Prayer, the uncommon denominator

“O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet You as the day rises to meet the sun.”

These are the opening words, every day, to the guided worship services in Common Prayer A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals a collaborative publication by Shane Clairborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro from Zondervan Press.

Worshipping at home, or in small groups has taken on new significance during the Covid-19 pandemic. I highly recommend this book as a resource for spiritual renewal, especially in times of crisis. In addition to daily Scriptural references, psalms, and an exhaustive song list, the daily readings also include historical references and quotes from people of faith reminding us that for many of us, the world is always in a time of crisis.

The liturgy encourages a call and response to the day, giving voice to the idea that “Where two or more are gathered together, in My Name, I Am there also.” Today’s is, ”You Who were exalted on a cross: compel us with passion for justice and mercy.”

And the historical reference is a quote from Nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard,
“The first form of rulers in the world were tyrants, the last will be the martyrs. Between a tyrant and a martyr there is of course an enormous difference, although they both have one thing in common: the power to compel. The tyrant, himself ambitious to dominate, compels people through his power; the martyr, himself unconditionally obedient to God, compels others through his suffering, The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins.”

It’s as if these words were written for us today like the line from Psalm 21: “Though they intend evil and devise wicked schemes: yet they will not prevail.”

The closing affirmation urges that the Lord, “Give us discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that instead we may live deep within our hearts. Grant us anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace. Bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so we can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.”

Common prayers. Ordinary .Incense rising with the smoke in our cities.

Will Schmit

Will Schmit is a volunteer outreach prison minister for Lifehouse Church in McKinleyville Ca. He is the author of Head Lines A Sixty Day Guide to Personal Psalmistry and Jesus Inside A Prison Minister's Memoir and Training Manual both available at Amazon Books and The website also includes poetry, ministry updates, and music downloads from Bring To Glory a CD of spoken word with coffee house jazz.

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