Blessing the Women: A Prayer for Mother’s Day

Mother and Child by Howard Weingarden

Loving God,
You knit us together in our mother’s womb
and breathe us into being.
Thank you for the gift of life
and for bringing us into this world through our mothers.
We recognize the risk they took
to carry us, nourish us and protect us within their bodies.

Thank you for the women in our life,
for our mothers and for those who have been like mothers to us.
We are grateful for their tenderness when we were helpless or hurt,
We are grateful for their encouragement and wisdom when we were unsure,
We are grateful for their correction and perseverance so we would stay true,
We are grateful for the way they guided us into Your saving embrace.
Too often we took their love and sacrifice for granted. Forgive us.
Help us to live in such a way
that our words and actions bring honor to them and to You.

Merciful One, gather us all to the safety of your breast.
For many, this day is full of joy and celebration,
but for others, it is an especially painful day.
Pour out your healing, consolation, and peace
on those who are grieving the loss of their mother or the loss of their child,
on families separated by distance or disagreement,
on families plagued by disappointment, abandonment, addiction or abuse.

Compassionate One, shelter us all beneath Your outstretched arms.
Bring your healing, consolation, and peace
to women whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled,
to mothers and guardians who are exhausted
as they labor to balance work and raising children,
to mothers and guardians who are overwhelmed as they struggle
to bring up children in the midst of poverty, disease, or war.
The need is deep. Come quickly. Our hope is in You.

At this point in the prayer, all the girls and women in the room are invited to stand as they are able. Those who are seated are asked to place a hand of blessing upon those who are standing.

Gracious God, thank You for every woman and girl here today
and for every one we have brought with us in our hearts.
Reveal Your purpose and plan for their life.
Bless them and protect them.
Deepen their love and trust of You.
Strengthen them, empower them, and anoint them with Your Holy Spirit
that their faith, influence, and achievement would bring You honor and glory.
Receive our thanks and praise again for these women and women in the making
for they are precious to us and to You.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

_____________________
© 2011 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 Guide: Hourly Scriptures and Prayers for Good Friday

words_from_the_cross_nivIt’s a long-standing practice for many Christians to pray from 9am-3pm on Good Friday as they remember the six hours Jesus spent on the cross. Some pray the entire six hours, some pray on each hour, and some pray sometime during the six hours.

Another option would be to pray for 30 minutes, starting when the minute hand reaches 9 and continuing in five-minute intervals till the minute hand reaches 3.

The amount of time isn’t as important as the remembering- setting aside time to watch and wait with those few faithful followers who did not abandon Jesus.

Below you will find a guide for praying on Good Friday. It includes the scriptures relating Jesus’ words from the cross plus some sentences to focus your prayer time. The more formal prayers come from the book Listening At Golgotha by Peter Storey. (Click here for a review of the book and purchasing information. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!)

May this guide be a blessing to you as you seek the deeper graces of God this holy season. Your comments for its continued improvement are appreciated. – Lisa <><

Good Friday is not about us trying to “get right with God.” It is about us entering the difference between God and humanity and just touching it for a moment. Touching the shimmering sadness of humanity’s insistence that we can be our own gods, that we can be pure and all-powerful. – Nadia Bolz-Weber

PRAYER GUIDE: HOURLY SCRIPTURES AND PRAYERS FOR GOOD FRIDAY
The 9am Reading and Prayers
Luke 23:32-38 NRSV

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Holy Jesus,
Your forgiving love saves and disturbs me.
Without it, I am lost,
yet, if I receive it, I must practice it.
By your mercy, make me merciful;
by your forgiveness, help me to forgive as I have been forgiven. Amen.

Continue by praying for all who are trapped in bitterness, revenge, and resentment so that all may know the freedom of forgiving as Christ did. Include yourself, as needed.

The 10am Reading and Prayers
Luke 23:39-43 NRSV

One of the criminals who was hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Holy Jesus,
Love held you to the cross for my sake, but not mine alone.
Your love is frightening in its breadth and depth;
When I embrace it, it stretches my poor spirit.
Enlarge my heart to make space for your friends;
Let me love as one forgiven. Today. Amen.

Continue by praying for the salvation of family and friends who do not know Christ,
For those living in our community, in our nation, and across the world

If you would like to extend your prayer time this hour, click here for an incredibly beautiful prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled Jesus, Remember Me.

