Seminary taught me to script prayers.
I did until God challenged on an early morning during the first worship service about three decades ago, “We went over that on Friday. It’s Sunday. Let’s talk. Let’s be real, not religious.”
It was the first hint of Matthew 15 and 23 in my life.
Parenthetically, I still find myself asking, “Why didn’t I ever hear my professors or presbyters talk about those chapters in the preparation for professional ministry? How did I miss them in my relationship with Jesus? What was/is going on in churches and why have we enabled it for so long?”
Anyway, really praying can get ya into trouble with the religious.
Tony told me about the woman who complained, “You are so earthy and colloquial in your prayers. You offend me.”
He responded, “Listen, lady, I wasn’t talking to you.”
Admittedly, I still take an outline of prayer concerns with me as I preside/participate in worship.
With so much on my mind so much of the time, it helps.
Still, just like I used to tell my homiletics students that heralds really have only One hearer who counts in the end which means it’s better to try to please Him than lessers, several folks have asked for a copy of the 8/5/18 opening prayer on the corner of Lincoln and Main.
While I retrieved the outline from my trash can but know it wasn’t exactly the same in both services and have no idea why it garnered so much attention, here’s the best that I can recall:
We are still, Father, when You are Lord and Savior to us in Jesus as present in the Holy Spirit.
We have strong calm sanity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit when You are personal not religious Lord and Savior.
We are trees planted by the water that shall not be moved when You are really in our heads, hearts, and guts as Lord and Savior.
We are never too down for too long when You are Lord and Savior because up from the grave You arose and reign as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We are compelled if not consistent by continuing carnality to agape love – praying and laboring for the highest good of anyone/everyone no matter who, what, when, where, or why without the need or expectation for response, regard, or reward – when You are really our Lord and Savior and we’re not pretending faith and trying to fool everyone including You.
We rarely panic when dark clouds come and we rarely shiver in the presence of darkness because Your Holy Spirit in us is greater than them and they not us flee in confrontation as we quickly overcome and triumph and live victoriously when You are our focus in life and filter for all we think, say, and do.
We aren’t even afraid of the last breath; for we know the last breath is just the last preface to paradise and the worst thing that can happen to us in time is the best thing to happen to us forever.
We are still because You are enough.
You are enough; and while we love our companionships and human couplings, we only, now as well as then, really only need You to be saved…now…forever…world without end…
And in those days when all that we have just prayed does not seem sufficient and we banter and moan and whine and whimper and sulk and pout with tails between the legs while panting with Chicken Little – “The sky is falling!” – that’s when we are reminded we need more of You and less of everyone else even our own ingenuities as we recall, “How makarios/blessed/fortunate/happy/joy-filled are those who depend solely, completely, categorically, existentially, and eternally upon You.
We pray in the way and the truth and the life…Jesus.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
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