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        Here is an anthology of over 1100 brief prayers and thought-starters, for each day of the year, with almost 400 original prayers by Bruce Prewer.
        Included is both a subject index and an index of authors-- an ecumenical collection of about 300 different sources.
Prayers for Busy People
        Title:  Brief Prayers for Busy People.
          Author: Bruce D Prewer
        ISBN 978-1-62880-090-6
        Available from Australian Church Resources,
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24-30 July


Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52                      (Sermon 2: “Strike me lucky!”)

Romans 8: 26-39

Genesis 29: 15-28                                             (Sermon 1: “This beats Mills & Boon”)

Psalm 105: 1-11 & 45b

            or Psalm 128




The joy of the Lord Jesus Christ be always with you.

And also with you.


Today I use some thoughts from a French poet to call us to worship.


            “My God of peace, of joy and delight,

            I offer you all my tears, all my ignorance.

            My God of peace, of joy and delight,

            I offer you all my fears and fractured promises.

            You, my God, know all this, all this;

            How poor I am, how small I am;

            You, my God, know all this, all this.

            Yet what I have, my God, I give to you.”

                                                                                                                                                      [Paul Verlaine 1844-1896]




Seek the Lord, seek the Lord’s strength,

seek God’s face now and evermore!


The kingdom of heaven is like a jewel trader

searching for the most beautiful pearls.

When he found one that was priceless,

he sold everything he had and bought it for himself.

O give thanks, call upon God’s name

and publish God’s saving deeds among the nations.


The kingdom of heaven is like a man

who found buried treasure in a field.

Joyfully he sold all he had and bought that field.

Sing to our God, sings songs of praise,

tell the world of God’s wonderful works.




Most wonderful God, we approach you with our small lives,

            our tiny minds and our large ignorance,

but also with our purest longings and hopes.


We want to worship you with all that we have and are,

            but unless you encourage and assist us,

            we will fail in this our holiest intention.


Therefore please let your Spirit move in our hearts and minds,

            lifting us above things of secondary importance,

            and concentrating our whole being on your love and beauty.


Through Christ Jesus who is the source of our confidence

            and the joy of our hearts desiring.





God’s merciful arms are open, even before we repent and turn to him.


Let us pray.


Loving God, we know we don’t have to make ourselves wallow in remorse before seeking your healing love.

You understand our human nature; you know how unproductive and wasteful it is for us to get hooked on binges of guilt.

Here and now we place before you the story of our successes and failures, our virtues and our sins, without trying to hide anything.


Please give us thankful hearts for all that has been beautiful and good,

and give us the love to repent for that which has been ugly and evil.


Help us to turn sharply away from all that is twisted and wrong,

from all that neglects others and all that hurts others.

Help us to turn away from all that harms our own souls,

from everything that mars the inner divine image

which is our truest nature and priceless treasure.

Help us to turn completely towards you

and move towards the beauty of your holiness.


By faith, we accept from you the saving love that forgives, restores and recommissions us for the business of glorifying you by loving service through all the common scenes of life.

This is our need, and this is our prayer. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.





Our God is the one who speaks through Christ Jesus and says: “Woman, man, your sins are forgiven you.” Hear the very word of the Lord. It is spoken for the likes of you.

Thanks be to God!




Dear loving God,

help us to love you more than toys and games,

more than riddles and jokes and sport,

even more than friends and family;

more than anything else in the whole world!


If we get that right,

everything else will become more fun,

and every other person be more precious,

and we will have lots more of the special happiness

that Jesus came to give us.


So please help us to love you

better and better each day.



PSALM 105:1-10


Be thankful, call on the name of our God,

            let it be heard among all nations!

Sing, sing, sing your best praises,

            tell the wonderful things God has done!


Revel and delight in our God’s name,

            let all seekers rise up and celebrate!

Set your mind on God’s type of strength,

            set your heart on the presence of the Spirit!


Remember all the great things that have happened,

            the unexpected deeds and justice of God,

by love we are spirit-children of Abraham,

            sisters and brothers of the chosen people.


Our trust is in the living God

            whose decisions determine life on earth.

God’s covenant is never forgotten,

            it will stand for a thousand generations.


It is the same covenant made with Abraham,

            the pledges made to Isaac.

The divine vows confirmed on Jacob

            through Christ are with us all forever.

                                                                                                Ó B D Prewer 2001




   Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52



use words

that are slender-waisted

with many



to beguile

an audience

and manipulate it

to their own



This Jesus

used words

like the gentle rain

from heaven’s



To awake

the passive

seeds of faith and love

and set them


                              Ó B D Prewer 1996




Loving God, to the treasures of creation you have added the gems of the Spirit and the great pearl of the Gospel. Give us the wisdom to cherish your gifts, to share their bounty, and to glory in your generosity. Through Christ Jesus, in the power of your Spirit, to the praise of your inimitable love.






