Tag Archives: prayer

Prayer For Ash Wednesday

1 Mar

Today is Ash Wednesday, one of the most popular holy days in the church year. Most of us will try to get to church during the day to receive a cross of ashes on our foreheads. If you are unable to do that, use this prayer service to begin Lent.

Gather with your family or in a communal space in your building or with other friends and neighbors. You can create ashes by burning some palm from last year’s Palm Sunday, or a small piece of paper or fabric. All you need for the prayer service is someone to lead and someone to read the scripture.

prayer-symbolLeader: Loving God, be with us as we begin the holy season of Lent.
All: Loving God, be with us.
Reader: St. Paul tells us “God has sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts. The Spirit urges us from deep inside to say, ‘Abba, my father.’ We are no longer slaves. We are God’s sons and daughters.”
Leader: During Lent we want to grow closer to you, Abba, our father, and to be more loving to one another. These ashes are a sign of the commitments we make to keep Lent.

Pass the dish of ashes around. Each person dips his or her thumb in the ashes and makes a cross on the forehead of the person on his/her right, saying:

__________ you are a child of God. Make loving choices during Lent.

Ask if people wish to share their commitments. Sing a simple song everyone knows to conclude your prayer.

O Anthiphons

14 Oct

 

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The O Antiphons are the Church’s prayer for the last days of Advent. Beautifully illustrated by Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, each card has a visual and a prayer poem by Joan Mitchell, CSJ. The original antiphon and its scriptural sources on the back. Click here to view a sample.

Only $15.00 per set (price includes shipping!).
Order online today!

The Times

19 Aug
Artwork by Sr. Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ

Artwork by Sr. Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ

Anyone who picked up the New York Times this morning saw the heartbreaking photo of a small, traumatized Syrian boy on the cover. Sister Ansgar, an artist, responded by creating a collage that put the child in the arms of Mary and gave him a mother for our prayerful contemplation. She found the photo of the Mary statue in the Art section. She calls the collage: The Times.

Ramadan

10 Jun

June 6 marked the beginning of Ramadan for our Muslim brothers and sisters. Until July 5th, Muslims will fast daily from sunrise to sunset. It is considered a month of holiness, when fasting can center folks, inviting them to remember the poor and acknowledge their dependence on God. It is a month of discipline and celebration. As a Muslim friend recently told me, breaking the fast in Ramadan is like Thanksgiving every day. Families and friends often gather to feast at sundown.

During the summers of 2012 and 2013, I had the pleasure of spending Ramadan with a group of Muslims in Kenya. I saw how draining the month long fast could be, but I also saw its effect on the community in positive ways. Many looked forward to Ramadan as a time to focus on faith, to deepen prayer, to connect with God, and come together as a people.

We are living in a time of great misunderstanding surrounding Islam. The holy season of Ramadan is a good time for Christians to learn more, listen intently and open our hearts to our Muslim brothers and sisters. I’m heartened to see the birth of an organization called Congregations Together for Peace that builds ties between Christian and Muslim communities. I’m encouraged that Lutheran Social Services for Minnesota has created a study guide for Christian adults and youth to work through.

Maybe this Ramadan God is calling us to pray daily for stronger relationships between Christians and Muslims. Or could it mean fasting one day a week in solidarity? Invite a local Imam to your congregation to speak, or extending a blessed Ramadan to Muslims in your life. To honor their holy season, let us walk with our Muslim brothers and sisters toward lasting peace.

God, Prayer, and Parking Spaces

22 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Long Thien

Photo via Flickr user Long Thien

“God is not in the business of opening up parking spaces for you,” my theology professor often reminded us.

My professor’s voice, speaking this line, comes back to me often as I struggle to find words in prayer. It’s hard to know what to pray for, how to pray. It’s so easy to slip into simply reciting a laundry list of wants and desires for God. Things that will make us happy and forward the life that we envision for ourselves. When we get what we want, then, we give God thanks and proceed, thinking our system of prayer air tight. Until we don’t get what we want. Then the bottom drops out.

