|New Book now Available|
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.
| Title: Brief Prayers for Busy People.|
Author: Bruce D Prewer
Available from Australian Church Resources,
web site www.acresources.com.au
or by order from your local book shop
or online on amazon.
Matthew 14: 13-21 (Sermon 1: “Good Tucker in the Desert”)
Romans 9: 1-5
Genesis 32: 22-31 (Sermon 2: “Wrestling with God”}
Psalm 17:1-9, 15.
The love and good humour of Messiah Jesus be with you all.
And also with you.
Before time existed and the universe began its long unfolding,
God was God.
When the stars were finding their places, and planets their orbits,
God was God.
When the earth took shape and life came in splendid profusion,
God was God.
When Abraham and Sarah began their journey of faith,
God was God.
When Jesus came among us, bearing and living the Gospel of peace,
God was God.
When tomorrow you look back and remember today, you can say,
God was God
The holy One, the most beautiful One, the most merciful One,
whom the human mind cannot comprehend, was before the beginning,
will be after the end, and fills ever present moment with Presence and Purpose.
Let us worship God. Let us pray.
This is a time for seeking,
for seeking and then being found.
As for me, O God, I will seek your face
in sincerity and truth.
This is a time for asking,
from One who knows our needs before we even speak.
I shall be more satisfied, O God,
to wake up to your likeness within me.
PRAYER OF APPROACH
Loving God, more, much more
to learn of you and trust you,
to cherish and serve you
to love, worship and adore you,
this is our prayer;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE
Coming to God for honest assessment and correction, is one of the great privileges of being a Christian.
Let us pray.
Most lovely and most loving God, we place the transcript of our daily lives before you, written on the fabric of our being, and we pray that you will edit our story with the radical love of Christ Jesus.
We are all not as friends think we are, we are not even what we imagine ourselves to be. Our insight is defective and we are not able to read ourselves accurately. You alone see the full text, the lines of glory, the pages of shame, the many grey paragraphs, and the unfinished sentences.
Look upon us with your saving mercy, loving God.
Please forgive and delete every single thing that is unlovely and unloving.
Correct and restructure all that is misshapen.
Highlight the things worth repeating or enlarging.
Rephrase the unfinished sentences so that they may continue on to declare your glory.
You alone are capable, you alone can be trusted to deal with all the secret pages of mind and heart. Make us more yours than we have ever been before, and in being more yours, become more truly ourselves. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Listen to the Good News: “Here is love. Not our love of God but God’s love for us in giving us the true Son to be the remedy for the pollution of our sins.”
In the name of the Son of God-light of the world, friend of sinners, rescuer of the lost, healer of the broken, joy of the redeemed-I declare to you: Yours sins are forgiven and the pages of your life made new!
Thanks be to God.
PRAYER FOR CHILDREN
Kids get hungry,
hungry for the good food
which you provide for us.
Kids get hungry,
hungry for good friends
who understand and like us.
Kids get hungry,
hungry for the perfect love
that even Mum or Dad cannot give us.
Please feed us, God;
not just our bodies and our minds,
but feed our precious souls
with the bread of your generous love.
In Jesus’ name,
PSALM 17:1-9, 15.
I have a complaint that is justified,
loving God, please hear me out!
Listen to this my urgent prayer
from lips that for once are sincere.
Let my vindication come from you,
let me see things put right.
If you assess my secret thoughts
and visit me while I am asleep,
if you test me on this matter
you will find I speak truly.
When it comes to what others say and do,
I have avoided the way of violence.
My steps have kept on your paths,
my feet have not slipped sideways.
I call out to you because you will answer me,
you turn your ear and listen to my voice.
Show your wonderful love to this seeker;
from foes, keep me safe at your right hand.
Treasure me like the apple of your eye,
like a mother dove hide me under your wings.
Protect me from the evil that would ruin me,
from every thing that threatens my faith.
The best is this: I know you shall be near,
with us in every good deed.
Every morning when I wake up,
your Presence shall be my delight.
Ó B D Prewer 2001
from a meal
of just five fish
and two loaves
I must admit
when He’s around
always get what
but like that
it’s much more
Ó B D Prewer 1996
Most wonderful God, in you there is always more blessings than we can imagine. Please give to us that generous spirit that places all that we have at your disposal. Then by the love of Christ, let it be multiplied in ways we cannot measure or control. For the welfare of humanity and the glory of your name. Through Jesus our Lord.
