Words for Worship: A Collection of Prayers

medium_8770102292A Prayer for when Natural Disasters strike:

Holy God,

You created the earth, and it is Good. You created the universe, and it is Good.  At times we blame and curse the universe for the bad things that happen; we blame and curse the earth for the natural disasters we face. God, call us away from cursing into lives of blessing. Help us to share out of our resources with those in need. Call us to use our hands and feet to act in recovery efforts and in arms that reach out. Guide our hearts to remember all who have lost so much.

We are grateful, God, for the first responders who gave up fear and instead gave into hope to rescue others. We are grateful, God, for all those who have rushed to help, to pledge their resources, to bring comfort. We are grateful, God, for churches and schools who have flung open their doors to be homes for the homeless. We are grateful, God, for the hearts that have been broken open.

And we grieve, Holy God, for all those who have been lost. We mourn with the families who have lost loved ones, especially children. Creator God, who loves us like a mother and father, we cannot fathom the grief that is being experienced in this time. Call us away from the simple answers and responses that cannot heal wounds so deep. Keep us instead to the hope that is in You, the hope of resurrection, the hope of new life.

In the name of Christ, the one who brings us healing, the one who brings us hope, the one who leads us into life, we pray. Amen.


A Litany/Call to Worship for United States Independence Day/Canada Day Weekend:

Leader: God of all Nations, call us into Your family.
People: We welcome all people of all cultures and languages, for we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Leader: God of all ages past and present, call us into Your family.
People: We walk hand in hand with our seniors and our children, called to be present and share with our homebound and our young ones, for we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Leader: God of Diversity, call us into Your family.
People: We embrace all people on the margins, including those of different genders and sexual orientations, for we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Leader: God of the Poor, God of the Hungry, God of the Oppressed, call us into Your family.
People: We will speak up and seek justice for all those who suffer, for we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Leader: God of Creation, call us into Your family.
People: Call us to embrace and love, to bless and uphold, to remember we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, as we gather to worship You


A Prayer for United States Independence Day/Canada Day Weekend:

Loving God, we give You thanks for the wonders of creation, especially our diversity that is a wonderful gift. As we celebrate our nation’s holidays this week, Canada Day and Independence Day, we give thanks for the diversity of cultures and languages that make up our nations. Remind us of the people who have been forgotten, the people who lived here before many of us came to be. Help us to honor not only the forefathers and foremothers of the current nation but to honor the grandmothers and grandfathers of the peoples of North America, that we may not forget all the people who have called this place home. Help us to reach out to those who are oppressed and marginalized in our country, help us to speak up and be the voice for the voiceless, and remind us to be in solidarity, sharing what we have, including our voice and power. In the name of Jesus the Christ, who came in order that the world might be saved through him, we pray. Amen.


A Prayer for Trinity Sunday or Father’s Day:

Abba, Father, Mother, Creator–we call You by many names, but the names we choose show our relationship with You. We desire to draw closer to You, O God. We desire to hear Your voice above the chatter of the world, to know Your ways and to walk in them. Spirit of Life, Wind and Breath among us, we feel You move through us, guiding us on our journey, inspiring us to share Your love with others. Jesus, the Christ, the Savior of us all, our Brother and Friend, we desire to walk in Your ways and to love one another as You have first loved us. Triune God, we desire to relate to You and to each other more fully, so that we might draw into the depths of Your love, first glimpsed at creation, when Your voice called us and the earth forth out of darkness into Your light. Continue to call us, guide us and lead us into this world and beyond. Amen.


A Prayer for the Season after Pentecost:

Glorious God, we give You thanks for the seasons, for warmth and cold, sun and rain. We give You thanks in times of hope and fear, in times of frustration and calm, in times of unbalance and peace. We know that You are always present with us. When we fall into times of doubt, draw us out, O Lord. When we stumble into times of despair from the unjust world around us, lift us up, O Lord. When we see injustice around us and we feel hopeless, strengthen us and give us courage, O Lord. We are called to do Your work in our world; grant us Your wisdom, fill us with Your hope and stir in us Your desire to build up the family of God. In the name of our Creator, Christ and Spirit that fills us, we pray. Amen.

