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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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4-10 September


Matthew 18:15-20                                             (Sermon 1: “The Guy in the Middle”)

Romans 13:8-14

Exodus 12: 1-14                                                (Sermon 2: “The Jewish Thing”)

Psalm 149




Jesus said: Wherever two or three people are gathered together in my name,

                                    there I am in the middle of them.


In the name of Jesus we have gathered here:

to rejoice with the Spirit who inspires us,

to worship the God who utterly loves us,

and to celebrate the Lord who still lives among us.




The dark night is gone forever,

the new day blooms all around us.

Sing to our God a new song,

let the assembly of believers sing praises.


Throw away all that belongs to darkness,

clothe yourself with garments of light.

Rejoice in the Creator who shaped you,

celebrate the King whose realm is light and love.


Wrap yourselves in the mind of Christ,

for his love fulfils the law of God.

The Lord enjoys the fellowship of his people,

and beautifies the meek with salvation.





Holy Jesus, Brother and Saviour, please draw us closer to one another that we may be closer to you, and closer to you that we may be closer to each other. Then may the fellowship of worship embolden us, the awe of worship ennoble us, and the joy of worship enable us. To the praise of all that is most sacred and to the glory of the One who is forever Most Holy.





Holy God, through your Son you have taught the wise to speak softly, the strong to serve gently, and the humble to walk boldly. Please induct us also into these novel ways of Jesus, so that we may achieve less than our ego demands, yet much more than that which in our own strength is possible. Through the love of Christ our Lord.





God is ready to deal with our pressing needs, our frustrations and our sin.


Let us make our confession.



Merciful God, for some of us it is one of those days

            when we do not feel so much ashamed of our sins as thwarted by them;

            when we are feeling more weary than contrite and more frustrated than guilty.

In all honesty we must admit to you that this is truly how it often is with us.

            Therefore we pray for whatever form your saving love must take

            to rehabilitate us and put things right.


Utterly discomfort us, if that is the best way to go.

Lead and encourage us, if that is what we truly need.

Give us your stinging rebuke, if that will get us in the right frame of mind.

Soothe and tutor us, if that is the remedy best suited to our situation.


Please give each of us that particular spiritual make-over

which will restore the defaced divine likeness within us all.


We place ourselves at your mercy, praying for the forgiving and renewing and disciplining love of Christ Jesus to redeem us from all evil. In his name we so pray.





Fellow stumblers on the path of Christ, lift up your hearts. God is faithful and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Get rid of every weight that hinders you, every fear that limits you, and embrace the new day of God’s love, mercy and truth.





Lord Jesus, friend of children,

whenever we gather together in your name

surprising things become possible.


We might start wanting to give

more than grabbing for things;

or begin saying sorry for our mistakes

and putting things as right as can be;

or even start forgiving those who hurt us

instead of holding grudges

and wanting to get our own back.


Lord Jesus, friend of sinners,

whenever we gather in your name

surprising things become possible.

Thank you.






Give unstinting praise to God!

Sing a new song to your God!

Sing praises with the faithful congregation.


Let the new Israel be happy in God.

Let the children of salvation rejoice!

Let them celebrate with sacred dancing,

and make music with keyboard and organ!

For our God delights in loving us

and decorates the humble with victories.


Let true believers exult while working,

or sing from their recliner-chairs.

Let praises be in their throats

and justice be sharp in their hands,

to bring judgement on evil nations

and bring to account the war criminals,

to see the imprisonment of evil rulers

and the arrest of their henchmen.


It is written that God’s judgement is sure.

In this the faithful may find their glory,

giving unstinted praise to God!

                                                                                                                        Ó B D Prewer




    Matthew 18:20


When was it that

the mind-set of the church

forgot about the two or three

and became more impressed

by quantity?


Did they default

and lose the Christly plot

when homes gave way to ornate hall

and liturgy was bent

to crowd control?


In whose new name

did the thanksgiving prayers

of ordinary enthusiasts

became a solo act

for specialists?


How did the bread

broken by common hands

become elite exclusive dues

dispensed by robed priests

to solemn queues?


When will we count

the two or three as blest

and learn before it is too late

the secret of the Guest

who makes small great?


                                             © B.D. Prewer 1996




Holy God, through your Son you have taught the wise to speak softly, the strong to serve gently, and the humble to walk boldly. Please induct us also into the novel ways of Jesus, that we may achieve less than our ego demands, yet much more than that which in our own strength is possible. Through the love of Christ our Lord.