    Genesis 29: 15-28


            “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days,

            because of the love he had for her.”


I am reminded of St Paul once writing: “Love is patient.”


This Old Testament reading set for today is a love story.


One of the greatest love stories.


This beats Mills & Boon in a “walk-over.”


Alongside it I will place, as a contrast, some of the cheap stuff that passes as love today.




Jacob is the cheat who ripped off his own brother and then took to his heels.


The story happens some months after he slept among stones at Bethel. That lonely, hard place where God spoke with him and reclaimed Jacob as a grandchild of Abraham, and heir to the covenant promises of God.


Jacob moved on and reaches his destination, the lands of his mother’s kinsman Laban. He walks up to a well and there, with the twist of fate that makes good love stories work, he meets the girl who will steal his heart. Along comes delectable Rebecca, daughter of his uncle, who brings flocks to the well to be watered. Jacob does his macho thing, by removing the large covering stone from the well and drawing water for the flock himself. You can be assured that our hero, is immediately in favour with Rachel.


The love story is launched.  Jacob is smitten. He goes home with Rachel and works for her father. Slowly the love story unfolds. Very slowly.




Contrast. Back into our situation. There is nothing slow about the movement in most of

today’s love stories in paperbacks or film.


Frankly, I find what passes for love stories today as stupendously boring! As well as being predicably crass! Love is reduced to raging lust, and it seems almost compulsory in the minds of film makers and novelists that people must leap in and out of beds at every opportunity..


The media plead that all this is benign. They tell us that their portrayals are quite harmless, not in any way lowering the moral values of the community, because such films, or books, are only reflecting life as it already is. They claim they are only a mirror on society. If that is so, then may God have mercy on the soul of the twenty first century! 


However, I doubt their claim. My hunch is that there is a circular reaction going on here. When we witness “Wham, bham, thank you maam” stuff on film,  others  begin to think “Well if it’s okay, I might as well join in!” As this happens, then film makers take it a step further. It seems to me like a large snow ball gathering speed and bulk as it runs downhill. In fact, make that an avalanche; a snow ball seems an image that is far too kindly.


Please don’t write my comments off as the rambling’s of an older man who may (you wonder) have lost interest in bodily pleasures. That would be false. Recall, I beg you, the sermon I preached a few weeks ago on the sensual and erotic poetry of the Song of Songs... In it I extolled sexuality as one of the wonderful gifts of God. I stand by that. Absolutely! God created us male and female, “and behold it was very good.”


Thank God that there are millions of people who can still tell the difference between lust and love. Who have not (to steal a sentence from an earlier part of the story of Jacob and Esau) “sold their inheritance for a mess of pottage.  Or as some wag had changed it, “for a potted message.”





The Bible story of Jacob and Rachel takes the high ground.


Jacob agrees that he will work seven years in Laban’s service for the hand of Rachel. Now that is beginning to sound like love, isn’t it?


Of course, we may legitimately object to the whole idea that a woman is her father’s property to be purchased by the lover. Yet that was the social structure of the times and within that structure Jacob had to work. (Ironically, in spite of all our “liberation” from those ideas, at weddings many still refer to the father “giving” the bride to the groom. And I have had brides protest to me at the wording in some contemporary services which uses the question “Do you the parents give your blessing to their marriage?” Some brides still prefer the old way, and beg to be “given away.” Who giveth this woman to marry this man?)


Jacob did not a have a choice on such matters. If he wanted Rachel he must pay the bride price. And he did, willingly; seven years of hard toil on Laban’s property. Then comes that lovely sentence: “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days, because of the love he had for her.”


If you want romance, here is romance. I don’t know of any passage in literature that so beautifully distils a picture of the love of a man for a woman.

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days, because of the love he had for her.”


Jacob was prepared to work and wait. He was a very flawed character, but the capacity to truly love was high among his virtues. Of course, there was more to come. You know well the story of how on the wedding day Jacob married the properly veiled bride at his side, only to later discover that he had been tricked. Laban had substituted Rachel’s sister Leah. And Joseph worked another seven years for Rachel.  Fourteen years hard labour! Now that is what I call love!

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days, because of the love he had for her.”




Among the perverted attitudes of our current society, is the one which encourages us to expect to get what we want immediately. We demand instant results, instant success, instant love. The post -modern human being does not want to look far down the track and work to get there. They go for what they can get now!


That is a gross mistake. Many things are worth waiting for.


