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.
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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25 Sept - 1 October


Matthew 21: 23-32                                (Sermon 1: “Make way for the scumbags!”)

Philippians 2: 1-13

Exodus 17: 1-17                                    (Sermon 2: “Water out of rock?”)

Psalm 78: 1-4, 12-16




The joyful vigour of the living Christ be always with you.

And also with you.


God has lifted him up and given him a name above all other names:

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord

to the glory of God the Father.




In the name of our Host for today,

I bid you welcome to this hospitable house.

In the name of Christ Jesus

we greet one another with peace and joy.


This is a time for knowing and growing,

for seeing and freeing,

for sharing and caring,

for restoring and adoring,

for bringing the cream of our love

and singing our hearts out with praise.





Have a mind like that which you find in Christ Jesus,


Tell to your children, and all who come after them,

the amazing love God has shown to you.

Our God brings springs of water out of hard rock,

the waters of life flow down like rivers.


Do not forget the marvellous works of Christ,

the wonders God done for all the earth.

Christ has come,

Christ has died,

Christ has risen,

Christ comes again in glory.




Most wonderful God, the beauty we see in Jesus is your beauty veiled in human flesh, the love we witness from Bethlehem to Golgotha is your love contracted to a span. If Christ’s life is so holy as to fill us with wonder, how much more would your unveiled beauty leave us overwhelmed and trembling? You are more than the eye could bear, more than the mind can ever fathom.


Yet you have so carefully made us that although we cannot fathom you, we can yet love you. Gratefully we bring our little lives to you, asking that our worship may arise from love and be shaped by love, and be directed towards that larger loving which is our soul’s desire. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.





God does not seek to condemn but to save.


Let us confess our sin.


Most merciful God, we are not completely useless sinners, devoid of all light and love.

            To loathe ourselves would be to blaspheme your name as our Loving Creator

Nor are we hopelessly locked within our flawed genes and the vicious circles of world evil.        

   To cynically settle for repeating old mistakes without hope of change, would be to

    blaspheme your name as our Loving Saviour.

Yet we know we have been seduced by the evil of the world, and to some degree

   we have added to the frustration and pain of life.


But you have never ceased to love us,

            never forgotten our names,

never ceased to recognise the potential for greatness

            that lies within each of us,

never stopped working for our rescue

            and for our healing and fulfilment.


Please continue your work of redemption. Forgive our  sins, cleanse us from the taint of evil, and deliver us from our individual weaknesses. In the hour of temptation help us to be aware of what is happening and to name evil for what it is.


Abiding in the love of Jesus,

            may we withstand evil’s insidious pressures,

            and take delight in small victories.

May we be both the recipients of salvation

            and the gracious agents of it.

To your endless glory, through Christ Jesus our Saviour.





My sisters and brothers, embrace your salvation. Once you have honestly made your confession, and prayed for absolution, don’t insult God by returning to past sins and poring over your shame. Let the past go. Embrace the future without burden or anxiety. For you “know in whom you have believed, and that he is able to keep safe all you have committed to him until the Great Day” of final victory comes.

Thanks be to God!  





Lord Jesus,

I don’t know how you managed

to get things so right

and do things so straight.

What was your secret?


Often we do not mean what we say

nor do the things we promise.


If your secret

was being extra close to God,

then please,

when we wake up each morning,

give our souls and minds

a big nudge closer to God.



PSALM 78: 1-4, 12-16


Listen you lot, give me a hearing!

Get an earful of what I have to say!

            My mouth is full of our faith-story,

            recalling things from the Dreamtime.

            We have all heard and known these tales,

            told to us by our mothers and fathers.


We must not let our children miss out,

but pass on the news to each generation;

            the stories of God’s energy and glory,

            the wonderful things our God has done.


In front of our ancestors God worked miracles,

in the land of Egypt, on the plains of Zoan;

            Dividing the sea and letting them walk through,

            holding back the waters that piled up.

            In the daytime they were led by a cloud,

            and through the night by a blazing light.


God split open a rock-face in the wilderness,

and let them drink water from the depths.

            Yes, from the desert rock streams gushed,

            the waters flowed away like a river.

                                                                                                                        © B.D. Prewer 2001




     Matthew 21: 28-32


“Yes Sir, no Sir”

does not prove any thing,

it is what comes after

that can make angels sing.


“I’ll start now, Sir,

finished by tomorrow.”

Such facile promises

cause Christ a load of sorrow.


“No way! No Sir!

I’m no man’s slave boy!”