Matthew 3:20  


Where to or three people gather together in my name,

I am there in the middle of them.


Childhood memories.


This text was among the first that I learned. Nobody set out to teach this one to me. I just knew it from hearing it so frequently.


The tiny weatherboard church our family attended was at rural Swan Bay, on the Tamar River in Tasmania. I loved the setting. In those days, hundreds of black swans used to frequent the shallow bay, honking, tails up feeding on weed, or flying at low altitude across the water with their majestic, sweeping wings. After church, while adults chatted, we kids could play on the gravely beach near the swans.


That congregation was not very large. It seemed thinly scattered, even in that small building.  Once a month the service was taken by an ordained minister. On the other Sundays, a variety of lay preachers (from the city of Launceston) would lead our worship.


There was one whimsical thing that often happened. I would watch the preacher’s eyes roving over the meagre congregation. Sometimes there would be an audible sigh, as he stood up to commence. I could see him coming to grips with the fact that this was going to be hard work. In the opening prayer the familiar words would tumble out, more as a reassurance for him than for the congregation:

            “Lord Jesus, thou hast promised that where two or three are gathered together

             in thy name, thou wilt be in our midst. We claim that promise to day.

            Come we beseech thee, Lord, and fill our hearts......... etc.”


No wonder I knew that text by heart before I was five years old! It was even more familiar than “God is love” and “For God so loved the world.” It was a great text to have imprinted on my mind at such an early age.




Through the centuries, these words of Jesus have been most commonly used to describe the remarkable secret of public worship and fellowship: That the eternal Christ is present in the assemblies of God’s people, convening the assembly, and blessing those who gather in his name.


But the meaning of “gathered in my name” is, I believe, much broader than that of only worship and fellowship. It includes any gathering of Christians, drawn together, for whatever humble reason, in response to the love of God in Christ Jesus.


It includes a Christian medical team, planing a visit to deprived people in Africa or Latin America. It includes the members of a parish “Stewardship Committee” as they organise a review of the financial giving within a particular congregation. It includes a few women informally creating a roster for supplying meals to a family where the mother is in hospital and the father is forced to work interstate.


The two or three gathered in the Lord’s name applies to a music group or choir, as they do the hard work of  planning and practising for worship on the coming Sunday. It applies to a committee of management overseeing a half-way house for the rehabilitation of street kids. It applies to a weary pastor and his wife trying to timetable a few days away together.


Gathered in the Lord’s name is a promise that embraces a church work-party of builders, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, and their supporting band of handy men and women, as they erect a new school in the highlands of New Guinea or repair a hospital in the Australian Outback.


It embraces two or three Sunday school teachers as they gather to discuss how to help one child with serious personality disorder. It may be just a casual gathering of young, harried mothers over a morning coffee, there to support one another, with not one specific religious word spoken.


It applies to Bible study leaders during their planning over an evening meal, or a property committee consulting with an architect about the problem of rising salt-damp in church walls. It applies to a working bee busy tidying up the church garden and grounds, or a small choral group singing to the frail and elderly in nursing homes.


One could go on and on. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name” Please, my sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus, do not let us fall into the trap of limiting these words to the context of worship and prayer. It is much, much more.




A question: What makes it genuinely “in his name?”


When is a gathering truly in the name of Christ Jesus and when not?


The word “Jesus” does not have to be even spoken for a happening to be in his name. A prayer does not have to be uttered aloud, nor a passage of the Bible read to make an event fit the category of “in Christ’s name”


It is the goal, the purpose, and the spirit of an event which matters. Whenever we come together in any situation in order to serve and glorify God, then it is in the name of Jesus


In a sad contrast, there can be discussions at church meetings, opened by prayer and Bible reading, which are conducted not in the spirit of Christ. There can religious gatherings, outwardly convened in the name of the Lord that can be self-righteous and judgemental, alien to everything Jesus taught as the core of faith and love.


Spirit and truth counts most. It is the goal and the spirit of a coming together that matters. The very soul of the gathering. Forget the externals, whether it happens on church property or in a tavern, with hymns and prayers or with no overt religious comment. If we are truly present to do the will of God in the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, then we have well met in his name.


No amount of outward piety will constitute a holy gathering. And no absence of external religion in words or action, will debar it from the possibility of being in the name of the Son of God. It is the purpose for which we gather, and the attitude with which we deal with matters, the spirit in which we deal with each other, that makes the difference.




When we get it right, the Lord is truly in our midst.

            Where two or three people gather together in my name,

            I am there in the middle of them.