Harvard Professor Gordon Allport, that eminent psychologist of the middle decades of the twentieth century, said in the “Terry lectures” delivered at Yale University:

            “The possession of long-range goals, regarded as central to one’s

              personal existence, distinguishes the human being from the animal,

              the adult from the child, and in many cases the healthy personality

              from the sick.”


If that is so, then what is happening around us, in what so many of our contemporaries euphemistically call their “love life,” is at the best silly childishness, and at its worst mental illness or a return to the beast.


In spite of all his faults, Jacob was admirable when it came to love. He saw the goal and worked to attain it. “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days, because of the love he had for her.”


In pathetic contrast, the lusts of today which expect instant gratification, do not provide the love which people fundamentally need. The person without long term goals in their search for love, are those who are left cynical.


[I pause to ask you to spare a thought for Rachel. She was a pawn in her father’s scheming. In a society where early marriage was the custom, she was forced by Laban to wait 14 years. In midwife terms, she was an “elderly primipara” before she had the opportunity of having children. Sadly, when she was finally married, Rachel found it difficult (not surprisingly!) to conceive. Yes, spare a thought for Rachel, and other women, caught up in games that men with power over them played.]




It is time for me to draw the threads of this sermon together. “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days, because of the love he had for her.”


Let us extend our focus beyond Jacob to include the many facets of human love. “A new commandment” said Jesus, “I give unto you. That you love one another even as I have loved you.”


Any kind of love, be it romantic love, family love, love within the church community, or the practical compassion for those around us, can be tested by its willingness to work for the long range goals.  True love has the love and courage to “hang in there,” and not to expect quick and easy results.  We all have moments of enthusiasm, when we want to truly love our neighbours as Christ certainly commanded us, but how much of it is committed to long range goals? How much is ephemeral, and dissipates when the mood passes?


When it comes to the crunch, it is not Jacob but Jesus, as always, who stands as the supreme example of what love means. Jacob had a remarkable love for Rachel, who was “beautiful and lovely”. Jesus had a remarkable love for everyone, especially those who were unlovely, deformed, unpopular, diseased and unwanted. His is the love we trust and pray to emulate.


Seven years, fourteen years, thirty years, sixty years?


True love will endure the test of time.


Paul said “love is patient.” It needs to be. With the help of Christ, it will be so for us.





Matthew 13: 44-46


Short and unforgettable. That is how I would sum up the brief parables that Jesus told about one priceless pearl and about hidden treasure


Short and unforgettable? It’s a pity sermons could not be more like that?


Immediately I am a bit sheepish. Sheepish about the many words I have to use in order to express even the fringes of the ways of God.  But I am not jealous. How could one ever be jealous of Jesus of Nazareth? It takes a unique genius to be able to compress into a brief picture the essence of something so profound that earth and heaven cannot contain it. He is that unique genius. I am just a fumbling apprentice, still finding my way, still searching for words to hint at the majesty of God’s sublime, living Word.




“The kingdom of heaven is like.......................”


What is this kingdom of heaven of which Jesus so regularly speaks of as good news?


It is the very realm of God, upon us, around us, within us. A realm announced, and implemented by the radical words and deeds of Jesus. Heaven is not some distant reality. It is here now. And we know it by trusting Christ it and finding the awesome intimacy of the Divine Presence.  By taking the leap of faith. Not by proof, but by trust and commitment.



 The 17th century clergyman, Thomas Traherne, spoke of the kingdom of God this way:

             It is the room and place of our treasures, the repository of our joys, the dwelling place,    yea the sea and throne and kingdom, of our souls.

            It is the ground and foundation of our satisfactions.... the measure of our delights, and the             grandeur of our souls.

            It surrounds us continually on every side, it fill us and inspires us. It is so mysterious        that it is wholly within us, yet even then it seems wholly without us.


In and through Jesus, this kingdom comes and is proclaimed with great joy. It is a cause of immense happiness because nothing else in all creation is worth even 1% of this!




Jesus said:

            “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which a man discovered.

              He became so excited that he went off and sold everything he possessed,



This is not a far fetched story; although the idea of buried treasure is more like the old world than our contemporary age. Most of us do not bury treasure. Not in this age of creeping inflation. [Although some foolish folk do hide money in mattress or under a floor board. Then as they grow elderly, a few even forget where they hid it. Others have an accident and die without any other person knowing the secret.] I can understand a similar thing happening in the ancient world. Treasure was buried, but sometimes through premature death the owner was never able to come back and recover it. So this story is set in the real world.


So is the second mini parable:

            The kingdom of heaven is like a jewel merchant, on the lookout for the most valuable

            pearls. With great excitement he discovered one of exceptional quality. He rushed off

            and sold everything he had in order to possess for himself this one exceptional pearl.


