As I said in my my last blog post, I have been dreaming and praying about how to use Every Day, Ordinary Worship as a tool for ministry. That visioning has led me to several ideas, which I plan to introduce you to over the coming weeks. One such idea I would like to introduce today is a regular offering that will be featured on the blog called "A Word of Prayer." Why? I'm so glad you asked.
John Wesley is known for saying, "Read and pray daily...it is your life."
The Apostle Paul exhorts the church to "pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
And, finally, Eugene Peterson asserts that a primary pastoral ministry is to pray with and for people and teach them how to pray.
A dear friend, and mentor, of mine once told me that after more than 40 years in pastoral ministry his regret was not praying more and teaching people how to pray. With less than a year in pastoral ministry, I can already say, "I wish I prayed more." And, as a pastor who is being asked to help lead the church in discipleship and spiritual formation, I know I need to strengthen my own prayer life in order to effectively teach people how to pray. So, a regular blog post titled "A Word of Prayer" is part of the solution. Some blog entries might come from reading and studying books on prayer as a means of engaging in practical conversation about the discipline of prayer. Some blog entries might simply be prayers that I encounter, so that we can read and pray together.
This week, students in Gainesville and all over the country are returning to school. I came across the following prayer on a favorite website called ministrymatters.com. You can find the prayer here, along with a responsive prayer you might find appropriate to pray together as a family.
Let us pray.
Our lives are marked, O God, by the changing of the seasons. We take unusual delight in these times, for they are periods of heightened expectancy and new growth. It has been a long and busy summer. We have exulted in our various activities. And now it is time to prepare for the fall and winter, and many are going back to school, some here at home and others at a distance. We thank you for all the good events of the summer months—for work and play and relaxation, for fun and friendships and frivolity, for trips to the lake or the beach or the mountains, for a chance to unwind and experience more leisure time. Now we thank you for all the good events that lie ahead—for exciting classes and new friends and ball games and plays and concerts and a raft of holidays. We pray for all our students at every level, and ask that this may be a good year for them. Let their learning be rewarding as well as challenging, and let them enjoy the growth that comes from new experiences. Give them spirits of joy and confidence, and help them to live gratefully at all times, aware of the gift of life and its incredible richness. Bless their teachers and coaches and counselors, and all others who are involved in their educational process. And grant that all of us may share the excitement of the season, whether we are in school or not. For you have made our world extraordinarily beautiful and fascinating, and we are happy to praise you for everything through Christ our Lord. Amen.