SERMON 1: GOOD TUCKER IN THE DESERT
[ “Tucker”: Aus colloquial for basic food. Used extensively in pioneer times
and throughout the Outback]
Matthew 14: 13-21
Where can we find good tucker in the desert?
There are seasons in the spiritual life for most of us, when it feels as if we have entered desert terrain. Times when each day seems hard, bare and dry. When our pilgrimage feels like 90 per cent perspiration and 10 per cent inspiration.
For some Christians, such desert experiences of the soul are few and far between. For others, they are frequent and may stretch into months or years. In most cases, they are not caused by lack of faith, nor by some kind of moral deficiency. They happen without apparent reason even to the most faithful and loving of Christ’s sisters and brothers. Among the greatest saints who loved this world, you will find their testimony to prolonged periods of spiritual aridity.
I personally find that today’s story from the Gospel according to St Matthew speaks to me like a parable for all who find themselves in a spiritual drought... Jesus met with about 5,000 people in a desert place.
THE BACKGROUND EVENTS
How did he get in that situation? Why the desert place?
The first part of Chapter 14 describes the bloody end of John the Baptist.
Don't forget that John was a cousin of Jesus, and that his forthright preaching had prepared the way for Jesus. Recall how Jesus himself had been baptised by John in the waters of the Jordan River. We do not know how close their family ties influenced them, but certainly there was a spiritual affinity between the two cousins.
Herodias by using the seductive dancing of her daughter, manipulated Herod on his birthday into a position where he ordered the beheading of John. In a grizzly scene, at Herod’s birthday party, the head of John the Baptist was presented on a platter. Things can’t get much worse than that.
A TIME FOR SPIRITUAL REPAIR
How would Jesus react when the news reached him?
Jesus chose a desert place.
Immediately Jesus asked his disciples to take him away from the crowds. They boarded a fishing boat and sailed across a bay to a desert place.
You can see by this sudden retreat how devastated Jesus was by the death of his cousin. Physically he sought the solitude of a desert place. Emotionally he was plunged into a desert experience of the soul. Maybe in this time of spiritual desolation God seemed far away, or absent?
Thousands of desolate believers have in times of loss and grief cried out in the words of the Psalm writer: “My tears have been my only food day and night, while they continually say unto me’ Where is your God?” Or as grieving folk have said to their pastor: “Why, when I need comfort so much, does God seem so deaf to my prayers?”
Jesus on the cross felt forsaken. I doubt that it was the only time when he felt spiritually desolate. Out there in the desert place, after the murder of his courageous cousin, I reckon Jesus was spiritual in a desert as well.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE CROWD
Whether I am right or mistaken, his time alone for prayer and reflection was cut short. The crowds, hungry for more of his healing parables and actions, saw the direction the boat took and guessed where it would make landfall. We do not know how long it took them, but either later the same day, or perhaps the next, he found the crowd had joined him in that wilderness retreat.
Typically, Jesus put his own needs aside and responded to theirs: “When Jesus saw the crowd, he was deeply moved with compassion for them, and so he healed their sick.”
Even if Jesus was feeling spiritually desolate, his profound love had time for the needs of the poor masses, many of them disease stricken or handicapped.
A HUNGRY PEOPLE
At the end of the day, the multitude was still with him, out there in the desert place.
The disciples asked Jesus to order them to go away and fend for themselves in the nearest towns, but the Master was not impressed with that idea.
Jesus said to his disciples: You feed them. They protested: “You must be joking! All we have for ourselves are five small loaves and two fish.”
Then followed one of the most remarkable meals of all time. He asked the people to sit down. He took the five loaves and the two fish and prayed for God’s blessing. He broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the hungry multitude.
I ask you to pause in your thoughts at this point and think about meal times. Most of us remember special meal times. Unfortunately, in this age of take away food, or sitting in front of the TV with a plate on your lap, or a meal gobbled in a fast-food outlet, the precious experiences of families gathering for a meal are much fewer.
The Jews loved their meal times. They still do. Meal times with Jesus would have been very happy times. Whether it was in the house of Mary and Martha, or at the dining table of Zachaeas, Jesus made meal times an opportunity for breaking down the barriers, and opening people up to the inclusive love of God.