Again the scene is not far fetched. It fits the times in which Jesus lived. Apart from gold, pearls were the most valuable treasure. These days of course, there is controlled production and controlled marketing. Big companies release pearls at a set rate and keep the price at selected levels. The chances today of a trader coming across an almost priceless pearl, and being able to quickly procure it, is not great.


For those to whom Jesus was speaking, the scenario was quite rare but not unlikely. Just as today folk joke about “when I win the Lotto,” so in those times they would joke about “when I find treasure in my field” or “when I find a priceless pearl.”


Jesus had his feet on the ground. He used the real experiences of life in order to convey his remarkable good news of the kingdom of heaven.




Note that the first man found treasure by good fortune.  Rather like what we call “a lucky strike.” Or the Aussie cry of astonishment “strike me lucky!”


By some chance he happened to be at the right place and the right time. Maybe he tripped over something on the ground and found the cause had been the half exposed handle of a silver bowl. Maybe dog had been digging and partly uncovered the glint of god.


He was lucky. This was not some prospector being rewarded for years of hard experience. Nor was this was not some devotee of metal detectors painstakingly combing over the old gold fields at Bendigo or Coolgardie. He was just plain lucky.


{At this stage I am not going to argue about the difference between luck and coincidence. Between coincidence and providence. That is another sermon in itself!]


Applying this parable to the Gospel message, then, we have here the person who has not been searching through the long years for faith. Out of the blue something happens. The light shines. Divine truth becomes an enlivening, pulsing reality. Strike me lucky! To their own surprise they able to make that remarkable statement “I believe.”




The second man in the parable of the pearl of great price brings years of skill and knowledge to the quest. There is no surprise that he should come across such a jewel. In truth, if you would expect a person to make a great find, it would be a seasoned merchant like this one. He brings years of experience into the market place. He had been searching for such good fortune for much of his life.


Looking for pearls is his business. One could almost be tempted to say: “This man deserved to find his hearts desire.” He made his great find after devoting his life to the business. If he did not deserve it, then who did?


Proceed cautiously at this point. Did he really deserve it? Yes, he was a searcher, that is true. But no doubt there were many other keen merchants, their heart set on a big find, who would go to their grave without finding their hearts desire. Even among those skilled and dedicated to their search, good fortune seems to smile on some, and not on others. Even the devoted searcher should sound a note of “strike me lucky!”


So it is with the kingdom of heaven, the realm of God’s precious love. The person who without looking unexpectedly finds the treasure of God’s love in Jesus Christ, does seem extremely lucky! On the other hand, those who after years of spiritual devotion, finally encounter the living Truth that sets them free, might be tempted to think they deserve it. Yet it is not so. No one “deserves” to find the pearl of great price. It is an unearnable bonus. It is a case for astonishment: Strike me lucky!




In this whole matter of finding and trusting the kingdom of heaven, there is a puzzle. A mystery. Why do some believe and others do not, even though some they say they wish they could? Why the discrepancies?


Why? Two casual characters walk through the same field, one trips over a treasure, one does not.

Why? Two earnest searchers go looking for God’s pearl of great price, one finds it the other does not.

Why? Why do I have the gift of faith and my brother does not. Why do you have the joy of the kingdom of heaven and your sister does not? Why do we find ourselves caught up in the good news of Christ Jesus while our good living, kindly neighbour knows only disbelief?


Is it fair?


It may not seem fair. But life is not fair. Nor can you measure the kingdom by a word like fairness. In his parables Jesus was intent on taking us beyond the notion of fairness, to that awesome wonder called the free love of God. Love is much more than fairness, much better than bare justice. We enter a field of extravagance which cannot be measured by our petty human notions of a fair go.


In the parable of the prodigal son, the love of the father goes beyond fairness, much to the annoyance of the elder son. Recall also the parable of the workers in the vineyard, where some toil for twelve hours, some six and some only one hour, yet all receive the same wage? Remember how the twelve-hour workers, although they do receive the agreed wage, protest against the others getting the same reward? They reckon it is not fair. Of course it is not fair by our standards. The love of God exceeds human notions of fairness.


There is at the heart of belief and unbelief mystery. It has puzzled Christians from the earliest days. Why are some saved and others seem to perish in their sins? Why do some see the light like Paul on the road to Damascus, and others like high priest Caiaphas remain in the dark?




Don’t jump to arrogant conclusions.


My sisters and brothers, fellow children of earth’s dust, I plead with you to let this heavenly mystery rest with the inscrutable wisdom of God. Whatever you do, don’t go making self righteous judgements. Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking we deserve our privileged position while the unbelievers do not. Things are not that simple.


