|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.
John 15:9-17. (Sermon 1: “We Are Made For This”)
1 John 5:1-6.
Acts 10:44-48. (Sermon 2: “Visions From The Sun-deck”)
It is written that love is the fulfilment of the law.
Love is also the ground and goal of worship.
Without love this hour is a waste of time.
Without love this house is an empty shell.
Come, sing a new song to our God
who has done wonderful things.
Love’s victory is openly displayed,
Christ in vindicated in the sight of all nations.
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!
Here today there is love, freely available to all.
Not our human loving, fragile and intermittent,
but God’s supreme love.
May a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth,
break forth into joyous songs of praise.
Here today is love, higher than our loftiest hopes,
deeper than the immensities of time and space,
God’s inclusive love.
Let the seas roar their praise,
and everything in them.
Let the rivers clap their hands
and the hills sing together their happiness.
The joy of the living Christ Jesus be with you all.
And also with you.
PRAYER OF APPROACH
Holy and mysterious Lover of the world, let this day be a worthy celebration of our Lord’s resurrection love.
By the Easter good news, encourage us to put away our worries, and to discard our fears, that with minds open to your Spirit we may better love you and more adequately worship your holy name.
Through Christ Jesus, our living brother and Lord.
CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE
Our Lord Jesus said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
You are truly my friends if you do what I command you.”
Let us make our confession.
Most holy God, most of the time we see ourselves as nice people,
who are trying to do the loving thing in a difficult world.
We try not to lie, cheat, malign, abuse or injure others.
We try to serve you through the church and within the community.
We pray for peace and justice, and we attempt to forgive those who sin against us.
By the standards of love in the wider community we have not done so badly.
Yet deep within we know how far we fall short of the love-standard set by Jesus,
and we even fall beneath the level that our own ideals have set us.
We feel compromised and mislead by this hustling world with its glitter.
We become frustrated and undermined by a negativity within ourselves
which diverts us and leads us into withholding love.
Loving God, we certainly need your pardoning grace and humbly we ask for it.
But also we need much more.
We seek the grace of self honesty, and a sharper awareness of our own hearts.
We need your illuminating Light, helping us to see through the humbug of society.
We need to allow ourselves to become saturated with your love.
We ask for the spur of your Spirit
to make us more eager for the art of true loving,
and more determined to practice what we preach.
Grant us these graces we pray, for without you we are as nothing.
Hear our prayer, through Christ our Saviour.
Sisters and brothers in the family of God, listen well for it is written of old:
“You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
What was thus written was in the fullness of time made gloriously visible and accessible in Jesus of Nazareth.
In God name, please welcome into your minds this living truth, and accept into your hearts the saving grace of Christ Jesus.
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be! Amen!
PRAYER FOR CHILDREN
You know, God,
it must be difficult to be very loving,
‘cos there’s not as much love
as there should be
out there in the world.
Thanks for those loving people in this church
who have shown us,
that with the help of the our Saviour Jesus,
much love is possible.
Could you help us, please?
Sort of inject us with the love of Jesus
so that it flows through in our blood
into the thoughts in our brains
the feelings in our hearts,
and the actions of our hands.
See Australian Psalms page 33 (revised edition)
Ó Open Book Publishers com.au
Love one another
as I have loved you.
Here is the key
which will unlock
the obscure Cause
since the ‘big bang’
brought time and space.
Here is the clue
which will reveal
the rich source
beneath faith and hope
and the true light
of every race.
Here is the crux
which will unveil
the driving force
of genes, stem cells
and the wonder
in each child’s face.
Here is the end
to which we rise
and the omega joy
which is attained
solely by grace.
Ó B D Prewer 2002
Most holy Friend, Three-person’d God, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, please help the family of the church to learn the way of love from you. Bring us together in spirit and action, bearing one another’s burdens and sharing each others gifts, and establishing here on earth colonies of heaven. In the name of Christ, our Brother and Saviour.
SERMON 1: WE ARE MADE FOR THIS
This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you.
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails, that’s what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of.
You will not be amazed to hear that when I was young, that particular nursery rhyme did nothing for me. On the other hand, my older sister (whom I teased exceedingly) found it did wonders for her.
Staying with definitions. What is God made of?
Loving and loving and yet more loving, that’s what God is made of.
