|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.
EPIPHANY 2 Jan 14-20
John 1: 43-51
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20)
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
We are gathered here not because we have seen fit to choose Christ,
but because he has looked upon us, and called us to be his own.
O God, you have searched me and known me,
you read my every thought from afar,
There is not a word on my tongue
that you do not know altogether.
The joy of those who hear the call of Christ be with you all.
And also with you.
PRAYER OF APPROACH
Gratefully and gladly, we come into this house of praises, most loving God. We come to join our voices with all those who have welcomed the call of Christ.
With people from every nation and tongue, a wave of joy linking earth and heaven in one congregation, we take our place with thanksgiving.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful are you, Creator, Redeemer and Counsellor! Heaven and earth are full of your glory! Glory be to you, O God most high!
CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE
Friends, the apostle Paul tells us that our bodies are the very temples of the Holy Spirit. Let us confess the misuse of these precious temples.
Let us pray.
Most loving God, we confess to you and to each other,
that we have not treated our own lives with the honour worthy of your temples.
We have harboured the spirits of-
greed and self-importance,
discord and belligerence,
pride and contempt,
self-righteousness and rumour-mongering,
lust and indolence,
discontent and envy,
ingratitude, anxiety and cynicism.
Please search us and know us this day. By your Spirit, arrest and eject everything alien to your eyes. Unclutter our inner space and take possession of everything, from the traffic of surface ideas to the depths where feelings swirl in dark places. Make us yours, that we may be more truly our own. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Sisters and brothers, these prayers are not a vain wishing for the impossible. They are a lodging of the human Spirit in that which forever certain. God’s grace and mercy displayed in Christ Jesus stands firm for you and for me. Lift up your hearts and live as the cleansed and renovated temples of the Holy Spirit. In the name of the Saviour who calls you to be his friends and agents of all things loving.
PSALM 139: 1-6 & 13-18
See “Australian Psalms” page 40
Ó Open Book Publishers
When gates of heaven seem closed to me
and all prayers seem futility
don’t come at me with attitude
or cover me with platitude
but let me share the waters awhile
with my Mate from Galilee.
When the church seems to leave me dry
and no god seems to heed my cry
don’t look askance and say me
you’ll condescend to pray for me
but let me share the waters awhile
with my Mate from Galilee.
When the blessed Dove seems far away
and words seem stone in the creeds I say
don’t think me lost in vanity
or that I speak profanity
but let me share the waters awhile
with my Mate from Galilee.
Ó B D Prewer 2002
Pilgrim Christ, encourage us by your tough-gentle Spirit, that we may receive from your love the simplicity which is profound, the innocence which is wisdom, the weakness which is strength, and the death which is life.
Saved by you, led on by you, we look to inherit that new country on the other side of the great divide*.For your name’s sake.
* Note for overseas readers: The ‘Great Dividing Range’ in Australia runs North-South, adjacent to the East Coast. Early pioneers from the coastlands in and around Sydney, had to brave the densely forested range before they could discover the immense fertile plains beyond.
SERMON: FOUR WAYS THAT GOD APPROACHES US
Using thoughts inspired by all 4 Lectionary Readings
I was about to call this sermon “Four Approaches to God.” But Gospel reality cut in and I said to myself: “Don’t be presumptuous! It is God who approaches us”. So the title immediately became “Four Ways in which God Approaches us”.
The first way is in the reading from the Book of Samuel. Here we have the God who comes to us in the silences.
“Silence is golden” goes the old saying. If that is true, then most of us live in extreme poverty, desperately short of the golden silence. There is very little silence in our hectic lives. It is all noise, noise and more noise!
Maybe that is one of the reasons why contemporary people seem to have lost the awareness of the Presence of God in daily life. Ever since the industrial revolution, and more since the electronic revolution, the air is thick with noise. Motor cars, trains, planes, busses, trams, loudspeakers in shopping centres, ‘muzak’ while we are ‘on hold’ on the telephone.
All the space around us seems clogged with multiple sounds. Even at home the almighty radio, TV, DVD, and CD player rule our waking hours. While trekking in remote wilderness, I have actually come across other hikers with “walkman’ clamped over their ears. Noise is not only an affliction, for many it is an addiction.
Little Samuel had no such problem. Samuel was the child-servant of the priest Eli, or apprentice priest if you prefer that, living and working in the ancient temple at Shiloh, in what was later known as Samaria.
At evening, when the markets outside had closed, the daily services ended, the worshippers all gone home, there was plentiful silence. Adequate silence in which to hear a Holy Word speaking within the soul. That’s how it was for Samuel. In the silence of deep night, God called to the child “Samuel, Samuel.” After first mistaking the voice for Eli, Samuel was able to answer: “Speak Lord, for you servant is listening.”
I strongly put it to you: Silence is one of the ways in which God can approach us, address us, soothe us, stir us, call us, and renovate us. In the silence the Word can speak. Because silence does not come readily in our noisy, frenetic world, it takes self-discipline to create space and silence in our lives. If we are not inclined towards self-discipline, then let us not complain about the apparent absence of God. Silence cannot be found without some effort on our part.
Psalm 139 is near the apex of Old Testament faith. The sections set for today’s reading concentrate on God’s intimate knowledge of us. Here is a picture of a God who approaches us continually. Our path, our words, our thoughts, are all searched by the Living God. From the time of conception in our mother’s womb, God is with us, coming with precious thoughts for our welfare; thoughts more numerous than the sand of desert or sea shore.
