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Tag: prayer (page 1 of 4)

A Prayer for your Small Group

It’s moving week around here!  As I think of what I’m going to miss, one of the first things that comes to mind is our small group.  For the past two years, we’ve met once a week to share a meal and share our lives.  Outside of those regular meetings we’ve attended birthday parties and baby showers.  We’ve exchanged countless text messages.  When someone needs a little extra help we’ve delivered meals or mowed their lawn.  At a time when we lived away from family, these friends became our family.

At the end of last summer, when small groups were starting up again, I wrote a prayer for our group.  I committed to praying for them (us) regularly and I wanted to focus those prayers.  Today I’m sharing an adapted version of that prayer.

ATTENTION

 

Lord, we thank You for setting us in a rich community and for giving us meaningful friendships.  We recognize that people are often the administers of Your grace in our lives and so we begin expressing gratitude for these relationships and Your work among us.  

 For our small group:

May we be truth seekers and truth speakers.  In our relationships with each other, may grace be our native language.  May we toil for unity, knowing that it doesn’t come easily.  We ask for grace to be quick to confess, to repent, and to obey.

 When hard times inevitably come, we pray that we would stand firm with each other.  May we walk in both confidence and humility as a result of our relationship with Christ.  And may we as a group cultivate an environment of honesty where shame has no power and where Christ is honored.

 For growth:

This year we pray for growth within our group as a result of our individual growth.  Give us boldness to invite others into our community.  May we be open, welcoming, and inviting to visitors.  May we exhibit closeness while squelching any hint of cliques or exclusivity.  May we be open to diversity of gender, race, socioeconomic status and age in such a way that reflects your Kingdom and our city.  And may Christ within us be irresistible.

 For our city:

We ask that our group would be an asset to our church and to our city as well.  May we be agents of reconciliation, joining you in your on-going work of reconciling the world to yourself.  As we see turmoil in cities around the country and around the world, we humbly ask that you would work in our city in a great way.  And if our city faces troubles ahead, give us courage to stand for justice and righteousness.  May we love and serve our city well.

 Amen.

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How To Create a Bedtime Liturgy for Your Children

When Hadden was having a hard time falling asleep at night, we crafted a bedtime routine to help settle him down each evening.  At first it was a bit more elaborate, involving a bath and a long wind-down session.  But soon we narrowed it down to a few key elements.  The routine has stuck and we still follow it now, months later.

A few months after we implemented this new rhythm I was chatting with a friend about parenting.  She mentioned having a “bedtime liturgy” – a phrase I couldn’t get out of my head.  The more I thought about it, I realized that that is exactly what we had (unintentionally) crafted in our home.

A liturgy is just the order of a religious service.  And that’s what we do each evening – we approach and worship God together.  Our bedtime liturgy is simple, but the importance looms.  I’m not going to say that something magical happens each night – it doesn’t.  But that is the point of liturgy.  It gives us a pattern to follow whether we feel like worshipping or not.  It give us a routine for the happy days, the mundane days and even the bad days.

If you’re looking to create your own bedtime liturgy, here are a few elements to consider:

How To Create a Bedtime Liturgy

1.  Bible Story/Scripture Reading

We use The Jesus Storybook Bible with our son because we appreciate the way that each story points to Jesus.  I think it helps little ones understand the overarching story of the Bible instead of seeing it as a collection of discombobulated stories.  That said, I have disagreed with the spin the author uses a few times.  However, I like it much more than I like any other children’s bible I’ve seen so we will continue to use it.

Another idea is to read a portion of Scripture directly from the Bible each night.  I like the idea of reading (or reciting) the same verses each night so that eventually you all have them memorized, but that’s up to you.  If you were looking for a portion to memorize, I would start with Psalm 1, Psalm 23, or Matthew 5:1-12.

And for the sake of complete honesty I want to add that this is the only step that does not happen consistently in our home.  It happens frequently, but not always.

2.  Prayer

We say a spontaneous prayer each night, thanking Jesus for each member of our family and praying for whatever else comes to mind.

In my coffee shop conversation with my friend about bedtime liturgy, she mentioned the idea of writing prayers ahead of time for your children since by evening you’re usually tired.  This way your prayers end up more structured.  You can incorporate Scripture into these prayers or even pray for character traits that you’re hoping your child will develop over the next year.

