A Prayer for the People of Kenya and Pakistan

Micha Jazz of the Contemplative Network posted this prayer on Light for the Journey yesterday. May it remind us of the heartache suffered over the weekend by so many in Kenya and Pakistan. May it stir within us a deep desire for peace and a longing for God’s world where violence and war will no longer exist

Let us join our prayers for the people of Nairobi tonight.
Let s pray for peace and comfort for all those facing bereavement in Nairobi. Let us also pray for the perpetrators and their families. Lord have mercy.

Kikuyu Peace Prayer

Praise ye Lord,
Peace be with us.

Say that the elders may have wisdom and speak with one voice.
Peace be with us.

Say that the country may have tranquillity.
Peace be with us.

And the people may continue to increase.
Peace be with us.

Say that the people and the flock and the herds
May prosper and be free from illness.
Peace be with us.

Say that the fields may bear much fruit
And the land may continue to be fertile.
Peace be with us.

May peace reign over earth,
May the gourd cup agree with vessel.
Peace be with us.

May their heads agree and every ill word be driven out
Into the wilderness, into the virgin forest.

Prayer for Those Impacted by Tornadoes in Oklahoma

The following prayer was posted by Bonnie Harr on the Light for the Journey Facebook page this evening.

Prayer for Oklahoma.

A Prayer for those in Granbury West Texas

via Associated Press. Photo by Mike Fuertes

The first piece of news that caught my attention this morning was about the devastating tornados that sped through West Texas last night killing at least 12 people. My heart aches for people whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed in a few terrifying minutes.

Then I received a message from my friend Cherie Minton who together with her husband Jack heads up Hope Force International. Her request: “Pray for the first responders.” Coincidently my gospel reading for the morning was the story of the Good Samaritan. First responders – good samaritans, strangers become neighbours, those who respond to the divine spark of love within to show mercy, compassion and love to complete strangers often putting their own lives at risk in the process.

This was the background out of which I wrote my prayer this morning.

Lord of mercy,

Be with those who suffer.

Into their broken lives,

Bring hope and peace.

Into their devastated communities,

Bring restoration.

Lord of mercy,

Be with those who respond.

In their bravery,

Keep them safe.

In their compassion,

Show your love.

In their faces,

May we see Jesus.

Unexpected by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Unexpected
Today’s post is by Kimberlee Conway Ireton, author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year.

The scourge of sex trafficking

My year of prayer is taking an unexpected turn. Or maybe the turn started last Easter, in my first year of prayer, when I felt prompted to learn more about human trafficking, particularly of young girls for sex. What I learned horrified me, to say the least, and I began to write about it. With the help of several generous friends, I raised over $1o00 for International Justice Mission (IJM) and Love 146, two organizations working hard to combat sex slavery.

As a result of my research and writing last year, I signed up for International Justice Mission’s weekly prayer update. Every Thursday I’d get an email with a half dozen or so requests for their work around the world. I confess, I’d usually read through it and say a couple of yes, God’s or thank you Jesus’s before deleting the email.

In the intervening year, though, I’ve learned a lot more about the work that IJM does—and the prayer that undergirds it—and I’ve been stunned buy the stories I’ve heard and read of God’s providence and provision and care both for the justice workers and for the people on whose behalf they’re working. God really does answer prayer.

And that makes me want to pray more.

So, much to my surprise, my year of prayer—which I originally envisioned as being somehow about me—is turning out to not be about me at all. (Shocking, I know.) God is slowly calling me out of myself; calling me to pray beyond the borders of my small house, my big family; calling me to set aside my doubt and my questions for a few moments and just. pray.

In the past several months, I’ve become more intentional about praying over IJM’s requests. Thanks to my iPhone, I can read the email anywhere, so I recently started pulling up the IJM prayer requests whenever I’m standing in a line. This means I now pray over them multiple times each week—at the grocery store, the post office, my favorite coffee shop, even the library.

The more I pray, the more I want to pray. I confess that the cynic in me expects that this is just some sort of honeymoon phase. Yeah, I’m all gaga about Jesus and prayer right now, but it’ll fade. The rest of me hopes my inner cynic is wrong. I pray about that, too—that when my googoo eyes wear off, I’ll still love Jesus, still love prayer, and that if I don’t, I’ll still practice it anyway.

The funny thing about all this—at least to me—is that I am one of those people who’s always buried her head in the sand. I never wanted to know about the awful things happening in the world. I didn’t want to feel the pain of other’s suffering. I didn’t want to feel the guilt of not doing anything about it. And I certainly didn’t want to risk hearing God call me to some far-off place without indoor plumbing.

Yet here I am, eagerly awaiting the next prayer email from IJM, emails that frequently break my heart and make me weep for people I’ve never met. I’ve even started fantasizing about maybe going on a mission trip someday. How is this possible? Who is this person I’m becoming? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I want to do something about the horrors in this world, and prayer is doing something. As Bethany Hoang says, “for every follower of Christ, being obedient to God’s commands to justice is….a daily, on-the-ground, person-by-person work of prayer.” Prayer is the fundamental work of a Christian.

I don’t understand how prayer works any more than I did a year ago. But I’m starting to see that how it works is less important than that it works. And that my work is to stop thinking so much about prayer and actually pray.

A Prayer for Those in the Boston Marathon

 

This morning my heart goes out to all those impacted by the explosions at the Boston Marathon which left 3 dead and 147 injured.

God in the midst of senseless violence,

Come to us today.

Hold close to those who grieve,

Comfort those in pain,

Grant peace to all who fear.

Let us see your unfailing love,

In the kindness of strangers,

In the compassion of friends.

Let us trust your guiding hand,

In those who seek for answers,

In those who work for justice.

