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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
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SUNDAY 32    Nov 6-12


Mark 12:38-44                         (Sermon 1: “Four Faces of God.”

                                                                          Sermon 2” “Sniffer Dogs.”)

Hebrews 9: 24-28   

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17   

Psalm 127




The beauty of Christ, the light-sent salvation of God,

and the joy of the Spirit, the abundance of God,

be with you all.

And also with you!


Unless God builds the house, the builder’s labour will be in vain.

Unless God guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.


People without God are like houses without foundation, or like trees without roots.

But those who put their trust in God shall never be confounded.




In the name of our Savour, Christ Jesus, I welcome you.

            We are here because his grace has enfolded us.

In the name of the Spirit of truth, I welcome you.

            We here within a fellowship Divine.

In the name of the loving God, I welcome you.

            We are here to worship and adore.


This is a golden opportunity which the Lord has given.

            We will rejoice and be glad in it.




Let us pray.


What will it take, loving God, for this hour to be a time of wonder and re-creation?

We have little to offer you except our spiritual yearnings, limited faith, and partial love.

In your mercy, please take what we have and are, and by the invasive joy of your Spirit transform this hour of worship into deeper reverence and loftier praise.

Through the name of Christ Jesus we pray.





The love of God awaits our confessions.


Let us pray.


God of Christ Jesus and our God, we confess to you and to ane another that as individuals and as a community we have fallen short of the glory that you want for us.


It is easy for us to become so self-satisfied with the way things are going for us

that we become oblivious to those whose lives have become a misery.


It is easy for us to get so absorbed in our own worries and hurts that we cut ourselves off

from friends who have good things they would like to celebrate with us.


It is easy for us to get bogged down in our sins, or the bad things that happen, and to forget the readiness of grace to suffer our sorrows, share our pain and to bear our sins.


God of almighty grace, we thank you that our ignorance, sin, pride, stubbornness, or guilt, never place us outside your reach. You never shrug your shoulders and turn your back on us, but seek and save everyone who gets lost. We open our hearts and minds to your searching, insistent mercy which wipes away our disgrace and renovates our human dignity. Through Jesus our Saviour. Amen!




Jesus said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” “Come unto me all you who labour and are heaven laden, and I will give you rest.” 

Sisters and brothers, I as a steward of the gospel of Christ, proclaim to you: Your sins are forgiven and all is made new!


Thanks be to God




Mark 12: 38-40


Dear God,

here we are again:

those same kids

who do want to be kind and forgiving

but find ourselves slagging others

rather than facing our own faults.


You have been hacking this stuff

for thousands of years, God!

Don’t you ever get too tired

to bother with us any more?


No, you don't, do you.

You just keep loving and forgiving,

testing us and stretching us,

helping us to exercise our mercy

and making our love muscles grow.


Thanks God,

for never giving up on us.






Unless God is the builder of your home life,

            all your worry and labour are in vain.

Unless God watches over your family,

            being always on your guard will be useless.

You may get up early and go to bed late,

            busy all the time, yet achieve nothing.

You can worry and fret all the day long

            yet gain less than God gives while you sleep.


Children are God’s gift, not a wage that is owed us,

            a baby in the womb is grace beyond reward.

Like arrows of happiness from God’s own hand

            are the children who grow to the fullness of youth.

It’s a happy person whose home is a quiver

            filled with the sharp minds of young people.

Such a person could never buy such assets

            like some petitioner before the courts.

                                                                                                                                    © B.D. Prewer 2003




Mark 12: 41-44


There was a widow of prayer

whose pantry was utterly bare,

when all else was spent

she gave her last cent

as God’s own daughter and heir.


There was a woman of Zion

with nought but her faith to rely on,

as she came to God’s house

rich fools saw a mouse

but to Jesus she was a lion.

                                                                                          © B.D. Prewer 2000




God our true Light, train us to see with more than our eyes, and to hear with more than our ears. Then, with your help, we will draw closer to the Messiah who turned the values of the world upside down, and established love as the most precious treasure. For your name’s sake.





Mark 12:43-44


“This poor widow has put more in than all the others who have made donations to the temple treasury. For they have contributed out of their wealth but she out of her poverty, even everything she had, her very living.”


