E – Prayers for Thursday

Daily Prayers for Thursday

Solidarity with the poor

–from a Daily Prayer Series by Lawrence Moore, UK

I began looking for a daily prayer series that would nourish me in the sort of spirituality that is necessary to be ‘transformed by the gospel’ and ‘making a difference for Christ’s sake’ (ie life-in-mission). I wanted something that would weekly put me in the place where renewal in the Holy Spirit could happen; where I was engaged with the vital questions posed to faith by our contemporary context (depth experience of God, a habit of prayer and spiritual discipline, global warming, human suffering, and faithful discipleship of Jesus). I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I wrote my own.

In offering them to you, I am conscious of how personal they are. I don’t mean ‘personal’ in the sense of being intimate; I mean it in the sense that they are my words and work for me. I have tried to keep them as free of ‘Church-speak’ as possible; tried to be as honest before God as Jewish Old Testament spirituality encourages us to be, and to make them open-ended and non-prescriptive in the belief that they need to facilitate and create a space in which we can commune with God.

If they work for you, I shall be only too glad – and humbled.

Lawrence Moore, UK

 

Affirmation

I live today because of God, the Giver of Life,
Jesus, the Bread of Life
and the Spirit, the Presence of Life.

Praise and thanksgiving

There are no no-go areas for you, God of the Poor.
You are there,
at home among the hovels and makeshift shelters,
living among the open sewers,
drinking from the poisoned water,
queuing for the single dripping tap,
toiling long hours for a meagre wage
that will never be enough,
agonising over our emaciated, listless children
without the energy to chase the flies from their eyes.

You will not leave them God-forsaken.
You share with them the bitterness of broken dreams,
the gnawing envy of empty stomachs, empty purses, empty hopes.
Their desperation and resignation are yours.
You wonder in disbelief and rage
at the greed which takes so much,
gives so little,
and remains indifferent.

God of heaven,
you have made your home
in the hell we have created.

You do not define your children by their poverty,
but by your presence with them,
proclaim their preciousness.
What we do to these least, we do to you.
When we crucify them with our carelessness,
our indifference,
our greed and our cruelty,
we drive nails into your heart.

You draw us out from the castles in which we have imprisoned ourselves
into the highways and byways
where we find you
and one another.

And in a new fellowship of love,
we become guests at the Feast of Life!

Amen.

Words of Confession

Pause before the prayer, allowing God’s Spirit to search your heart.  Make your own confession.  Pause after the prayer to experience the reality of God’s forgiveness.

I believe that I have a right
to live at the expense of others;
to consume their food,
their livelihood,
their labour,
their future,
their dreams.
Or at least, that is how I live.

I believe that I am happy
when I surround myself with things –
bigger
better
faster
with more advanced specifications.
Or at least, that is how I live.

I believe that I am worthwhile
because of the area I live in,
the number of rooms in my house,
the car I drive,
the size of my bank balance,
the holidays I take,
the importance of my job.
Or at least, that is how I live.

I believe that people are poor
because they are lazy and wicked,
inferior,
embarrassing,
less ambitious than I am,
less caring about their children’s future,
less intelligent,
less productive,
less human.
Or at least, that is how I live.

And because you make your home among the poor,
the dispossessed,
the refugees,
the asylum seekers,
the residents of sink estates,
the street-dwellers and the beggars,
this is what I believe about you, too, Lord Jesus.
Or at least, that is how I live.

Release me from my slavery to my possessions;
my addiction to wealth,
my captivity to consumerism.

Forgive my greed.
Wash away my selfishness.
Open my eyes,
my hands,
my heart,
my wallet,
that I may be the answer to the prayers of the poorest,
and receive from you
the Bread of Life.

Amen.

Words of Intercession

Read the prayers aloud.  At each point, pause to reflect and fill in the names of places and people as appropriate.

I pray for those who will die before my prayer is finished
because they have no food,
no fresh water,
no medicine.

I pray for those who have no home to go to when their day is finished
but who must survive on the streets
or in hostels
or bedsits.

I pray for the children whose innocence was finished before it started
who live on rubbish dumps,
peddle their bodies on the streets,
have been sold into armies by parents who need to feed their families.

I pray your blessing on the people and organisations
whose concern is often so much more real and concrete than mine,
who raise funds and lobby governments,
who put bread into the mouths of the hungry
and make the needy self-sufficient.

I pray that when my prayer is finished
I will be different;
filled with gratitude for all I have
and burning with a hunger for a world in which all shall eat and live.

Blessing

My I be filled with the compassion of the Passionate God,
the righteous anger of the Prophetic Jesus,
the energy and presence of the Powerful Spirit.

Suggested reading for reflection — These are included here for ease, but you may prefer you own favourite translation.

Read following passages aloud.

Isaiah 58: 1-12   New Revised Standard Version

58 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. 2Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

3“Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. 4Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. 5Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to God? 6Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11God will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. 12Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

Luke 12: 13-21

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Luke 16: 19-31

19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Acts 2: 43-47

43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day God added to their number those who were being saved.

John 6: 1-15

6 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Response

No wonder they wanted to make you king, Jesus!
Food for all.
Not just daily bread,
but bread for tomorrow, too …
all their tomorrows.
Survival underwritten.
Life guaranteed.
So little made to go so far.

What government
spends more on food than on defence?
What God
offers divinity
as Bread for Living?