But the rebel’s later deeds

may bring the Lord much joy.


Words are cheap

and fool the speaker’s soul,

but a few loving deeds

can make the broken whole.


Vain Pharisees

may be suave over lunch,

but tax pimps and harlots

are with Christ at the crunch.

                                                            © B.D. Prewer 2001




Holy Friend, you ask us to match our deeds with our words, yet our ability to do so appears to be sadly limited. Please send your Holy Spirit into our mind and feelings, that in the deep complexities of our being, there may rise up from within a greater ability to serve you as you deserve, and to fill all our living with your love. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.






Matthew 21: 31b


Jesus said to them: [chief priests and elders] “You had better believe me when I say: tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you lot.”



Tax collectors and harlots?


 Make no mistake about it: those unsavoury characters of whom Jesus spoke were regarded by decent folk as scum-bags. It was not only the religious elite who despised them; but ordinary citizens.




(For the sake of simplicity, I will speak about female prostitution. I am not deeming it any different from male prostitution. But in Jewish society, female prostitution was the more common.)


There are a variety of reasons why a person turns to prostitution. Some, like bar girls in Bangkok and Manila, do it to stay alive or provide food for their families. Some in Australia begin the trade to support a growing drug addiction. Others are seduced by the lure of quick, big money. Some engage in the game in order to pay their way through university, and then find it hard to give it up.  Others end up that way as the end result of having been first sexually abused by brutish fathers or brothers or uncles or cousins.


Whether sinned against or sinners, most prostitutes become tough cookies.


I doubt whether most of us in this congregation would find much in common with the attitudes and values of either the street girls or the up-market escort women. I doubt whether we would be comfortable  to have them as regular guests at our table.


Yet Jesus insisted that people like these would enter the kingdom of God more easily than many good living, zealous religious types. Step aside! Make way for the scumbags as they stream into the realm of God!




Tax collectors were equally despised.  


The modern Australian nation has never been subject to enemy rule. Some towns have been bombed, ships have been torpedoed, but we have never suffered the grief of being an occupied territory. We have not had to endure the oppressive military presence everywhere.


The indigenous people of this continent know all about it.  They are still occupied by a foreign power. They and Jesus have much in  common.


Jesus lived under occupation. Roman soldiers controlled the land. Puppet governors ruled the provinces. The Romans exacted taxes for the privilege. The prosperity and pomp of Rome were maintained by the taxation of its annexed territories. The Jews loathed it.


Tax collectors were collaborators. They worked for the Romans. All respect was lost on the day when they signed a contract with the occupying power for the collection of revenue. Not only were tax collectors despised in the way harlots were, they were actively hated.


These men were despicable. They were not merely scum-bags, they were indeed 5 star scum-bags!


Yet among these tax collectors, and among the harlots, were some who eagerly drank in the message of Jesus, watched his loving actions with open minds and hearts, and began a new life. They were, to use the words of that John’s Gospel later uses, “born again.”


Jesus said to them: [chief priests and elders] “You had better believe me when I say: Tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you lot.”


Make way for the scum-bags, as they respond to the love of God in Christ Jesus!




Why was it so?  Why do many good people miss it while those we consider no-hopers get the message of the Gospel?


It was because among the scum-bags were those who were acutely aware that they had nothing in the moral and religious coffer to lose. They had no respectable social status to preen and protect. They had no religious prestige or power to which they could cling. Among these despised men and women were some who knew that they had become scum-bags. There was self recognition. A spiritual honesty.


These folk were ripe for the good news which Jesus preached and embodied. Good news that welcomed sinners and ate with them, that embraced outcastes and gave hospitality to the nobodies.  A good news that would open the gates wide for them to enter the realm of God, Just as they were, grubby, confused and all! They streamed into the kingdom of God.




What of the other characters in the Gospel story today?


In Chapter 21 of Matthew, Jesus’ critics are called either the “chief priests and scribes” or “the chief priests and elders” or “the chief priests and Pharisees.” It sounds very much like a grab-bag phrase used by Matthew to summarise the fierce religious opposition which Jesus faced. That religious upper class, composed of the priestly Sadducees were centred on the rituals of the Temple. The righteous and scholarly Pharisees were centred on the synagogues. Neither were fans of the prophet from the irreligious province of Galilee.


Most were determined not to countenance Jesus. They were neither ready nor willing for the inclusive music of the gospel. They had invested very heavily in the old tunes; their moral status, influence and power, and preferred the blowing of their own trumpets.


