Pastoral Series

Prayer: We do not know how to pray as we ought

In my little book on prayer (which I promise not to repeat entirely in these emails!), I began with a reflection on Paul’s words, “We do not know how to pray as we ought” (Romans 8:26). A twofold premise of mine is that (a) prayer isn’t easy, but also that (b) prayer can be learned….

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Prayer: Beginning Prayer

A few years back I wrote a little book on prayer, which began with these words:  And wo we begin our conversations on prayer, something that to some devout people is as natural as breathing, but to many modern people seems alien and futile.  If you are bothering to read this, you probably are at…

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Prayer: Michal

If you think about it, the fact that the Bible includes embarrassing criticisms of God’s select leaders, God’s best politicians, Israel’s greatest men is striking, wonderful, and hopeful.  The Bible doesn’t paint a rosy picture, but delves into and exposes the darkest realities – so we will know God is there, and with us, and…

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Prayer: Jesus on my mind

If you’ve read my emails for some time, or heard me preach over several months, you will have heard me share what Dorothy Day said, late in her life, when she was asked to jot down some autobiographical notes. “I tried to remember this life that the Lord has given me. The other day, I…

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Prayer: Edited Documents

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and…

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Prayer: Better Angels

Just before Memorial Day, I began reading Jon Meacham’s newest book, The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels. He surveys dramatic moments in American history, times of intense division and fear, and how leaders and then the people chose to move forward rather than fleeing backward, to live into hope instead of…

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Prayer: What happened to you?

Prayer involves the confession of sin. But opening up our brokenness to God is not the same as “shame.” Having remorse over wayward living that has hurt me or others, and an urgent seeking of God’s mercy and change, is very different from “shame.” God doesn’t and wouldn’t shame us – although often, other people…

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Prayer: Worry

Prayer can be a kind of worrying in front of God – which God welcomes. It isn’t the case that if you prayer, worry will evaporate and you’ll be totally at peace. But there is a sharing in prayer – and some perspective, which always helps, and dampens the worry, at least a little. Mary…

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Prayer: the Longest Day

The Summer Solstice, June 21, the longest day of the year. Some churches have a “longest night” service just before Christmas, attentive to those bearing grief and sorrow during the season where everyone else seems so jolly. I wonder if we should have a “longest day” service. How long, after all, is the longest day?…

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Prayer: Unpleasant facts

T.S. Eliot once asked, “Why should men love the Church? She tells them of life and death, and of all they would forget. She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they like to be soft. She tells them of evil and sin, and other unpleasant facts.” The most unpleasant theme of…

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