The nearest we will ever come in this life to seeing the face of God, is when we look with respect on the faces of our fellows; including the faces of the poor and the neglected.


Today two of the Bible readings direct our gaze at two widows, one an immigrant to ancient, rural Israel and one at the time of Jesus. I will add to their good company two more widows, one an Australian aborigine and one Brazilian. As I tell you about them, maybe you will glimpse four of the faces of God.




On one occasion my wife Marie and I had the privilege of being permitted to visit some of the remote aboriginal towns in the “homelands” of NW South Australia. One day our guide wanted us to meet one woman who had befriended him and helped him when he had taken up a teaching position in that small community. She was a widow, aged about 45 years, I would guess.


Meeting with her in that wide land where we were strangers and she was at home, I tried to make conversation, aware of a culture gulf. She happened to mention that the next week she was flying to Hawaii for a conference on the health of indigenous peoples. I remarked (in a way which later I saw as odiously patronising) about what a thrilling experience that would be for her.


Without any rudeness, in fact most graciously, she let me know that she had travelled widely, representing her people at conferences in Europe and the USA, and the Pacific. It turned out she was a brilliant and capable person, whose vision and drive had established health services in that remote part of the Australian Outback.  She was a poor widow in monetary terms, living in a humble dwelling. But she was rich in vision and experience. I was looking on one of the faces of God.


I left her feeling both grateful for the honour of meeting her, and yet most chastened. I repented the chauvinism with which I had started the conversation.


I wondered how often I, and the church, saw the poor (be they widows, the unemployed, asylum seekers, etc) purely as subjects in need of charity, without respecting their innate dignity, or celebrating the gifts they have to offer. How blind are we to the different kind of wealth that these “poor” may possess? How enriched could we be if we recognised one of the faces of God, and became willing learners at their feet?




Last week and this, we have read snippets of the story of Ruth. Ruth, a pagan woman of Moab had got herself involved in what we call “a mixed marriage” with a Jew. He was the son of Naomi and Elimelech, a Jewish family who had gone to live in Moab at the time of famine in Judah.


First Naomi’s husband died, and then Ruth’s. Both were now widows. Naomi decided to return to her homeland, but loving, loyal Ruth would not let her go alone. She travelled with Naomi into foreign Judah, in the region of Bethlehem, where alien Moabites (“wogs” in Aussie slang) were scorned. There, in deep poverty they eked out a bare existence. At the time of barely harvest, widow Ruth followed the reapers, gleaning the stray ears that were left behind from which flour could be ground.


The Bible reveals a God who is on the side of the desperately poor people; like widows, and outsiders such as migrant Ruth. Unless there was an extended family to care for them, their plight was grave. There was no social security net in those days. Again and again God called his people to look after widows and orphans. The law of Moses specifically stipulated that the foreigner, the orphan and the widow had the right to follow the men with the sickle and pick up anything that was missed. Widows must be provided for, not just when the well off people happened to be in a charitable mood, but as a matter of rights.


Ruth qualified on two counts. She was a widow and she was a foreigner. But get this clear: Ruth was not just a receiver but a giver. Her care for her mother-in-law is one of the high points of love in the Old Testament.


This poor widow, a “wog” from Moab, had something to offer the whole Jewish people.  In fact far more to offer than she could ever have realised. As the story unfolds, Ruth marries Boaz. She bears children, one of whose descendants, many centuries later, is a man called Jesus of Nazareth. Look on the face of this “wog” widow, and you will glimpse the face of God.




            Our third widow is the woman Jesus affirmed as she offered to God. her last two cents. All that she had. There were receptacles for the offering rather like trumpets. Big coins, especially gold pieces, made an impressive clatter. Her little coins barely made a tinkle.


This woman was not a person of status. Not the kind of person others might notice. The disciples noticed the wealthy people and the golden gifts they offered. They noticed and were impressed. But the widow and her gift were not memorable. Until Jesus spoke, that is. What Jesus said has made this unnamed widow a celebrity for two millennia.