Please notice that I am using the word “loving” rather than love. It may sound clumsy. But I have deliberately chosen this clumsiness. I do so, not to be cantankerous but to try and express a truth that’s important to me.
To say “God is love” [love as a noun] sounds static. That is not good enough. God is loving us right now. The God we know through Jesus is always active. God is the untiring Lover who is there for us, active all the time. Love is only known through action. It is not a substance like water or an abstract concept like perfection. The love of God is an all embracing activity, the love of Christ is saving activity, the love of the Spirit is enabling activity.
NOTHING MATTERS MORE
This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you.
When Jesus asks us to love one another, he is inviting us to participate in God’s characteristic activity. To align ourselves with that Joy which is the ultimate activity in the universe. The whole purpose of life on this planet is to produce loving creatures.
The complex, painstaking process of creating humanity, is driven by God’s loving. The immense time scale involved, is for the creation of lovers.
The painfully slow growth in human understanding, all the long travail of humanity in its noble moments, is for the purpose of loving.
The triumph of the human spirit over set back, calamity, suffering, and evil in multiple forms, is to produce loving persons.
Nothing matters more. Nothing is more fundamental. Nothing else that exists in time also transcends time with such power. The whole purpose is for us to become loving beings; like God. It is as simple as that and as profound as that.
Jesus asks us to participate in the fundamental actions of God, and in so doing we will find our fulfilment.
Is that asking too much? Too big an ask for little earth creatures, whose lives last only a fragment of time, to tackle being like God? Some would say an emphatic “Yes! it is asking too much. In fact it is being both arrogant and ridiculous.”
Not so, says the Bible. The Bible insists that we have a special nature and a special destiny. We have a remarkable likeness to God. Not physical likeness of course, but a personal one. Indeed, sometimes I reckon that what is harder to believe is not what the Bible tells us about God but what it tells us about humanity. The Bible has such a lofty vision of humanity that it stretches our credulity. Note: ‘stretches’ not ‘exceeds’ credulity.
One of the two Genesis stories of creation says that we are made in the image of God. The second says that God’s own breath, or Spirit is in us and constitutes our very being.
Psalm 8 says we are created only a little less than the gods. Psalm 82 dares to present God speaking to us and saying: “I tell you, you are gods, children of the most high.”
Paul revels in the fact that the Holy Spirit witnesses in our mind and heart that “we are children of God, joint-heirs with Christ.”
Humanity and God are compatible. As astounding as it is, it is true. We and that hidden, Awesome Mind that brought time and a space into being, share a similarity. Jesus asks us to participate in the characteristic activity of God. It is not a futile thing to ask humans to be loving; In us there is a little god, a divine spirit, a God-like potential which longs to be fulfilled.
We are made for the purpose of loving one another and loving our Creator. And as the first letter of John insists, we cannot say we love God unless we are loving to one another. These are inseparable. Loving is indigenous to us. More so than we would ever deduce from looking at the selfishness of much of humanity. We are called to be loving because it is the very food of our souls and the purest expression of our spirits. This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you.
This loving cannot be understood by only looking up a dictionary, or seeking synonyms. Those sources will contain no more love than a match box. Nor can a true understanding of loving be fully grasped by recourse to a scholarly analysis of the Greek or Hebrew words used for love. Such an analysis may point us in the right direction, and make us realise how deprived the English language is when it comes to expressing love. Yet it cannot teach us loving.
To get to the crux of the meaning of loving, we must spend time with Jesus of Nazareth. He alone makes explicit the hidden loving of God for this world. His life is our only definition of what the Gospel means by love. John records the words Jesus uses to his followers as: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
If we follow this request, we must embrace the whole of Jesus as our definition of loving. We cannot edit out, or conveniently forget, the tough titanium in the loving of Jesus. Too often the scope of Christian love is reduced to the level of sentimentality. A fairy floss Jesus proclaiming a God whose love is about as strong as a soufflé, will not do.
Loving Jesus-style includes -
challenging corruption and deceits,
caring for the welfare of our enemies,
lending without expecting to be repaid,
forgiving seventy time seven those who hurt us,
turning the other cheek,
giving without wanting gratitude or praise,
confronting with naked honesty the hypocrisies of religion,
expressing anger when one’s fellows are being exploited,
cleansing the temple,
embracing outcastes and welcoming sinners,
accepting that in some circumstances misunderstanding will be our lot;
that rejection and suffering may be the only apparent result of our holiest efforts.
