Pray with me (or else!)


Every Sunday or Monday morning I sit down, close my eyes, and do Ye Oldye Communing with God. In that exceptionally rich moment a prayer comes to me. I then write down that prayer, which I send out to subscribers to my John’s Prayer for the Week newsletter.

I don’t make those prayers available anywhere but through that newsletter. But by way of introducing the newsletter (which is only five weeks old), here is … well, the prayer I sent out today:

Dear God,

This week, let us remember that we are not meant to be passive recipients of your love, but rather active participants in its ongoing earthly manifestation. It’s so easy for us to think of you as way up there in heaven somewhere, complete and all-powerful, and of ourselves, meager and humble, rooted as we are in the dirt from which we arose, as being barely able to comprehend your magnificence, let alone add anything to it.

And while certainly a true enough aspect of it, that is not a full conception of our relationship with you. Yes, in God you are our Father (and, lest we forget, our Mother). But those of us who are Christian understand that in Jesus you also became our very dear friend. And being your friend means being your partner. And being your partner means happily accepting your work and passion as our own.

This week, God, let us remember the degree to which you depend upon us to help you bring into this world as much love as possible. Help us remain cognizant of our indispensable role in life as agents of your benevolence, of your kindness, of your sacrifice, of your desire for all people to know that you love nothing so much as you do them, just as they are.

And here’s the one for the week before that:

Dear God,

This week, let us remember that at any given moment of our lives we are, exactly as we are, perfectly fine: that we don’t have to be any stronger, smarter, kinder, wiser, happier, confident, or successful than we already are.

You incarnated yourself as Jesus Christ as the ultimate means of letting us know that, as you yourself said on the cross, it is finished.

On the day of your crucifixion you proved to us, beyond question, that we are okay. That we are safe. That we are loved. That you know, understand, and even find endearing our weaknesses and shortcomings, and find them absolutely no barrier to our ongoing reconciliation to you.

You love us, exactly as we are.

This week, let us remember this, and so love ourselves just a little bit more.

The responses I’ve thus far received to the weekly prayer have been extremely … well, here’s one just in this morning:

I wanted to take a moment to say how much your weekly prayer means to me. Its unlike any other written prayers I’ve seen, and certainly unique to many of the uttered prayers I’ve heard over my life. They mean something to me, as often they mirror things I too am thinking of.

It’s more us being privy to your conversation with God, instead of the person, in reality, speaking to us, with God being the bystander. (I’ve long tuned out that sort of “prayer”—which means I’ve spent so much time daydreaming, or trying to hold my temper, or wondering what was happening with a football game.)

Thank you so much.

So that sort of response has been letting me know that the prayers are … what I thought they were.

I also do a monthly newsletter, imaginatively titled John’s Monthly Newsletter, in which I talk about stuff personal to me. (The one for this month was mostly about what my father’s recent passing has meant to my Actual Financial Life—and what that means for my creative life for the coming year.) In my monthly newsletter I also do book giveaways, because … well, because they’re fun to do.

If you’d like to receive either or both of my newsletters, sign up here. If you know anyone whom you think might also like to receive one or the other, please forward them this post. Remember that you can always unsubscribe to either newsletter with the click of a button. But don’t. Because then I’d have to hunt you down and kill you.

Har! Pastor jokes! Sort of.

No, but seriously: if you already subscribe to one or both of my newsletters, and want to help out with it/them, do me a favor. Assuming you like it/them, please leave a comment to that effect on the newsletters’ sign-up page. (I didn’t realize until this morning that so far I’ve had comments to that page turned off.) That way others will be encouraged to give one/both of the newsletters a try. And that’s good, because … well, because the more people we pray with, the better. Thank you for that help and encouragement. (Oh: and if you subscribed to but haven’t been receiving either newsletter, try looking in your Spam/Bulk email folder. I think sometimes they end up there since they’re coming from a website——rather than a person.)

(And also, by the way, a great thanks to those of you who were kind enough this past weekend to leave me Happy Birthday messages on my Facebook page. Those meant a lot to me. I really appreciated each and every one of them. Thank you again for those day-makers.)

(Oh: and the pic is of me when I spoke at a church a while back.)

All right. Here’s to you, and to us. May each of our weeks be better than the one before it.

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  • Julie

    Hi John,

    Huge fan!!

    I’d like to comment on this week’s prayer. I agree that our prime activity as Christians (or just humans!) is to love. However I don’t think God needs us to, rather we need to. God invites us into his work and allows us to be a part of his transforming the world into the great place it is intended to be. He could very easily do it all on his own if he chose to. I see it as a privilege to walk along side God as he enters into people’s lives and I am equally transformed as I permit myself to do this. I am not sure I’d like to have God need me but I love that he invites me.

  • Marilee Ruebsamen

    Hard to believe. We are, indeed kin. Or, you’ve hacked my posts. Be blessed for sharing as I am in receiving your prayers.

  • Actually, I was very careful never to say anything about God “needing” us. I wrote that he depends upon us to manifest his love in the world. A subtle but I thought important distinction–which I appreciate you appreciating.

  • Julie

    To follow up on my post below:

    From Psalm 50, Israel thought they could win God’s favor through burnt offerings. They missed the point that God called them to do that for their sake, not his. The problem when we assert that God needs us is that we make ourselves indispensible, critical to God’s work in this world. This is a slippery slope to extraordinary and damaging hubris.

    “Listen, my people, and I will speak;

    I will testify against you, Israel:

    I am God, your God.

    8 I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices

    or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.

    9 I have no need of a bull from your stall

    or of goats from your pens,

    10 for every animal of the forest is mine,

    and the cattle on a thousand hills.

    11 I know every bird in the mountains,

    and the insects in the fields are mine.

    12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,

    for the world is mine, and all that is in it.

    13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls

    or drink the blood of goats?

    14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,

    fulfill your vows to the Most High,

    15 and call on me in the day of trouble;

    I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

  • Okay, well, again, I made a point of not saying that God needs us.

  • Kaitlyn Murray

    Hi John! I just found you this week, and today,s Weekly Prayer was the first I’ve received, and it resonated with me more than any prayer I’ve ever heard in Church! Everything you write not only amazes me, but inspires me. I’ve been struggling with faith for years because it made no sense to me that a God who is supposed to be so loving would condemn us for so much. But then I found your page, and was blown away by the acceptance, the open-mindedness, the compassion, and above all, the LOVE that you put forth to everyone who reads what you have to say! Knowing that there ARE so many people out there who believe that God truly is all loving, and that we should follow his example to love equally and unconditionally, has helped me just in this past week find a closer bond with God, and it feels amazing!

    In a nutshell, I just wanted to thank you, so very much. You have given me the nudge I needed to walk closer with Him, and for that I am truly grateful! Bless you!

  • Kerry

    I totally get what you mean and LOVED today’s prayer.

    It reminded me of your interaction last week that you shared with us in your previous post.

    It also reminded me of this story.

    I love reading about those God connections and hope I am playing a part in some too.

  • I think what John is saying in that little word “depend” is not remotely close to a inadequacy on God’s part to do what God wants done. Rather I think it is God giving us the task of displaying love, mercy, gratitude, etc…entrusting us to be the walking, talking demostrations of those attributes. God tells us “Hey, I got this little thing for you to do? Up to it?”

    We who are so lousy at it, being giving the task…no the privilege of sharing God’s love. Its daunting, yet the joy, the peace, the love that just grows from the attempts are so worth it.

  • Kaitlyn Murray

    Well said!

  • Dandhman

    I just found this & love them. They’re open letters to God!