Or you can follow a different path and recite a prayer each night.  I like the idea of saying the Lord’s Prayer (found in Matthew 6) or the classic “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”

3.  “Truth About God”

Each night we tell our son a statement that we believe to be true about God like this: “Hadden, your truth about God is that God is a forgiver.”  These days I have complicated feelings about theology and what to teach my son about God.  But these truths about God are as much a balm for my soul as they are a lesson for him.  Simple yet concrete, I am reminding myself about the basic elements of God’s character.

4.  Song

Our last step every night is to sing The Common Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow).  I love closing out the night singing those words together, hearing my husband harmonize and our toddler try to join in.

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Caleb joining us for bedtime liturgy while deployed

Since we don’t always do the Scripture reading, our entire bedtime liturgy lasts just a few minutes.  Still, it is a way to calm and collect our family together before God as we end each day.

As you create your own bedtime liturgy my only caution would be to keep it simple.  It seems tempting to pick a new Bible lesson, a new prayer and a new song each night.  But I think that the more simple you keep it the easier it is for children to participate and the easier it is to repeat each night.  Consistency is more important than new content as long as you’re sure the original content is good.

  • What does your family’s bedtime routine look like?  Or what did it look like growing up?
  • Do you have any additional suggestions for bedtime liturgy?  I’d love to hear them!
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Balancing Faith and Fear in a World of ISIS and Ebola

For the past few months my Facebook feed has been flooded with stories about Ebola and ISIS.  And it hasn’t been pretty.

While most Americans are worried about the Ebola virus spreading through our country, military families are concerned about a second threat.  Sources in the US and Canada suggest that ISIS may be targeting service members and their families.

Both Ebola and ISIS are serious issues that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Yet much of what I’ve seen on the internet has been fear mongering, turning a few stories into the worst case scenarios.

I have a vested interest in both Ebola and ISIS.  We live in a suburb of Omaha, where multiple Ebola patients have been treated.  Had there been a breach in health care protocols, our surrounding area could have been infected.  And my husband serves in the military, which means we’ve had to weigh the risks for  our own family.

In these past few weeks I keep returning to the same question: how can I balance a healthy fear with a life of faith?

Balancing Faith and Fear in a World of ISIS and Ebola

Three Thoughts

1.  We let terrorists win when we live in terror

If I’m not careful, I am prone to be consumed and paralyzed by fear.  And this is exactly what terrorists want.  Instead of cowering in fear, we can choose to carry on with normal life.  I don’t want to live controlled by fear.

2.  We minimize the suffering of others when we’re so focused on ourselves

I’ve been privy to long, passionate conversations between military spouses who are trying to protect themselves and their families from ISIS.  I don’t fault them for this as, of course, they must do what they feel right for their families.  Yet not once in the course of these conversations did I hear someone express concern for those currently being oppressed by ISIS.

Similarly, when Americans panic about patients with Ebola entering our country, we’re  only concerned that we might be infected.  Meanwhile, Ebola is ravaging other countries.

In both situations, we become so concerned with the very possibility of our suffering that we ignore the fact that people are actually suffering.

3.  We demonstrate our lack of trust in God

When we panic over these situations, we’re showing a lack of faith that God will take care of us and that he might have a plan even in our suffering.

Three Ways to Respond

1.  Act with wisdom

I’m not suggesting to be flippant about threats or foolish in regards to your safety.  We must balance fear with appropriate concern.  By staying informed and weighing the risks, we can resist acting out of fear.

2.  Speak against fear

No matter how calm we choose to be in the midst of these threats, others will be fear mongering.  We must have the courage to kindly speak up and prevent the spread of unnecessary fear.  We participate in terrorism when we repeat messages of terror without a clear threat.

3.  Pray.

Sometimes prayer doesn’t seem like enough.  It seems like a very passive response to active situations.  But I think we should do it nonetheless.  Pray for yourself and for your attitude in these situations.  Pray for those who want to spread terror.  Pray also for those fighting, whether it be doctors battling a disease or soldiers battling an enemy.  Mostly though, concentrate your prayers on those who are actively suffering and need strength to endure.

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