With Jesus we get to the crux of loving. I chose that word “crux” deliberately, for it is the sacrifice of Jesus that has given us, even two millennia later, that word crux. The whole of the life of Jesus displays love for us; but this reaches its climax on a cross. There he is crucified, forgiving his enemies and full of compassion for those around him. This is ultimate loving. This is what it means to be Divine. It is also what it means to be fully human. This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you.
Make no mistake about this: Jesus shows that human beings are compatible with God. He demonstrates that it is possible to share God’s characteristic, loving activity. He demonstrates the glory that flames forth from humanity when loving is our passion, the “great love of our life”.
There is nothing artificial about loving. It’s not like making a dog walk on its hind legs or a lion to eat grass. Loving does not always come easily, but it is the most natural of all disciplines of to learn. It fits us like nothing else.
COMMITMENT, NOT A FEELING
Do you realise that up to this point in this sermon I have not mentioned the word “feeling”?
That’s because love is not a feeling, not a mere emotion, but a commitment, not a gush of kindness but an act of will. Once we start loving one another as Christ has loved us, warm feelings may follow. That is very pleasant but it is not the crux of loving. Loving is the result of a decision to be a loving person; just as Christ made that decision and reaffirmed it in the last days that led to the cross.
If we only love others when we feel like it, God help them! And God help us! Because we would then urgently need Divine rescue, lest we damn our own souls to a fairy floss spirituality which will leave the soul starving to death.
We are made to be loving beings. Loving is the goal of the human psyche and the food of the soul.
What are little boys made for?
Loving and loving and then more loving, that’s what little boys are made for.
What are little girls made for?
Loving and loving and then more loving, that what little girls are made for.
What is God made of?
“This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you.”
SERMON 2: VISIONS FROM THE SUN-DECK
Peter, the ex-fisherman now bold apostle, was sitting on the sundeck of the house of Simon Tanner, waiting for lunch. A visionary experience happened up there on the roof. An experience that led him to begin a painful, personal change. He was compelled to confront his own snobbish attitudes, and his own deep prejudices.
The poor fellow did not want to change. He reckoned he had already changed enough since he first met Jesus. He had filled his quota of upheavals for one life. Nevertheless, the crisis came upon him through a God-given dream, and he had to change yet more.
CHANGE IS PAINFUL
Change is rarely easy. Some changes come through joyful events, but even then they can carry some pain. Even simple things can seem unpleasant. For example, if I should ask you to move from your familiar position where you sit in this church, to swap seats with other people, so that those who always sit near the back sat near the front, and the front people sat at the back, would you like doing t? I don’t think so. We prefer to remain as we are. We like to stay settled in our comfort zone.
Of course most changes are tougher that small example. Whenever we are called to make a major shift out of a comfortable way of thinking and doing things, then the distress can be extensive. We would rather dodge these discomforting times. But change will happen, especially to those who give their lives to Christ Jesus. Sometimes we embrace change lovingly, although at other times or we may be dragged along, full of complaints, by the Holy Spirit. Should we do the donkey caper and dig in our heels, we will be left behind in a kind of spiritual den, where “moth and rust doth corrupt.”
To reach towards maturity, means we cannot escape some pain. Growth does leave us sore. However, to refuse to change, condemns to what is, in the long run, miserable existence.
THE STRUGGLE IN THE MIND AND SOUL OF PETER
Back to Peter up on the sundeck, waiting for his lunch. Please remember that up until now, Christianity had been mainly a reformation movement among the Jews. Gentiles were still on the outside.
Maybe Peter dozed in the sunshine, maybe he went into a trance state. Either way, he had a vision which confronted his very Jewishness.
Jews, like Peter, were kosher. They were not allowed to eat certain foods. Especially abhorrent were foods like roast pork, jugged hare, pickled eels, snake mornay, ostrich fillets, lizard pie, crocodile kebabs. Now in his vision, Peter saw a tarpaulin lowed down from God in heaven. In it were all kinds creepy crawlies and disgusting foods. Peter was repulsed. But the voice of the Lord asked him to get up, kill something and eat it for lunch.
Peter rebelled: “No Lord. I have never eaten anything that was not kosher.”