Religious, moral and social investments function much the same as financial investments. The more we get the more we want, and the greater our self-satisfaction with what we have accumulated, the greater will be our resistance, and hostility, to those who have different values.


Many priests and Pharisees had closed their minds to protect their achievements and reputation. They had worked very hard for what they now possessed; thank you very much! They had been water resistant to the baptism of John, and had closed the shutters against the light of Jesus. As they saw it, with their myopic spiritual vision, they had little to gain and much to lose if they let themselves really hear what this fellow Jesus was saying.


There were a few exceptions. Maybe there were more exceptions than are recorded. We know of at least two who were sincerely open minded and big hearted: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Moreover, perhaps there were more than a few influential, high-status women followers of Jesus, such as is hinted in Luke’s Gospel. But by and large, those who had invested heavily in the religious and moral status quo, were not about to risk their life’s savings. They would not easily enter the kingdom of God because there were proud of what they had.




Make way for the converted scum-bags? Not if those religious types had any say in it! They wanted to block the way for such people to access this new gospel, which to the self righteous sounded dangerously permissive. They were determined to block any opening for the scum bags, while enjoying to the utmost their pathetic substitutes of a pious reputation or hierarchical religious power.


If you had been able to question them about the kingdom of God, they would have seen themselves as worthy guests, first on the invitation list and first in the queue for effusive salutations and privileged places in the palaces of the Most High God.


Yet this Galilean preacher,  son of a carpenter, with only a primary school education, dared to stand respectability and common sense on their heads:  Jesus said to them: [chief priests and elders] “You had better believe me when I say: tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you lot.”


You don’t have to be a genius to work out that these men would begin to plot the demise of Jesus. The Master’s name was mud, even before the last days when he so unambiguously proclaimed his message. But what he boldly said about priests and Pharisees during that final week singed his death warrant for sure.


Jesus dared to meet them head on.


The little parable of the two sons, which precedes this text I am using today, is aimed at those religious elite. Aimed straight between their eyes.


A man had two sons. He came to one [obviously a bit of a rebel] and said: “Son, I need you to work today in my vineyard?”


That son answered.” No way. I won’t.”  But he regretted his words and went and did the work.


The father then came to the second son, and asked the same question. That son replied: “Sure, yes sir!” [Note that impressive “sir”]  But he didn’t not go and do the work.


The first son represents the socially rebellious tax collectors and harlots.

The second son represents the religious priests and Pharisees.


Wham!  Straight between the eyes.




Have we changed that much?


I doubt it. As I read the New Testament I meet many of the same people around me in the Australian community. And I recognise a number from the churches of this land.


But as the Gospel of Jesus changed much?


No.  Those who have invested heavily in other things will still find his message presumptuous, and maybe intolerable. On the other hands, those who have nothing to lose will see the light shining and stream eagerly into the realm of God. They still enter with wonder in their eyes, a passionate love in their hearts, and adoration in their souls.


Make way for the scum-bags who have met their Redeemer. I hope we are willing to be numbered among them, and not with that offended, “superior” band that look on with distaste and annoyance.





(Note: this is a variation of the theme preached at Lent 3)


Exodus 17:6


God said to Moses: “Look, I will stand before you there on the rock of Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water shall flow out of it so that the people may drink.” Exodus 17:6


Have you ever felt desperately thirsty?

Have you ever demanded proof from God?


These are the two questions which confront me for Exodus 17.


Once more we are with the story of Moses leading the Hebrew refugees in the desert wilderness of Sinai. They were burning with thirst and reckoned that God was not being a very helpful God. They complained: “Is the Lord among us or not?”(Exod 17:7)


Then God sent Moses to the rock of Horeb, and there he struck the rock face and out flowed water.


So here are the two themes: Thirst, and proof that God really does care about us.




First I want to look at the matter of putting God to the test; asking that Yahweh prove himself.


Parts of the Bible are sour on those who want proof; those who put God to the test. This part of the story of Moses shares that distaste. God is hurt and frustrated that the refugees did not trust him. Later we find that God is also discontented with Moses because he listened to the cries of the thirsty people. To put God to the test is patent faithlessness.


In my childhood I was puzzled by this. It seemed to me that it was natural for those Jewish mums and dads, who saw their children desperate and crying for water, to ask the question: “Is the Lord among us or not?” Why did God let them get into such a thirsty condition? Was God putting their faith to the test? If so, I regarded it as rather shabby thing for God to do. What kind of a fair test is it for parents to watch their children craving and crying for a drink of water?


