Whiny Brats (or Psalm 24:1)

It well may be that
is a
running around like
a 4-year-old
announcing “Mine! Mine!”
definitely OLD ENOUGH to know better
but still
to try to get away with it.
Which God can,
God is GOD.
Most challenging:
4-year-old God
seems to think that it is fun
to be in a room
with other
(me and you)
who also
run around ridiculously
whining “MINE! MINE!”
and although a caring preschool teacher might say,
“No, it belongs to all of us so we need to share,”
we are bratty kids who know better:
the toys & the crayons
belong to the preschool
just like the world & all that is in it
belong to
which is probably why
we spend so much time
out-shouting God
because when we shout over God
then it’s easier to overlook
the part about being
and we can still
pretend to believe
that everything belongs
to the kid
who gets things

P.S. I totally love kids. And I don’t believe that 4-year-olds are inherently bratty, but sometimes I suspect that adults are. 

Maybe Kinda Sorta

Ultimate Being,
Spectacular Beyond,
you are
like the breath
that inflates my lungs
and reminds my body of peace.

Creative Animation,
Profound Revelation,
you are
like the tree
that extends beyond my vision
and reveals faithfulness that knows no time.

Delightful Abstract,
Surprising Particularity,
you are
like the smile
that renews my soul
and draws me beyond myself.

Writing to God Together

More than many of us would admit, prayer can be a struggle. We worry that we’re not saying the right words or praying for the right things, we internally compare our prayers to others’ more eloquent & poetic prayers, we stress when prayer feels stagnant, we tell ourselves that we’re not disciplined enough in prayer. And sometimes, overcoming our hesitation in prayer really is a matter of discipline … but often it’s a matter of facing our fears of prayer.

How can we tackle our insecurities about prayer? First, try a new prayer style! Just as we all have different learning styles, we all have different affinities for varied styles of prayer. By exploring new prayer styles, we can discover prayer habits that resonate beautifully with our souls and we can test methods of prayer that uncomfortably stretch our spirits. You might gravitate toward meditative prayer while I love using devotional books. You may challenge yourself with the discipline of the Daily Hours, while I play with Praying in Color.

One of my favorite methods of prayer is prayer-writing. With a pen in my hand, I find that I can focus on prayer in refreshing ways, no longer distracted by my grocery shopping list or my church work or the dust on my desk. Writing my prayers also shifts my self-consciousness into creativity; I am no longer captivated by my insecurities about prayer, but rather captivated by the prayer itself coming together on paper before my eyes. My fears are diverted as I enjoy meeting the Word Made Flesh through written words.

In addition to exploring new prayer disciplines, to tackle your fears of prayer gather a small group to pray together. Although praying in a group may seem counter-intuitive in light of our fears (not many of us feel perfectly comfortable praying in front of others!), in fact, studying & practicing & discussing prayer in community can encourage our spirits tremendously. Together we realize that we’re not alone in our prayer struggles. Together we discover moments of grace and delight in prayer. Together we learn from one another’s journeys. Together we take prayer “out of our heads” and we engage prayer in breath & body & conversation & fellowship.

To write prayers in your own small group, I suggest inviting persons who enjoy writing as well as those who are seeking a fresh approach to prayer. Find a regular time to meet together; weekly meetings are best to build rapport in a newly-formed group. Choose a gathering place where everyone has room to write around one table. Sometimes the church is a logical meeting space, but I encourage writing groups to meet in non-church locations; the change of scenery provides a tangible reminder that prayer goes beyond our church walls. (My writing group loves a local tea shop, where hot cups of freshly-brewed tea and warmed muffins delight our senses as we write.)

For more tips on starting a prayer-writing group, and for six weeks of guided writing resources and prayer prompts, download my free Small Group Guide for Writing to God. And you can always drop me a message on this website to ask questions about your prayer-writing small group.


A Front Porch on Martha Street

I’d like to introduce you to a virtual front porch on a beautiful space called Martha Street! Recently launched by an online (and now in-person) friend and colleague, Andrea Pitcher, Martha Street is a gathering place for women seeking spiritual refreshment and fellowship.

Andrea particularly has a heart for women in global missions, women in ministry, women in the military or in military families, women who are providing often-constant spiritual support for those around them but whose own spiritual lives need nourishment & renewal. At Martha Street, Andrea provides warm online community, faith resources, recipe ideas, and even counseling (she has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology).

I’m especially pleased to be a contributor to Martha Street, sharing my weekly prayer-writing prompts (like this one) with the women gathered there. Would you take a moment to visit Martha Street, say “hello” to Andrea, and recommend this site to someone you know who may be blessed by the fellowship at Martha Street? Thanks!

Five Reasons…

…to order Writing to God: Kids’ Edition today:

1. Because fall is coming, and your Christian Ed committee is looking for new resources.

2. Because you want to encourage your grandchild’s or niece’s or nephew’s prayer life.

3. Because The Midwest Book Review called Writing to God: Kids’ Edition “the best news for church educators, parents, and kids since Sunday school picnics were begun” in its April 2012 issue of Children’s Bookwatch.

4. Because you’re looking for some creativity and playfulness in your own prayer life.

5. Because you’re a pastor, and you can tell from the book excerpt that Writing to God: Kids’ Edition can inspire many ideas for leading Children’s Time in worship.