cost of Community and founder of Litte Flowers community in Winnipeg Manitoba; Phileena Heuertz co-founder of Word Made Flesh and author of Pilgrimage of a Soul; Micha Jazz a contemplative activist in Chichester UK and a member of the Axiom Monastic Community; Bonnie Harr who posts prayers and reflections at In His Footsteps; John Birch who posts Celtic Prayers and Resources at Faith and Worship; Mary Plate DeJong who leads pilgrimages to Iona Scotland and is Forest Steward for one of Seattle’s urban forests and Mark Scandrette author of Practicing the Way of Jesus and founding director of ReIMAGINE in San Francisco.

If you would like to access these prayers and reflections each day please like the Light for the Journey Facebook page

Calm my wandering thoughts O Lord,

Quiet the turmoil of my soul.

Place your hand upon me,

Let me touch the deep abiding stillness,

In which your presence dwells.


God’s heartbeat pumps within us

and gives us life.

Gods Spirit dwells within us

and shows us truth.

God’s love grows within us

and brings us hope.

May God’s presence guide our feet

and keep us on the path of faithfulness.


It is for you we live O Christ,

Fulfill your faithful promises,

Answer our needs O Lord.

Fill us with joy and peace

And show us the light of your face.


O God your love is eternal,

It exceeds all we ever knew of you.

Your faithfulness strengthens my soul

It fills me with the goodness of life.


Bless this day

all that I might see

all that I might hear

all that I might say

Bless this day

all that I might comfort

all that I might help

all that I might guide

Bless this day



I lay my head to rest

and in doing so

lay at your feet

the faces I have seen

the voices I have heard

the words I have spoken

the hands I have shaken

the service I have given

the joys I have shared

the sorrows revealed

I lay them at your feet

and in doing so

lay my head to rest



Praying The Sermon On The Mount

Lord and Creator, let us embrace the costly blessings which you desire for us, blessings that confound the wisdom and strength of this world.

Teach us to be your agents of preservation in a world touched by death, and beacons of hope in a world shrouded in darkness.

Transform us into your image through the crucible of the cross, writing your mandates upon our hearts, made pure by you perfect love.

Embolden us to be your ambassadors,

Living as representatives of your holy kingdom, stirring in us your love for others, especially for those who would seek to destroy us because of you.

Make us decrease so that you might increase, as a watching world sees you, not us.

Daily we declare that your priorities are ours, even before our own needs and desires.

Every moment we live, we live for your glory—the glory of a loving Father and a just King.

Free us of any distraction, craving or anxiety that would keep us from fully following you.

For we acknowledge that everything we could possibly need is yours to give us. Remind us of our sinful brokenness and your gift of grace as we encounter brokenness in others.

You are the answer to our every question. you are the treasure that we desperately seek, and it is you who invite us into your salvation, as prodigals returning to the Father’s embrace.

Keep us upon your path of righteousness and justice, bearing the good fruit of your Spirit, for it is on you, Lord Jesus, that all hope is built,

For all of creation, now and forever more.


A prayer from The Cost of Community by Jamie Arpin Ricci

A meditation by Micha Jazz:

The prayers for my Morning office today opened with the splendid declaration ‘Let us give glory to God on high, who from His fullness have received grace upon grace’. This was a wonderful reflection and indeed provocation since I had been awake burning the midnight oil, with my head filled with cascading thoughts. Yet to be reminded and remind myself that ours, mine, is a life forged from grace and sustained by grace is indeed timely. I feel acutely my inability to find my way back into the workplace following Katey’s death four years ago – the mediation service I work with for two days a week isn’t growing and after 13 years is much as it ever as. Holding onto grace when all I want to do is implode is indeed a discipline and a constructive practice. lord in your mercy, hear my prayer. MJ


Return To Our Senses: Re-imagining How We Pray.

