Prayer for Autumn

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Finally the weather has cooled off, and we are officially in Autumn. The trees are just beginning to turn colors, and every morning there seems to be a new “surprise” of color waiting somewhere. After a long, hot summer it is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy God’s creation. Do you have outdoor spaces where you like to pray?

I have a friend who has a “prayer tree” along the walking path near her home. Just a little distance off the path, it is her place to stop and pray on her daily walks. I have a favorite spot on the Kaw River near Lawrence where I go when I want a longer, quieter time with God. Quite a few people recommend the walkways at the Overland Park Arboretum as excellent places to pray with nature all around.

We also have a beautiful sacred outdoor space for prayer on the Leawood Campus of the Church of the Resurrection. Just west of Wesley Covenant Chapel, you will find the Prayer Wall and Prayer Garden. If you have never visited it, take advantage of this beautiful weather and come and pray in this quiet place. Paper and pencils are provided at the wall if you would like to write a prayer and place it in the space between the stones, as pilgrims do at the Western Temple Wall or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Here is a Prayer for Autumn to use in your prayers in the Prayer Garden or your own special sacred space:

As the hours of daylight shorten, I give thanks that
you are a luminous and loving God.
You, my God, who are so light-hearted,
make my heart like yours.
As a disciple of your son Jesus,
may I be a light this day for those who
are still in the darkness of night.
As the light of the sun-star warms this planet
after a nighttime of facing into the ice darkness of space,
may I give warmth and light to all I meet.
I pause to pray for my daily needs and for the
graces necessary for this day.
Be mindful as well, O God,
of the special needs of (others you would pray for today).

May I see your holiness in the golden beauty of this day.
May I touch with reverence all things, since
everything is saturated with the sacred,
is a tabernacle of your presence.
Broaden the boundaries of my heart
that it may encompass more than it did yesterday.
Amen
(Excerpt  from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim, Edward Hays ©1989.Ave Maria Press, Inc.)

–Jennifer Creagar, Resurrection Prayer Ministries

Surprised by God

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If you are a regular reader of this prayer tip/prayer blog you might remember that a couple of weeks ago I challenged myself and you readers to have lunch and a conversation with someone who we would consider very different from ourselves.  The purpose of doing this was to grow in patience and compassion with people who we might tend to “otherize,” and to also be mindful that our prayers to God can not only be spoken in words, but also lived out in action.

In particular, I had a great desire to have lunch with a Muslim person since that was the topic of our worship service that week.  I was also privately embarrassed that although my children have Muslim friends, I couldn’t name one for myself.  So the day that I put out the challenge for myself and you, I stopped at Hy-Vee on my way home from work, like I always do, to find something to make for dinner.  Just as I rounded the corner into the produce department, I saw a Muslim women shopping with her three small children.  Her religion was distinguished because she was wearing the traditional hijab, which I have learned refers to both the head-covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Islamic styles of dress in general.

So can you imagine what was going through my head in the produce department of Hy-Vee?  “I just made this promise to my congregation… and now God has presented me with a person….should I ask this complete stranger to coffee…that seems really awkward….I’m kind of outgoing…..but not that much…hopefully I’m not staring too much.”

The woman who had been busy shopping and tending to her little kids didn’t even look up so that I would even have the opportunity to smile.  Thank goodness.

So a few weeks passed, and then something amazing happened.  Last week I was extended an invitation to represent Church of the Resurrection at the Crescent Peace Society’s annual celebration and awards dinner.  The mission of the Crescent Peace Society is,  “to enhance the understanding of Muslim cultures through educational and cultural activities involving the exchange of ideas and the experiences among people of diverse cultures.”

God not only provided me with opportunity, but exceeded any opportunity that I could have imagined. I was given the privilege of sharing a delicious meal with an entire room full of devout Muslims.  During that meal, I was  immersed in their culture , educated about their religious beliefs, prayer life, mission and their hopes and dreams to not only be accepted  in their communities but also to make a positive impact in their communities because of their faith.

Our God is a God of surprises, and even though we might pray for a specific outcome, we never really know when or how God will answer our prayer, do we?  As you move into this week, move into it with openness and humility so that you too might be surprised by God.

Pastor Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer

My Grandmother’s Bible

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My grandmother’s Bible was a wonderful thing.  It was worn, held together with a rubber band in places, and when you opened it up, you found her life.  You found passages of Scripture underlined, with notes like, “Pastor preached on this verse Sunday, May 12, 1968,” or “MEMORIZE this verse for hard times*,” or my favorite, “read at Jennifer and Monty’s wedding, April 15, 1978.”  In addition to the notes written on the pages are dozens of little pieces of paper.  Notes from Sunday School, reflections on passages of Scripture, prayer lists, and news clippings.  You might also find a recipe for chicken casserole, a shopping list, a poem or a garden plan.  My generation needs a day planner.  My grandmother just used her Bible.

At first, when her Bible came to me after her death, I couldn’t figure out the news clippings. The pages of her Bible seemed like a strange place for a scrapbook, and the news stories were often dark, or sad. Then I realized they were a kind of prayer list.  When she read something in the newspaper or a magazine that concerned her, she clipped it and placed it in her Bible, often next to a page with a scripture she wanted to use when praying about what she read.  When she saw something that hurt her heart, concerned, angered, or frightened her, she tore it out and put it in her Bible so she would remember to pray.

Over the course of her life, my grandmother saw some pretty scary and confusing things on the pages of the newspaper – the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl (she lived in Oklahoma), Pearl Harbor, the war in the Pacific where her three sons served, the creation of nuclear weapons, elections, assassinations, more wars, civil rights demonstrations, protests, tornadoes, earthquakes. Sound familiar?  The world can be a scary and frustrating place.  She turned again and again to the pages of her Bible and God to make sense of it all and find peace in the midst of chaos.

So, the next time you see something in the paper that frightens, frustrates, or confuses you, take a “page” from my grandmother. Tuck it, literally or figuratively, in your Bible next to words of comfort and hope and take your worries and fears to God in prayer.

*Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phillippians 4.6)  – Memorize this verse for hard times. My grandmother said so!

Jennifer Creagar – Resurrection Prayer Ministry


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