Prayer: You Save Us From Every Foe (Psalm 44:6-8)

Detail of the sculpture Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) by Lorenzo Bartolini

Detail of the sculpture Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) by Lorenzo Bartolini

Psalm 44:6-8 NRSV
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
and have put to confusion those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever.

You save us from every foe
Those whose face we never see
Those whose face we know too well
Those without and within

You save us from every foe
Even ourselves – our own worst enemy
Who so easily misplace trust in who will save
Who can save

Who can save?
You save us from every foe
Order our minds
Our desires
Our thoughts
Order the work of our hands
The agenda of our days
Order our trust and our hope
To what is true
To you

Lord, we do not hope in ourselves, our technology, our governments, our laws, our tenacity, our courage, or our will, though all these things are all necessary to conquer hunger and provide justice. We hope in you. Amen.
– Thomas G. Petterpiece, Visions of a World Hungry

The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience.
The first means knowing what you really want.
The second means knowing what you really trust.
– G.K. Chesterton, G.K.’s Weekly

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You Save Us From Every Foe © 2014 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.

Prayer: The Hidden Net (Psalm 31.1-5)

 

frodo captured by spider

Frodo captured by the spider, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

 

Psalm 31:1-5 NRSV
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

There is a net that is hidden
It lies in the shadows
Blends into the background
Covert
Camouflaged
It waits patiently

It is just for me
It knows my weakness
Seizing my energy
Ensnaring me in falsehood
Entangling me in triggers
Wrapping me like a fly in a web
Sticky and shrouded in doubt and despair

Deliver me, my Refuge
Hear my cry, my Rock
My Righteous Redeemer

Through the power of your Son and Spirit
Liberate me from this entombing trap
Free me to your will and way

I seek You
You alone
Into Your hand, I commit my spirit

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When I first read this Psalm, I imagined a fishing net hidden in murky water. The feelings of entrapment and terror took me to the scene from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King when Frodo loses his way in the shadowy cave and is captured by the spider’s deadly web.

In the midst of his greatest need, Frodo is both swaddled like a baby (birth) and wrapped like a mummy (death). Sam, his faithful companion, later delivers him, for he was not himself and could not save himself. How like the deliverance of our faithful God, who companions us and champions us. Consider Lazarus bound for death but called forth from the tomb by Jesus, the victorious resurrection of Jesus himself, and the promise of new life for all who believe. (Romans 6:3-4) – Lisa <><

Prayer: The Hidden Net © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information to publish this work in any form.

Blessing the Calling

anointing confirmationPsalm 133 (NRSV)
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

Precious oil
A luxurious, extravagant outpouring
Running, skipping upon your head
Flowing down your face
Pooling on your clavicle
Seeping into your bones
Signifying to all your calling
Reminding you of you
God’s chosen instrument
God’s anointed beloved
God’s fragrant presence
Being made holy
and whole
Overflowing with all that you have found
With all that has found you
Bearer of Blessing
Forevermore

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For a devotion and prayer based on Psalm 133 entitled Psalms of Peace, click here

Blessing the Calling © 2014 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.

Poem: For His Name’s Sake (Psalm 23)

gods namePsalm 23:1-3 NRSV
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake

Not because of me
My deserving
My actions
My offerings

But because of who You are
Your character
Your steadfast identity
Your name

Because of this alone
I lack nothing
I rest in abundant beauty
bed of green, brook of crystal blue
My very soul, my broken being, restored

I am not alone, never alone
You guide me on the journey
comforting, protecting
defending, providing
blessing upon blessing

In every experience
In every moment of light or shadow
Goodness and Mercy are our companions
They follow us all the way home

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Be sure to also explore Steve Garnass Holmes beautiful Psalm 23 Meditation

For His Name’s Sake © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: The Strength of a Cry

children worshipSCRIPTURE: Psalm 8:2 NAS
From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

OBSERVATION
It goes against everything we are taught. The strong are strong. The weak are weak. The strong overcome even if they are wicked. But with God things are different. God establishes strength through our dependence and vulnerability. What is weaker than an infant- young, helpless, little voice, no education, no skills, no strength …

APPLICATION
In our weakest moments, we are heard by God. Our cries of prayer and praise are used by God. God is greater. Grace is greater. Evil is brought to an end.

