A Prayer for Tuckey

Today has been one of those days that I feel immeasurably thankful to be the RD of Tuckey Hall. I had the chance to eat with a few of them, talk through tough questions with some, and I ended the day in a room full of girls, yelling and shaking our heads in disgust over the Bachelor. Some days feel tiring and difficult. But most days are like this one. I get the privilege of knowing these girls and laughing with them. I get to make fun of reality shows while nail polish fumes fill the air. I get to see them wrestle with God’s character and dig into his Word. Again, I am so thankful to be here.

Tonight, I’m thinking of these 100+ girls in the dorm. I want them to know God and to know a fulfilled life in him. So I’m praying for them now – praying for God’s goodness and direction in their lives, as well as in mine as I serve as their RD.

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Father God,
I can’t thank you enough for these young women. They are passionate, relational people, and I love living with them. Thank you for their lives and their presence in this dorm. Thanks for allowing them to live in Tuckey. 
I see these girls, and I’m reminded of how you worked in my life as a college student. God, thank you for those years of constant community. You used people to challenge me and point me to your Word. You taught me how to love people who frustrated me. Those years were often hard and painful, yet you were so faithful, God. Thank you.
I pray that your faithfulness is known to these girls. Draw their attention to your character. Show them how you love them and provide for them. Give them peace and trust when both feel far away. Teach these ladies how to really love your Word. If you would use me, God, let me be one to point them to your Truth. Let me be one who abides in you so that you may be reflected in my interactions with these women. Reveal yourself to each of us so that we may know you better. 
I pray these girls grow in passion and purpose. Show them how to pursue what brings you glory while also utilizing their gifts. May they be people who love well, listen often, and exude compassion. May these girls know they are loved – not only by you, their Father, but also by others. Teach this group of young women to be a body of encouragers and welcomers. 
I pray for deeper trust here, God. I pray for challenges and doubts that bring us to you. I pray for peace when it comes to how we all view ourselves and grace when we look at others. 
I know and trust that you hold these girls closely. I am confident that you are doing good work in them, and that you’ve created them to carry out your good. Be especially present in our dorm, God. 
I pray these things in your name, Jesus, Amen. 

A Prayer for A New Week

God,
I don’t want to enter another week dreading what is ahead.
I don’t want to anticipate what could go wrong or what may be tiring.

Instead, I ask that you would redirect my thoughts.
Let me look back and be reminded of your faithfulness.
May I trust your character, God.
Because of how you reveal yourself to me,
through your Word and through your people,
let me walk into another unknown full of peace.

A week should not feel threatening.
I know I shouldn’t be so easily overwhelmed.
And yet, I feel cautious about my attitude and feelings as another Monday approaches.

Let this be a week of wise investments.
Let me make choices that honor you,
choices that communicate love for others,
choices that challenge my understanding of your Word.

Draw my eyes off of the temporary frustrations and the daily distractions.
Lift my eyes to you, fixed and focused on your goodness.
I ask to see your goodness, but to also trust what doesn’t feel as such.

A new week is coming, and nothing is new to you, God.
You have been a faithful God through the ages.
You have seen weeks of great struggle and pain –
and you’ve seen weeks pass with great celebration.
Let me embrace all that is ahead,
trusting you and drawing near to you.

I love you, Father.
I’m thankful for the unknown.
Thank you for putting me in a place of need and reliance –
may this coming week be an opportunity to know your sustaining peace.

Amen.

A Prayer for Trust and Obedience

For these last few days of January, I’m trying my hand at writing prayers. This prayer came as a response to the set of songs we’ll be singing in worship this Sunday.

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God, we come to you asking for awareness of your presence.
May we make room for your Spirit to speak and teach, to draw us closer to you.

May we spend our lives growing in knowledge of who you are –
let us see you as the one who descended down to our level,
the one who led us out of death,
the one who made a way for us and suffered so that he may know our suffering.

Jesus, let us see you as our King.
You are the matchless, sovereign King who deserves all our praise and all our trust.
When we were without a Messiah, without a Savior, you filled that need.
You became our merciful and faithful high priest, reconciling us to the Father through your death.

So as we draw close to you, let our response be gratitude.
Let us grow in obedience as we see your perfect mix of love and righteousness.
Teach us to live in awe and thankfulness for all you’ve done.
Teach us to live lives of worship, in all different aspects.
In our homes, our work, our relationships, our time, our choices –
draw our attention and our eyes upward so that we may see the fullness of life in you.

Lead us into a life of obedience, God.
We know this is what you’ve asked of us.
Please show us the way to a deeper trust and a deeper love for your Word.

We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen.

A Prayer to Listen

Lord,

teach me to listen.

The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them.

Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, “Speak, for Thy servant heareth.”

Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice,

that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking.

Amen.

