Our pastor at St. Mark’s UMC, Jimmy Moore, asked me to do the pastoral prayer yesterday. After I added to the prayer concerns list, I said, “Sing with me, please,” and started into Every time I feel the spirit, moving in my heart I will pray. I was pleasantly surprised. I think most of the choir members were with me half-way through the first word, and most of the rest of the congregation was with it quickly thereafter. I don’t have much of a voice anymore, and my ear is shot, and I was especially croaky yesterday, which was all good. My thinking is: If I can stand up here and sing into the microphone like this, you out there have no excuse not to sing.
In the prayer I tried to take up the motifs from the scriptures for the day: the story of the manna in the desert in Exodus, and the story of Peter denying Jesus three times in Luke. And also it was communion Sunday.
Here’s the prayer…
We know, O God, that your Spirit is afoot in this universe of your creation. But your Spirit is too high, too wide, too deep for our small human minds to comprehend, and so we ask you not for knowledge, but for faith.
We thank you for the gentle way you have sprung this spring upon us, for we are fragile and vulnerable in times of transition, easily distracted and led astray. These are desert days, and we are hungry for even morsels of truth and justice.
Our vision has been glazed by the hypocrisies of power. Our hope has been drowned out by the howls and yowls of greed. Our compassion has been wearied by the constancy of troubles. In the midst of the chaos of the whirlwind, it is difficult for us to hear your still, small voice.
So we complain. So loudly. So often. It is just easier for us to speak than to listen. We confess that we are much better at saying what we want from you than we are at listening to hear what you want from us.
Lead us, O God, through the desert of this present age, lead us to the table full of manna, full of grace, communing with You, together with your children from every age and nation.
Those of us who are climbing the mountain from strength to strength, help us to hear your voice as you tell us how to use our strength in the service of your love. Those of us who are sliding down the slope from weakness to weakness, help us to hear your voice as you tell us how to use our weakness in the service of your love.
Help us now, in the silence of this place, the silence that is not really silent but full of the little sounds that remind us that we are not alone in this vast universe, help us now to hear in those small sounds your own still small voice that will tell us where to find bread.
[Followed by the Lord’s Prayer in unison]
John Robert McFarland
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” CS Lewis