Prayer: Jesus, You Break the Chains

zach-williams-chainbreaker

Isaiah 58:6 The Voice
What I want in a fast is this: to liberate those tied down and held back by injustice, to lighten the load of those heavily burdened, to free the oppressed and shatter every type of oppression.

Jesus, what you want is what you do
You, the Victorious One
You, the Key to every prison
You do not merely release the captives
You break the chains
You destroy the dungeons

Come again Mighty Savior!
Take our strongholds and give us freedom
Take our numbers and give us names
Take our sentences and give us life

Open the doors of our souls with deliverance
Break the walls of our relationships with grace
Release our voices in witness, thanksgiving, and praise
We, the once enslaved, now bearers of your liberation
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!

You are the Resurrection and the Life © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

You are the Resurrection and the Life, an affirmation and prayer based on John 11

I am resurrection and life 1000x

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

In the midst of
hunger, disease, and great need
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
conquest, prejudice, and oppression
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
water, bread, and wine
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
questions, promises, and prayers
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
loneliness, hot tears, and agonizing decisions
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
betrayal, saving your own skin, and abandonment
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
injustice, brutality, and the misuse of power
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
mocking, torture, and excruciating pain
You are the Resurrection and the Life

In the midst of
grave clothes, spices, and stone
You are the Resurrection and the Life

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This affirmation/prayer was inspired by Jesus final hours. It is amazing to me how his situations speak to our modern experience in fresh and relevant ways.

Consider adapting this affirmation/prayer for a group setting by having all present speak “You are the Resurrection and the Life.”

You are the Resurrection and the Life © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Two Reflections on Betrayal, Denial, and Forgiveness

peter judas betray deny

Extended Quote from Destination: Known, Readings for Holy Week in the Upper Room Disciplines (2012) by Thomas R. Steagald
Sometimes our familiarity and haste we bypass verses of scripture. Because we already know the story of who “betrayed” Jesus, our attention in this passage [John 13:21-32] jumps quickly ahead to the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter, the piece of bread, and Judas’s leaving the meal to meet with the religious officials.

But what of verse 22: “The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking?” …

Could it be that each of the disciples is humble enough, uncertain enough, to know that given the right set of circumstances or stressors, any one of them has it within him to do what Judas would in fact do?…

For only those who love Jesus can betray him. His enemies might hate him; others might disregard or ignore him; but only those who sit at the table can get up and leave, and only those close enough to kiss him can give the kiss of death. That Judas is the one who guided the soldiers to Gethsemane on fresh-washed feet, his breath smelling of sacrament, is a particular instance of what is possible for all disciples.

It is unfortunate that we so quickly rush to blame Judas, so quickly leave him and this verse of scripture behind; for indeed, this Holy Week calls us to examine ourselves, to hear Jesus’ prediction, uncertain of whom else he might be speaking.

Forgive me, Lord, when I turn away from you and your purposes. Amen.

Matthew 26:21-35
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” … Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

The Seat of Greatest Grace by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Jesus, my Friend,
my Beloved, my Person,
I love you, and I will falter.
I will deny you. I will betray you.
Three times ten thousand times
I will deny you.
The silver pieces lie in my pocket.
I have the nails.
And you, knowing, invite me to your table,
to the place of honor even,
this seat of greatest grace,
beside you,
to share your bread with me,
and lay down your body for me.
I can hardly look into the sun
of such forgiveness,
love’s empty tomb
that defeats me,
re-makes me.

I confess. I return.
Knowing, I follow,
drawn in your grace,
this burden that is light.

Be sure to also check out Denial, by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Two Reflections on Jesus Praying in Gethsemane

christ-in-gethsemane-pExtended quote from Max Lucado, The Upper Room Disciplines 2010
It is a stark scene. Jesus praying in Gethsemane, saying, “My heart is ready to break with grief. …” Does this look like the picture of a saintly Jesus resting in the palm of God? Hardly. We see an agonizing, straining, and struggling Jesus. We see a “man of sorrows.” We see a man struggling with fear, wrestling with commitments, and yearning for relief.

We see Jesus in the fog of a broken heart.

My, what a portrait! Jesus is in pain. Jesus is on the stage of fear. Jesus is cloaked, not in sainthood, but in humanity.

The next time the fog finds you, remember Jesus in the garden. The next time you think no one understands, reread the fourteenth chapter of Mark. The next time your self-pity convinces you that no one cares, pay a visit to Gethsemane. And the next time you wonder if God really perceives the pain that prevails on this dusty planet, listen to the pleading among the twisted trees.

Seeing God like this does wonders for our own suffering. God was never more human than at this hour. God was never nearer to us than when God hurt. The Incarnation was never so fulfilled as in the garden.

Jesus, may I watch with you in your pain and so come to understand that you watch me in mine. Amen.

Matthew 26:40-41
Could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

We must have faith during the period of our grief. We think that our afflictions will be greater than we can bear, but we do not know the strength of our own hearts, nor the power of God. – François Fenelon

Stay Awake by Steve Garnaas Holmes
I slip into sleep,
a deadness I seek,
a trance of avoidance,
distraction’s pleasant coma.
I am numb to your world, O Christ,
to your suffering, your love,
unconscious of you here.

