D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: prayer

Lent 2017: Prayers

Last night a few of us got together to pray for refugees (I brought up undocumented immigrants as well, because of course) and it was very good for my soul. I wanted to share a few of the prayers here, as well as some Scriptures we prayed through (thank you Erin, for putting this together!). I did the first part, guiding us through praying/reading Isaiah 58 and starting with repenting and lamenting. It is funny how bad evangelicals are at this. Everyone wants to rush straight to good news--we are sad, but God is in control! Everything is terrible, but it is covered by the blood of Jesus! Yes, yes, I know . . . but can't we just sit in the sadness for a moment? To me, that is what these times require. To sit and feel the lament, at least for a bit.

Sometimes when I am around Christians who use a lot of Christian language I feel lonely. Do they not know their words sound like gibberish to people who have real and present needs now? What does it mean to wait on God when the world is falling apart? What does it mean to evangelize someone when people are dying of starvation? This may seem like a weird tangent to go off on, but it is all connected. It is bringing me to my main point, which is this: the Bible is not a book of Christianese.

We have turned it into such, sadly. Or maybe I just heard bits and pieces of it too much, so they lost their sheen, lost their context--which is a bloody, messy, horrible world full of extremely messed up people who ended up being used by God anyways. As such, the full expression of humanity is on display, constantly. The Bible was written by traumatized people who were trying hard to believe in a good God in a very bad world. 

I thought about this, last night. The way I need the Bible so badly. The way it speaks to all the needs of my heart and of my neighbors. It doesn't leave anyone out. It pierces the hearts of those who need it, it comforts those who are oppressed. This is comforting to me. Which is why praying through Scripture has become such a comfort as well. And so:

 

The action step for the weekend is this: pray.

Take a few moments to thoughtfully meditate on these Scripture passages or creeds or prayers. Keep your suffering brothers and sisters close to you, your neighbors who fear for the ends of their lives and livelihoods due to their immigration status. Better yet, find a ground of people to pray these prayers with!

 

Prayer of Pope Francis on the beach at Mytilene, Lesbos, 16 April 2016 [Adapted]:  
 


Merciful God, We entrust to you all those who have made this journey, enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation, in order to reach a place of safety and hope. Just as you never abandoned your Son as he was brought to a safe place by Mary and Joseph, so now be close to these, your sons and daughters, through our tenderness and protection.

In caring for them may we seek a world where none are forced to leave their home and where all can live in freedom, dignity and peace. Merciful God and Father of all, wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering, and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self centredness.

Inspire us, as nations, communities and individuals, to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters. May we share with them the blessings we have received from your hand, and recognize that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, journeying in hope to you, our true home, where every tear will be wiped away where we will be at peace and safe in your embrace.

 

Isaiah 58 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
    they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
    and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
    will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
    and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
    and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


 

Prayer for Migrant Families

Good and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of families.

We are grateful for all of the joy and love that they bring into our lives, and we ask that you provide special protection for all families, particularly those who face hardships as they move in search of a better life.

Show mercy to those who travel in danger, and lead them to a place of safety and peace. Comfort those who are alone and afraid because their families have been torn apart by violence and injustice.

As we reflect upon the difficult journey that the Holy Family faced as refugees in Egypt, help us to remember the suffering of all migrant families. Through the intercession of Mary our Mother, and St. Joseph the Worker, her spouse, we pray that all migrants may be reunited with their loved ones and find the meaningful work they seek.

Open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality for all who come in search of refuge. Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

 

Psalm 37 (1-6) New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Don’t worry about the wicked

    or envy those who do wrong.

For like grass, they soon fade away.

    Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the LORD and do good.

    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the LORD,

    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the LORD.

    Trust him, and he will help you.

He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,

    and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Be still in the presence of the LORD,

    and wait patiently for him to act.

Don’t worry about evil people who prosper

    or fret about their wicked schemes.

 

 

 

Lord, hear our prayers.

 

 

A Vulnerable Post

I loved this post this morning (again at Jessica's blog, this time written by her friend Constance--also, is it just me or do a lot of cool people live in Texas????). And it got me thinking about all the ways I strive to NOT make myself vulnerable in my life. I can't really write about the nitty gritty details of working with refugees on the internets, for many reasons. Suffice it to say, in some of the populations I am in contact with, the amount of sadness and oppression is threatening to swallow me whole. On Sunday I cried all throughout the service, feeling so powerless. And then, of course, there was this amazing sermon on prayer and I left feeling empowered and determined to keep going.

 

Besides the emotional toll of living life with people (some of who are in desperate and tragic circumstances), sometimes I am overwhelmed by how petty I can be when it comes to giving up stuff.