Return to Our Senses cover

Return to Our Senses cover

A couple of years ago on this blog I asked my readers: What makes you feel close to God? Dozens of people responded with concrete illustrations about how they connect to God. They talked about playing with kids, turning the compost pile, washing the dishes and writing on their blogs. Two things surprised me. First no one mentioned church or Bible study. Second most people come closest to God in tangible everyday activities yet rarely identify these as spiritual practices or forms of prayer.

That observation started me on a journey in which I began to rediscover the richness of a life in which prayer permeates all my daily activities. My journey has opened windows into the loving nature of God far beyond my imaginings. It has exposed me to prayer traditions I never knew existed and it has brought me together with others who also hunger for a deeper, more life encompassing relationship with God. Much of what I have learned has been shared as blog posts over the years, but I have constantly been encouraged to bring these thoughts together in a more cohesive form. The result is a new book entitled Return to Our Senses: Re-imagining How We Pray.

The intent of this book is to deepen intimacy with our loving, caring God by exploring new approaches to prayer that connect our spiritual practices to our everyday lives. Some have existed for centuries and only require us to tap into the rich knowledge and practices of ancient followers of Christ to access them. Others will be newly created springing fresh from our imaginations and creativity, specially designed for intimacy with God in our present culture. Our God is a God of endless creativity and imagination which has been passed on to us. Each moment is, I believe, pregnant with new possibilities, new concrete expressions of prayer waiting to be born.

I am really excited by this book and have already had such good feedback that I know others are too. Brian McLaren told me “This book really touched my heart”.  Jamie Arpin Ricci commented “This is a very timely book.”  Michael Frost calls it “a handbook on the development of a habit of prayer and spiritual practices that directs us and others to God’s just and peaceable future.”

The book will be published through MSA publications and should be available mid November but I wanted to give you all the opportunity to pre-order a copy now at a discounted price of $15 including U.S. postage.

You’ll probably get sick of me talking about the book in the next few weeks as I continue to share stories and ideas from it. However if you wanted to be at the top of the line when we start mailing copies you can find out more information and order your copy now.

Dead Sea: A Novel by Lynne Baab.

dead sea: A Novel by Lynne Baab

dead sea: A Novel by Lynne Baab

I don’t often post reviews of fiction books, in spite of the fact that I read 3-4 of them a week. However last week my friend Lynne Baab sent me a copy of Dead Sea: A Novelwhich is now available as an e-book on Amazon. I loved it. It not only brought back memories of my own time in Israel twenty years ago but also satisfied my desire for some good detective work. Her descriptions of a trip into Petra Jordan where I have not been, made me want to pack my bags and get on the plane.

This is not a complex novel of intrigue and thrill, but it is a delightful read for a quiet afternoon of relaxation and refreshment. I highly recommend it both to those who love the Middle East, and to those who enjoy a good detective story. 

Anchors of Stability – Landmarks on the Way.


On the pilgrim trail

On the pilgrim trail

Anchors of Stability 

A couple of days ago I post about  The Stability of Practice and shared some of the practices that have provided stability for my life. There is another I did not mention – the gathering of rocks. I have shared previously about my rock collection where I commented: Collecting rocks has become an important part of my prayer life, because each time I hold them in my hand I am reminded of some aspect of my faith journey and I find myself praying in gratitude, in repentance or just in sheer joy at the faithfulness of God.

In my upcoming book Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray, (available for preordering next week) I talk about this in more depth and encourage people to incorporate the gathering of rocks into their prayer life. Display them where you pray. Pick up the objects regularly. Remind yourself of the stories they represent and the lessons they have taught you. Use them to focus your prayers and to build your faith.

The aspect I have not shared about though is the use of rocks as memorial cairns and this morning I thought I would share the section of my book in which I talk about this. You may not want to collect rocks as I do, but all of us need tangible objects that act as memorials to the loving relationships in our lives. We need objects that stir our memories and stop us forgetting the faithfulness and enduring love of God. These days most of us collect photos or video footage of those we love. When houses are destroyed by earthquakes and floods it is the loss of these items that is often most devastating to people. These memorials remind us of the love that surrounds us. They provide anchors and add stability to our lives.

