Reform our deformed lives

The words are famil­iar to us and we are filled with yearn­ing.
So we say them glibly, pas­sion­ate­ly, filled with hope—
lib­er­ty, mer­cy, free­dom, release, grace, peace.
We have some fleet­ing notion of what we must have
in order to live our lives ful­ly
And we have some wist­ful cer­ti­tude that these gifts
are giv­en only by you,
you with the many names …
you … holy, mer­ci­ful, just, long-suf­fer­ing, for­giv­ing,
demand­ing, promis­ing.
We gath­er our­selves togeth­er to sub­sume our hopes
under your rich names.

We name you by your name, har­bin­ger of lib­er­ty:
hear our prayers for liberty. 

    We are mind­ful of those caught, trapped, held, impris­oned by sys­tems of enslave­ment and abuse, by ideas and ide­olo­gies that demean and immo­bi­lize, by unre­al hopes and unground­ed fears. We our­selves know much of un-lib­er­ty, too wound­ed, too obe­di­ent, too dri­ven, too fear­ful. Be our mas­sive way of eman­ci­pa­tion and let us all be free at last.”

We name you by your name, pow­er of peace:
hear our prayers for peace. 

    We dare ask for the mid­dle wall of hos­til­i­ty to be bro­ken down, between lib­er­als and con­ser­v­a­tives in the church, between haves and have-nots, between vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors, between all sorts of col­leagues in this place, and in all those are­nas besot with vio­lence, rage, and hate. We know we are not meant for abu­sive­ness, but we stut­ter before our voca­tion as peace­mak­ers. Trans­form us beyond our fear­ful­ness, our timid­i­ty, our exces­sive cer­ti­tude, that we may be vul­ner­a­ble enough to be peace­mak­ers, and so to be called your very own children.

We name you by your name, foun­tain of mer­cy:
hear our prayer for mercy. 

    Our world grows weary of the bat­ter­ing and the vicious cycles that devour us. We seem to have no capac­i­ty to break those vicious cycles of anti-neigh­bor­li­ness and self-hate. We turn, like our peo­ple always have, to you, sin­gle source of new­ness. Wait­ing father, in your mer­cy receive us and all our weary neigh­bors. Remem­ber­ing moth­er, hold us and all our des­per­ate friends. Pas­sion­ate lover, in your mer­cy cher­ish all our ene­mies. Gift giv­er, in your mer­cy embrace all those who are strangers to us, who are your well-beloved chil­dren. Make us, alto­geth­er, new.

Hear our prayers for lib­er­ty, for peace, for mer­cy.
Form us in free­dom and whole­ness and gen­tle­ness.
Reform our deformed lives toward
obe­di­ence which is our only free­dom,
praise which is our only poet­ry,
and love which is our only option.
Our con­fi­dence match­es our need, so we pray to you. Amen.

Writ­ten orig­i­nal­ly for Colum­bia The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary on Jan­u­ary 13, 1994. Excerpt­ed from Awed to Heav­en, Root­ed in Earth: Prayers of Wal­ter Bruegge­mann (pp. 115 – 116), Min­neapo­lis: Fortress Press, 2002.

Pho­to by Shayne Inc Pho­tog­ra­phy on Unsplash

· Last Featured on April 2022

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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