Awaken me.
Breathe yourself into me
and rouse me
from my fearful distance.

Let even pain keep me awake,
attentive to your pain
in all who hurt,
your love keep me alert
to love in all your forms.

Grant me this simple gift,
all you ask:
that I may stay awake,
trusting I am not orphaned,
and pray with you,
so earnestly praying for me
and all the world.
just stay awake my little time
and pray with you.

Let all my waking hours
be wakeful hours.

You Will Be Found, a prayer based on Jeremiah 29

Jeremiah 29:13-14
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

Lord Jesus, we seek yousearch for god
We long for you
in the depths of our hearts
in the soul of our souls
down to our bones

Show us where our seeking is incomplete

Where all isn’t all
Where our hearts are splintered and scattered
by false loves and misplaced trust

You are already searching for us
finding us, choosing us
You are already delivering us
from our slave chains and imprisonments

We are found
You will be found
Glory to you, our Savior
Amen

Prayer based on Jeremiah 29 © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Order of Worship for a Spring Healing Service

sprout-seed 4

Pre-Service Set up

  • Helpers to welcome and pass out programs
  • Purple strips of paper in the pews
  • Packets of seeds with a tag containing Psalm 126:5-6. Place the packets on communion rail as a gift to take home.
  • Containers of anointing oil on the communion rail to be used by the prayer helpers
  • Tissues at communion rail and in the pews
  • Table with 4 purple candles and 1 white Christ candle
  • Box of Matches

Feel free to change the music as best fits your setting. In the provided songs, UMH stands for United Methodist Hymnal and FWS stands for The Faith We Sing.

Gathering Music
Quiet music as people arrive

Welcome
ONE:
Welcome. We’re so glad you came.

Why have you come? The reasons for coming are many. There’s so much which is painful in our lives and in our world- so much in need of healing and wholeness. We gather in the midst of suffering to remember- to remember God is good. God is strong. God is near. We are not alone and we have every reason to hold on to hope.

Opening Prayer
ALL:
Merciful God,
In this season of new buds and blooms, we come to you weary and grieving
In this season of fresh fruits and vegetables, we hunger for healing and relief
In this season of sweet spring light, our hearts are veiled in sorrow and shadow
Will this season ever end?

“Yes.” We hear your, “Yes.”
Those who are weary will find rest
Those who mourn will be comforted
Those who hunger will be filled
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.

Strike a match and light the white Christ candle

Lighting the Christ Candle
ONE:
We welcome you O Christ, our Savior, Healer, and Hope.
In the midst of our suffering, help us to worship you in spirit and in truth.

Song
I Want Jesus to Walk With Me (UMH 521)

Scripture: Psalm 126, The Voice Translation
Remember when the Eternal brought back the exiles to Zion?
It was as if we were dreaming—
Our mouths were filled with laughter.
Our tongues were spilling over into song.
The word went out across the prairies and deserts,
Across the hills, over the oceans wide, from nation to nation:
“The Eternal has done remarkable things for them.”
We shook our heads. All of us were stunned—
The Eternal has done remarkable things for us.
We were beyond happy, beyond joyful.

And now, Eternal One, some are held captive and poor.
Release them, and restore our fortunes
As the dry riverbeds of the South
Spring to life when the rains come at last.
Those who walk the fields to sow,
Casting their seed in tears,
Will one day tread those same long rows,
Amazed by what’s appeared.
Those who weep as they walk and plant with sighs
Will return singing with joy, when they bring home the harvest.

Message

Candle Lighting
Instrumental underscore during the candle lighting. Stop underscore at the instructions for the prayer time.

Strike a match and light a purple candle

ONE:
This candle represents our suffering and the suffering of the world.
In the light of God’s love, we claim God’s gift of truth.
There is no need to hide or deny. God welcomes us as we are.

ALL:
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. ~Psalm 86:1

Strike a match and light a purple candle

ONE:
This candle represents our suffering and the suffering of the world.
In the light of God’s love, we claim God’s gift of lament.
We recognize our wounds and cry out to God.
We accept God’s invitation to express every feeling and question.

ALL:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. ~ Psalm 22:1-2

Strike a match and light a purple candle

ONE:
This candle represents our suffering and the suffering of the world.
In the light of God’s love, we claim God’s gift of courage.
Courage to be honest, to seek help, to comfort one another.
Courage to dare to love and dream again.

ALL:
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. ~ Psalm 28:7

Strike a match and light a purple candle

ONE:
This candle represents our suffering and the suffering of the world.
In the light of God’s love, we claim God’s gift of hope.
God is good. God is strong. God is near, leading us to a day without tears and pain, without sin and death. Healing and deliverance are coming; if not now, then on that day.

