Great and Small Prayer

Prayer
Great and Small Tim Ellis

photo by Tim Ellis on flickr.com

King David’s story is a story of small beginnings and great accomplishments.  Get out your prayer journals for this prayer.

Thanksgiving
First, list the biggest thing that you would like to thank God for.  Then, list the smallest (It could be big and small in size, or big and small in importance).

Intercession
Next, list the biggest and smallest prayer request that you have on behalf of others.

Petition
Then, list the biggest and smallest issues in your life that you would like to give over to God .

Confession
Finally, list the biggest and smallest things that you would like to ask forgiveness for .

Out Loud Sharing
Go around the circle and share your prayers out loud, one category at a time. For confession, you may just say, “forgive me” and have a moment of silence before you go on.  End by praying the Lord’s Prayer together.

Summer Prayer Chain

Prayer

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This prayer idea came to me because our confirmation class is about to go into recess for the summer.  We are dispersing, just like those who were sent into exile in Babylon.  As we prepare to disperse, let’s promise to pray for one another in a prayer chain.  Each of us will make several strips of paper with our own name printed on them.  Each of us will take at least once strip from each other student, making sure to reserve at least one of our own.  We have 13 weeks until our next class, so each of us need at total of 13 strips.  We will each assemble our own chain in a paper chain, similar to one you might put on a Christmas tree, with the names of our confirmation students alternating (we only have 5 plus the pastor, so we will pray for one another multiple times over the summer, plus one time for the incoming confirmation students at the end of the summer).  Take your chain home and hang it in a place you won’t forget it.  Each week on Wednesday night, remove one link and pray for that student (or pastor) over the course of the week.  When the chain is empty, it will be time to gather together again!  Thank you for promising to keep each other in prayer!

Listening Prayer

Prayer
prophets

photo by dotbenjamin on flickr.com

The prophets listened to God and told the kings and the people what was on God’s mind.  Today, we are going to practice listening closely as we pray.  We will have some time of silence.  During that time, write down every single thing that you are able to hear (cars going by or the refrigerator running, for example).  After our time of silence, you will have time to think about how what you heard reminds you of God and what God might be calling you to do or to be.  We will each pray about one of these things out loud.

Here is one example:  “Dear God, I heard the refrigerator running in the kitchen today, and it reminded me to thank you that I have food to eat.  Today, I also remember that there are those who do not have enough to eat, and I hear you calling me to share what I have with those who need it.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Lenten Prayer Station #5: Promise Stones

Lent, Prayer

For Lenten Wednesdays this year, the confirmation students and I came up with prayer stations that corresponded with the stories in the Moses cycle of stories from Exodus and Joshua.  They were a very meaningful part of our parish’s journey through Lent, and I am excited to share them with you!  One challenge that we face in our parish is that we have a lot of people who are not very mobile, so there cannot be a lot of physical activity involved.  We did them in the context of Lenten midweek Evening Prayer, so they were a part of each service.  Below, you will find the prayer, hymn, scripture, and explanation that goes with the prayer station.

This is a picture of the fifth prayer station:

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Prayer of the Day (adapted from a prayer from Evening Prayer in Evangelical Lutheran Worship):  O God, tonight we will learn about the Israelite’s entrance into a new phase of life in the Promised Land.  You have also called us, your servants, to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn of the Day:  “Where Charity and Love Prevail” (#359 Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

Scripture Text:  Joshua 3:14-17, 4:15-24 (NRSV)
14 When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. 15 Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, 16 the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

15 The Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 When the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet touched dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.

4:19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, 21 saying to the Israelites, “When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, and so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

Promise Stone Prayer Experience (print in bulletin and read out loud)
Tonight our focus image has been a pile of stones, to help us remember the stone altar that the Israelites built to celebrate finally arriving in the Promised Land.  The Israelites were instructed to tell their children that “God keeps his promises to you” every time they saw the stones.  For our prayer experience, you will be invited forward to receive your own “Promise Stone.”  As you come forward, the confirmation students will remind you that “God keeps his promises to you.”  After you have received your stone, return to your seat by the side aisles.  When you have taken your seat again, you are invited to hold the stone in your hand while you meditate on the promises that God has made to you.  Some of those promises include:

  • I have called you by name. You are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
  • Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:26)
  • When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. (Isaiah 43:2)
  • See what love the Father has for us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are. (I John 3:1)
  • Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:8-39)

Consider these or other promises quietly while holding the stone in the palm of your hand.  After the service, take it home with you and put it in a place where you will be reminded of God’s promises as we prepare to enter Holy Week.

How to do it:
For the focus image, I put our Lenten cross on a flower stand and leaned it up against the altar.  Under the cross, I arranged a dark blue bed sheet to look like a river flowing out of the cross.  In the middle of the river, I placed a variety of palm-sized river stones that I purchased from the dollar store.  When it came time to distribute the stones, we placed them in one large wicker basket.  I held the basket in the center of the head of the aisle, and the students distributed the stones to each person, saying “God’s keeps his promises to you” to each person as they came up in the same way as they would for communion.