Unfortunately photos are not an option where God is concerned, but there are other concrete items, like my rock collection, that encourage us to remember the acts of God in our past and the intimate moments of love we have shared. This is one important way that we connect to the acts of God in the present and learn to trust and hope for the promises of God in the future.

God understands better than we do how easily we forget and how destabilizing it can be for our lives. Numbers and Deuteronomy are full of admonitions to the Israelites to remember their God who brought them out of Egypt and faithfully led them through the Red Sea and the wilderness. Their memorial symbol was the tassels on their clothing, something they wore every day, always in their vision, reminding them of their great and loving God: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: Throughout the generations to come you must make tassels for the hems of your clothing and attach them with a blue cord. When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do. The tassels will help you remember that you must obey all my commands and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt that I might be your God. I am the Lord your God!” (Numbers 15:37-41)

Collecting or making objects that help root our prayers in the faithfulness of God can provide important signposts that lead us onward towards the heart of God. Cairns of rocks have been used as signposts along paths of pilgrimage for thousands of years. They make us aware of the many who have gone before us. We are not alone. The God who has provided throughout human history is still a God of grace and mercy and love.

I was never more aware of this than when watching the film The Way recently. This powerful and inspirational story stars Martin Sheen who plays Tom, an irascible American doctor coming to France to deal with the tragic loss of his son. He decides to embark on the historical Camino de Santiago pilgrimage where his son died. On the Way” Tom meets other pilgrims from around the world, each with their own issues and looking for greater meaning in their lives: an overweight Dutchman supposedly trying to slim down for his brother’s wedding, a Canadian woman trying to give up smoking and an Irish writer who is suffering from a bout of writer’s block.

There is a tradition on the camino to bring a stone from home and rub all your fears, hurts and sorrows into the stone which you can place at the base of the Cruz de Ferro. Others pick up a stone along the way or write a wish on paper. They deposit them at the  cairn of Cruz de Ferro where a huge mound of rocks with their prayers, and hopes and suffering have accumulated over the centuries. This is a holy spot whose sacredness spoke to me even from a distance.

I have been intrigued by the Camino de Santiago ever since I read Phileena Heuertz’s moving story of her own pilgrimage along The Way, in  Pilgrimage of a Soul. Pilgrimage, memorials and anchors are so important in our lives.

Unfortunately in our highly mobile society where many families move every couple of years, memories, like everything else become disposable unless we make a deliberate effort to convert those memories into sacred memorials that can remain with us throughout our lives.

So my question this morning is – what are the memorials that mark your life? How do you preserve and build them so that they do remain as anchors of stability?


Lord Give Me A word

Desert-Mothers-and-Fathers-by Christine Valters Paintner

Desert-Mothers-and-Fathers-by Christine Valters Paintner

This morning I have been reading Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom SayingsAnnotated by Christine Valters Paintner. It is a delightful book that quotes from the writings of these wise desert dwellers who chose to renounce the world in order to deliberately and individually follow God’s call. Their writings were first recorded in the fourth century and contain much spiritual advice that is still applicable today.

One characteristic of the desert fathers and mothers was their desire for a “word”. They were not asking for a command or a solution but for a communication that could be received as a stimulus to growth into a fuller life. The word would be pondered on for days or even for years. I love this story that Christine shares from Benedicta Ward Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p. xxii.

A monk once came to Basil of Caesarea and said, Speak a word, Father” and Basil replied, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” and the monk went away at once. Twenty hears later he cam back and said, Father, I have struggled to keep your word now speak another word to me” and he said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” and the monk returned in obedience to his cell to keep that also.

It is so easy for us to read the word of God and not really absorb it into our being. Or else we want to dissect it and work out what the author or the translator really wanted to say. To dwell in the word the way that the desert dwellers did we need to release our thinking minds and enter into a space where we can hold the word in our hearts, turning it over and over, pondering it but not trying to pull it apart.

