Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Graduation Prayer

I attended the graduation ceremony for Ouachita Baptist University a week ago.  (Go Tigers!)  I was pinch-hitting for the Chairman of the Ouachita Board who couldn’t make it.  My one responsibility was to say a prayer over the graduates.  Several people have since asked me for a copy of that prayer.  That has motivated me to post that prayer to my blog.

So, in this graduation season, here is a prayer that might spark your own prayers for the graduates you know and love …


Father, thank you for Ouachita Baptist University.  Thank you for faithful faculty administration and staff who love the students and work for their best.  Thank you for these graduates and for the education they’ve received and the lifelong friendships they’ve forged here.

Lord, as these graduates commence into their future, would you give them …
·         gratitude enough to remember from whence they’ve come
·         dreams enough to discern and live the great dream you have for each one
·         courage enough to try new things
·         skills enough to succeed
·         persistence enough to stay with it
·         joy enough to stay positive
·         friends enough to know they’re not in their journey alone
·         wisdom enough to give their lives to kingdom things that last forever
·         hunger and thirst enough to keep them in Scripture and prayer and righteousness and   church
·         trouble enough to keep them always leaning into you
·         peace enough to rest in you
·         hope enough not to let disappointments get them down for long
·         love enough to be a blessing to many
·         faith enough to keep their eyes on Jesus in good times and in bad
·         and desire enough to do all they do for your great glory.

And now, Jesus, as they launch into the next steps of their lives, please go before them as leader and guide, behind them as redeemer and love, above them as provider and guard, below them, as supporter and strength, beside them as companion and friend, and within them as Savior and Lord.  In your name, amen.

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Mother's Day Prayer

For the first time in I can’t remember when, I didn’t preach on Mother’s Day.  We focused on the issues of foster care and adoption, so our Youth Pastor, Bill Newton, whose family provides foster care, seemed like the right person to preach the sermon.  For me it would have been words alone.  For Bill it was word and life experience.  He did a great job.  Our congregation will grow in our commitment to foster kids and support those who do.

So I didn’t preach, but I prayed.  I spent some time fashioning a prayer for Mother’s Day.  Rarely have I had more people comment on a prayer.  I struck a nerve in some.  And I think I know why.  If your family is healthy, Mother’s Day is a great day.  If your family is hurting, Mother’s Day is a day you just want ignore or survive.  I loved my mother and she loved me, but our relationship wasn't perfect.  She was probably the most formative influence in my life, most of it good.  But our relationship was a bit complicated by family circumstances and our own stubbornness.  Mother's Day stirred a variety of emotions in me, not all of them the best kind.  So I tried to pray the range of emotions people brought with them to worship.  Here’s my prayer.  I hope it encourages you.


We thank you, Father God, that you understand mothering too.  We thank you for the image in Isaiah where you described yourself as shepherd holding your lambs near your bosom.  And we thank you for that time where Jesus wept over Jerusalem and said, “How I have longed to gather you under my wings as a hen gathers her chicks.”  You understand mothering too.  You sure picked a good one for your son Jesus.

So, on this Mother’s Day we remember our mothers in prayer. 

For those who know the joy of motherhood and find parenting a delight, we ask that you deepen their joy.

For those who long to be mothers, yet for whatever reason cannot, we pray that you would help them fill their empty arms with a child somehow, some way.

For those who are brokenhearted over wayward children, children who died too soon, or the grief of miscarriage, we pray for comfort, peace, and the confidence that you do all things well and can bring good out of sorrow.

For those who have fostered and adopted children, caring for the least of these, may they find joy in doing for those children what you do and have done for us.  Give them patience and understanding, and peace.

For single moms who feel like the carry the whole load of parenting, please give them strength made perfect in their weakness, and the auxiliary help they need.

For those who are challenged by difficult children marked by disabilities or behavioral problems, we pray for wisdom, insight, patience, perseverance, and a sense of your presence in their struggle.  Please give such mothers enough victories to keep them joyful in their parenting.

And we also pray this morning for those for whom Mother’s Day is a difficult day.  Some are missing their mothers who have passed in death.  Others have difficult relationships with their mothers—relationships that make everything from picking the right card to making a Mother’s Day phone call a chore and a burden rather than a joy.  And still others have mothers that are difficult to honor and recognize on this day.  We pray that those for whom this day is hard will find your peace and mercy and strength to face their difficulties with faith.

So thank you again, our Father, for this day and for its meaning.  We pray that you’ll bless all women and make us a blessing to them.  In Jesus’ name, Amen