PRAYER
Abba, you end the evil
Not through our strength, but our weakness
Our whimpers and gurgles and sighs
Our trembling cries
Our silent tears
In the midst of all who would do harm
You hear your beloved little ones
You defend
You protect
We are safe, always safe
Blessed be your Name

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This devotion is based on the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here

Prayer: The Strength of a Cry © 2013 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.

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

The Discipline of Prayer

pray the hours
Psalm 5:3 NIV
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Psalm 63:6-8 NIV
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not: what is tedious at first, will afterwards be pleasant. Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days … Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer. Take up your cross and be a Christian altogether.
– John Wesley

We take a giant step forward in Christian devotion when we see it more as a life to be lived than as a time to be observed. Consequently, it is more appropriate to speak of a “devotional life” than a “devotional time.”
– Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People

When you pray, I think what happens is that you are steadfastly refusing to abandon this place that knows and believes, loves and trusts. You’re going to this place saying, “I’m staying here. I’m standing here. I’m going to believe this.” That’s daily prayer, that’s eating the daily bread to again believe the Gospel, to again believe the divine indwelling, to again trust and draw upon who you most deeply are. You gradually learn how to live there, how to draw your strength and solace from there, how to draw your dignity from this abundance. – Richard Rohr

Every “form” of prayer (whether liturgical or charismatic) is only the doorway into the presence of God. To equate or define prayer according to the form is to miss the essence. No matter when you pray, where you pray, or how you pray—praying is “just being with Jesus.” – Steve Harper, Just Be With Jesus

Prayer, fasting, watching may be good in themselves; yet it is not in these practices alone that the goal of our Christian life is found, though they are necessary means for its attainment. The true goal consists in our acquiring the Holy Spirit of God.
-Seraphim of Sarov

Prayer is the practice by which all that we are, all that we believe and do, is transformed into the action of the Spirit working his will in the details of our dailiness. Prayer consists in the transformation of what we do in the name of Jesus to what the Holy Spirit does in us as we follow Jesus. – Eugene Peterson, Tell It Slant  

Where shall we sense the fragrance of obedience, if not in prayer? Where strip ourselves of the self-love that makes us impatient when insulted or made to suffer? Or put on a divine love that will make us patient, and ready to glory in the cross of Christ crucified? In prayer. – Catherine of Siena, A Life of Total Prayer

On the palm of your hand you write my name, O God.
Through the pages of creation, my life unfolds.
In the chambers of your heart, I have a home, O God,
where every cry is heard, every tear seen,
every thanks
whispered in the dark or sung to the morning
is known to you.
And still, I am slow to thank, to ask, to trust.
O God, who is great and good,
help me to pray.
Amen.
-Pamela C. Hawkins, The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent

Click here for an excellent essay by Rachel Held Evans on the values of structured/liturgical prayer entitled “Give us this day” (some thoughts on structured prayer).

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For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Reader's Theater: Psalm 111

Reader’s Theater Script for Psalm 111 (NRSV)
For two voices. The entire congregation or a choir of voices could be substituted when both voices speak in unison.

BOTH VOICES:
Praise the Lord!

VOICE ONE:
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

VOICE TWO:
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.

BOTH VOICES:
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.

VOICE ONE:
The Lord has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
The Lord is gracious and merciful.

VOICE TWO:
The Lord provides food for those who fear him;
He is ever mindful of his covenant.

VOICE ONE:
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.

VOICE TWO:
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
All his precepts are trustworthy.

BOTH VOICES:
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

VOICE ONE:
He sent redemption to his people;
He has commanded his covenant forever.

BOTH VOICES:
Holy and awesome is his name.

VOICE TWO:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.

BOTH VOICES:
His praise endures forever.

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For a devotion and original prayer based on Psalm 111, click here.

Psalm 111 (NRSV) from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

arrangement © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

For more information on the use of the scripture translation, art and this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.