Lenten Prayer Station #4: Ten Commandments

Lent, Prayer

For Lenten Wednesdays this year, the confirmation students and I came up with prayer stations that corresponded with the stories in the Moses cycle of stories from Exodus and Joshua.  They were a very meaningful part of our parish’s journey through Lent, and I am excited to share them with you!  One challenge that we face in our parish is that we have a lot of people who are not very mobile, so there cannot be a lot of physical activity involved.  We did them in the context of Lenten midweek Evening Prayer, so they were a part of each service.  Below, you will find the prayer, hymn, scripture, and explanation that goes with the prayer station.

This is a picture of the fourth focus image, produced by our confirmation students for the prayer station:

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Prayer of the Day (adapted from a prayer from Evening Prayer in Evangelical Lutheran Worship):  O God, tonight we will remember the commandments that you gave us to teach us how to live with you and one another.  You have also called us, your servants, to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn of the Day:  “Lord Jesus, Think on Me” (#599 Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

Scripture Text:  Exodus 20:1-17 (NRSV)

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days theLord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 You shall not murder.

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Ten Commandments Prayer Experience (print in bulletin and read out loud)

Tonight, our focus image has been an artistic interpretation of the Ten Commandments that has been “Prayed in Color” by our Confirmation students.  In this form of prayer, you focus on a specific word or words as a jumping off point for prayer, and color the word and background in as a way to keep you focused as you pray.  For our prayer experience you will be invited to do the same.  You will be given one of the Ten Commandments (randomly selected) on a sheet of cardstock, as well as a few coloring utensils.  In the focus image, the words were colored in a small block at a time in two to three colors, and the background was colored in in two or three contrasting colors.  You may follow this example, or color yours in in a different way.  Your completed prayer will be added to the Ten Commandments display at church next week.

How to do it:

Here is the file for the coloring pages: 10 Commandments Coloring Sheets 

I printed them on white card stock so that they would be easier to color, and cut each sheet into quarters.  I purchased a class pack of Crayola colored pencils to distribute for this prayer experience.  I chose colored pencils because they don’t dry out or lose their caps like markers, and they can’t leave lasting marks on wooden pews, like crayons.  They are also able to be sharpened week after week as you use them.  When I did a similar prayer station last year, I just rounded up all of the crayons, markers, and colored pencils that I could find and distributed them that way.  I was surprised about how many people participated in the exercise.  The men of the congregation especially took the time to thank me for the opportunity to color; something they don’t usually do!

Here is a pic of the prayers on the bulletin boards that I put together for the next week, so that the congregation could see and pray each other’s commandments:

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Lenten Prayer Station #3: Sour and Sweet

Lent, Prayer

For Lenten Wednesdays this year, the confirmation students and I came up with prayer stations that corresponded with the stories in the Moses cycle of stories from Exodus and Joshua.  They were a very meaningful part of our parish’s journey through Lent, and I am excited to share them with you!  One challenge that we face in our parish is that we have a lot of people who are not very mobile, so there cannot be a lot of physical activity involved.  We did them in the context of Lenten midweek Evening Prayer, so they were a part of each service.  Below, you will find the prayer, hymn, scripture, and explanation that goes with the prayer station.

This is a picture of the third prayer station:

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Prayer of the Day (adapted from a prayer from Evening Prayer in Evangelical Lutheran Worship):  O God, tonight we learn about how the Israelites learned to trust you for everything in their journey through the wilderness.  You have also called us, your servants, to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn of the Day:  “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty” (#533 Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

Scripture Text:  Exodus 15:22-27 & 16:1-5, 11-15, 19-31 (NRSV)
Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

16:1The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”

11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers apiece. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.’” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”

27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. 28 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions? 29 See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

Highs and Lows/Sour and Sweet Prayer Experience (print in bulletin and read out loud)

Tonight our focus image has been a jug of water and flatbread, the symbols of the Israelites’ reliance on God in the wilderness.  Tonight, we invite you into a prayer practice that the confirmation students engage in every week, called highs and lows.  When we studied this story in class, we made sweet water by mixing lemon juice (our lows) and sugar (our highs) with water into lemonade.  One student reflected, “The experience of the Israelites is like our experience of life; some things are sour, some things are sweet, and it’s all wrapped up in the water of baptism.”  You will receive two cards, one yellow and one blue.  You may write one of your highs on the yellow (sunny, happy) card, and a low on the blue (stormy, sad) card.  The pastor and the confirmation students will pray over these things with you this week, and we will form them into a prayer wall at church next week.

At the end of the service, the confirmation students will offer little cups of water to remind us how much we rely on God.

How to do it: The focus image was a wooden platter with rice crackers and a pitcher of water (sweet water and manna).  We provided cards cut from yellow and blue card stock and pencils for the experience.  At the end of the service, the confirmation students handed out pre-filled dixie cups half-full of water and said “God provides for you.”

Here is a pic of the prayers on a bulletin board that I put together for the next week, so that the congregation could see and pray each other’s prayers:

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