Prayers for Pastors

Would we open the doors?

Dear God,

I ask myself,

Would we open the doors
On a Friday night
And shelter protestors?

Or would we stop short,
Worried about the police,
Or angry neighbors?

Would we turn off the lights,
Draw the blinds,
Hide in the office?

Or would we be ready
With water and cookies,
And first aid kits?

Would we welcome strangers,
For Your sake,
And keep them safe?

O God,
who opens doors,
I hope so.

(Offered with thanksgiving for Central Reform Congregation and University United Methodist Church in St. Louis and their hospitality to protestors this weekend.)

Prayers for Pastors

In that moment (a prayer for pastors)

Dear Holy

in that moment
when we rise
to speak

(words they may not want to hear)

in that moment
when we pause
to look

(and see faces we cannot read)

in that moment
when we feel
the mood

(and whether it agrees with ours)

in that moment
when we know
we can’t

(do it the way we have always done it before)

move us past
the way we do things
in all the other moments

to the words
of Your Mouth
and the meditations
of Your Heart


Prayers for Pastors, Reflectionary

When we come down again (a prayer for pastors)

Holy One,

We have been to the high places,
the extreme edges of bliss,
the far reaches of where-to-find-you,
the mind-bending moments of truth,
the spill of something ineffable,
the fragrance of words-can’t-describe.

We have been there,
most of us, once
(or twice – the three-plus
attenders being mystics),
if that. Some
still wait for a trip
to the mountaintop.

We felt

We said things,
possibly laughable.

And then it was over.
The moment passed.
The brightness dimmed.
Clothes, faces, sounds
returned to normal.

I guess You know
we need You even more
when we come down again.

Please, be with us,
down here on the ground,
where we need healing,
and truth-telling,
and a way to make You real
to those who need You most.


For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Prayers for Pastors, Reflectionary

I try to be the best (a prayer for pastors)

I try to be the best
at everything

(if not always)

to prepare the finest sermon
to pray the deepest prayers
to lead with calm confidence

to call down Your Spirit
on the world on the church
as no one ever did before

I try to be the best
at everything

(usually I fail)

to devise the proper approach
to evoke the needed feeling
to illuminate the truth

to bring in Your Commonwealth
of Love single-handed
as if no one else were trying

I try to be the best
at everything

(forgetting there is grace)

to try a new way
to fail miserably
to try again and again

Thank you for that


Prayers for Pastors

Make us chain-breakers (a Christmas prayer for pastors)

chain-breakersHoly One,

The stars may be shining
as we head home
bleary-eyed tonight,
some of us to wassail alone,
others to search for the
Triple A batteries,
or sleep briefly, alarms
set for worship tomorrow.

Keep us focused on
things that matter,
letting go of
imperfect orders of service,
secular piano solos,
descants on our nerves,
parking lot traffic jams,
and attendance numbers.

(It’s a Saturday night.)

Give us prophet’s voices,
unafraid to speak your truth
even when it hurts,
even when it hurts us.
Make us chain-breakers
and peace-makers
on this holy night,
every day and night.

We pray in your name,

Prayers for Pastors

Why so slowly? (a prayer)

Luther and his 95 Theses, by Ferdinand Pauwels (found at Wikimedia, Public Domain)
Luther and his 95 Theses, by Ferdinand Pauwels (found at Wikimedia, Public Domain)


In my mind there is a form things should take:
the church, the world, my life.
I think, “If only I could dictate,
even for a day,
surely things would get better.

People would behave
(the way I think they should)
and no one would be cruel
and we would all live in harmony,
no doubt with flowers in our hair.

I’m laughing at myself now,
but I have to ask something.

Why do you let things unfold so slowly?

I want to believe in your patient work,
but I am impatient.
My life seems short, too short
to work much change,
to transform anything.

You call me to ministry,
but it is full of trivia and typos.

Help me to see the longer arc,
not just demands
nailed to the door,
but a change of hearts,
a reforming of spirits.


Prayers for Pastors

Storm Surge (a prayer for pastors)

In the eye of a hurricane there is quiet, for just a moment, a yellow sky.”
(Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hurricane” in “Hamilton: An American Musical”)

Holy One,
Storms surge beyond human-made barriers.

Waves break beyond their bounds,
and winds blow heavily,
destroying homes and taking lives.

We pray for the injured,
the homeless, and the bereaved.
Have mercy, Lord.

Storms surge due to human action.

Words break beyond old norms,
and arguments spin out,
distressing minds disturbing peace.

We pray for our leaders,
the reasonable, and the reckless.
Have mercy, Lord.

Storms surge in human hearts.

Wounds break open again,
and memories burn,
tears are shed,
or worse, held back.

We pray for ourselves,
our hearts, and our spirits.
Have mercy, Lord.