prayer before a hummingbird feeder

 

I have several hummingbird feeders in my yard and most of the year we have guests at those feeders. The Ruby-throated hummers are by nature extremely territorial. If I happen to walk near one of the feeders and there is a hummingbird nearby at the time, I can expect to hear them repeatedly voice their displeasure and often begin to see them zoom about a bit several yards off. However, this month is the first time I have had a hummingbird “strafe” me.

The particular Ruby-throated male I have in mind is exceedingly bold, unflinchingly flying, or even hovering for relatively long periods of time, within 1-2 feet of me. If he is hovering beside me or behind me and I then turn and face him directly, he will immediately put a bit more distance between us – beyond arm’s length – but will then proceed to repeatedly buzz me quite close until either I leave or he changes tactics.

I greatly admire his courage and bravery. How much bigger am I than he? There is no comparison. But does that make a difference in his actions? None whatsoever. I can consistently count on this: if we are in the yard at the same time – and believe me, he knows it if we are – he will confront me, the “enemy,” and will do so courageously with skill and wisdom.

All of which reminds me of two things. First, that one of the themes that runs like a rope throughout the entirety of the book of Acts – the book in the Bible like no other that tells of the true life of our community of faith for today, the church – is backbone and fortitude, guts, and nerve.  In fact, such even forms the final word in the book. It is the dominant thought that Luke, the author, wants imprinted on our mind and ringing in our ears until the end:

“… proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28.31)

Second, it reminds me of things James, Peter, and Paul said:

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4.7)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith …” (1 Peter 5.8-9a)

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16.13-14)

And so my feathered “friend” – my aerial “hero” – prompts me to pray this way:

God, make me ever like this bird: courageous and strong, skillful and wise, confident and yet well aware of my limitations. May I know no fear save fear of displeasing you and may every beat of my heart be beats of trust in you, for I know you care for me always. So, what have I to fear, for you are with me? And so, may I be with you. Daily. By the courageous Christ I pray. Amen.

a preacher’s prayer at sunrise on Sunday

 

Father, who will give attention to you this morning? And should you allow me the privilege once more to speak of you, who, I ask, will hear you through my feeble, fumbling words? Will it be those who have heard many times before? Let them not be indifferent or complacent through familiarity. Will it be some who have never heard you before? Do not allow any of us to not encounter you. Work out my words, work through my words, work despite my words this morning – just work what you will in the moment, Father.

Give us your attention, Lord, even as we ask your help in our giving you our own; give us audience as we seek you. Take us by our hands to the Father and plead our need with your outstretched hands. Open our minds and break open our hearts, shining all you are on all that we are that we might change more into the likeness of you. Let us be all about you – entralled and enraptured with you, adoring you and freshly committing ourselves to emulating you.

Spirit holy, your ways and words are beyond our grasp, and yet, it is your words and words that must touch us, stir us, trouble us, settle us, and teach us. And so, I pray you will handle us and hold us this morning, working into each spirit present things far beyond what any of us can see and hear with our eyes and ears. As you have arranged for this time and place, our providential meeting with you in the presence of others, do walk among us and talk to us.

Begin this work with me, I pray. Where I need to tremble afresh, make me tremble. Where I need to rest confident in you, please plant me there. In all things today, work through me for the blessing of others and so bless me to that end.

In the name of my Savior, with trust, I come asking.

Amen.

prayer for a small child in surgery

 

Great Physician you have healed and raised little ones. You help those who hurt and you defeat disease. As you are the same yesterday, today, and forever, you will not rest until all that is unhealthy for your creation is taken away.

And so, as you encourage the little children to come to you, hear me as I ask this of you – go to this one. Stand beside Little Javie. Use every person and instrument you would in your kindness and care to bring him through this surgery well. Recover him and bring him through to a complete recovery.

Then let his newfound wellness be a strong, unquestionable testimony to your love and power.

Amen.

prayer in a jury selection pool

 

Lord, I don’t want to be here! But, here I am. Did you have something to do with that? What am I to learn? To see and be? To show? Couldn’t that happen elsewhere?

What’s that, Lord? I can learn to wait? Well, I’m tempted to say “re-learn,” but no, you’re right. I mean, have I ever really learned to wait well? Ha!

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for slowing me down by what I think is a “disruption” or “interruption” to what I thought would be best for me this day.

Yes, Lord? I can show interest in where I am and come to be more present in this moment? Oh, every moment. Really aware and in tune and not wander in thought or long for distraction, wishing for elsewhere to be?

Thank you, Lord. Yes, if I’m here, I really ought to “be here;” fully here.

What’s that, Lord? There’s more? You say I can grow in being aware of the shoes that others wear? You mean like the defendant’s shoes? The shoes of the judge? The prosecutor? The defense attorney? The bailiff? The clerk? The dozens who wait with me in shoes somewhat like my own, but all different?

Hmmmm? Say again? All these shoes have a body, soul, and spirit? A heart? A life? They’re dear to you? Precious?

Yes. Why yes, they do; they surely are.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for helping me to see people a bit more clearly, not just “life,” but beings. Thank you for helping me to remember that everyone isn’t just like me. Doesn’t think like me. Doesn’t come from where I came or start with what I started. Doesn’t assume what I assume or necessarily value what I value. Why, look at all the “differents” in this room, Lord! It is a sea of white, and yet now I see all kinds of “colors.” And they all matter mightily to you! Thank you, Lord; thank you for opening my eyes a bit more.

Show what, Lord? Show I care? Care by showing interest and care for others? Show that by what my expression communicates to the defendants as they turn and scan the crowd, looking to see who it is who judges them and determines their fate? Show it to the judge as his eyes scan the room searchingly for just one face turned toward him and not given to returning his search with a vacant stare? Show it to the bailiff, to whom hardly no one speaks? Show it by refusing to join in with the mumbling and grumbling of those nearby over having to be here? Show it when I leave by expressing gratitude to all who serve our society in work that must be done, but is often gut-wrenching?

Yes, Lord – I can do that. Help me to that end, please.

Oh, and thank you, Lord. Yes, truly – thank you for this place and time.

Amen.