Jesus affirmed her. He told his disciples her gift was more wonderful than the silver and gold of the rich and famous. As a widow, at least in theory she had the rights that God has endorsed. In practice, her existence in the city must have been precarious.  Yet she was a giver, not just a receiver. She gave all that she had, just as Jesus himself, during these last few days of his life, was steeling himself to do. In giving her all, she provided inspiration to generations that were to come.


In a poem by David Foster are these insightful words:


“Don’t give everything.”

How many times have you heard them say

“Don’t give everything.”

You might think that they

had given everything and lost, but hardly

and thing could be further from the truth.

They lost because they did not give everything.”


The widow did give everything. She did not lose thereby. She was a winner.




The fourth widow is very much in this same Biblical mould. She is poor, but from her poverty has a treasure to offer those around her.


It is the late Dom Helda Camara, that extraordinary Brazilian bishop with a wholehearted respect and love for the poor, who provides us with this story. One day he took a French visitor to visit a typical favella — a shanty town. The French woman was overcome with the primitive conditions and the poverty. As they paused outside the hut of an aged widow named Severina, the visitor exclaimed: “What misery! What wretched poverty!”


Severina did not speak French but she picked up the meaning of the words for misery and wretchedness. She spoke indignantly to the bishop: “Please tell the lady that I do not consider myself in any way to be wretched. I have riches that all the money in the world cannot buy. I have my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, arms, legs feet and head; I have my heart and above all my faith. This I would not sell for all the money in all the banks of the world.”


The French lady had come to find out what a charitable society back in France might do for the poor. Instead it was the poor that did something for her; challenging her to the roots of her being. In the favella she looked on one of the faces of God.




I would like to have a snappy conclusion to this theme. But I haven’t. All I have is God’s passionate love and respect for the poor and the outsider. We are commanded to take up their cause with similar respect and love. But it’s never just one way traffic; they have a special ministry for us, if only we are not too arrogant to hear it, nor too dumb to realise that we might indeed be looking on some of the faces of God.





Mark 12: 38-40


Don’t you enjoy watching sniffer dogs in action at airports? They go about their work so enthusiastically, and with no malice to their clientele, even those offending ones.  Such simple enjoyment and good will can shame us on those days when we go about our duties with bad grace.


Don’t you be offended if I compare Jesus to a sniffer dog. I don’t think our Lord would be offended; ‘not at all, at all’ as our Irish friends might say.


Not for a moment am I suggesting that Jesus was into sniffing out illegal drugs. Although a certain amount of “hash” may well have been smoked among some of his clientele- those riff raff with whom he sometimes went to dinner.


If such were the case, it was never his major concern. His focus was not symptoms but causes.




Yet Jesus did have a sharp nose for sniffing out hypocrisy.


In truth, it can be said that nothing seemed to offend his senses more than the rank insecurity of those who should know better. Even more adept than a sniffer dog homing in on cunningly hidden heroin or cocaine, Jesus could detect hypocrisy from 50 meters away.  Close up, it revolted him, and made him sick.


Think carefully about this. Jesus was not a ‘busy body’ sniffing out every hint of local scandal. He was not quick to be offended by the common sins that these days ignite the so called “moral right” with proud indignation and caustic condemnation. He was not a man who lobbied for “two strikes and you are out’ legislation. He was not always trying to find fault with young people, nor did he despise those whose lives were devastated with alcoholism. Nor did he froth at the mouth concerning the sins stemming from misuse of human sexuality.


The one thing that smelled monster-rotten to him, the thing that made his nose itch until it drove him to frustration, was the hypocrisy of those who preened themselves as moral, righteous, God-fearing citizens. Their “play-acting” assailed his sensibilities more than would the decaying carcase of a complete tyrannosaurus rex.


Matthew’s Gospel devotes 36 fiery verses to this theme. Mark limits himself to just 3 verses. But they are powerful ones;

            Beware of the religious scholars who like to walk around in long robes, and in the

            market places to be greeted with praise.

            They want the best seats in the synagogue, and at public feasts they expect the seats of             honour.

            These same men use their position to devour the houses of defenceless widows,

            yet put on pious pretence by saying very long prayers.

            These are the people who will receive the severest condemnation.


