Category Archives: Prayers

The seeking soul searches on and on

What are you giving up for Lent?

What are you giving up for Lent?

Now that we have entered the season of Lent, what shall we give up?

I mulled this over and thought about the term “to give up”.

Our relationship with God is a two way flow – yet much of our lives is spent thinking about how much we receive FROM God, rather than how much we give TO God.

Blessings flow down to us, but how much goes the other way?
How much do we give back to God?

So when we speak of “giving up” does it really mean abstinence from something?

If I abstain from something I normally enjoy, such as chocolate, wine, or watching television, what does that really say about me and what does it say to God?

It seems I am saying “I know these things are potentially harmful to ME or a waste of MY time, so temporarily I will stop them”.

Isn’t that thinking more about myself than thinking about God?

What would God want me to give up? Does God care if I eat chocolate?

Perhaps we have the term “giving up” all wrong.

Perhaps the answer is not about abstinence during Lent based on an idea of giving something up FOR God, but about give up something TO God.

Every Sunday we say to God “we offer ourselves to you as a living sacrifice”, but what does that really mean to us?

To me, this is a very confronting thing to say, because it means I am offering to put myself at God’s disposal, to be used as he wishes.

Not something I really feel I can consciously do at all times, but a worthy goal to aim for.

I think that is the ultimate sacrifice that we are asked to make as Christians – to give UP TO God.

Paul writes in Romans 12 that we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice, not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds so that we can understand what it is that God finds good and what he wants us to do with all the blessings he give to us.

During Lent, as we contemplate the meanings of Easter, we learn again that the key to living is found in dying.

If you really want to live you must come to that place where you die – completely die out to your own will so that you can truthfully say, “From this point forth, not my will, but Thine be done.”

That is the key to real living.

To die out to my own selfish will and to say “For me, to live is to live in Christ.” The only way to live is to die.

So, rather than Lent being a time of self-control, we can look on it as a time of acknowledging God-control.

My challenge during Lent is to give up self-control and learn to allow God to be in control – giving up TO God.

It is customary, Lord

to give something up

during the season of Lent.

What would you have me do without?

I who have so much.


Cream cakes?




The list is endless

and I could give up all those things

for the span of 40 days

quite easily and almost painlessly.

But what difference would it make

other than making me feel ‘holier’

that my friend who makes no such sacrifice?

What would you have me do without?

I who have so much





I fear before I ask,

that the answer might be ‘yes’

and the giving up

would be all too real, Lord.

It would be difficult,



a real cross to carry for 40 days,

and more?


Thinking along these lines made me remember Matthew 22:15-22 – the passage about paying tax to Caesar.

“Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians.

Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.” [Matthew 22:15-22]

The Pharisees aim was to trap Jesus into a rebellious reply.

Taxes during the time were levied on people who are not Roman citizens. The Israelites hated this. They hated Roman tax. They were anti-government. But they also know that it is lawful to obey authority – under the governing human laws.

The Herodians thought it was right to pay taxes. They were pro government. Pro Caesar.

That means whether Jesus gives a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, he would upset on side or the other. It seemed like a no win situation; a choice between two evils.

But Jesus confounded them by giving an extraordinary answer, an answer that we could never have thought of.

He answered with the obvious and yet the answer is also an elusive one.

Showing them a denarius, He simply asked: “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” and it was obvious who really owns the coin.

But why did Jesus have to add ‘and to God what is God’s’ – this is not really part of the question is it?

At first I thought Jesus was only trying to add God into the picture. But maybe Jesus was waiting for someone to ask “What is God’s?”

If he had been asked that, he would have answered “Where does God’s image lie?”

So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them. “ – Genesis 1:27

Give to God that which is God’s. You owe Him yourself.

Father of all,

we give you thanks and praise

that when we were still far off

you met us in your Son and brought us home.

Dying and living, he declared your love,

gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.

May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life;

we who drink his cup bring life to others;

we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.

Keep us in this hope that we have grasped;

so we and all your children shall be free,

and the whole earth live to praise your name.