ALL:
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. ~Psalm 65:5

Song
I Need Thee Every Hour (UMH #397, 1-3)
The song leaders sing the verses, all sing the chorus

Prayer Time
ONE:
You are encouraged to write your burdens and sorrows on the purple strips of paper and then place them on the table with the candles. Following that, make your way to the rail. Persons are available to pray with you as you stand or kneel. Anointing oil is also available. Please take a packet of seeds with you as you return to your seat as a reminder of the good things God is planting in your life today.

Following the instructions, provide an instrumental underscore during the prayer time.

Offer the following prayer after everyone is seated again following the prayer time

ONE:
Jesus, you are full of compassion, you understand our pain. Our suffering changes our experience of you and our experience of everyday life. We are caught in the midst of remembering happier times, grieving what might have been, and navigating a new normal. In our loss we feel cut off- disconnected, adrift, alone.

Root us in your steadfast love. Plant deep within us in your faithful promises.
Hold us, and all who weep this spring throughout the world-
those who mourn, those far from home, those looking for work,
the lonely, the addicted, the abused and their abusers,
the estranged, the oppressed, the enslaved,
the poor, victims and oppressors of war, the sick and dying.

Shelter and sustain us all with your healing and hope, your peace and light.
We love you, we need you, we trust you,
We ask this in your name Jesus, praying as you taught us…

ALL:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen

Song
Change My Heart, O God (CCLI Song # 1565, FWS #2152)

Affirmation: For Grace to Bear Suffering
© 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

ALL:
I pray for the grace to bear my sufferings
As Christ bore his for me
With Dignity, Humility, Forgiveness

I pray for the grace to bear my sufferings
As Christ bore his for me
With Compassion, Truth, Perseverance

I pray for the grace to bear my sufferings
As Christ bore his for me
Knowing my sufferings are not like his
And not like others
Yet shared with the universal longings of all humanity
Real and Painful and Deep
No need for comparison, only companionship

I pray for the grace to bear my sufferings
As Christ bore his for me
As Christ bore his for all
All I will ever suffer
All we all will ever suffer
Will be made known, will be made whole
Through his love and self-giving

In this I believe and trust and follow and hope
In this I am made new
We are made new
Thanks be to God! Hallelujah! Amen!

Passing the Peace

Songs
He Has Made Me Glad (CCLI Song #1493; FWS #2270)
I’m So Glad Jesus Lifted Me (FWS #2151)

ONE:
Following the blessing, you are welcome to stay as long as you like. Persons are available to speak with you further about your situation. If it would be helpful, the pastor would be glad to set an appointment with you. You can reach the pastor at…

Blessing

Saint Patrick and Psalms of Protection

celtic-cross-cropPsalms 59, 62, 124 are all psalms of protection. This devotion is based on Psalm 59.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
I will sing of your might; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress. – Psalm 59:16

Observation
In Psalm 59, the Psalmist describes living in a dangerous place. Each evening violent gangs roam the streets like wild dogs, bloodthirsty and hungry for trouble. (vs. 6, 14, 15) These enemies are pride-filled, mocking the authority’s inability to stop them. (vs. 7) The Psalmist is confident that God will stop them. God will deliver and protect. God is a shield, a fortress, and a refuge in the day of distress.

Application
Sometimes our choices place us in dangerous situations. Our action, inaction, or words play a role in the creation of enemies. Sometimes danger finds us and we are left to wonder at the cause. We experience random hate, thieving, or violence.

God’s protection is for the entirety of our lives- not just our bodies or our property. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we seek to live a Godly and reconciling life. The Holy Spirit’s counsel saves us from the ravages of revenge, bitterness, and unforgiveness. We are empowered to take Godly action in the face of injustice and violence, to speak the truth, to heal, and to transform lives and situations. The death and resurrection of Jesus provide the ultimate shield. They may hurt us, they may even kill us, but we are safe now and always in God’s eternal refuge and home. – Lisa <><

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere when human lives are in danger, when human dignity is in danger. – Elie Weisel

It is very easy to be servants of the word without disturbing the world: a very spiritualized word, a word without any commitment to history, a word that can sound in any part of the world because it belongs to no part of the world. A word like that creates no problems, starts no conflicts. What starts conflicts and persecutions, what marks the genuine Church, is the word that, burning like the word of the prophets, proclaims and accuses: proclaims to the people God’s wonders to be believed and venerated, and accuses of sin those who oppose God’s reign, so that they may tear that sin out of their hearts, out of their societies, out of their laws – out of the structures that oppress, that imprison, that violate the rights of God and of humanity. -Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love

The Breastplate of St. Patrick
Mark Herringshaw writes: “The prayer is often called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” because it seeks God’s protection in a world of both tangible and invisible dangers. Though Patrick of Ireland lived more than 1500 years ago his prayer asking that God would cover him is just as relevant today. Who of us haven’t wrestled with the haunting fear of living in this unpredictable world? Patrick’s solution: Run to God!”

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous people

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

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This post was originally part of a Summer in the Psalms Bible reading plan. In this plan, psalms are grouped based on common themes. Click the link – Psalms Reading Plan

Please leave a comment for more information the use of this devotional in other settings.