You will have noticed that the thing smelled most foul to Jesus, was religious flamboyance which placed a veneer over social injustices. The scribes were the lawyers. They preyed on the vulnerable. They knew how to manipulate the law to enrich themselves. Defenceless souls, such as widows, were at their mercy. Their get rich schemes would all be legal, I have no doubt. But their lives were both morally and spiritually rotten as hell.





If you have a nose sensitised by Jesus, you will not be able to totally ignore lesser injustices and exploitation of your fellows.

However, if you are key yourself in on the main target,  then in Christ’s name disregard the odour of tax cheats and the cheap scent of those who sell their bodies for sex, go beyond the drug addicts, and rise above the suspicion which some of you have of ethnic subversion. Go for the biggest “drug bust” of them all; go for hypocrisy.


Cartoonists have a good nose for scenting hypocrites. Thank God for the insight and skill and the courage of the nobler of our newspaper cartoonists.  They perceive the ludicrous, and invite us to laugh its pretensions out of court. They lampoon the double-speak of many politicians, or those in the legal fraternity, the world of industry and business, and amongst religious bureaucracy. They get away with as much as their editors and the media moguls will allow. Some of them have suffered being sacked for their courage.


Jesus of Nazareth was like a cartoonist (creating word pictures rather than pen drawings) as he “sent up” those in positions of wealth and power.


Speaking to his disciples after a dialogue with a sad, young rich ruler:

            It is easier for w rich man to squeeze through the eye of a needle

 than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.



To the religious elite:

            You are like kids at play who get the sulks when you don’t get your way. You whinge: “We             played funerals but you would not mourn. Then we played a horn pipe but you would        not dance.



To the scribes and Pharisees, who meticulously tithed on even the mint and basil from the garden, yet ignored things like justice, mercy and faith:

            You want to be leaders, yet you can’t seem to see yourselves. You carefully strain from your drink    every midge, yet without a thought you swallow a camel.

How’s that for a cartoon?


Or that other classic versus hypocrisy:

             You are like a man who does not realise he has a two metre plank stuck in his eye. Yet he             presumes to indict a neighbour: Hey! You’ve got a speck of dust in your eye. you must      let me get it out.


Like cartoonist, Jesus had a nose for humbug. He wanted us to be delivered from the delusions we create for ourselves and attempt to project for others to see. He yearned that humanity might live openly and honestly, without affectation. matching our deeds to our words. His followers were encouraged to be discerning souls who concentrated on the major issues, not pursuing a nit-picking agenda.




Our first step is not to appoint ourselves as sniffer dogs for God, who zealously pursue the hypocrisy in others.


There is another urgency. The first place to sniff is in our own baggage. I cannot presume to investigate and judge you and your baggage, but my Lord Jesus Christ insists that I must have the faith to judge mine.


I have a hunch, conceived in many sad and happy human encounters, that the greater our own culpability, the more nit-picking we are likely to become. And that the more honest we are about our own baggage, the more compassionate we can be towards the bewildered, lost and broken souls around us.


Watch out for self deceit. Self deceit is likely to occur amongst those try to balance high ideals with a mediocre performance. For the idealist, failure is not a welcome feeling. Some therefore attempt to hide from their own failures.


Therefore, we need to know ourselves better than anyone else except God. We need to ‘fess up” to our blunders, to stare them out no matter what plausible excuses our sins may parade. By faith we can be liberated from endless equivocating and hiding.


I repeat:  we need to “have the faith” to be honest with ourselves. Faith liberates. Faith in a God of generous and patient love, means freedom. In bitter contrast, to judge yourself without faith in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, will only lead to depression and despair.


We lucky people, who have been found by the redeeming love of God in Christ Jesus, can dare to be self honest. We don't need excuses.


Forget about sniffing about in the baggage of others, for unlike genial Labradors, very few humans can do it without malicious intent. Our own contraband is enough to handle. Look then in our own luggage. Don’t be afraid, look. No sin is to minor for Christ to handle, nor is any sin too black for him to cleanse.


We are the lucky people. We can afford to be open with ourselves. A pardon has been lodged in our file. We don't have to worry about either about the religious equivalent of either customs officers or the Federal Police.  God in his only true Son Jesus has paid in advance for our redemption. We can afford to freely know ourselves as we truly are, and not to lose heart.