Backpack Blessings

This will be the third year we do a backpack prayer at our church.  We announce for several weeks before that all children are invited to bring their backpacks with them to church on the Sunday before school starts (here that is usually the last Sunday in July!!).  During the time for children, we invite them all to come forward, and we talk a little bit about going back to school, and what is exciting, and what is scary, and what is fun. Then each child gets a postcard sized card with a clip-art of a backpack on it for them to color and a prayer.  The back is left blank for them to write their own prayer when they get home.  The card can then be tucked into the child’s backpack as a reminder all year that they are prayed for while they are at school.   We have a large number of teachers in our congregation, so this year, we will be making a card for them as well, with a different prayer.

The prayer for the children that is printed on the card is:

Loving God, be with me today when I go to school.  Sometimes it is scary, and sometimes it is hard.  Sometimes it is exciting, and sometimes it is fun.  I know that no matter what happens today, you are with me.  Help me to learn from my teachers every day.  You gave us the gift of learning.  Help me to remember to show my thanks to you by doing my best everyday.  Amen.

For Teachers:  

Oh God, you have called me to teach your children in this community.  Be with me today when I go to school.  Help me do my best to be patient and kind, no matter what this day brings.  Give me courage and strength when they are needed, and a spirit of fun and energy.  May the minutia of administration and paperwork not be draining.  Help me use the gifts you have given me to nurture and shape the children in my care.  Amen.


Julie Jensen is the Associate Pastor for Congregational Care and Mission at First Presbyterian Church in Cartersville, GA.  When she is not trying to stay out of the heat, you will find her knitting, cooking, and trying to make something grow in her garden.

Photo Credit: by o5comm, Used by permission of Creative Common License 2.0.

The Language of My Prayers

I don’t like words in my prayers.

It’s the writer in me. I’m too busy editing. Once the words fall off my lips, I’m correcting it. I’m explaining to God that’s not really what I mean. I’m tripping over the correct words instead of exploring the feelings and emotions behind those words.

So, about a year ago, I stopped using words. Not entirely. They still pop up in the words that I cherish from the Bible or the words that I mutter between silences – but most of my prayers and now found in black lines upon a page.

I started like I was in art school. That is, I started like an art student that went to seminary. I gathered all my materials. I sat down with some paper and I started to think about the end product before the seminary student interrupted. She knew better. She knew it wasn’t about the end product but about the process. And so, I practiced my own form of lectio divina using the cycle of readings provided in Between Sundays: Daily Bible Readings Based on the Revised Common Lectionary, but instead of writing or sitting in silence, I drew. I drew images from my living room and my neighborhood that spoke to the words I heard in the sacred text. This introduced a different critic. Instead of editing my words, I was thrown back into the studios of my college years. I hated the images I created. They were ugly. They were poorly drawn. They were unskilled. Read more

The Long Year

On Saturday June 6th 2009, while turning to get something during our evening worship, I ruptured my Achilles tendon. It happened so quickly: Five steps and a pop. One E/R visit and one splint later, plus a phone call to a church member who’s also an orthopedic surgeon, and I was scheduled for surgery on the 9th.

So with one surgery, one ‘outpatient overnight’ and one ginormous cast, I was home for two weeks. No weight-bearing AT ALL, no driving (I injured my right leg), and so on. I did lots of reading, catching up on news, keeping up with email, and frankly, sleeping (especially as I weaned myself from pain meds. Sleep is a great avoidance tactic.). Then I went in for a second casting (working the foot toward normal/flat) on Wednesday the 24th.

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Reflections on the Sacred Center

God brings many things to birth in and through us, no matter what our circumstance of life, family or vocation might be.


motherhood. ministry. life. creativity. partnering. loving. being a neighbor.

each part of life merges together through the many hats i wear. as i reflect on life’s successes and near misses, i come to view my life focusing on the sacred center, the space in which God resides and flows into me, from me, and into all other parts of my life. each of the concentric circles i create are becoming more a focus of the sacred circles, or the sacred center. in my work of art + spirituality and in living the creative life, i so often return to these simple structures: circle on circle. i think of my life more as a mandala: a movement from the outside in, or from the inside out, with God as the sacred center. my many roles are the circles moving from God to the outside, and some days from me to the God-side. each breath is a sacred moment. each stitch is a prayer. each color speaks to me and comes from the Creative Spirit within. Read more

The View from Your Ministry

Thanks to everyone who contributed photos for “The View from Your Ministry” contest! A few of our favorites appear below.