This is not just a metaphor. It is for real.  It heralds the mind-boggling truth of what actually happens. Jesus meant what he said this to his disciples. This is a promise of the highest order.


Our promises are a mixed bag. Some get somewhere, many don’t. Often we are full of good intentions yet with little or no follow up.


When some people say to us “I promise,” we often smirk (or sigh) within ourselves. Because we know that although at that moment the other person thinks he or she means it, the promise is only skin deep.


The reason why so many promises are not kept is because we never really intended them. We did not promise with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.


But with Jesus it is different. What comes out of his mouth is what he really is and does. Word and action are one. Intention and commitment are one.


When Jesus says “Where two or three people gather together in my name, I am there in the midst of them” that is for real! There is no equivocation, no provisos, and no footnotes in small print. What the good Lord promises is fulfilled. If we meet to glorify God, and do so in the spirit of Jesus, our Christ is present.




Like today. This is but one of his many meeting places. Now. In this place. As you gather. As you greet one another. As you sing. As you listen to the Word, As you pray. As you eat and drink from a humble table. As you prepare to go out into the world in peace. The Lord is here.


You may not “feel” him. But your feelings don’t count. As I’ve said many times, our feelings are a treacherous base for our faith in the living God. It is the promise that counts. Not our word of honour but his.


He has never revoked that promise in two thousands years. He is not about to opt out today.

Where two or three people gather together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.


I first heard those words spoken as a child in a small, weatherboard church at Swan Bay, in Tassie. Today as a mature man (overly mature?)  I hear it again as the Gospel is read. I hear it and I marvel once more at the awesome humility of the Lord of life and glory, who keeps his word, even to the least and the last among his followers.






* Editorial note: I was more than usually discontented with the following attempt at a sermon. Somehow I could not make it “jell”. I have resisted the strong temptation to drastically reshape it.  Or to replace it with another. However, I have never preached it in this form. It is here as a testament to our profound human inadequacy when dealing with the things of God; an inadequacy which is sometimes more embarrassing than others.      B.D.P.


Exodus 12: 1-14


The Passover Feast?


When I was a child, living in a very quiet rural area of Tasmania, there were not many church festivals at the humble church we attended. I fact there were only two that were unfailingly observed: the Harvest Festival and the Sunday School Anniversary. I loved them; especially the harvest festival where I could take a back seat and not be on display. Together with Christmas, which was mainly a family festival, and the annual school concert, and the Sunday School picnic, these events punctuated with special joy and colour the common, uneventful,  routines of rural life in that era.




The Jewish thing was much more varied and colourful.


The Jewish festivals were big events, lasting a number of days. It is good to keep reminding ourselves that Jesus was a Jew, a Semite. He was not the tall, blue-eyed, blond haired (sometimes red-haired) young European as depicted in paintings. He was a man of the Middle East, much more like an Arab of today. Dark eyed, dark haired, swarthy complexion, average height, speaking Aramaic. Jesus was a Jew through and through.


For over three thousand years, Jewish people have continuously celebrated that special meal called the Feast of the Passover. The festival is held in the first month of their year. It is a highlight for the young and for the old of every family. Jesus grew up observing the feast and holding it as very precious.


The Passover Feast had it roots in the rescue of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses.. Passover was a celebration of God as Saviour. At each Passover the story of that deliverance from slavery is read aloud. Special foods are eaten (like the roast lamb, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs) to recall the memory of the salvation event.


As Moses had commanded: “This Passover day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast honouring the Lord; throughout the coming generations shall observe it as an ordinance forever.”




In the week during which Jesus was executed, we are told that he “longed to eat the Passover” with his disciples. Note that word “longed”. He yearned with all his heart to just once more celebrate God as Saviour before his own horrific suffering and death. That particular Passover meal was arranged secretly in an upper room. It was that final meal with his friends that has become the model for what we Christians have named the “Lord’s Supper.”


The Passover was a household meal, not presided over by clergy but by the senior member of the household. Even the youngest child participated in the ritual of the meal..


Christianity started as a Jewish reform movement. Our roots are fundamentally in the Jewish religion as reflected in the Old Testament. It would not be unfair to call us a Jewish sect; a sect that outgrew the body from which we sprang.


The Christian Scriptures cannot be understood apart from the Hebrew Scriptures. The teaching of Jesus, and of the apostles, only makes sense in light of the story of the Jewish people. It is the same God with whom we are dealing. It is the same Creator and Saviour and the same Holy Spirit who is at work.