There are too many conscientious Christians who have one nagging fear: One day some member of their church might read the unsavoury secrets of their hearts. They fear: “If only they knew what I am really like on the inside.” Now that is sad and unnecessary. Sad and a waste of energy.


Know yourself in the healing presence of Christ Jesus, and you will have no need to cover up. That does not imply we should need to run around our church community shouting aloud our sins. I assure you, that is not a good idea.


However, if for your own peace of mind, you need to tell the truth to some loving listener, then, then please select a caring, respectful fellow sinner and do so. It may be a truism, but confession is in-deed good for the soul.


If you take on the role of sniffer dog for your own baggage, perhaps that may be to much to cope with on your own.  If it is, please I beg you, find a fellow Christian to assist you.




I am more than ready to hear you out, and then to affirm with you the fullness of Christ’s liberating grace. But if you find me off-putting (and some of you will of necessity decide I am not your idea of the suitable pastor) then in God’s name, go wider. Go to a pastor or priest of another denomination if you want to.


Or maybe it is one member of your own family, who can be that pastor to you?

If there is, then avail yourself of the blessing of confession.


In a moving letter I received last year, a lay preacher told me of his dying father who asked his own son to hear his confession. He wrote me that it was one of the most precious experiences of his life. Knowing that lay preacher as I do, I have no doubt he would have helped his dad find the peace of Christ.


I conclude be quoting again the words of our Lords about greed and injustice hiding behind religious pretension.  And I will follow it by celebrating those people in the parishes where I have served, who have exhibited a very different spirit


            Beware of the religious scholars who like to walk around in long robes, and in the

            market places to be greeted with praise.

            They want the best seats in the synagogue, and at public feasts they expect the seats of             honour.

            These same men use their position to devour the houses of defenceless widows,

            yet put on pious pretence by saying very long prayers.

            These are those who will receive the greatest condemnation.


Cherish those Christians who move unobtrusively around the market places, and greet the       humblest person with unqualified warmth and respect.

            These do not push for the most prominent seats in church, and at parish luncheons they    do not expect to be waited on.

            Such men and women use their own Christ-blessed humanity to liberate others from             anxieties and secret shame.

            Their prayers may be short, but they come from the heart.

            These are the people who have the faith to be honest to God, and their unpretentious             example is         our inspiration.




            Let Everything Thank God— “Australian Prayers” (revised) page 103

            © B.D. Prewer and Open Book Publishers:





God of love, have mercy on the world of human affairs where the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged seems to be ever widening.


We pray for all victims of this injustice:

     For the sick and the maimed who cannot afford the latest in medical technology.

     For the hungry millions who have been denied the benefits of genetically improved grains,      fruits and meats.

     For indigenous minorities whose health and education prospects lag far behind the general population.

     For the unemployed who have been cast aside by the electronic revolution in industry and commerce.

     For the second and third generation of refugees who are still living in camps that we set up in the previous century.

     For small nations who are being exploited or shut out of markets by the strong and aggressive.

     For the common people who cannot afford to pay the cost of obtaining justice in courts of law.

     For the poor who cannot afford to pay the cost for the best medical and surgical help.


God of justice and mercy, keep your church faithful and compassionate. Do not permit us to become so concerned with our own weaknesses that we neglect to love our neighbour even as Christ Jesus has loved us. In his name we pray. Amen

                                                                           From “Prayers for the twenty-first Century”

                                                                           © B.D. Prewer & Open Book Publishers




Learn these lessons well from your Creator and Redeemer:


            Unless God builds the house, the builder’s labour will be in vain.

            Unless God guards the city, the watchmen stay awake in vain.

            There are those who give a little out of their wealth,

but others who out of their poverty give everything.

            Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God.


Go out into the world with courage and in good humour, for the liberating grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the enfolding love of God, and the enabling fellowship of the Holy Spirit, will be with you now and evermore.





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My Best Mate,  (first edition 2013)

ISBN 978-1-937763-78-7: AUSTRALIA:

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Australian Prayers

Third edition May 2014

ISBN   978-1-62880-033-3 Australia

Jesus Our Future

Prayers for the Twenty First Century

 Second Edition May 2014

ISBN 978-1-62880-032-6

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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.

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.