The 11am Reading and Prayers
John 19:25-27 NRSV

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Holy Jesus,
I give thanks for your mother
and all like her who have borne the pain of loving too deeply.
Thank you for your gift the church.
Help me receive as your gift all whom I encounter, whoever they are,
And to become family to them in Your name. Amen.

Continue by praying for Christian unity,
For the dividing walls between denominations to come down
For congregations in the midst of misunderstanding, pain, and conflict
For protection from the evil one and all that distances God’s people
That your congregation, and every congregation, would love as Christ loves
Embodying the hospitality and welcome only Christ can provide
Sharing His Word and ways with grace, compassion, and boldness

The Noon Reading and Prayers
Matthew 27:45-46 NRSV

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Begin by praying for all who are suffering,
For our brothers and sisters across the globe who are persecuted for their faith
For those who are suffering because they do not have access to daily needs-
clean water, housing, education, medical care
For those who are suffering due to war, injustice and tyrannical leaders
For those who are suffering due to mental or physical illness, addiction, or grief

If you would like to extend your prayer time this hour, click here for an incredibly beautiful prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani 

Holy Jesus,
There was no suffering like yours.
I am silent in the darkness, Your darkness.
There can be no words, only worship. Amen.

The 1pm Reading and Prayers
John 19:28-29 NRSV

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

Holy Jesus,
All the longing of God,
Through all the ages, for all humanity,
Cries out to me from your cross.
Give me a heart to hear that cry
And a longing to be found by your love. Amen.

Pray today for all who are longing,
Longing for love
Longing for answers
Longing for healing
Longing for daily bread
Longing for justice
Longing for hope

The 2pm Reading and Prayers
John 19:30 NRSV

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.”

Silent adoration and wonder

The 3pm Reading and Prayers
Luke 23:44-43 NRSV

Darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

Rest now, Holy Jesus
Hero of the Cross
Your work is done.
The world has done its sinning,
And you have done your loving
Each beyond limit
And, in the end, limitless love prevails.
Your dying becomes my hope and the hope of the world. Amen.

Offer prayers of surrender, commitment, and thanksgiving

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Click here for an excellent article by Rev. James Martin, S.J. entitled The Five Lessons of Good Friday

Prayer Guide: Hourly Scriptures and Prayers for Good Friday compilation
© 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting or church setting with proper attribution. Proper attribution would include references to Peter Storey’s book, Listening at Golgotha, the source of the formal prayers. (Published by The Upper Room – October 1, 2004)

Praying the Scriptures: Ephesians 3

bible hold handsMany years ago someone introduced me to the idea of using a scripture reading as a jumping off point for prayer. I wish I could remember who to thank!

This practice changed the way I engage with scripture. Reading scripture became more alive as I paid more attention to the images and word choices and feelings being expressed. I could hear it more clearly as I used the words to pray.

Praying the scripture also deepened my prayer life. It stretched the content of my prayers. It gave my prayers more variety and color. Most importantly, it gave me permission to speak more honestly about situations and feelings. The scriptures gave me words when I had none to offer.

The easiest way to start this practice is by inserting names into a prayer found in the scriptures. So let’s try it with Ephesians 3:16-21. We’ll be using The Voice Translation because the wording is both beautiful and approachable.

Praying Ephesians 3:16-21
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen ___________.

Fill ___________’s soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in his/her heart.

May love be the rich soil where ________’s life takes root.

May it be the bedrock where ___________’s life is founded, so that together with all of Your people, he/she will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced.

God may Your fullness flood through __________’s entire being.

Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.

Try praying this prayer daily for several weeks. Each week include persons from a different group of people to bless. Here are some ideas.

  • those you love
  • your classmates or co-workers
  • those yet to believe
  • those with power, influence, or authority
  • those who feel desperate or hopeless
  • those who feel targeted or unfairly judged
  • those who are grieving or suffering

What group would you add? What would be another great scripture for inserting names?

I look forward to hearing from you! – Lisa <><

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Praying the Scripture: Ephesians 3 © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Blessing College Students as They Leave for School

student college dorm

Blessing College Students as They Leave for School
We offer this blessing during worship the second Sunday in August. This is usually the last Sunday our college students are in worship before they return to school.