Pray For Paris

May we all be aware of the desire for peace

In East and West, in North and South.

May peace abide among us, in every heart

In people, communities, and in nations.

This is our earnest prayer.

May peace be unto all!


Left Over Right and Under

Once again I have foolishly cut the twine

Binding my heart to God and God to mine

Yet once again he proffers forth his end

Inviting me to to tie it up again.

left over right and under

One end in God’s hand, one in mine

Together we work hard to recombine

I know my sins will cut it every time

But always he will seek to re-entwine

left over right and under – right over left and through

And every time the thread is knotted tight

It gets a little shorter, as it might

Bringing me closer to God, until I see

It is also bringing God closer to me.

left over right and under – right over left and through

makes the knot stronger, tidy, tighter and true



What is Prayer?

I think prayer is sometimes a misunderstood word and can be confused with worship (veneration) and meditation (listening).

The Latin root word is precar meaning something lent to be returned later, and from which we also get words such as precious (valuable and undeserved) and precarious (relying upon another).

Prayer is rooted in the concept of grace and dependence.

In French it became prierius which refers to the idea of something being dependent on the good grace of somebody else.

This helps to make more sense of the Hebrew word Tefilah (תפילה) which is usually translated as prayer.

Tefilah is an intimate sharing of heart and soul – communion – reaching deeper and deeper and finding God in that extreme honesty.

Tefilah is derived from the root Pe-Lamed-Lamed and the word l’hitpalel, meaning:

“to judge oneself”!

This word origin provides insight into the purpose of prayer. The most important part of any prayer is the introspection it provides, the moment that we spend looking inside ourselves, seeing our role in the universe and our relationship to God.

Prayer is 2 way communication between yourself and God and it doesn’t need to be vital, important stuff. It can be as banal as most Facebook chatter but it is rooted in the concept that we talk to God because we know that we are utterly dependent upon him for our existence and, just as we talk to humans upon whom we are dependent, we get joy from the communication.


We talk to God with extreme honesty, and sometime that honesty takes time and courage to discover.

We sometimes have very powerful self-protective barriers that can hide the truth from ourselves and these can take considerable time and energy to break down.

God is so often described as TRUTH, it seems redundant to again assert that God is Truth.

Yet that is where God is to be found, in the truth, in the real and the objective core.

So when I prayer, I pray to be enlightened by the truth, even when it is painful, and I rub away diligently at the dirty marks and smudges that hide the truth from me.

I pray in order to judge myself, and in doing so, I am set free by the truth, and there is God.


Oh God, why is it so easy to criticise?
To see the faults in others
and find them irritating
even impossible?

And why is it so hard
to see the good in some?
To see past a rampant ego
to the fragile soul it is protecting?

For defenses are never pretty.
They are not meant to encourage us
to want to venture inside.
They are prickly, spiky things,
hard and topped with boiling oil
designed to repel.

So often I need help
to see past the defenses
to the delicate treasures inside.
For often the strongest battlements
hide the most fragile hearts.

I am Sad



Dear God, I am sad today
Something in my world is not as I would like it.
My sadness is as a curtain between me
and the joy that I know is there beyond.
Help me to draw back the curtain, to push it aside.
Hold the curtain for me, dear God

A Prayer about Prayer

How can I be sure I am doing the right thing?
How can I know that my actions and my decisions are what you truly desire, Lord?
Help me to thrust aside my own ego
that ego that makes me selfish and proud
that ego that expects reward for my goodness.
Help me to understand that none but you is good
and listen with an open heart and mind to you when I pray.
For you have promised to always hear us when we pray
but our prayers must be for the common good or for the good of others
not just wishes for our selfish desires.
So we are told to “pray in Jesus name”.
Help me to understand better each day what that truly means.
Help me to align myself with Jesus and pray as he would pray,
not that my will, but that your will be done.
Then will all things truly be possible.
So heal me, Lord
make me whole
but not for my own sake
but so that I may be fit to serve you
and to serve others
for your sake.
I truly ask, in Jesus precious name.