 

It can be simple, like the fact that I am really careful not to cook beef whenever my Hindu friends are over (which is becoming more and more common). Or that I now mentally budget in a "hospitality" section under grocery money, for fruit and biscuits when people drop by. Or how I have to keep my apartment cleaner for the same reason (when really, I am fine with living in a certain amount of filth messiness, i.e. you can't ever see my bedroom floor). I have to grind my own spices in order to make chai the way people like it.

How I have to let go of schedules and preferences for my own daughter in the presence of others (it seems someone is always shoving something sugary in her mouth). I (sometimes) dress her in the princess-themed sweat suits that my neighbors/students love to buy her but make me cringe.

I try hard to dress modestly at all times, but sometimes I would like to waltz around in yoga pants and a tank top and call it good. I glance at fashion blogs now and then but despair when I realize 90% of fashionable clothes need to be modified to make them refugee appropriate. So I give up and wear jeans and sweatshirts all the time.

I scrimp and save and work part-time and am quite vocal about doing without and work towards being more of a giver and not such a hoarder, and then I go and sit in my neighbors apartments and silently covet the iphones they were coerced into buying but don't know how to use, the $200 water coolers that every family now inexplicably owns, marvel at their derision towards any car that doesn't look brand-new. I am jealous, sometimes, of their things, have a little pity party for myself every now and again.

 

It is amazing how small-minded I can be. How it is a constant struggle, to close myself off and live as selfishly as I want.

 

There are winds changing in our future, directions being pursued where our lives would have to change even more drastically. What would be hard for me to give up? (I already know some of the answers: coffee every morning, bi-annual trips to H&M, Mad Men). Now I am in the process of analyzing why it would be so hard for me to give up these things. And how sad it would be if these trappings kept me from bringing the kingdom of God.

 

Does anyone else think like this too? Did Lent dredge up any surprises for you?

What would be hard for you to give up?

 

PS: Tomorrow I am posting a Holy Week(end) Playlist. So stay tuned!

The Great Lent Experiment: Week 5--Stress

The no spending week was a little difficult. A lack of options can be frustrating, and like a bad diet can make you want to go out and binge. In all honesty, I did cheat several times this week. One: we bought scones and cinnamon rolls and coffee after my 15k. Because come on! I deserved it (see my American thinking here?). Also my mom gave me money for H&M for my birthday and I bought a pair of pants and a shirt.

But other than that, it was time to get creative with our free time. We went to the library a lot. Used our passes at the children's museum. Went for walks, made coffee for lots of people over here. It was a busy week, and not really having any excuse to go out and buy anything actually fit in rather well.

This is an area of my life I want to continually scrutinize and give up control over. I think doing a week like this periodically would be very, very good for me.

And now, on to this week: Stress!

Ok, no joke: I am excited about this week. Just last night I finished my last class and so I am heading into Spring Break mode. The anxieties in my life right now are all over the map, some being very small (I need to shampoo my carpets!) to very big (we have no idea what we will be doing in 5 months!). I am having a hard time sleeping. I am having a hard time being a pleasant conversationalist. I am a little stressed.

But how do you give up stress? You focus on something else. Specifically, Jesus.

I have always been terrible at praying, with my thoughts often turning to the random and mundane instead of the spiritual and uplifting. But I am excited for this week to be centered around structured prayer. The hubs and I bought Common Prayer and we are going to be doing morning prayers (also know as daily), midday prayers, and evening prayers. Not too overwhelming, but a nice bit of structure for this evangelical.

[note: you don't have to buy the Common Prayer (a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals) to participate. They have a great website with the prayers for every day listed, along with scripture readings. Go here to check it out].

This week really is going to be perfect, as we have some big decisions to make and need a ton of prayer. Plus, I will be going to the coast for a couple of days (without the hubs or baby--eek!) and am excited for the chance to pray more (case in point: while trying to do the daily prayer together this morning, the hubs and I were interrupted by a screeching baby clinging to our legs, one who was very tired due to waking up at 11pm and 5:30am--may He protect us through the storm of toddlerhood indeed).

So here is the recap for the next week:

Week five: Stress Use this week as a chance to get rid of stress, and to identify those areas of your life where you are holding on to anxiety. The most crucial element of this week is to find a time to spend in prayer for significant portions of the day. As we learn to relinquish control and let God be in charge, we will no longer let our lives be ruled by stress.

Practical Fasts: Commit to picking a space for every day where you commit to spend time in prayer. Pick one day to be a Sabbath for you and your family and find your rest in Him. (Variations on the Sabbath abound–we would encourage a time for prayer and joy and rest and solitude, whatever that might look like for your family).

Prayer: Use resources like the book of Common Prayer for ideas on when and what to pray.

How was no spending week? Do you have any resources for times of structured prayer? I would love to hear them!

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