The students are invited to stand where they are seated. (Option: If the congregation is small enough, the students could be introduced at this time and/or given a gift.) The rest of the congregation is then invited to stand and lay a hand of support and blessing on the student closest to them.

Option: The blessing may begin with an invitation for the congregation to offer their own prayers for the students silently or aloud. The following prayer concludes the time of blessing.

ONE: Holy One,
Bless and protect these college students
as they leave us to begin another school year.

Keep them encouraged and full of hope.
Surround them with godly influences and opportunities.

Fill them with discernment,
that they may remain focused, disciplined and far from foolishness.

Grant these students the mind of Christ-
that they may grow in your wisdom and truth
that they may serve with both power and compassion
that they may carry your light throughout their campuses

Thank you for these students
and for providing the resources for them to continue their education.
Thank you for family members, friends, teachers, and coaches
who have mentored and supported them so that this day might be possible.
Thank you for creating us with the capacity to think, speak, discover and reason.
We rejoice in these good gifts from you and give you the honor and glory for them.

Receive our thanks and extend your blessing in the name of Jesus,
who saves us and leads us and teaches us to pray…

Finish with all praying The Lord’s Prayer

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Blessing College Students as They Leave for School © 2012 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.

 

Sermon Recording- The Witness of Prayer (Philippians 1, Numbers 6)

prayer group hands

Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 2 of 5: The Witness of Prayer
Scriptures: Philippians 1:1-11; Numbers 6:24-26
This message was offered Sunday, 7/15/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Click Here for Bishop Ken Carter’s Story: The Gospel, a stranger, and the burnt ends of the brisket

What about this story speaks to you?

We live in a missionary age. Less than 20% of the American population actively practices the Christian faith.

So where do we begin as hometown missionaries? We begin by hanging out with people, really listening, really caring. Treat people are people, not projects.

As we share back and forth, needs are revealed. This leads to praying. Hometown missionaries need to know how to pray out loud when the moment presents itself.

1. The questions

Be gracious and humble. Prayer is never imposed or forced on someone.

  • How can I best pray for you?
  • May I pray right now? May I offer a blessing?
  • May I touch your shoulder? May I hold your hand?
  • Take your time. Make space to help the person realized God is already present. Look the person in the eye.

The witness of prayer: When I was in seminary, I was walking with a classmate. I shared a concern and asked for prayer. He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and said, “Let’s pray now.” It was so meaningful, I still remember is 20 years later.

2. Pray out loud

A. Offer a Sentence Prayer: Name for God + Verb + Name of Person

  • Lord, help my friend Steve
  • Jesus, strengthen Lori
  • Holy Spirit, fill John with wisdom

You’ve been listening to the person, so you know the need.

B. Offer a blessing: Consider memorizing Numbers 6:24-26 (The Priestly Benediction/Blessing God gave to Moses and Aaron). Write the blessing on a piece of paper and put it on your mirror as you brush your teeth or near your computer screen.

Here’s what it means:

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;

  • May the Lord constantly bring good into your life
  • May the Lord protect you and guard all that is sacred and precious about you

25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

  • Imagine how a person’s face lights up when they hold a baby. God’s face shines on you in the same way. This is a reminder that God delights in you. May you know how beloved you are.
  • Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting better than what we deserve. We all need grace. Grace upon grace.

26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

  • Imagine you walk into a room and a person is working at a computer. The person stops what she’s doing and looks up at you, giving you her full attention. God is fully attentive to you. God is here, already at work, already reaching out to you, loving you.
  • May you know God’s presence and peace

Remember to continue to make space after the prayer or blessing. Often, the realization of God’s presence causes the person to want to talk more, to share even more deeply.

3. Follow up – The Evidence of Prayer 

As in the story, promise to continue to pray. Follow up with the person with a written note, text, call, or Facebook message. A written prayer can be read again and again. Offer something simple- I’m praying for you. I’m here for you

When you see the person, offer something simple like “It’s so good to see you.” Leave space to let them lead the conversation.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

A Prayer for Those Who Govern, incorporating verses of America the Beautiful

mlk prayer pilgrimage

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1957 ‘Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom’.

A Prayer for Those Who Govern
ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, first verse

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!