Now as a grandfather preaching a sermon on the topic, I must confess that I still don’t sit comfortably with that notion. If it were my grandchildren desperately crying for water without any obvious prospect of their thirst being satisfied, I might find myself thinking: “Is the Lord among us or not?”


Having admitted that, I must go on and face the fact that I must listen to the Holy Scripture when it warns against trying to put God to the test. God is not there to be tested by us, with our profound ignorance and fragmentary love. Even Moses fell under the judgement of God for taking the faithless cries of the people to heart.


In a later millennium Jesus, in his fierce desert temptations, rebuffed Satan by quoting the Scripture: “You shall not test the Lord your God.”  What is more, he roundly criticised those who demanded from him a heavenly sign.


We would do well to be warned against those inner voices which say:  “If you are really are a loving God you will heal my ailing friend”...... “If you are a powerful God you will bring and end to my teenage son’s drug addiction”...... “If you really are God you will show your hand against corruption in big business” ....... “If your truly are a God who cares you will do something about the hunger in many parts of Africa”...... “If you do in fact hear our prayers why don’t you end the drought that has afflicted our farm for five years?”  .” Show yourself. God! Show your hand and we will believe!”


Such an attitude is trying to make Yahweh prove himself. Such is not faith but a form of petulant disbelief.


Far better the faith of Job. Even though Job cried out against what he believed were the injustices which God allowed, he nevertheless could cry: “Though he slay me, yet will I praise him.”


Even better the faith of Jesus: When at the last everything seemed to have gone wrong and judgment, torture and death were at hand, Jesus knelt under the olive trees .He was in emotional agony in the Garden of Gethsemane yet at the end, just before Judas arrived with police, he prayed: “Father let this cup pass from me, Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”


As uncomfortable as we might find the truth, putting God to the test is a petty, fruitless form of faithlessness. It will gain us nothing except an unnecessary sourness in our spirit.




We must hasten on to the matter of water flowing from the rock of Horeb.


The story is about sharp physical thirst and about the gift of refreshing water. Later it became like a parable for spiritual thirst for God. But first let us stay with the actual story.


We are told that God sent Moses to the rock and asked him to take his walking staff and hit the rock with it. When he did so, water flowed. Sufficient clean water to quench the thirst of thousands of refugees.


Many critics today, on first reading this story, would laugh at it. Another example of primitive superstition. One can see the sneer-twist of the lips as they say: “You don’t literally believe that stuff, do you? Water flowing out of rock? You must be kidding. Any educated person would see that as ridiculous.”


Maybe. But perhaps that says more about the so-called educated person than about the story of Moses at the rock of Horeb.  Maybe it speaks of our deep ignorance.


One of the strange things about the age in which we live is in the matter of credulity and incredulity. I marvel at some folk who won't take the Bible seriously yet rush headlong like a pack of lemmings into all sorts of “new age” superstitions. Evidently it is okay to be “educated” and take seriously the supernatural power of crystals and pyramids, yet laugh at the deeds of a truly remarkable religious genius like Moses whose greatness has stood the test for more than three thousand years.


How would you react if you happened to be out in the wilderness NW of Alice Springs and desperately short of water?


Supposing you were there with an aboriginal man for whom this is his home country. He has songs which like a word map cover this whole region. He sits down and commences to sing, eyes looking almost as if in a trance. Somewhere in this song are the clues he wants to turn up and be able to find what he needs. You wait! Later he stands up and moves with firm intent in a certain direction. He leads you to a large limestone outcrop. Wielding his nulla nulla he strikes sections of the rock until the sound almost has an echo effect. Then he strikes harder. The rock splits and out flows the water, for which you reach with thirsty gratitude.


Is that likely do you think? Let me assure you it happens. Reliable witnesses who have lived with the indigenous people have seen it happen and have recorded the event.


Do you really suppose that it was an accident that Moses spent forty years in the semi-desert of the Sinai Peninsular?   I don’t. God placed him there, God educated him there, and God prepared Moses for a remarkable act of salvation. When God sent him to the rock and was told to strike it hard, Moses knew how to find the right place; where he could strike it, crack it open, and let the waters flow.




Are you and I connected to the best water supply?


God is the Holy One who brings water out of rock for us. In the hardest and most unlikely places, we can find water of the Spirit for our spirits.


Most importantly for us, our thirst is quenched from a most unlikely source. From a Jew who lived ages ago under Roman rule, long before the invention of the printing press, steam engines and knitting mills, and a very long time before telephones, television and computers and Ipods.