Also congratulations to Emily Chapman, who won the drawing for a Young Clergy Women tote bag and other goodies.

It is exciting to get a glimpse of the different contexts in which we do our work.


“Slow Church” By Abby Auman

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(Extra)Ordinary Time

For lectionary-followers, this summer has been an unusually long slog through Ordinary Time. Maybe it’s getting a little too ordinary for you by now. Help is on the way, though. For August 31, the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (year A), the lectionary presents us with several stories of people pulled from the ordinary. Laura Stephens-Reed presents us with the following call to worship, an excellent example of how a finely crafted call can be beautifully written, liturgically appropriate, and gently exegetical. Inspired by her good work, Erica Schemper adds a short prayer that might also be used on that Sunday.

With a few weeks left until August 31, we’d love to see a few additional worship ideas posted in the comments!

Call to Worship for Ordinary 22A

by Laura Stephens-Reed

One: We gather on this ordinary Sunday for praise and worship.
Yet it was on an ordinary day that God called to Moses from the burning bush making him the leader of a chosen people.

Many: It was on an ordinary day that Jesus first told his friends he must die and be raised setting self-giving as the standard for discipleship.

One: What extraordinary thing will God do among us on this ordinary day?

Many: Come, Holy Spirit, open our lives to the mystery among the mundane.

Collect for Ordinary 22A

by Erica Schemper

God of everything we know,
Creator, Redeemer, and Renewer,
bless to us what is familiar and ordinary:
the sights and sounds of home,
the smell of the people and places we love,
the regular pattern of heart and breath,
everything that is average and often goes unnoticed.

But when we need it, surprise us,
sharpen our vision, and clear our ears,
heighten our senses,
make our hearts race,
with the things you have promised,
the things we expect and the things that shock us.
Transform us, Lord, with the Spirit’s fire.

Breastfeeding as Spiritual Practice

When my husband and I signed up for our labor and delivery classes at Meriter Hospital, I looked forward to these sessions with both excitement and trepidation. It was unfortunate that we missed the last class, which was on breastfeeding. I never really thought it would be a big deal. After all, my mother never had any problems, and I knew women had been doing this for ages. The thought of taking a class on a “natural” biological event seemed a bit strange.

When my infant son was born with a full head of hair and a round little face, the nurses plopped him on my breast as I was lying prone recovering from surgery. I didn’t know anything about latching him on, nor did he. He lay on top of me like a little papoose snuggling into me for warmth. As we waited and waited for my milk to come in Elias, my little baby, started to lose weight. In the meantime, I felt so helpless and was helpless to the helpless.

I was amazed that this tiny creature had to be taught how to eat, how to breastfeed. I thought of our Lord as an infant getting his own clenched fists in the way of his mouth and of his source of life. Who could imagine that the King of the Universe would have struggled like Elias did to learn his source of sustenance and succor? While Elias had his own struggles, his mother wondered about her ability to mother, especially without the powerful gift of strong feminine milk. The milk finally came in, but soon we were to learn that the mother/son pair just couldn’€™t find a great symbiotic rhythm.

After a couple of weeks of lots of trial and error, it was discovered that I did not produce enough milk to keep my son going. It was no wonder we started to pray the hours more than even a monastic community.  You see, every time Elias needed to eat we would set ourselves up in the breastfeeding chair. During those moments of desolation, that place became a place of prayer. A simple, “Please, Lord, help him get enough” was enough to keep the prayers going to God. Once I was put on medication to produce more breastmilk, my prayers changed in nature. Read more

The Morning She Was Betrayed

It was 8:35 when my alarm clock betrayed me.

And I only knew of his defiance because the phone rang. Twice. But I rolled over insisting that this, too, was part of my dream. The rebellion continued until the answering machine interrupted.

“Lexi?” My answering machine called out. It was then that I realized that this was the morning I was betrayed. It was now 8:37. Worship had started seven minutes ago, and I was supposed to be presiding.

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