This morning as I prayed the word that came to me is God is love”. It is a phrase that I have pondered many times in the past. It has brought me healing as I imagined the love of God seeping into my broken soul. It has brought me encouragement as I pondered the love of God flowing out through me to touch the hearts and lives of the refugees and marginalized people I have worked with. And it has drawn me into greater intimacy with God as I have imagined the wonder of God’s love abiding in the depth of my heart.

The knowledge I have in my head of a loving God will never transform me unless I allow it to seep deep into my being so that it becomes the air I breath, the food I eat and the ater I drink. God can only respond in a loving way. If we allow that thought to guide us always it will transform the world. It will have us always on tiptoe looking for the loving things that God is doing. It will have us rising up in righteous anger against the unloving and hateful things that are done in the name of God. And it will have us always seeking to be loving towards God’s entire human family.

What is the word that God has lodged in your heart and wants you to ponder on? I pray that you will take time today to enter into that word in a way that allows it to speak to you.

The Stability of Practice

The joy of journalling

The joy of journalling

Yesterday Tom and I had breakfast at Chanterelles restaurant in Edmonds then drove down to the waterfront and looked out over the Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains while we journalled and shared about our week. This has been an important part of the rhythm of our life for many years but over this summer with the busyness of attending Wild Goose, Creative World Festival, the Celtic retreat and other commitments, we have had to let it slide. As we sat and journalled yesterday a deep peace settled into my soul. I need this I thought. I am incomplete without it.

We hear a lot today about the importance of stability of place. I wish we talked as much about the stability of practice. Regular daily, weekly and yearly practices that restore our bodies, our souls and our spirits are essential for all of us and I don’t think we realize how much the loss of these impacts us. I love to sit each morning in my office looking out towards the mountains while I pray. This morning I notice that the big maple tree I can see is touched with tones of red. Autumn is definitely here. It is also the harvest season, the time to pick and process apples (Tom and I picked 100 lb from our trees on Saturday), to make marinara sauce from the tomatoes, store the winter squash and generally get ready for a season when there is no fresh, local food available.

What are the equivalent practices in my spiritual life I wonder? This summer has been a busy season of ministry, a good season of growth and productivity. How am I now getting ready for the winter blasts? What spiritual food am I storing up for the coming season of dark? Getting back into our weekly rhythm of journalling and check in time is obviously part of that. Going away on one of our quarterly spiritual retreats is another.  Walking around Greenlake with Tom and our dog Bonnie talking, praying and drinking in the beauty of creation is another. These are some of the practices that help me store up the spiritual nutrients I need to see me through the dark season of my life.

This is obviously not the first time that I have blogged about this. The information in this post How Do We Find Stability in a Changing World? is some that I have found particularly valuable over the years. So much of my life has been spent in unstable living situations. Most of these suggestions came from my twelve years on the Mercy Ship Anastasis when my only stable reference point was a moving object in the middle of the sea.

This is a good season to evaluate your spiritual lives as I suggest in this post: Have You Taken A Spiritual Audit Lately? and you might want to evaluate the rhythms that are important to you. What are your equivalents of daily prayer, weekly journalling and quarterly retreats? How do they provide stability for your spirit?



Prayers for the Journey

Flower seller - Pike Place market

Flower seller – Pike Place market


I am just back from the Pike Street Market, one of my favourite places in Seattle. The flower sellers are everywhere, lifting my spirits with the vibrant beauty of their bouquets which inspired the first of these prayers. If you would like to receive these prayers each day on facebook you can sign up here

Glory be O God almighty, glory be.

Glory be O Christ redeemer, glory be.

Glory be O Spirit advocate, glory be.

Glory to the One who loves us,

Glory to the One who cares,

Glory to the One who hears us,

Glory be.


Lord Jesus Christ, let the wonder of your love shine forth,

Let the beauty of your image emerge,

Let us magnify your greatness,

And bless the One,

who has given us new birth into a living hope.


