Pastoral Series

Prayer: for leaders

As Paul is winding up his letter to Christians faraway in the north of Greece, he enters this plea: “My brothers and sisters, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25). He’s their leader, their founder, their pastor. But instead of I’ll pray for y’all, he asks, Pray for me – and for the rest of the…

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Prayer:

When I teach preaching, my students watch that moving scene in “The Verdict” where Frank Galvin, the washed up attorney played by Paul Newman, makes his last stand with his stunning closing argument to the jury. I tell them, Preach like that.  Watch the video! Today I might say to you, Pray like that. His…

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Prayer: God’s Grief

I am moved by what Michael Waters wrote shortly after the tragic shooting at the historic Emanuel Church in Charleston in June of 2015: “Families mourn, and a church, city and nation remain in utter shock. Prayer circles now form on sidewalks, prayerful petitions now reveal palatable pain as tears descend like rain to the…

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Prayer: In the kitchen after midnight

Martin Luther King, whom our nation recalls today, was known by his closest friends as a man of deep prayer. My favorite, among his prayers I’ve heard about, was one not composed for publication; it was a prayer that erupted out of him in total despair. God loves all prayer; God especially loves the prayer…

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Prayer: Self-deception

Anybody who pays attention and isn’t deliberately hard-headed realizes how laughable (or tragic) some beliefs we used to hold can be. One of the greatest liberations, a joyful opening up to the light of day, is the simple realization that I was wrong. Nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve all been grossly mistaken – joining…

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Prayer: Remember your Baptism

Over the centuries, Christians have often said, “Remember your Baptism, and be thankful.” Odd, since vast numbers were baptized as infants. We may mean Remember the fact of your baptism, that when you were helpless, without asking for it, you received God’s grace and membership in God’s Church. But maybe you can remember your actual…

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Prayer: Relentless Curiosity

I’ve been reading Walter Isaacson’s terrific new biography of Leonardo Da Vinci. The consummate Renaissance man, Da Vinci was ridiculously brilliant – and yet he left so many projects unfinished, including an intriguing painting of the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. Leonardo got distracted, we may suppose – just like we do….

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Prayer: What time it is

So many moments in the Bible speak to what you might be about in this new year. “You know what time it is, that the hour has come to wake from sleep; let us cast off works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11). “Remember not the former things. Behold I…

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Prayer: Emancipation

We are in the middle of Kwanzaa! – although I use “we” with a bit of an apology, as I suspect a big majority of my subscribers are white people who know as little about it as I did ten years ago.  White people should adopt Kwanzaa, as it is a lovely sequence of days…

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Prayer: Boxing Day

The day after Christmas, in British tradition, is called “boxing day.”  It was first explained to me that this was the day to box up all your loot from Christmas, to put trash away, to keep your goodies, or to make returns.  But no: originally, it was a day on which a Christmas box, with…

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