A Lenten Prayer for Dusty People — A Companion Column

Every two months, it is my privilege to write a regular column for a newly re-formatted denominational publication called “The Covenant Companion.” I write these columns approximately two months in advance. The most recently released edition contains a Lenten prayer I wrote at the end of last year. I was tired, distracted by the holidays and had just arrived at a lovely motel for an anniversary getaway with my husband. On December 18th of last year, we hit #50. The deadline was looming and I was out of ideas. I knew this issue would appear in the middle of Lent, so I chose to write a prayer. The words that came tumbling out seem quite appropriate for the quagmire in which our nation finds itself politically just now. And once again, I am amazed at God’s grace and the Spirit’s prescient power within us, even when we haven’t a clue. Here is that column/prayer:

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This is what the LORD says—”Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland…I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”

O Lord, how we long for you to do a new thing in our midst.

How we long to see the way made in the wilderness,

            the stream flowing through the wasteland.

For we are indeed your people, formed to praise you.

And so we do.

We praise you that you are the God of new things.

            That you are the God of wilderness way-making,

            that you are the God of life-giving water in the midst of life’s wastelands,

            that you are the God who reminds us to ‘forget the former things,’

            because you are in the business of making all things new.

Start with us, please, Lord. Start with us.

Make us new, inside and out.

Teach us to live as new creatures –

            not because we’re fad-hungry

            or driven to own the latest new tech device;

            not because we’re bored with life and need a new kick;

            not because we’re in need of a diversion.

Make us new because we need your transformational energy at work within us

            in order to live as whole and holy people.

Make us new because we’ve worn out the old ways,

            we’ve tried them repeatedly and learned the hard way that they just don’t work.

Make us new because we want to be people

            who radiate the fruit of the Spirit of Jesus –

            that amazing, multi-faceted, lovely fruit-of-nine-sides that Paul listed out for us:

                        Love, Joy, Peace,

                        Patience, Kindness, Goodness,

                        Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control.

So…start with us in this making-new business.

Because if we’re truly open to the newness your Spirit can bring,

            and if we truly live out of the fruit your Spirit grows in us,

            then we can carry that newness into every situation and relationship

                        we find ourselves in whether that’s

            our family home, our dorm suite, our place of business,

            our classroom, the grocery line, the traffic jam,

            the blog comments, the political debate,

            the kitchen table or the table at our favorite restaurant,

            the well-worn beach path or hiking trail,

            or the sidewalk right in front of where we live –

wherever our lives lead us –we can bleed newness, your newness, into our world.

So, we ask that your church worldwide might be a sign of newness,

            a whisper of beauty, a word of kindness,

            a presence of hospitality, a ray of civility

                        in an increasingly uncivil and terrifying world.

Convict us when we fall short of this worthy goal;

            convince us that we, with you at work within us,

            have the inside scoop on the hope this world needs.

Consider that we are but dust – but then . . .

            continue the work of new creation even in our dustiness.

 

And please, bless our very dusty leaders, denominational and political,

            who are engaged in important decision-making on many fronts.

Grant us peace in our churchly dialog and in our civic discourse,

            wisdom in our personal and our national decisions,

            and grace with one another when the day is done.

Thank you, Great God of all things new,

            for your everyday goodness and grace,

            for your mercies which are new every morning

                    and which sustain us our whole life long.

In the name and for the sake of Jesus, your son,

                    who makes it possible for us to be made new each and every day.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Marsha Goller says:

    Thank you Diana. I had read the column itself in the online Covenant Companion through Covenant Newswire and was struck with how applicable, timely and fitting it was for this Lenten season. I printed out a copy and took it to our mid-week church leadership Bible study and prayer time this afternoon, just in case I felt led to share it. A number of people in our church are involved in foster parenting, respite care, working with heroin addicts, etc. or are support people for these kinds of needs. It can be overwhelming at times and it is easy to feel that nothing we do works, that we are doomed to failure. Before our meeting began, a man who comes in seeking assistance several times a year had come in. He is mentally ill, a drug addict, a gentle, soft-spoken man, who sometimes needs to talk, to voice his needs. Our church could not help with dollars, but he got a gift card for Safeway, a backpack, and probably most important, someone to listen, someone who recognized him as a person loved by God. Before he left he wrote a note, a beautiful note treasured by those in the office, to the effect that regardless of what others thought, he knew he was redeemed. The two people in the office were still processing all this as we met, recognizing God in their midst. The study was in 1 Corinthians 13 where our church is doing a study and sermon series on “Love Is…” This week’s Scripture is “Love never gives up…” from verse 7 NLT. This led naturally to a discussion about the church visitor, about how we love those who are hurting in so many ways, whose needs are not being met by the “system.” Your prayer seemed to voice so much of where we were and are, dusty people, who feel we’ve worn out the old ways that don’t seem to be working, who want the fruit of God’s Spirit, its newness and fullness, to guide us, be with us, and help us to minister with the newness of the Spirit, with new mercies every morning giving us His strength to be a light in this world in which we live. Reading the back story to your prayer just now made the timing of my reading it earlier today, our discussion this afternoon, and then sharing your prayer with others caused me to tremble at the work of God’s Spirit through every act in our lives. Thank you Diana. I’ve wanted to write so many times as both your blog and your email have touched my life, but I was too easily intimidated, but today I knew I needed to share how you ministered to our small group.

  2. Even as I read your prayer, Diana, I felt the dustiness on my soul begin to whisk away in a Holy Spirit breeze. Thank you for availing yourself to his leading in stringing together these beautiful, poignant words. I’m going to print this out and tuck it into my devotional materials–for future reference, for encouragement, for meditation-inspiration. Thank you!

  3. So loved this prayer as I read/prayed with you, Diana. Yes, it speaks to the times in which we are living perfectly, honestly, and sincerely. Thank you for shining your light into my day!
    Blessings!

  4. A beautiful prayer to refresh weary spirits and centre our thoughts on the renewal and transformation only God can bring to our lives. Thank you, Diana. I’ve taken a leaf out of Nancy’s book and printed it off for future reference and reflection. Bless you for sharing it, and praise God for His perfect timing!

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