The Lord answered: “Don’t you dare to call unclean what God has made clean.”
This happened three times. Same words. Same result. Peter woke up, much shaken by the vision he had received. What did it mean? It did not take long to find out.
A messenger arrived at the house from a sincere seeker who was Roman centurion. Peter was asked to go to the town of Caesarea, to share the Gospel with the Roman army officer. Fighting all his old prejudices, and still hearing the word of the Lord in his head “Don’t you dare to call unclean what God has made clean.” Peter entered the Gentiles house and preached the Gospel to Cornelius and his household”.
Think of Peter at the threshold of the door. Most likely he broke out in a cold sweat when for the first time in his life he entered the house of a Gentile. Painful it was, but he did it. As he preached the Holy Spirit moved in the hearts of the members of that household. Amazed at the way God was obviously embracing non-Jews, Peter exclaimed:
Can anyone forbid us taking water and baptising these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.
It was tough, but Peter accepted such radical change. It might not go down well when the news reached the kosher Jewish Christians back in Jerusalem, but Peter knew that God was determined to moving them over the old hump of prejudice. The Gospel belonged to all people, irrespective of race, language, or culture
Peter had accepted the pain and stress of change, and thereby helped to alter the whole course of the young Christian Church.
Good old Peter. When he did something, right or wrong, he made a resounding job of it. The baptised
household of Cornelius testified to the revolution that had taken place in Peter’s heart, mind and soul.
WHEN IT IS OUR TURN TO CHANGE
I am tempted at this point to quote the words of Jesus in a different situation; “You go and do likewise.”
The truth is that God is always calling us to step forward and assist in changing this precious yet evil old world. To do so, our Lord constantly calls us to change. We all get our turn. There are no exemptions. Too often we resist change. We get in a rut. Pathetic! As I see it a spiritual rut is a coffin with the ends knocked out.
It is inconceivable that God is not calling his church people at this moment in history to undergo changes of some sort. This does not mean rushing around and jettisoning old ways just for the sake of change. We are not to mime that fictional, outback jackeroo [cowboy] who hearing a cry for help, leapt on his horse and tried to gallop off in all directions at once.
Some of God’s changes may need to be taken slowly, step by small step. Then the pain will be mild but ongoing. But on other occasions, we need to change swiftly and move with the speed and commitment shown by the Apostle Peter. Then our distress may be acute.
What makes it harder is that the changes facing us may at first not feel right. Some changes to which God calls us may seem uncouth, or sound improper or “unclean” to our tradition-conditioned ears. We may be tempted to shut up the shutters, and earn the rebuke given to Peter: “Don’t you dare to call unclean what God has made clean.”
It may cost us much to swallow our churchly pride, push aside our ecclesiastical caution, subdue our personal biases, and bravely undertake something new for Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
Where am I going with this theme? With a sermon like this, some of you (tainted a little with the cynicism of the world) may be tempted to think: “There is more to this than meets the ear. What new programme does he intend to get us involved with? What new trick is up his ministerial sleeve? Is this the softening up process?”
Sorry to disappoint you. There is none. None except the ongoing challenge of following the Gospel of Jesus as it ferments within our era, and our nation, and our local community. Where is he leading us today? What changes are on our Lord’s agenda?
OUR PROGRESS MAY SOMETIMES FALTER
Ponder again the story of Peter, and the vision that shook him up while he was reclining on the sun-deck waiting for his lunch.
Peter had to embrace painful change within himself. He that the new slant on what the grace of the Lord Christ was doing, would meet stiff opposition among some Jewish Christians.
Nor would he, himself, always keep the new vision untainted. He would get the tremors, at times. He would sometimes back peddle. In fact, in few years time an emerging giant among the new converts, a man called Paul, would meet up with Peter in the city of Antioch and publicly confront Peter about his backsliding into old Jewish prejudices. Not a painless occasion, that day in the church at Antioch. Yet to his eternal credit Peter heard the rebuke, took it to heart, and recovered the bold spirit that had inspired him when years before he entered the house of a Gentile Roman and preached the Gospel with stunning results.
I mention this because all of us have our weaker moments when we are likely to falter, and take a back step. We become a bit afraid when the Lord leads us into new ways that are more awkward than we expected.