Let us hope and trust in your mercy,

Knowing that you have not abandoned us.

Amen.

Facing the Pain of Lent

I wrote this morning’s reflection for the series  Return to Our Senses in Lent as a result of some the struggles I have experienced in the last few weeks.

Christine Sine

Christine Sine

This morning I am almost pain free and my head does not feel as though it is full of cotton wool. That may not sound remarkable to most of you but for me it is a wonderful feeling. For the last 5 weeks I have struggled with a bout of facial neuralgia that has slowed me down physically, mentally and even spiritually. I have struggled with constant pain, sleepless nights, and an inability to think straight. And for someone like me who generally memorizes their calendar, rarely writes down appointments and loves to work on half a dozen projects at once, this has been extremely limiting.

Sounds appropriate that this should have hit during Lent, one of my friends commented.  At the time I dismissed her comment but now find myself reconsidering. After all, Lent is about craving for wholeness. As we walk with Jesus towards Jerusalem and the cross, we look not just for spiritual healing but for physical healing too. Sometimes, as in the case of my facial pain, there is little we can do to bring about that healing except wait patiently, pray and hope for a better world. At other times we can actively work towards healing, changing our lifestyle and daily activities to nurture the healing process. And always there is that amazing sense of freedom when our pain or whatever other issues we struggle with, disappear and we are released. 

So it is with our faith. The healing from the brokenness within does not always come easily and sometimes we feel there is little, if anything, we can do to hasten it. We are acutely aware of the pain, we stay awake at night agonizing over its impact on our lives and those of others, but we feel incapable of changing. All we can do is pray and hope.

Then suddenly something changes, we don’t know why or how, but suddenly the burdens that have so weighed us down are lifted and we feel life has returned. It is as though we have arrived at the foot of the cross and been able to lay them down. Fortunately that is not the end of the story however.

The freedom, the rejoicing, the celebration in our spirits is huge, not because we have reached the cross but because in this moment we have looked beyond the cross to the resurrection and the new life of God’s eternal world. May we always remember that the cross is not an end but a beginning, not a failure but a triumph, not a death but an entrance into new life.

Stranger at the Door by Mary Elizabeth Todd.

Today’s post in the series Return to Our Senses in Lent comes from Mary Elizabeth Todd. May was born in the mountains of Western NC and grew up in East Tennessee- She went to Erskine College and majored in Behavioral Science and Religion. She started writing poetry at 10 years of age, grew up listening to her father’s poems. She worked 28 years as a foster care worker and was awarded Social worker of the Year in 2004 for the state of South Carolina by the Foster Parent Association. She retired in 2006 and reckons she is a mountain woman thru and thru, loves the Lord but fails often, but always gets back up.

I asked Mary if I could post the following prayers first because they seemed to flow so well after the post yesterday on looking after special needs children and second because they so beautifully fit into this year’s theme. Caring for those who cannot care for themselves is a spiritual discipline that we all should consider.

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farfar_nordicstatue

A child I once worked with and who was in a persistant vegetative state, died this morning. He has been healed.

I wrote this poem right after this incident happened that crippled his life:

Sing You a Lullaby…

“Hush little baby
Don’t you cry”*

I saw one little tear roll
Across your tiny brown face.
I took the tip of my finger
And wiped it clear.
You turned not seeing towards me.
Your dark brown eyes
Stared through me.
Did you cry for the sadness
That you could not know?
Did you cry for the pain
You no longer understood what it was?
Did you cry because in minutes
You lost all the things; we take for granted,
Playing ball and riding bikes,
Laughing and talking and making friends,
Feeding ourselves, and being able to know
Light from dark, and growing up to love.
Did you cry in anger that no one heard you
When you were alone and needed them?
I looked at the tiny tear on my finger,
And it pierced my heart.
If all my tears could heal you,
Your eyes would light up, and you would smile,
But your eyes are expressionless as a doll’s eyes,
And my tears cannot heal.
There is nothing I can do,
But wipe the tear from your eye,
Place a kiss on your tiny hand,
And sing you a lullaby…

“Mama’s goin’ buy
You a mockingbird”*

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Mary read  the following poem when she received the award for Social Worker of the year from the foster parents in 2004.

Stranger at the Door
Dedicated to the foster parents of South Carolina

There is a stranger at the door,
Newly born in a cocaine haze.
The crying and hunger is non-stop;
The monitor jangles your nerves.
Just about dawn sleep rocking him,
His tiny fingers reach in and entwine your heart.

There is a stranger at the door,
A curly haired angel on the spring tour of homes,
Trying threes were never like this-
The broken toys, the biting, the banging of her head.
Exhausted curled in a tight ball, she sleeps.
She is safe here, you say, brushing her hair from her face.

There is a stranger at the door,
A snaggle tooth grin beams from his face,
Dark eyed charmer, nimble adventurer.
The school is concerned, Maybe ADHD,
Wants you to come; you understand,
Living with a tornado, charming or not is rough.

There is a stranger at the door,
Three AM and there she stands;
Wide eyed, holding back the tears, she refuses to speak.
Nine years old and seen way too much.
Three thirty breakfast and a bath,
You’ll take care of her needs, when she is ready you’ll listen.

There is a stranger at the door,
The twelve year old is not the same,
Who left smiling a year ago hopeful things had changed,
Sullen and angry with a “why me” look on his face.
The black eye and red marks tell it all.
You simply open your arms and welcome him home.

There is a stranger at the door,
There are really two, a mama and her baby
Thrown away like dust.
Fifteen isn’t so grownup when you’re alone.
You teach her how to do her algebra and what a mama’s to do.
As she struggles with her studies, you sing them how to love.

There is a stranger at the door…

Mary Elizabeth Todd