The more rigid Jews (like the Pharisees) were very fussy about their meals and the people with whom they would deign to share them. They had their own version of a caste system, and in that system the majority of ordinary people would be excluded from breaking bread with righteous men of Israel. Theirs was a closed table.
But Jesus had an open table. He shared food with any who wished to join him, or with any who wished to invite him to their table. He scandalised the virtuous Jews by his dining habits. He broke bread with the riffraff. What is more, when he dined with riff raff he did not do so with a patronising air, like some superior being condescending to act humble for an hour. He genuinely joined in the party. He enjoyed himself and set others free to enjoy themselves.
AN OPEN TABLE
So it was in the desert place.
That day, at dusk, Jesus played host to five thousand hungry people.
It was an open table.
He did not ask whether they were all believers or not. He did not insist on conformity to a set creed. He did not say that only the morally good folk deserved to eat. He did not exclude the young or those second class citizens who were women, nor the tax collectors or other sinners. All were welcome at his table under the open heavens.
He said the blessing and broke the bread. He then gave the broken bread to his disciples,
who distributed the food among the crowd. So they all ate and were satisfied. Yet at the
end of the meal the disciples gathered up the left-overs, and found there were still twelve
It has been said that Jesus, in eating in this way, by welcoming outcastes and the impious, de-classed himself. I like that thought: de-classed himself? If that is so, then he also re-classed the multitude of common people as members of the family of God.
This wonderful man who is the adequate host under the open sky, just as much as he is at home in a weather board country chapel or in an ornate city cathedral, has food to share with whosoever may come.
We gather at one of his tables this day. We must admit that the menu is simple and spare.
A fragment of bread and a sip from the Holy Cup. Yet it is more than enough. To be totally satisfied to the roots of one’s being, does not depend on quantity but on quality.
They were content. Even in a desert place. So can we be content, even in our deserts of the soul.
THE TABLE DOES NOT FAIL ME
Here I must bear my personal witness.
I have been there. In my own times of spiritual desert, which have been many, the Table of the lord has never failed me. No matter how far away God seems, no how dry and arid my spirit feels, the feel and taste of His common bread and wine, declare to me that Christ Jesus is truly with me, a part of my very being.
My faith may falter, my hopes may have been crushed, my vows may have been only poorly implemented, for a time the felt sense of the presence of God may have forsaken me, but the Table assures me and nourishes me. Whenever we give thanks to God and break the bread, I am more than content.
So they all ate and were satisfied. Yet at the end of the meal the disciples gathered up
the left-overs, and found there were still twelve full baskets.
Nothing can be more ordinary than these common meal times. Yet nothing can ever be more extra-ordinary. Thanks be to God!
SERMON 2: WRESTLING WITH GOD
Genesis 32: 22-31
We have a wrestle ahead of us today: Jacob wrestling with a Stranger in the night at a place called Peniel.
Advice? Most advice, although given by well meaning people, rarely takes root. But occasionally something burrows deeply, and stays with us over the years. So it is (for me) with this statement from an English theologian, given to preachers.
Be like Jacob and wrestle with the major themes; they may throw you,
pin you down, and leave you limping, but it is worth it.
WRESTLING WITH GOD BEFORE FACING HIS BROTHER
The legend of Jacob is a great read. We encounter an unlikely hero, wearing all his faults on his sleeve for the world to see. This lack of editing-out of the black bits in the Bible story, suggests that the legend certainly stems from a real person; a real ancestor of Jesus of Nazareth. Because he is such a mixture (on one hand the lover who so loved Rachel that he toiled fourteen years to pay her bride price, and on the other hand was a cunning cheat) we can identify with this character. He is flawed like us.
The wrestling with the Stranger in the night happened when Jacob was returning home, with his
enlarged family and servants, after many years of exile.. He had every reason to be afraid of his brother, Esau, whom he had foully cheated long ago.
Messengers were sent to prepare the way. They rushed back with the news that Esau was coming to meet them with 400 men. Jacob was now so afraid that he divided his people and flocks into two groups, to be separated by some distance, so that if Esau and his men destroyed one group, the other might survive. Next he prepared peace offerings; groups of animals were to be driven on ahead in a series of waves, so that Esau could meet and receive the gifts in succession and hopefully be turned from vengeance to mercy.
That evening, anxious Jacob sent his two wives and their eleven children, across a stream to safety while he remained alone in the night. That is when the dark wrestle commenced.