At such low moments, we look back to the security of old ways. And sometimes we turn back to revisit them. That is the moment when we need someone to give us a sharp rebuke, just as Paul did to Peter. And if we do receive such a rebuke, from either a friend or an opponent, I pray that we will receive it with the open mind and heart of Peter.
God has new things to be done, new ways to go, new emphases to embrace.
The human eye has not yet seen. nor the ear heard, nor the heart conceived,
what God has in store for those who love him.
If we turn away from the pain of change, and renege, may we clearly hear the rebuke of the Word from on high: “Don’t you dare to call unclean what God has made clean.”
A PRAYER FOR OURSELVES
Loving Friend, we admit that we rarely achieve your quality of unconditional love for our more awkward sisters and brothers within the churches. Unlike you, we are short on patience and thin on empathy. We tire too easily and tend to opt out of relationships rather than to work through difficulties.
This is the truth about us, God. Please do not allow that truth to depress our spirits and further inhibit our love. Rather give us a hearty trust in your forgiving grace and renewal. Keep us humble enough to take small steps in the art of loving, to celebrate modest victories, to encourage one another, and to never despise the small achievements of other Christians or of ourselves. For your love’s sake.
THANKSGIVING: FOR LOVE
Let us give thanks for the remarkable gifts of God’s creating and redeeming love, the loving that casts out all fear.
For the love that frees us to ask questions and explore, to frame doubts and investigate new possibilities, to build theories and then cross-examine them.
We thank you, God of adventurous love.
For the love that enables us to marvel at our own existence, to ponder and remember, recognise our own needs and affirm our own knowledge and purpose.
We thank you, God of determined love.
For the love that helps us to communicate with one another, to express trust and respect, share heartaches and visions, to convey love and mercy.
We thank you, God of reconciling love.
For the love that inspires us to warmly encourage those around us, to affirm and build up, comfort and enlighten.
We thank you, God of nurturing love.
For the love that liberates us to celebrate the world around us in poetry and song, to delight in shapes and colours, intricacies and patterns, awesome forces and deep mysteries.
We thank you God of visionary love.
For the love that encourages us to express something of our faith; for creeds and prayers, hymns and readings, discussion groups and sermons.
We thank you, God of creative love.
Above all else we thank you for the love that allows us to admit that we have no words in which to adequately describe the process of faith in Christ, the awesome worship of our God, and the holy wonder of the Spirit. We thank you for that point where our love becomes wordless adoration. Through Christ Jesus, who is the pure glory of your loving.
PRAYERS FOR OTHERS
For two voices
God our Saviour, may these prayers which we offer you be also a renewing of our contract to love one another even as Jesus has loved us.
We pray for the end of bitterness and violence in its many forms. Bless all peacemakers: those who negotiate between nations, or arbitrate within commerce and industry, adjudicate in family courts, defuse tensions in school grounds, and counsel conflicting parties within church denominations.
We pray for the effective, compassionate care of all who are diseased, maimed, or severely handicapped, including ailing members of this congregation. Bless all who work in clinics and hospitals: surgeons, physiotherapists, nurses, physicians, oncologists, psychiatrists, dieticians, social workers, dentists, pharmacists and the staff of hospices for the dying.
We pray for the feeding of the hungry, the clothing of the destitute, the housing of the homeless, the reformation of prisoners, and the rehabilitation of those who have been addicted to drugs. Bless every agency, church or government, which is dedicated to the care of our disadvantaged sisters and brothers
We pray for the provision of systems of justice that that are truly fair. Whether they are within our homeland, in other nations, or international courts of justice, may those who are brought to court find equality before the law. Bless with insight and integrity each barrister and judge, work in the mind and soul of every juror, that the innocent may be exonerated and the hearts of those sentenced turned towards repentance and regeneration.
We pray for the church, for all denominations large or small, that we may love one another in practice as well as in prayer. Bless all joint initiatives in worship, fellowship and service to the community. May the world know that there is a grace at work in us which is not our doing but a gift from a Lover who outstrips all other. Through Christ Jesus our humble Lord.
As we go our separate ways, let us pray together for God’s blessing.
Bless to me, great God,
every thought I weigh
every word I say
every prayer I pray.
Bless through me great God
every path I take
every hand I shake
every hope I awake.
The graces of courage, happiness and a serene mind, and all such blessings that belong to the children of the Triune God, be with you now and evermore.
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.