A Prayer for the 1st Sunday in Lent…

written by Diana R.G. Trautwein
for worship at
Montecito Covenant Church
February 21, 2010
Interspersed with words from Psalm 84
“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

We gather this morning
as your yearning people, O Lord.
We join the psalmist in crying out for you,
the living God.
Beneath everything else we think we want,
below the surface dreams and fantasies,
sitting at bedrock in the center of ourselves,
is a deep longing for you.
You alone can fill the empty spaces
in our spirits,
and you can fill them
with life
and hope
and peace.
How lovely, indeed.

“Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.”

“Even the sparrow….”
the smallest, most ordinary,
everyday house bird
can find a place of welcome
and rest in your presence.
Your mercy and grace are like that, O Lord,
and we are grateful.
There is room for the likes of us
near your altar,
sparrow or swallow,
young or old,
male or female,
strong or frail –
there is room,
there is welcome,
there is rest,
there is home.
Thank you.

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

And we do praise you this morning, O God.
We praise you that you are our home.
that you are our strength.
And as we this week begin
our annual Lenten pilgrimage –
our journey to the cross of Good Friday,
and the empty tomb of Easter Sunday –
we want to set our hearts to it.
We want to open ourselves to the
quickening work of your Spirit.
May our souls be formed more and more
into the likeness of Jesus,
even as we place our feet on the Calvary road,
the way that leads through
the reflection and repentance of Lent
to the celebration and feasting
of Resurrection Sunday.

“Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.”

The psalmist beseeches you to listen, Lord God,
to hear and answer.
And we offer prayers as well,
prayers for ourselves –
that we might live more fully into
your picture of us as beloved sons and daughters.

And as your children, we offer prayers for our children,
most especially this morning
for those high school students –
who really are all our children
and their leaders as they play and worship
and learn together this weekend.
Guide, protect, instruct, refresh –
work your way in their lives,
calling each one of them to recognize and to honor
their own deep yearning for you.

We pray for those who are wrestling
with hard stuff today, Lord –
those who have lost a loved one
like Tom Dalton has this week
in the passing of his mother;
those who are facing treatment for cancer,
or surgery of one kind or another,
or who live with a chronic illness,
or long-term pain –
please bring healing and hope
into each of these situations.

We pray for those who live with
or who care for those who live with
mental and emotional distress and illness,
or the slow, lingering loss
of memory and sense of self
that comes with dementia.
Bring refreshment and hope and courage into
each unique situation and relationship.

Strengthen and encourage
your servant and friend, Helen,
as she brings for us your word of blessing this morning.
Thank you for her inspired leadership this past week
and for the truths she has skillfully
and gently guided us toward.

Thank you for the invitation
to bring our requests and concerns
right into your lovely dwelling place, O Lord,
and thank you that you listen with love.

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold from those
whose walk is blameless.
LORD Almighty, blessed are those who trust in you.”

O help us to be counted among those
who trust in you, Lord Almighty,
that our walk might be blameless,
that we might forever be found in your courts,
gifted recipients of your favor and honor.
We pray these things in the name of
the only truly blameless one, even
Jesus Christ,
our good shepherd,
elder brother,
Savior and Lord.

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