Jesus was not one of the High Priests of Israel, not one of the local governors, not one of the scholarly Rabbis of that day, not born into a house of riches, nor appointed to rule over others. Not an abbot in charge of a monastery, nor even a humble centurion in charge of a squad of soldiers.


He was just a carpenter’s son who grew up in a country town, mixed with the riff raff, wrote no books, liked telling stories, loved little children.  A Jew who was sold by a friend and executed at the age of about thirty. Jesus is the rock of salvation out of which flows the life giving water that quenches the thirsty spirit.


He appeared to be an unlikely source of living water. As another Jew wrote of him not long after Jesus died: “A stumbling stone to the Jews, and a folly to the Greeks.”


While God can refresh us from any place, and may sometimes chose rocky situations that we thought too barren to give us any hope, the chief place still is Jesus of Nazareth. Nothing quenches our thirst more than the saving love of our Lord Jesus Christ.




Oh, and one thing more. There is a paradox here. The more that Christ satisfies our thirst,

the more there is created within us a larger thirst for deeper, purer fellowship with God.


A wise 19 year old once commented to me on the subject of love and lust. “A lust can be indulged and completely sated. We get to the point where we have had enough.  But love can be wondrously satisfied yet never sated; one always wants more of that most satisfying love.


Christ love satisfies more than all other. Yet I do not think I will ever be fully satisfied this side of death.





Holy Friend, we thank you for the breath we draw at this moment, for all that keeps us alive and enables us to know ourselves as a pulsing, mysterious being. You are most wonderful!

            God of love and glory, please accept our offering of thanksgiving.


We rejoice that in our deepest self is embedded a fragment of glory, similar to you, which thirsts for beauty, truth, and holy love. You are most wonderful!

            God of love and glory, please accept our offering of thanksgiving.


We are grateful for the way this glory refuses to capitulate to evil in its multiplicity of forms, and that it rises up out of the ashes of failure with renewed courage. You are most wonderful!

            God of love and glory, please accept our offering of thanksgiving.


We thank you for Jesus whose incomparable life and death makes the spark of glory within us leaps with joyful anticipation for things yet to come. You are most wonderful!

            God of love and glory, please accept our offering of thanksgiving.


We rejoice in the glory of your Holy Spirit that is not put off by our fragmented glory, but is allied to our cause as a Friend who never despises or wearies. You are most wonderful!

            God of love and glory, please accept our offering of thanksgiving.


We are grateful for the church, sustained by your spirit and the Word of Christ Jesus, where we find fellowship with persons who nurture a similar glory. You are most wonderful!

            God of love and glory, please accept our offering of thanksgiving.


We thank you for all the rocky experiences where our spiritual thirst has met by your living water, and our soul-glory is rejuvenated. You are most wonderful!

            God of love and glory, please accept our offering of thanksgiving.


We rejoice that there is a greater glory to come, which we cannot begin to imagine, yet which will draw us closer to the holy beauty that you have intended for us since the foundation of the universe. You are most wonderful!

            God of love and glory, please accept our offering of thanksgiving

            Through Christ Jesus our Brother and Redeemer. Amen!




That the meek may be encouraged and the proud may be humbled, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That the losers may be comforted and boastful winners may be discomforted, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That the thin-skinned may be encouraged and the tough-hided become more sensitive, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That the downtrodden may be uplifted and the oppressors may be overthrown, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That the suffering may receive relief and the unthinking and heedless may be made more aware, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That the drug addicts may find release and the power-freaks may be kept in check, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That the lonely may find friends, and the much admired and praised may be saved from believing such adulation, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That the dying may see God’s face in the darkness, and the grieving may find Christ in their tears and loneliness, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That those who feel sorely tempted may be held safe, and those who don’t even recognise temptation be given a wake-up call, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That the secular world may be saved from despair, and that the church may be saved from self-righteousness, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


That those thirsty for faith may permit Christ to find them, and that believers may permit Christ to regularly invade their comfort zone, we pray to you, great Lover of the world.

            Hear our prayers, God of mercy and peace.


Source of all light and life and holy joy, bless all who pray to you this day, and bless also those who do not know how to pray. Through Christ Jesus our Lord.





To say ‘yes’ to Christ and mean it,

now, that’s true sophistication.

To mean ‘yes’ and then perform it,

that’s the flow of salvation.


We never leave this house of prayer on our own.

Our help is in the God who made heaven and earth!

The love of God is with us,

the love of Christ is for us,

the fellowship of the Spirit is around us,

today and always.





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Third edition May 2014

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Jesus Our Future

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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.

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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.