-A. W. Tozer
Of all the pieces of prayer, listening might be the hardest for me. I often ask God to speak, but my mind is impatient. God be quick. Be clear. I listen to his voice on my time and with my expectations. I want to learn to really listen, though. I want to quiet the “raucous sounds” and strengthen my ears. God, teach me to listen. Just as Tozer asked you, let me hear you. Let me grow so used to the sound of your voice that I don’t question what it is. I want to listen and obey, Father. Please teach me. 
These mornings of prayer have been interesting. I head into time with God hoping to take something inspired away. I have this idea that maybe this morning God will be clear as day and show me to hear him speak. He’ll be forward and affirming, answering that big question of “What should I do with this life you’ve given me?” I’ll leave the time with him feeling empowered, trusting him completely because I know without a doubt that he spoke to me. 
Expectancy is a great thing. We should spend time with God anticipating his closeness and his voice. At the same time, I think it turns him into a magician or entertainer of some sort if I anxiously await his “signs and wonders”. I was reading in Hebrews today, preparing for our dorm-wide Bible Study. In chapter 2, the author warns us against missing out on this grand rescue. He elaborates and states that if we’re waiting on some large, miraculous sign, we may be placing our own expectations on how God reveals himself. I don’t want to miss out on what God’s doing. I don’t want to set unreasonable standards for hearing God’s voice when he’s speaking through his Word and his people. So, again, Father. Teach me, train me, to listen. Let me discover what it means to be attentive to and familiar with your voice. 
God, I want to grow in prayer, so therefore, I want to become a better listener. I want to make room for solitude and silence, so that the noise and distraction that fills my life can be quieted. Draw me to yourself and to your voice. Let me grow familiar to your tones, Father. And may I love the sound of your voice, in my heart and in my mind. 
Amen. 

A Prayer for Tired Days

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee;
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth. 

-St. Teresa of Avila

I want to cry while reading this prayer. I’m feeling tired, pregnant, and overly emotional today. Being pregnant is so odd – I can’t tell if I’m close to tears because of hormones or exhaustion. It may be both. Whatever the reason, though, I feel weary. I feel like free time and rest are far-away thoughts. I feel like there’s so much good going on, and yet, there’s always something going on. My feelings are not totally trustworthy these days, but they are definitely worth considering. So I’m pausing today to remind myself who God is. 
Let nothing disturb or unnerve me, God. This season, these busy days – they’ll pass. But you remain constant through it all, never changing. Grow my patient endurance. Grow my capacity to work well. Let me say yes to what is worthwhile and no to whatever distracts me from pursuing you. Help me see what is service and what is obligation. You provide all I need. 
I see that so clearly right now, and again, tears are coming. As I write these words, you’re protecting my time and giving me a gift of freedom. I had a long night ahead, things I was looking forward to, but nonetheless, adding to my full day. Both had to be rescheduled, and I find myself with a completely free evening ahead. Thank you, Jesus. I didn’t ask for this gift – I didn’t even know I wanted it! And now, I see that in him, we want for nothing. We are cared for, we’re understood. He is sufficient. He’s all I need. 
May I trust your steadiness and your character. You are good, and I’m so thankful for how you practically love me. Thank you for time. Thank you for rest. I love you. 

A Prayer to Submit and Trust

God, we will do anything. Anything. 

-Jennie Allen

This kind of prayer scares me. I remember being in college and praying words similar to these, but not really understanding what they meant. Anything? Really? Do I really dare ask God to do anything with my life? I want to have this conversation with him, but it terrifies me. 
My college years felt like they were constantly plagued with the question of “my calling”. I felt lost and ready to find direction. When I told God I’d go anywhere and do anything, I still had certain visuals in my head. I thought of glamorous adventures, something like traveling the world with little to my name or stepping out into Hollywood to share the Truth with all those celebrities. For real, that was a direction my mind went in college. I’d think about the brokenness in the film and TV industry, and I’d pray that God might use me there if it was his will. It wasn’t. It probably won’t be. Like I said, my thoughts about “anything” were a little more exciting than what the prayer really entailed. 
When we offer ourselves to God fully, when we ask him to do absolutely anything with our lives, I believe he will answer faithfully. Anything means we might not get any credit. It means we may lose people or things we love. Praying this big prayer opens us up to great risk. And that is what is so scary to me. I understand God’s character more than I did in college, and I see how he has this incredible power to use people and advance his Kingdom. But I’ve also seen that his ways often include difficulty and discomfort. Am I still willing to pray this way?
I want to say yes. I want to be in that fragile, trusting place with God that says yes to risk and uncertainty. Because saying yes to God’s way, as unsure as it may feel, means I’m submitting to him. I’m being obedient. I’m trusting this Father and King that I’ve come to know and love. I want to say yes. I want to pray this way. Knowing a bit more of Jennie Allen’s story, I see how her surrender to God’s will totally changed her life, as well as so many others. In a desperate effort to leave behind the comfortable and safe, Allen prayed this prayer with her husband. What followed was a list of crazy, hard, and awesome events. They adopted a child from overseas, she wrote a lot of good material, and most notably, she founded IF:Gathering, a collaboration and conference for women striving to follow Jesus with their whole lives. The work that God began through that prayer, through her trust, has been astounding. I’m just one of thousands who have been greatly impacted by God’s faithfulness in answering that prayer. 
As I learn to pray and I learn to love your Word, grow my ability to say yes to whatever you ask of me. Let me listen, trust, and obey, God. Do anything you want with my life. Let that prayer become more sincere and real to me. 
Amen. 

