Monday, January 11, 2016

Walking with God and our Prayers

With All Our Prayers, Walking with God through the Christian Year is a new book published by Eerdmans and written by John B. Rogers, Jr., who is retired after being pastor in four different Presbyterian congregations. Rogers calls this collection "Prayers of the People, or pastoral prayers," culled from the many prayers he and his congregations have shared over the years. He writes that "these prayers focus....intentionally on issues of faith, and on pastoral situations in congregations, in communities, and in the lives of individuals and families."

Rogers invites all readers..."to take an intentional journey" with him and with God through the Christian year. I am always intrigued by Presbyterians who delve deeply into The Book of Common Prayer, as he does, and he makes it easy to follow. Each prayer has a descriptive name on his Contents page, including the names of the special days in the Christian year, followed by special days like: Sunday before Memorial Day, Confirmation, Prayer after September 11, 2001, World Communion Sunday, Reformation Sunday, All Saints' Day, and more.

We have already slipped past Advent, but we can pause and hear what Rogers says about that special time. He writes: "Eternal God, before we speak, even in prayer, we must listen....we remember that the universe exists because you spoke it into being....'let their be light'....we remember that we are because you created us male and female in your image....we remember told us your name: 'I Am....Among you as God'....And now, in Advent, we prepare for the coming of him who bears your name,who is your promise in person, your Word made flesh --- even Jesus Christ our Lord."

There are many practical, useful prayers here. It's as though Rogers knows us and knows what we would pray for. Under the heading Prayers from Deep Within. Rogers says "we are grateful for the gift of prayer," but sometimes we wonder: what should we pray for, who should we pray for? We don't know what to say. We might pray: "O God: to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid..." and then pray "help us to relax,....give us wisdom, perspective, and understanding," and so we pray on as best we can. There are lots of pages on Lent and Easter, with good suggestions for our prayers and a reminder of Ps. 100: "It is he that made us and we are his" (NRSV). This is one of the best books on prayer that I have seen. Highly recommended.

---Lois Sibley