ONE:
Lord of All,
As we draw near another Independence Day,
we confess our dependence on you.
Thank you for extending abundance, mercy, and protection
to our nation through the years.
Every resource, freedom, and opportunity we have is a good gift from you.
Without you, we are lost.

ALL:
In humility, we seek your face.
In repentance, we turn from our ungrateful, destructive and selfish ways.
In faith, we call on your power to forgive our sin and heal our land.

ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, second verse

O beautiful for heroes prov’d in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov’d, and mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness and ev’ry gain divine.

ONE:
Pour out your Holy Spirit on those who govern our land,
Leaders of our nation, our state, and our community
and all who are running for office.

Grant them a love of justice.
Open their minds with wisdom and compassion,
so all people may be treated fairly and with dignity.

Open their ears to the cries of the desperate and powerless
so cycles of poverty, disease, and abuse may be broken.

Open their eyes to see how best to respond
and open their hearts with courage to do the right thing,
even when pressured to do otherwise.

Dawn a new day of integrity and servant leadership upon our land.
Shower down your Spirit of collaboration for the common good
that there may be lasting peace and plenty for all.

The congregation is invited to lift up their own prayers for our nation

ONE:
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Leader and Savior forever, Amen.

Option: We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Leader and Savior forever, who taught us to pray, Our Father, who art in heaven….

ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, fourth verse

O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.

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For other prayers suitable for Independence Day try A Prayer for our Country or Independence Day Prayer or A prayer of examen for our national holiday, all by Steve Garnaas-Holmes.

America the Beautiful by Katherine Lee Bates and Samuel A. Ward.
Public Domain.

A Prayer for Those Who Govern © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Leave a comment for posting and publication considerations.

Prayers Remembering Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day

memorial day military graveIntroduction
READER ONE:
We gather this Memorial Weekend with persons all over our nation to remember those who make great sacrifices in service to their country and to pray for God’s promised peace.

READER TWO:
The 3rd Saturday of May is Armed Forces Day. It is set aside to honor men and women who currently serve in the United States Military. While we remember them throughout the year, we will especially remember them today.

READER ONE:
The last Monday in May is Memorial Day. It is set aside to honor military service members who died while serving in the military. It was first called Decoration Day because graves were decorated with flowers and flags. It was changed to Memorial Day to put the emphasis on the fallen, not the graves. We will also remember them today.

READER TWO:
November 11th is Veterans Day. It is set aside to honor all who served in the military, living or dead. We will set aside time in November to honor them, thank them, and remember them.

Memorial Prayer
READER ONE:
Jesus, we hear your words, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NRSV)

READER TWO:
Please turn to the list in your program as we honor those who are currently serving as active duty military or as reservists.

Read the list

If you know of anyone else currently serving in the Armed Forces, please speak their names now that we may honor and bless them as well.

Pause as persons respond

PASTOR:
Almighty God, we are grateful for those who are willing to sacrifice and to serve. Strengthen the men and women mentioned here today and all who risk their lives to protect others. Help all military personnel to serve with honor, wisdom, and compassion. Guard them against hard-heartedness, despair, and evil. Strengthen and bless their families, especially when they are separated one from another. Surround them with your protection, your grace, and your peace.

A person enters with a large, lit, white candle. If possible, consider using a service member in uniform.

PASTOR:
Let us pause for a moment of silence as we remember and honor those who died while serving their country in the armed forces.

Moment of Silence

PASTOR:
Merciful God, we recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice, putting the welfare of others ahead of their own safety. We are grateful and humbled by their actions. Strengthen and comfort their friends and family members as they remember and grieve. Amen

READER ONE: Micah 4:1-4 NRSV
Hear these words of promise and hope from the prophet Micah.
In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, and many nations shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

ALL:
God of Love, it is your will for the nations to seek you and to know you.
It is your will for us live together in peace, provision, and equity.
Forgive us our warring ways.
End the selfishness and corruption.
End the mistrust and misinformation.
End the violence.
Bring wholeness and hope to every system, relationship, and person broken by war.
Show us where we can join you in your great work of peace.
Give us the courage to act and your wisdom to know what to do.
We ask this in the strong name of Jesus
The Savior of the World,
The Lord of All,
The Prince of Peace…

Conclude singing Let There Be Peace on Earth

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Prayers Remembering Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day
© 2016 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.