Some thoughts on Prayer from Coretta Scott King

Tonight, I won’t be writing much. As I thought about what prayer to study today, I came across this website. Now, I realize the website is a bit interesting, especially for the Evangelical Christians looking at it. But this excerpt from Coretta Scott King is exactly what I needed to read today. I had all these intentions to write something profound and thoughtful, but I have nothing to add to the thoughts written here: Coretta Scott King’s thoughts on prayer.

I am thankful for these words, for the work of Dr. King and so many others, and mostly, for God’s faithfulness in the midst of our world’s heartaches. Please go read this.

A Prayer for the Church

Lord…
We thank you for your church, founded upon your Word, that challenges us to do more than sing and pray, but go out and work as though the very answer to our prayers depended on us and not upon you. Help us to realize that humanity was created to shine like the stars and live on through all eternity. Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace. Help us to walk together, pray together, sing together, and live together until that day when all God’s children — Black, White, Red, Brown and Yellow — will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. I came across this prayer a few weeks ago, and it seemed fitting to save it for tomorrow. Today, though, I couldn’t stop thinking about the themes in this prayer. The Church has such an opportunity for good work, for unity, and for peace. I realize apart from Jesus and his coming again, there will not be perfect peace. But why wouldn’t we strive for something closest to it? Why wouldn’t the Church pursue “one common band of humanity”? 
I sat in a pew today feeling grateful and hopeful. At times, I’ve been very critical of the Church. I’ve seen its flaws and its errors, and I’ve felt justified in my feelings of discontent. I haven’t thanked God for his church. I haven’t prayed for unity and peace within his church. I have complained and cried and wondered why it doesn’t already look like the picture envisioned here by Dr. King. And today, I am humbled by this prayer. I humbled by his hope and trust in God. As I learn from brothers and sisters of color, I see that the Kingdom of God is about unity of his people. He’s about reconciliation and redemption. Issues of race and diversity are not just a topic to be discussed; they are absolutely essential to God’s Church. A friend and coworker of mine reminds me of this often. We must be praying this prayer. I must be asking God to give me a hunger for unity and for active love. 
Only under God’s sovereignty will perfect peace come about. Dr. King prayed with this understanding, asking God to not only guide our efforts, but to reign and rule over them. If we are seeking to grow in our relationship with Jesus, we must see King’s prayer as a vital part of knowing him. We must see the Church as a people to be unified and empowered. 
I’m writing this for myself, mostly. I’m reading and rereading the words of this prayer to align myself with the heart of God. I am learning, and I need the Father’s guidance, as well as the Church’s. As I sat in our church today, I was reminded of what God’s been already teaching me. Community takes work. Unity takes work. When previously I’d been discouraged by this work, today I felt excited about the possibilities of what God would do with this church family. I’m praying with Dr. King – praying for God’s Word to ground us and send us out into the work of unifying his Church. So, Father, teach me how to hunger for unity and peace. Grow patience and humility within me so that I may learn from my brothers and sisters. Allow me to see your Kingdom with bigger and more accurate perspective. And ultimately, bring your people to the place where we may “walk together, pray together, sing together, and live together”. 
We trust that you are faithful, God. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

A Prayer for Doing the Work

Almighty God, the Giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose help study is ineffectual, enable me, if it be thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant, to prevent wrongs, and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain, to thy glory, and my own salvation, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen. 