Some of you are as lucky as the man who found treasure in a field, although he did not go looking for it. Some of you are like the hardworking pearl merchant who found his heart’s desire after many years.  But that does not mean that some of you are favourites of God. Nor that the hard working pearl seekers are superior to the fortunate treasure finders. Nor does it mean that any of us here today you are more deserving, or more valuable in God’s eyes than all the unbelieving souls around you outside these doors


Why? It is mystery. Let the mystery stay with God. And be certain, a hundred percent certain, of this: God loves the unbelievers just as much as God loves believers. It is not God’s wish that even one human being should perish without hope.




With each passing year I become more certain than two things:


            What we understand about the kingdom of heaven is only a minuscule fragment

            of the full picture.


            Yet that little we do understand and trust, is massively greater than all the other truths

            which are available in the enigmatic world around us.




Are the treasure and the pearl worth the cost?


Maybe the sharp wedge-point of the two tiny parables of treasure and pearls is in the following: that both of these men realised that others things would have to go. They sold everything else they had, that they might enter into the joy of the beauty and wealth that was now available to them. Nothing was worth more. No sacrifice was too great.


Even if you strike it lucky as the man who, while crossing a field, stumbles on a treasure, you still have to make the costly decision to make it yours.


If any forlorn or wistful souls here today, imagine for one moment they can hold the treasure or the pearl in their hands, without being prepared to jettison all else for it, then you are tragically mistaken. The kingdom of heaven must come first if it is ever to enfold you into its glory, indwell you with its joy, bless you with its beauty, and nurture you with that holy friendship for which you were created.


Hidden treasure. A priceless pearl. Short and unforgettable mini parables. If need be, forget everything else I have tried to say except this: Through that wonderful Teller of Parables, Jesus of Nazareth, the pearl and the treasure are offered to you this day.





We believe in the love-kingdom of God, through Christ upon us, within us, beyond us.


We believe the love-kingdom is like a mustard seed; sown in apparent insignificance,

            growing into magnificence for the greening of the world.

We believe the love-kingdom is like yeast; inserted in humble insignificance

            into the dough of life, expanding into enough bread for the world.

We believe the love-kingdom of God is like a treasure; lost and rendered insignificant

            under the ground, now found with joy and thanksgiving.

We believe the love-kingdom of God is like pearls; all others become in insignificant

            when the largest, most beautiful pearl of all is found.

We believe the love-kingdom of God is like a net full of fish; where even insignificant

            sardines are saved but worm-ridden barracouta are thrown away.


We believe in the love-kingdom of God, through Christ upon us, within us, beyond us;

where the meek and the poor, the merciful and the hungry, rejoice with the angels of God.


Loving God, we believe; scatter our unbelief.




Concern for needy neigbours, and strangers, can be channelled into both prayers and deeds. At this point we begin the first part.


Let us pray.


To you, God of Christ Jesus and our, we bring our concern for our sisters and brothers in all the world.


To you who seek justice and mercy, we pray for all who are wronged and neglected, and for those to work and suffer to right wrongs, champion the oppressed, and rescue the lost.

            Merciful God, work through our prayers,

                        Just God, work through our deeds...

To you who foster health of body and mind, we pray for the diseased, badly injured, deranged or spiritually dying, and also for all your human agents of healing and comfort.

            Merciful God, work through our prayers,

                        Just God, work through our deeds...

To you who want the church to be at one in prayer and mission, we pray for the church in its divided and scattered condition, and also for those who work tirelessly for reconciliation.

            Merciful God, work through our prayers,

                        Just God, work through our deeds...

To you who seek the salvation of the world from evil and alienation, we pray for those without faith and hope, and for your servants who humbly and lovingly spread the Gospel of Jesus.

            Merciful God, work through our prayers,

                        Just God, work through our deeds...

To you who want each of us here to live with freedom and confidence, we pray for any among us who are feeling crushed by circumstances over which they seem to have no control, and we also pray for those of us who unobtrusively minister to each  other like angels of mercy.

            Merciful God, work through our prayers,

                        Just God, work through our deeds.


Most loving God, we pray with faith and with thanksgiving, knowing that you are already doing things far beyond our capacity to understand or imagine. Through Christ Jesus our persistent Saviour.





If God is for us, what is there to be afraid of?

What is there that could separate us from the love of Christ?

   Could hardship, distress, persecution or famine?

   Could destitution, unexpected dangers, or violence?

No way!

   In all such troubles we are better than winners through

   the One who so utterly loves us.


The love of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,

will be with you now and always.





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