My professor was saying that prayer is more complex than praying for life to be easy and comfortable. It’s not a simple transaction that makes our lives more convenient. God is more interesting than that, and our relationship to God is more varied.

Yet, is it wrong to state our desires in prayer? Isn’t there value in that, too?

I have wanted something particular to happen for a few years now. In the last few months, I recommitted to that desire and spent more intentional time expressing that desire to God. It felt good to honestly claim what was in my heart. It made me feel vulnerable and closer to God. I told my friends what I wanted, too, and they prayed with me. I felt their love, energy and prayers with me, strengthening me. I found myself coming to peace with getting or not getting what I wanted. Waiting felt lighter. I thought about how long Abraham and Sarah waited for God to fulfill God’s promise. I reminded myself that God never promised to make me happy. God never agreed to make sure there would always be a parking spot open for me in the lot.

Meanwhile, my friend’s dad got sick and moved into the hospital. She, too, prayed to God for what she wanted. She wanted her dad to get well and return home.

Within weeks of each other, I got what I wanted and she didn’t.

This is where prayer becomes I mystery. I was not praying harder. My faith is not stronger. God does not love me more. My desire was in no way more pure. In isolation, I’d like to believe my prayer made a difference, but put alongside my friend’s prayer that seemingly went unanswered, that just stops making sense to me. This line of thinking leads us to our bewildering thoughts about God, thoughts of God being unfair and inconsistent and cruel.

I flew out to spend a few days with my friend. She was so sad, so angry, so confused. “I believe in heaven,” she said. “I know he’s happy, but I’m not. I want him back with me.” She didn’t know where God fit into her pain. She didn’t know what prayer meant anymore.

The easy response is to say that we should not pray for what we want, but pray for strength to handle what happens. I told my friend, however, that I think it gives God honor to show her anger and say plainly what she wants. It will not bring her dad back, but it is her coming to God with authenticity, vulnerability and honesty. We agreed to keep muddling through this life together, praying as we go.

 

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Springtime Prayer

3 Apr

Prayer

Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

19 Mar

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Lent encourages us to slow down so we can recognize what drives us and to fast from food and fashion that consumes us. As Sisters of St. Joseph we celebrate the feast of our patron on March 19 and take a break from Lent for festivities. Joseph is also the patron of the universal Church, so March 19 is a feast we can all claim. Joseph gives us an example of an ordinary husband and father who faces extraordinary challenges. Here is a prayer to him.

Joseph, most ordinary, on this your feast,
help us listen to our dreams with compassion and openness as you did.
Help us stretch, hold, and deepen our relationships.
Open our embrace of the future
as you opened your arms to a child not your own.
In these hard times may we, like you,
dream compassionately, provide wisely,
and build community that can hold us together.
We ask this through Jesus, whom you claimed and named.  Amen.

Christmas Mercy

24 Dec
Photo via Flickr user Martin Beek

Photo via Flickr user Martin Beek

Lord Jesus, Mary and Joseph were turned away at many places before they found a stable to rest. This Christmas, be with those who are searching for home or a safe place to rest.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were brave enough to come to us as a baby. This Christmas, help us to pay attention to the babies in our midst and remember how little and vulnerable you once were.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were born in a stable. This Christmas, help us remember to look for your beautiful presence in unexpected, unbeautiful places.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were born to two people who loved you dearly. This Christmas, help us be thankful for those people who love us, help us celebrate the family and communities we have. Give extra love to those who need it right now.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, a bright star appeared in the sky to help the shepherds and wise people find their way to you. This Christmas, may the stars in the sky inspire us to live a life that seeks you.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you came to be a light in the darkness. There is still a lot of darkness in our world. This Christmas, shine brightly where there is war, fighting, poverty and hurt. Help us be a light to others with our thoughts, words and actions.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

 

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Prayer For Advent – Week 4

23 Dec

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Prayer for Advent – Week 3

16 Dec

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