It was a Jew who launched the event we call Christianity.. It was a Jew who gave us an appreciation of God’s amazing love. It was a Jew who died on the cross for us. It was a Jew who was raised from the dead and opened the minds of disciples to understand the Scriptures. It was a Jew who asked us to go into all the world, applying the Jewish practice of baptism to the people of all nations.


And, some would argue that it was a Jewish Passover meal which became transformed into the new feast of salvation. That which we call the Lord’s Supper, or the Holy Communion, or the Eucharist.


The same old Saviour working through a  new Jew called Jesus. The first act of salvation (via Moses) was applied to rescue a particular people. The second act of salvation was to rescue a whole world through Jesus.





Why am I hammering away at this point? I am aware of two reasons.


One reason:


We live at a time when within our Christian congregations Biblical literacy is at a low ebb, and what there is tendency to circulate around the Gospel stories alone. The Old Testament is widely neglected. This radically limits our understanding of Christ. 


Confining oneself to the New Testament leads to a spiritual malnutrition.


[ Two examples----


1/ The word Christ (Messiah) is meaningless outside the Hebrew context. It refers to the symbolic (maybe sacramental) anointing with oil of a person chosen by God to a special service and responsibility. Most often in the OT it was applied to the anointing of a king.


Take the word Christ out of the Hebrew context and you end up with a word that sounds like a first name coupled with the name Jesus. For instance your first and second names might be Cindy Walsh, or William Tonkin. So the first and second names of Mary’s son are often thought to be Jesus Christ. That misses the whole depth of meaning of Messiah, which is a hallowed Jewish title, not a personal name.


2/ Then there is the phrase “son of God.” That also is an Old Testament expression, usually applied to an anointed leader who was faithfully fulfilling the task God had given him. A righteous king was a true son of God.


Which was very different from the Roman understanding. For them it referred to the exercise of absolute power, as a right given from the gods. The Emperor was called divine, or “the son of God”.


But for the early Christians the phrase “son of God” had nothing to do with the Roman meaning.

Is was a affirmation of faith in a leader who was righteously fulfilling the mission that God had given him, and whose words and deeds were being owned and blessed by God. ]



A second reason is the shedding of anti-Semitism


We live at a time when the church is emerging from centuries of anti-Semitism of which we should collectively repent.  Unless we repent enough to open our hearts and minds to new possibilities, we shall not be blessed by the fullness of the Hebrew heritage.


In my own upbringing, anti-Jewishness was not a theme pushed openly by my devout mother and father. But they were covertly anti Semitic. My dear mother, who was such a warm, compassionate, outgoing person, neverthless still held to the theory (with some obvious sadness) that the Jews had suffered much as a punishment for rejecting Jesus.


On the other hand, she, along with most Christians, was outraged by what Nazi Germany did to the Jews. I am not being critical of my parents. I believe that they were less prejudiced about Jews than many of her generation. However there was an insipient anti-Jew element in their attitudes.


Thank God that in recent decades there has been a far wider and deeper dialogue between Christians and Jews. We have to some extent admitted and renounced our prejudice and opened ourselves up to be learners from the Jewish communities of faith.


 One of the most fruitful things in which I have been involved when preparing candidates for Christian Confirmation, has been to take them to worship in a synagogue (liberal) where we have been most welcome. That experience has been a profound eye-opener for those candidates.


There will be many lessons to be learnt from closer fellowship with our Jewish sisters and brothers which will throw added light on our Christ and enrich our own faith.




Let me now take you back to the Feast of the Passover. I said it was an annual celebration of God as the Saviour of the Hebrew people. I homed in on the fact that it was a household event, celebrated by laity not priests. Jesus secretly gathered his friends in an Upper Room to share with them this meal of salvation before he went to his death.


I think something special was lost when the young Christian congregations outgrew “the breaking of bread” in house churches and started hiring halls (copying synagogue, maybe?) and later built large Roman-style temples for worship.  The sense of an intimate household celebration belonging entirely to the people, was diminished.


Diminishment increased when a growing priestly class took over the authroity to preside at the Lord’s Table. In later times fences were erected to keep the common people away from the Table.

Much of the intimate, household mood stemming from the Passover meal, was lost.


For me some of the most blessed times of Holy Communion have been when small groups gather in chapels, or at an ordinary table in a house church, or when a small congregation form a circle around the Table. It is when we can look on each others faces, and know ourselves as the household of Christ; when there is an intimacy with one another, that the profound love of the Sacrament most deeply stirs my being.