The sections not set for today, especially verses 7-12, complete the picture. This approach by God is not limited to set locations; not just at sacred sites, holy temples, or in the hours set for public worship. With full poetic flight, the Psalm writer sings of the God who comes to us no matter where we are.
Even at the most remote fringes of the oceans, God will be there. In deep darkness, God is with us. If we fly up among the stars, God will be there for us. If we are laid to rest in the grave and exist in that shadowy underworld the Jews called Sheol. God will approach us there.
Psalm 39 does not argue the case. It celebrates it. It is like a grand creed of delight in God’s willingness to seek us out everywhere. Whether we recognise it or not, God will always be with us. Nowhere is too far, no place is too humble, no situation too dark, no circumstance too secular. God approaches us everywhere.
Paul suggests another place where God comes to us: within our own being. “You body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” Now that is bold!
Whether the apostle is referring to our individual bodies, or to the church as the body, as some scholars propose, I am not certain. But given the whole tenor of this particular passage in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, I favour the idea that he is referring to their individual bodies. Each of them is a temple where God is prepared to reside.
The Jews believed that God chose to reside in the central, sacred enclosure at the core of the vast temple complex on Mt Zion. They called this space the ‘Holy of Holies”. God was believed to reside on earth at that spot. With debonair audacity Paul says that we, our bodies, are the temples where God’s Presence choses to reside.
Never underestimate your body. There has been a twisted mentality in some sections of Christianity which has despised the body, and thought it good to mistreat it in the search for holiness. God does not scorn our human flesh and blood. God approaches us through our bodily lives, chooses to reside there. Treat bodies charitably, with respect and love. If we want to find where God approaches, take a look within that personal temple where light and darkness wrestle for supremacy, and where light refuses to give up.
IN CHRIST JESUS
However, the prime approach, the most sublime approach, comes through Jesus of Nazareth.
The Gospel reading from John for this Sunday, follows on from that moment when John the Baptiser points to Jesus and says: “Behold the Lamb of God.” From that time on disciples are drawn to Jesus. We read about the calling of Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathaniel, and others not named as yet.
For Christians, God’s incomparable approach is through Jesus. Nothing equals this. Nothing is more certain, or more reliable. The words and deeds, and the unique person of Jesus, have been for many generations a veritable highway for the coming of God into human experience.
This approach by God is the measuring stick for all other spiritual experiences. If at any time we think God has approached us and called us to do something not compatible with Jesus, then we know we were sadly mislead.
Silence? What God seems to say to us in the silences; in the quiet spaces we make for prayer and meditation, must be checked out by what God says in Christ. If it fits, trust it. If it does not, reject it. I stress this point: whatever divine melody appears to come to us from the wider realms of life, must be assessed in the music of Christ Jesus. If it’s in tune with Jesus, sing it. Off key, repudiate it.
Inside us? If we look within, and try to explore the temple that is my bodily being, for the truth of God, let us be wary. It is easy to wander off into pretty half-truths, sentimental quarter truths, downright self deceit, and even forms of insanity. The one utterly reliable approach of God is through the one who is truly the Son of God. If our inner truths resonate with Christ’s truth, then let’s celebrate. But if not, do not entertain it but expel it!
God does approach us, in many ways. Many more than I have touched on today. You and I are most fortunate people, we can be open to these divine approaches without caution, for we have Christ to audit our experience; to help us grasp the authentic and abjure the false hopes and unworthy fears. Trust him and all will be well.
At all times and in all places, we delight in giving thanks for your steadfast love, most generous God.
All creation sings to you;
the song of rippling streams and lowing cattle,
the song of rain on roofs and frogs in the ponds,
the song of wind in trees and the birds at dawn,
and the pulsing song of life in every person
who rejoices in the precious gift of being.
Most precious of all, evoking our most joyful thanks,
is the haunting love song of Christ Jesus
a melody of surpassing beauty,
the harmony of word and deed,
the One whose life, death and resurrection
releases the great hymn of salvation.
Creator and Saviour, you sing among us by your Holy Spirit.
revealing your melody wherever you will,
moving high or low whenever you will,
spreading reconciliation and harmony without limit,
giving us more blessings than we can comprehend
and undergirding each moment with purpose.
Most wonderful God,
may our songs thank you, our deeds praise you,
and our souls forever adore you.
PRAYERS FOR OTHERS
Holy Friend of the earth, if we could take the whole world’s needs and sorrows to heart, we would become crushed by their enormity. As we begin the pray for others, guide us to discern those things we can achieve, and give us the wisdom to leave the remainder in your providential and redeeming hands.
Loving God, with our small assistance or without it, please bless those hordes of people who are hungry, homeless, without family or homeland.
With our assistance or without it, please bless the injured and the diseased, the handicapped and those who suffer grievous mental or emotional illness.
With our assistance or without it, please bless the lonely people, whether they stand isolated in large crowds or whether they timidly hide away from others.
With our assistance or without it, please bless the pained souls who exist without any faith or hope, especially those who today contemplate suicide.
With our assistance or without it, please bless the dying and those who sit with them, and the dead and those who weep for them.
With our assistance or without it, please bless all those people of good will, who try to rectify the world’s ills, and sometimes get abused for their trouble.
God our most Holy Friend, be to all of us a strength in weakness, a light in darkness, a peace in anxiety, a courage in upheaval, and a robust joy in our happiness, Through Christ Jesus our inspiration and guide.
Don’t you know that you are temples of the Holy Spirit?
Go and glorify God in your bodies, which is a most reasonable worship.
With the grace of Christ Jesus, I bless you.
With the love of God, I bless you.
With the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, I bless you.
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.