A powerful Stranger came in the night and wrestled with him. Jacob was outmatched but would not give in. Hour after hour they struggled. Jacob was injured in his thigh. Yet he still hung in there. Near daybreak he demanded a blessing, and the name of the Person with whom he wrestled. He was given no name but did receive the blessing of the stranger.
When daylight came he was alone, but he now realised that he had been wrestling with God. Jacob called the place Peniel (panim + el) meaning “face of God”.
WHEN WE ARE IN THE RING
To me that legend is like a parable. It not only spins a yarn about some fellow who lived long ago, but resonates with things that happen in my soul. Spiritually, I have been in the ring with various opponents, and at times my opponent has proved to be God.
Of course it does not have to mean something to everyone. We are not all like anxious, wrestling Jacob. Many different personalities make up the church. Thank God!
Some of you are blessed with a nature that makes faith in God a simple and definite thing. You believe and get on with living out your faith with no fuss. No dramas.
But there are some among us, neither less faithful than others, who have been given a different nature. We are just made differently. We are those who question everything. Who want to understand. We get downcast over life’s problems and the seeming injustices of providence. The suffering of the innocent almost overwhelms us at times. Our patron saint is Thomas. We are the ones who know all about the dark nights where we wrestle with a hidden but very strong God.
Believe me they are dark nights. It’s no fun being in the ring with God. Bouts may last a few hours, a few days, or perhaps months or a few years. And it is truly like a wrestle; a wrestle with something far too big for us, yet from which we cannot resign without selling out our soul.
On those dark nights we wrestle with God for answers, for clear guidance. We beg God to give us a name; a handle which we can seize and hopefully use. We end up being thrown, come out limping, but we are also blessed, and to our own surprise also become a blessing to others.
IT IS OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT
Our experience is not the same in this matter. Some of you have never endured a dark night of the soul. That is okay.
Both types of people are very special. Neither is more important than the other. Neither is more holy than the other. We need to be aware of each other, to respect each other, to encourage, nurture, support and cherish each other.
I thank God for one very elderly friend who in spite of times of grief, accident and disease is always buoyant and positive. When on one occasion I congratulated her on her attitude, she smiled winsomely and said: “It’s not because I am a better Christian than others, you know, Bruce. I don’t have greater faith than others. It’s just the way I am made. I am grateful, but it’s
nothing to be proud about.”
Jacob was one of those who had to wrestle.
Jacob came out limping, but truly blessed. The next day he faced his brother Esau and found mercy not condemnation.
“Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept together”
That’s a bit like the story of the Father and the returning prodigal son, isn’t it?
Things turned out much better for Jacob than he had feared. The Person hidden in the night with whom he wrestled was a wonderful Friend. There was love at work in the dark struggle. That same love had been at work in brother Esau.
To any of you who may be in the middle of a “dark night of the soul” at the moment, I say this:
Your wrestling does not mean that you are a faithless or renegade Christian. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t add inappropriate guilt to the darkness in which you struggle.
The darkness and the wrestle can be a sign of valid spirituality. If you did not have faith, there would be no problem, no wrestle. If you did not have love, the pain of the world would not distress you. If you did not have hope, the night would not seem so long.
The dark night when you wrestle with the stranger, is not some cruel prank played on you by fate. Please accept your dark times as an inexplicable blessing (Yes! a blessing!) that can, and will, lead to the greater glory of God.
You may be thrown, you may be wounded, but daybreak will come and you will emerge richly blessed. Things will turn out much better than you feared. That may sound like saccharine advice, but I assure you it comes from the experience of some of the greatest saints, as well as from mere plodder like me.
The strong Stranger who wrestles with you in the darkness is your Friend; the best Friend on earth or in heaven. There is love at work in the long, dark night.
JESUS HAD TO WRESTLE
Jesus understands you from personal experience. He had his dark, brooding times: Out in the Judaean wilderness tempted for forty days. Up there alone on the Galilean hills at night. Deeply troubled in the Garden of Gethsemane. Feeling forsaken on the cross at Golgotha.
If you come to the end of your faith-tether and can trust nothing else, still trust this Wounded Healer. There is love in the darkness; blessing not curse.
the publication More Australian Psalms there are number of poems in which I attempt to convey both the struggle of faith and the saving love that is found on that hill of Golgotha. Here is the briefest of those attempts:
I hack my way
through jungle doubts
hearing the roar
of feral fears.