Let me run over what I have attempted to say in this sermon..

* Our roots are in the religion of the Jews. Our Lord and his disciples were Jews;

   in a sense we are a Jewish sect that has vastly outgrown the parent body.


* The Old Testament is essential if we are to understand the New Testament. We cannot

  begin to understand the person of Jesus Christ without it.


* Just as the Passover Meal was a celebration of God as Saviour, so our Lord’s Supper

  is a celebration of God as Saviour.


* As Christians free themselves from anti-Semitism, we have much to learn the Jews of

  today; this will take a humility which has been lacking hitherto.


* The Lord Supper, emanating from the Passover Meal, belongs to the ordinary people

of God, and needs to be owned by them.


It is well and truly time to put aside the Christian arrogance that too often despised the Jews. It is time for some humility. The more we learn about the Jewish thing, the better Christians we can become.



Most generous God, we thank you that we are a people who have inherited a remarkable story.

            Wonderful are you, the Giver of every good and beautiful gift.


We thank you for the spiritual discernment of your Hebrew People, and for their zealous attempt at faithfulness through times of cruel trial and grievous temptation. We rejoice in the choice souls who have glorified your name; not just the famous ones like Moses and his sister Miriam, but the long forgotten, ordinary people who have lovingly kept the faith.

            Wonderful are you, the Giver of every good and beautiful gift.


We thank you for the inspiration of the Old Testament, which we have inherited even though we played no part in its costly formation. For its revealing stories and its poetry, its lofty laws and prophetic calls for justice and mercy, we are deeply indebted.

            Wonderful are you, the Giver of every good and beautiful gift.


We thank you for the many things that prepared the way for your greatest act of salvation.  For Isaiah and the expectation of a Messiah who would suffer for his people. For that Jew named John the Baptist, and for the young wife of carpenter Joseph whom we know as Mary.

            Wonderful are you, the Giver of every good and beautiful gift.


We thank you with profound wonder for the Jew called Jesus. For his humble birth, his inspired life, his enlightened teaching, his inclusive compassion, his redemptive suffering and death, and the surprise of his resurrection and recommissioning of his disciples.

            Wonderful are you, the Giver of every good and beautiful gift.


We thank you for that daring band of Jewish men and women who spread their faith in Christ wherever they went. And especially we rejoice in that Pharisee who changed his name to Paul, and who, with a mighty vision burning on in his mind, took the Gospel to far away places and amongst many races.

            Wonderful are you, the Giver of every good and beautiful gift.


We thank you for the succession of witnesses through the centuries who have preached Christ crucified and risen, and have made his love real by their practical faith and love. For those special souls whose faith prepared our mind and heart for Christ, and whose encouragement has nurtured and expanded our vision

of what it means to be a Christian today.

            Wonderful are you, the Giver of every good and beautiful gift.

            To you belongs our deepest gratitude and our sweetest praise,

            yesterday, today and forever! Amen!




When we pray for the church and the world, we lock in to the loving things God wants for humanity.


Let us pray.


Loving God, Friend of the neglected and the despised folk, Friend also of the cherished and honoured ones, we offer to you our prayers for this world for which Christ gave his all.


We pray for the overthrow of the arrogant and cruel, and for discontent in the souls of the greedy and the careless.


We pray for the uplifting of the meek and merciful, and for the encouragement of the poor and the pure.


We pray for the recovery of the bruised and the lost, and the peace of those who thirst for righteousness.


We pray for the feeding of the hungry in body or spirit, and for the healing of those who are dis-eased in body or mind.


We pray for the comfort of the suffering and the grieving, and for the befriending of the lonely timid, or socially awkward people.


We pray for the humbling of the church if it becomes proud, and for courage wherever it is shunned or persecuted.


We pray for the strong and the weak in this congregation, and for the spiritual health of all other churches in the community.


You, Holy Friend, are more eager to give than we are to receive. Deal firmly with your servants gathered here now, that we get rid of everything that clutters our souls, and make way for all the new blessings you have in store for us. Through Christ Jesus our Lord.





May you who are strong go out into the world with gentleness,

            and you who are weak go on your way with new strength.

May you who are confident by nature walk now with humility,

            and you who are anxious step out with more certainty.


Get on with life, knowing that you are the sisters and brothers of Jesus,

            and the children of the Most High God.


The love of Christ Jesus redeem you from all evil,

the love of God hold your fast when all else fails,

the friendship of the Spirit keep you in perfect peace,

now and evermore.





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