-Dr. Samuel Johnson

I do not want to study prayer in vain. I do not want to grow in prayer to be a better Christian. I feel, at this point in the learning process, that there is temptation to make this discipline about me. With most resolutions or goals, the emphasis is usually placed on ourselves. In this case, though, it seems ironic for the focus to be on me. 
Most of my life, my thoughts and my actions, have been self-centered. I wanted to grow in prayer to redirect my perspective. I wanted to see God more clearly and know him better. Little by little, I see that happening. But at the same time, I see tiredness setting in. I’m two weeks into this practice, and the excitement has worn off. Learning about prayer feels like work now. And I think that’s good. We need to develop our capacity for work and for consistency. Recently, a friend said something to me about growing roots. We talked about how many friends our age aren’t interested in that idea – we’d rather create lots of experiences, jumping from place to place, adventure to adventure. Years ago, people found their forever-jobs and forever-homes at this age. Today, we have five different jobs before we’re 30. 
I say all this to remind myself that putting in the work is worthwhile. Relationships take work, community takes work, and meaningful work takes work. If I am working for the sake of success, though, I’m missing out on what God has to offer. If I seek God as the “Giver of wisdom”, and I ask him to guide my work, I can trust that whatever fruit is produced is good fruit. I become part of God’s bigger story. When I submit my work to him, I’m able to influence others with integrity because what comes out of my mouth is enabled by him. 
In Samuel Johnson’s prayer, we see something else important, though. To know God’s wisdom and good work, we must be ones who study and seek out knowledge. We know God is the ultimate Teacher, but again, we must be willing to put in the effort of learning. 
Practically speaking, this work means consistency. Putting effort into prayer means I do it often and I do it even when I don’t want to. It means that I struggle through Psalms and other sections of God’s Word when I don’t understand what’s written there. I ask questions, I let the Spirit guide me, and I allow my previous opinions to be quieted. That’s hard work. It takes time and energy, and it means other desires get put on hold for a little while.
God is a faithful teacher and leader. We can trust that he will show us the way and that he’ll give us the necessary wisdom for each instance. But we must say yes to the work. 
Father, I’m committing to studying your Word and learning from you. Give me endurance and consistency; allow me to stick with the difficulty of this discipline. Bring me from duty to delight, and let me see fruit from this process. I trust that you will guide me in knowledge and wisdom and that you’ll allow me to lead others through those gifts. Continue to lead me, God. 
Amen. 

A Prayer to Open Up

You heard the cry of our hearts
And You came down
Freely You gave us Your love
Showing us how

Make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is darkness let me shine light and
May Your love cause us to open up
Cause us to open up our hearts
May Your light cause us to shine so bright
That we bring hope into the dark

All that we do without love
It means nothing
Grant us the courage to give
As You’re calling

Make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is darkness let me shine light and
May Your love cause us to open up
Cause us to open up our hearts
May Your light cause us to shine so bright
That we bring hope into the dark

Hope for the hopeless, Your love is
Strength in our weakness, Your love is
May we love, as You love
Hope for the hopeless, Your love is
Strength in our weakness, Your love is
May we love, as You love
(As only You can love, oh God)
May we love, as You love
May we love, as You love


Open Up, The Brilliance

Music, like writing, often feels like prayer to me. Especially when I look at lyrics like these, I can’t help but think of the way music and worship go together so well. If you’ve grown up in an Evangelical world this seems obvious. We often refer to “worship” as that point in the service when musicians play and sing, inviting the rest of the Church to join in. Most of us understand that worship involves much more than music. But music and poetry have this way of drawing us into conversation with our God. There’s something so intimate and genuine about music. 

Tonight, I’m resting with just the company of music. Otherwise, it’s a quiet night in the dorm. It’s been a full week, a long, odd day, and I was craving the kind of rest that only music seems to bring. I’ve often listened to this song by The Brilliance and prayed along with the musicians. These words, adapted from the St. Francis prayer, humble us. They make us aware of our need for God – his love, his hope, his work through us. We often have good intentions as Christians, especially those of us who are young and eager to do “good work” in the name of Jesus. This prayer reminds me that without the love of Jesus and without his will, we are unable to see good come from our actions. Yes, we can still do good things. But to be ones who bring light and peace to the world, we must be connected to the ultimate source of these lovely things. 

The first words of the song make me so happy. He heard the cry of our hearts, the cry of mankind. We needed a Savior, a King, a Messiah. And he answered that cry by coming to us and dwelling with us, showing us how we are to love this world. He also showed us how to pray, how to respond to the Father. When I think of Jesus these days, I’m overwhelmed by his incredible nature. Both God and Man, he knew what it was to see the world hand-made, as well as what it was to feel pain. Amazing. After so many years of knowing and hearing this gospel story, I feel strangely refreshed by the power of who Jesus is. He is hope for a hopeless world and strength for our many weaknesses. He opens us up to a love that is pure and hopeful. 

I think one response to knowing the love of Jesus is loving others well. I struggle with compassion – it’s not my first response or reaction. As I continue to get to know the Father, I find compassion growing. The more I see it in him, the more I want others to experience it. I’m learning, and often doing pretty poorly, but there’s something growing here. So may we love as you love, God. May we be instruments of your peace and hope to those who need you deeply. Open up our hearts to you, and open us up to a love that reflects your character to others. 

Amen.