A Pilgrim Prayer for Nomads

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10)

Abraham the nomad for God and His purposes is also Abraham the pilgrim. At one level, Abraham and Sarah’s journey feels random and strange. They leave their homeland and their extended support network. They leave what is known for what is unknown. From the outside, it could seem that they are merely wandering nomads.

But the eyes of faith see something else. Abraham and Sarah hear God and respond. They live each day, aware of God’s guiding hand and watchful for God’s interrupting grace that will point them toward what is next. Abraham and Sarah wait. They step forward and step back They works and rest. They succeed and they fail. They travel and they are still. And all of this happens in relation to the leading of God. This is the blessed way of those, as Psalm 84:5 says, “whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

Lord, lead me into the pilgrim way of faith seen in Abraham and Sarah. Though my ways sometimes feel more like nomadic wanderings than anything else, help me to discern Your hand in the midst of my day. And so, Lord, give me Your vision and guide me into Your purposes for my life that I every day and hour might draw me closer to You than to anything or anyone else. Open my ears to hear and my eyes to see. Strengthen my mind to understand and my heart to yearn for You. In this earthly way be my eternal home both for now and always.

A Prayer of Trust by Thomas Merton

A friend shared with me this prayer by Thomas Merton from his book Thoughts in Solitude.

It caught my attention, particularly during this time of so many unknowns and so much change. I hope it is meaningful to you as well.

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

By Thomas Merton from Thoughts in Solitude (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1958).

Stories Like This About Prayer Catch My Attention

Stories like this about prayer catch my attention and make me consider my own approach to prayer, my faith, and what it means to believe God in prayer.

Norman Harrison in His in a Life of Prayer tells how Charles Inglis, while making the voyage to America a number of years ago, learned from the devout and godly captain of an experience which he had had but recently with George Müller of Bristol. It seems that they had encountered a very dense fog. Because of it the captain had remained on the bridge continuously for twenty-four hours, when Mr. Müller came to him and said, “Captain, I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.” When informed that it was impossible, he replied: “Very well. If the ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement for fifty-seven years. Let us go down into the chartroom and pray.”

The captain continues the story thus: “I looked at that man of God and thought to myself, What lunatic asylum could that man have come from. I never heard such a thing as this. ‘Mr Müller,’ I said, ‘ do you know how dense this fog is?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.’ He knelt down and prayed one of those simple prayers, and when he had finished I was going to pray; but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. ‘Firstly,’ he said, ‘because you do not believe God will, and secondly, I believe God has, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.’ I looked at him, and George Müller said, ‘Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up and open the door, and you will find that the fog has gone.’ I got up and the fog was indeed gone. George Müller was in Quebec Saturday afternoon for his engagement.”

[From Reuben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer (Nashville, TN: Upper Room, 1983), 293.

A Prayer for the Church: on displaying God’s wisdom

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 3:10)

Lord, how is it that the Church should make known Your wisdom to the rulers and authorities? How weak and stumbling we are! how quick to falter and prone to wander!

Still, Paul affirms this great reality that the Church has a special calling in part to display Your vast wisdom. Certainly this is tied in with the mystery of Christ, which Paul says is “through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promises in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6). This positional reality and the resulting new community of the Church is part of the revelation of God’s wisdom through the Church.

Lord, because of this gracious mystery, please do a work in the Church in our day and time which is a renewing work and a refining work. Help us, Lord, to display the awesome wonder of Your holy wisdom. May You be glorified in us these days so that You will be seen through us, Your people. Give us grace for this today and in days to come.

A Prayer to Love and Forgive One’s Enemy

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36)

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44-45)

Lord, take my heart in Your hands and shape it to love those who do not love me and even work against me.

Help me not to return wrong with wrong, but to respond to wrong with care, love, prayer, and mercy.

Help me to know what it looks like to turn the other cheek while not enabling ongoing wrong or making it seem like wrong is right.

Give me boldness and discernment to walk as Your child even when my circumstances lead me to forget who I am and cause me to stumble in frustration, grief, and hurt.

What can I do but call to You? You are my God—my Father—and I am Your child—Your disciple.

Lead me in Your way of love and forgiveness that, even in wrong, people may see You in me.