May faith go before us,

May hope reside within us,

May love always surround us.

All else will pass,

These three will remain,

And the greatest of these is love.

(From meditating on 1 Corinthians 13)


God may I gaze on you and find myself,

May my eye be focused and my body full of light.

May I move forward with the joy of your presence before me,

And the wonder of your love ever within me.


Let us welcome the good news of the kingdom,

and stand firm in its wonderful truths.

Let us follow its path and not stumble,

And see in it the unfailing love of our Lord.


Lord Jesus Christ you are the way,

May we turn our our face toward you,

And grow in the beauty of your light.

No apologies for the fact that this is derived from the prayer I wrote yesterday (see below):

Christ is the centre and circumference,

Christ is the way and the destination,

Christ is the beginning and the end.

Before, behind, within, without,

Christ is God’s gift of life and love.


May the centre of all things be Christ,

May the way of all things be Christ,

May the truth of all things be Christ,

Behind, before, within, without,

May the life of all things be Christ.


Joy Together – An Interview with Lynne Baab

Joy together

Joy together

My friend Lynne Baab has just published a new book Joy Together:Spiritual Practices for Your Congregation.  I love her books on Fasting and Sabbath and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of this one. It has already received a great review from Publishers Weekly. and so I wanted to give a heads up to all of you who are looking for congregational resources. The following interview by Jana Reiss was first published on her blog here.

As you wrote your new book, why did you think it was important to emphasize communal spiritual practices?

So many excellent books stress individual spiritual practices. Some of them talk about communal practices a bit, but practical illustrations are few and far between. It’s time for a book that gives practical examples of the ways Christian can engage in spiritual practices (also called spiritual disciplines) in families, small groups and congregations.

What’s the relationship between communal and individual practices?

They flow back and forth. For example, I learned about several forms of contemplative prayer – centering prayer, examen, lectio divina – in group settings. After engaging in those prayer forms with others for a while, I found myself praying that way on my own more often. To illustrate a flow in the opposite direction, I learned breath prayer from a book, and did it on my own for more than a decade before I started teaching it to groups. The last two times I’ve been worship leader at church, I’ve led the whole congregation in breath prayer. For me, thankfulness is another interesting example. My husband and I started praying thankfulness prayers together. Then I began to notice the way my personal prayers shifted more in the direction of thankfulness. Even later, I began to encourage groups to pray thankfulness prayers more often.

What do you think are some of the strengths of your book?

It’s hard to be objective at this point, when only my wonderful editor, Jana, and a few other people (mostly the people who wrote endorsements) have read the book. I asked one friend to read the book in pdf form, before the release date, in order to have a review ready to post on He liked the many stories that illustrate the ways groups can engage in spiritual practices. He also liked the fact that I bring my own life into the book, my own successes and struggles with spiritual practices. One idea that intrigued him came from a section in the chapter on fasting that covers Eastern Orthodox congregations, where fasting is entirely communal, as is feasting together at the end of their many fasts.

What specific practices did you cover?

I have individual chapters on six spiritual practices: fasting, thankfulness, contemplative prayer, contemplative approaches to the Bible, hospitality and Sabbath.  I’ve written books on fasting and the Sabbath, but I decided to conduct more interviews for this book. With respect to the Sabbath, one interviewee said he believes keeping the Sabbath is one of the most challenging spiritual practices in our time. That surprised me, and I tried to address some of those difficulties in the chapter and make suggestions about how congregations can support Sabbath observance. Another chapter that surprised me as I wrote it was the one on thankfulness. My husband and I have been practicing thankfulness in our prayers together for almost 20 years, which has been transforming in the ways I mentioned above but in other ways as well. Writing the chapter was pure joy, because I long for others to grow in thankfulness and the good fruits that come from it.

Have you heard the growing concerns about spiritual practices?