I climb the hill
where ruins lie
to stand where God
shed his last tears.
Up there among
the stone and thorn
I lift the Cup
and toast the dawn!
Loving God, our elusive yet all-sustaining Friend,
in spite of negativities outside us and within us,
we dare to celebrate your glorious Presence!
In this post-modern world
where the illusion of your absence
is felt keenly by numerous souls,
we praise you for your gifts
that break through to nurture us.
We give thanks
for the accumulated sanity
of the Holy Scriptures
through which you speak to us
even when our hearts feel cold.
We give thanks
for the caring communities
of your holy church
where you are present
with encouragement and healing.
We give thanks
for those special, holy times
when for a few seconds or hours
this world’s illusions crack open
and we glimpse your glory.
Most of all we give thanks
for the gift of Christ Jesus
planted disconcertingly in history,
still making plain your saving love
in the midst of this deceptive era.
Loving God, elusive but faithful Friend,
in spite of our scrappy faith and love,
we dare to celebrate your glorious Presence!
from “Jesus Our Future: Prayers for the 21st Century” page 50
Ó B D Prewer & Ó Open Book Publishers
PRAYERS FOR OTHERS.
* Suggested bidding and response: Leader: We ask for your truth and love.
People: Loving Friend, hear our prayers.
For the thin skinned who wear every comment as a thorn, and the tough-hided who are insensitive to the needs around them.
For the too-generous who can’t seem to say no, and the mean-spirited who shut their hearts tightly against compassion.
For the anxious who imagine unseen dangers around every corner, and the over-confident who do not think before they leap.
For the young who sometimes think they know it all, and for the foolish among the old who believe that ageing automatically bestows wisdom.
For the peacemakers who risk themselves for the cause of reconciliation, and for the belligerent who put others at risk to attain their selfish ends.
For politicians who well understand their ignorance and weakness, and those who are self deluded enough to see themselves as the wise and infallible.
For union leaders who are dedicated to serving their members, and others who use their position just to build their own little empire.
For the churches who act as if they have all the answers, and for the churches that are too reticent about the Gospel committed to their stewardship.
For the sick and injured who long for healing, and for some who become so attached to the sympathy they remain an invalid.
For the dying who pray that the end will come quickly, and for others who cling frantically to every moment of breath.
For the grieving who wonder if their tears will ever stop flowing, and for some whose grief seems banked up like a dam within their hearts.
On the threshold of a new working week,
remember that you have resources
that go deeper than the beginning of the universe.
We can do all things that are needed,
through Christ who strengthens us.
In Christ you are called God’s children;
not in name only, for such you really are.
We rejoice in our new family
and will try to share its love with others.
The peace of God that goes beyond all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge of love of God,
and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
And the blessing of the bountiful God,
Creator, Saviour and Counsellor,
will be with you as you leave this church
and for evermore.
THREE BOOKS BY BRUCE PREWER
THAT ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
BY ORDERING ONLINE
OR FROM YOUR LOCAL CHRISTIAN BOOKSHOP
My Best Mate, (first edition 2013)
ISBN 978-1-937763-78-7: AUSTRALIA:
ISBN : 978-1-937763-79- 4: USA
Third edition May 2014
ISBN 978-1-62880-033-3 Australia
Jesus Our Future
Prayers for the Twenty First Century
Second Edition May 2014
Although this book was written with young people in mind, it has proved to be popular with Christians or seekers of all ages. Through the eyes and ears of a youth named Chip, big questions are raised and wrestled with; faith and doubt, unanswered prayers, refugees, death and grief, racism and bullying, are just a few of the varied topics confronted in these pages. Suitable as a gift to the young, and proven to be helpful when it has been used as a study book for adults.
Australian Prayers has been a valuable prayer resource for over thirty years. These prayers are suitable for both private and public use and continue to be as fresh and relevant today as ever. Also, the author encourages users to adapt geographical or historical images to suit local, current situations.
This collection of original, contemporary prayers is anchored firmly in the belief that no matter what the immediate future may hold for us, ultimately Jesus is himself both the goal and the shape of our future. He is the key certainty towards which the Spirit of God is inexorably leading us in this scientific and high-tech era. Although the first pages of this book were created for the turn of the millennium, the resources in this volume reflect the interests, concerns and needs of our post-modern world.