William Willimon and others have spoken out about their concerns about spiritual practices. Willimon believes practices can become a way for us to attempt to take control of our relationship with God. He stresses that Jesus breaks in at unexpected times. Amen to that! I believe spiritual practices open up space and time for Jesus to do exactly that. The stories I’ve heard from people who engage in various spiritual practices certainly reinforces my perception. When we teach about spiritual practices, we need to emphasize that practices create space for God. They don’t in any way make God do something in our lives.

Willimon is also concerned that when we engage in spiritual practices, we may fall into thinking we are earning our salvation. That’s why it’s so important to teach about spiritual practices against a backdrop of God’s grace. Spiritual practices are a way to enjoy Jesus’ presence with us and spend time with the God who already loves us.

What do you think is the greatest contribution of spiritual practices in our time?

Spiritual practices nurture a posture of receptivity. In that posture, we are open to receive from God. We might receive guidance for ministry, or a sense of being loved way down deep, or relief of anxiety for the things on our mind. Or something totally unexpected. So much of life today requires us to take action and act like we’re in control. When we engage in spiritual practices, we relinquish control to God and open ourselves for God to meet us and surprise us.

How Wonderful O Lord – A Jewish Prayer for Creation

Lorikeets in Sydney

Lorikeets in Sydney

I love this prayer which I came across in David Adam’s Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer. This book has long been a favourite of mine. I love to use it when I travel, finding that the short daily offices help to ground my spiritual practices during what can otherwise be a very disorienting journey.

How wonderful, O Lord, are the works of your hands!

The heavens declare your glory,

the arch of the sky displays your handiwork.

In your love you have given us the power

to behold the beauty of your world in all its splendour.

The sun and the stars, the valleys and the hills,

the rivers and the lakes, all disclose your presence.

The roaring breakers of the sea tell of your awesome might;

the beasts of the field and the birds of the air proclaim your wondrous will.

In your goodness you have made us able to hear the music of the world

the voices of loved ones reveal to us that you are in our midst.

A divine song sings through all creation.

For those of us who live in urban areas the music of God’s world is so often drowned out by the clatter and commotion of the world around us. This prayer reminds me of how much all of us need time amongst God’s good creation to reconnect once more to the divine song that reverberates through God’s world.


Let Us Thank God – A Harvest Prayer

Scarlet runner beans ready for the winter

Scarlet runner beans ready for the winter

It is harvest season here in the Pacific Northwest. The tomatoes are finally ripening, the beans have dried on the vine and the apples and pears are ready to be picked. As I walk out and see the miracle of what has come from tiny seeds my heart swells with gratitude at the wonder of how God provides. each year at this time I write reflections and prayers on the harvest season.

Last year I wrote this reflection: The Harvest is Plentiful But the Labourers are Few;

The year before I posted this: Praying for an Abundant Harvest

And the year before wrote this litany: God of the Bountiful – A Harvest Prayer

And my first post on this theme in 2008: The Generosity of God – Fish and Loaves for all

I had not intended to write another reflection for the harvest season this year – there is so much else that I want to write about. But there is something about this season that calls forth my gratitude and thanksgiving in ways that I realize I cannot deny. This morning it bubbled up within me into this prayer:

God we thank you for a harvest of plenty,

Small seeds that multiply to feed many,

Trees that blossom and produce abundant fruit,

Tomatoes that ripen on the vine with sweet flavour.

God we thank you for abundance overflowing,

Enough for our own needs and an abundance to share,

Enough to feed the hungry and provide for the destitute,

Enough to reach out with generosity and care. 

God we thank you for seeds you have planted in our hearts,

Seeds of righteousness yielding goodness and mercy,

Seeds of love yielding justice and peace,

Seeds of compassion yielding healing and renewal.

God we thank you for the bread of heaven,

Christ our saviour planted in our lives,

Christ our redeemer growing in our hearts,

Christ your Son making us one with you.

God we thank you for the gift of life,

Like water poured out on thirsty ground,

Spring and autumn rains that revive and bring life,

A river that flows from your heart and out into the world you love.