formation friday: a shifters prayer

blog a shifters prayer* small blog tweaks continue.  starting this friday i’m going to try to share some kind of spiritual reflection-formation-exercise piece.  like anything here, some of you might like it, others might not find it helpful.  for me, i always need  intention & space, no matter how short or simple, to help me continually turn my heart toward God.  

* * * * *

earlier this year, during lent, jose and i read parables to the twins every night before we went to bed.  it was really fun to talk about those crazy stories and process possibilities of the challenging truths that come out of them.  then, a month or so before summer started we decided to read through the entire bible together starting at the beginning in a version that’s easier to understand.  oh, it’s been interesting!  we took a break during summer and when we started back we are smack in the middle of the exodus and now the book of joshua.  almost every night we read the story and kind of sit there a bit rattled and go “wow, that’s tough.”  lots of people dying & being made slaves & being stoned for stealing. i find myself wanting to just go back to matthew, mark, luke and john as fast as i can.  seriously.  but we are going to keep pressing forward, talking about it, wrestling with it, trying to seek the bigger truth in it all.

it made me think of how much we’ve shifted.  and how scary that shift can feel.

so today i wanted to try a little prayer exercise.  it’s simple, nothing fancy.  we did one on wednesday night at our house of refuge using a modified version of this template (if you haven’t done it before, it’s a really fun one).  and i have shared the doubter’s prayer before and  an expanded one in down we go as well as a template for seasons in our journey. but i thought it might be good for some of us who are rebuilding after deconstructing to take time to share with God some of our thoughts and feelings about these shifts and gain some strength to stay the course by remembering not only what we don’t see or don’t know but maybe what we do.   

you can download the template here as pdf.   or here are some prompts or feel free to let it rip in whatever direction you’d like.

a shifter’s prayer 

God, i used to think you were… (any qualities of God that you used to really believe) 

i used to be able to say to others, to myself… (one or two phrases that you were sure of in your faith)

when i read the Bible i used to feel… (several feeling words)

now i sometimes feel… (several feeling words)

oh, how i miss… (several things you miss about your faith before)

but God, i’m trying to lean into the present, to experiencing you in new ways.

i see you in… (several areas of your life where you are seeing God somehow, some way)

i feel you in… (several areas of your life where you are feeling God somehow, some way)

i hear you in… (several areas of your life where you are hearing God somehow, some way)

i smell you in… (several areas of your life where you might smell God somehow, some way)

i touch you when i touch… (several areas of your life where you are touching God somehow, some way)

thank you for these gifts. 

despite all the things i don’t know, i can still cling to this…. (one truth that is sustaining you right now)

and for that i, too, am thankful.  

God, please keep sustaining me in these shifts.

i do want more of you in my life.  

amen.

here’s mine:

God, i used to think you were clear, crystal clear

i used to be able to say to others, to myself,  “God’s in control”

when i read the Bible i used to feel secure, relieved.

now i sometimes feel scared and confused. 

oh, how i miss the certainty, the comfort in knowing what now i do not know.  

but God, i’m trying to lean into the present, to experiencing you in new ways.

i see you in people, your beautiful people. 

i feel you in the quiet of my car, in deep places in my heart, when i’m near water, when i laugh 

i hear you in the voices of my children, when my friends say “i feel loved” 

i smell you in the crisp fall morning air when i am on my walk 

i touch you when i touch pain

thank you for these gifts. 

and despite all the things i don’t know, i can still cling to this:  “You are with me.”  

and for that i, too, am thankful. 

God, please keep sustaining me in these shifts.

i do want more of you in my life.  

amen.   

 

if you’re willing to share yours, that would be awesome.  it is so great to gain strength from each other.

 

see you monday as we start this new series of interviews with friends on “what it’s like…”  have a great weekend! peace, kathy

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

17 Comments

  • a
    shifter’s prayer

    God,
    i used to think you were a
    distant father requiring good actions to attain your approval.

    i used to be able to say to others, to myself that
    your rules we obvious and only required trying.

    when i read the Bible i used to feel sure,
    safe. Cocky that my years of Sunday school were all the depth I needed.

    now i sometimes feel overwhelmed.
    Not only by your depth, but your greatness and love.

    oh, how i miss the simplicity, the
    confidence, the familiar comfort of knowing.

    but
    God, i’m trying to lean into the present, to experiencing you in new ways.

    i see you in varying shades of
    colour. I though I knew, black and white. Colour is better.

    i feel you in my heart. Not in a Sunday
    school way. When my heart is pounding and trembling and a then a firm calm presence
    comes. A knowing. Like a hand on my shoulder. A quiet reminder that I am not
    alone.

    i hear you in the wailing cry of a
    newborn, music that causes me to close
    my eyes and lose myself in it.

    i
    smell you in my daughters’ hair. A scent only
    I know so intimately when I hold their sleeping bodies close.

    i touch you when i touch humanity.
    When I strive for dignity and beauty in the messy places.

    thank
    you for these gifts.

    despite all the things i don’t know, i can still cling to this, that
    I am certain of your love. I don’t understand it, I don’t always feel it, but I
    have an abiding comfort in my soul of knowing this one thing.

    and for that i, too, am thankful.

    God, please keep sustaining me in these shifts.

    i do want more of you in my life.

    amen.

    Reply
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  • a shifter’s prayer:
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    God,
    i used to think you were… all about following the rules

    i
    used to be able to say to others, to myself… if I do x, y, and z, I will get
    into heaven and help others get into heaven

    when
    i read the Bible i used to feel… it was a black and white list of rules

    now
    i sometimes feel… in awe of the Bible’s wisdom, depth, complexity, mission and
    purpose

    oh,
    how i miss… the
    feeling of bliss in my ignorance

    but
    God, i’m trying to lean into the present, to experiencing you in new ways.

    i
    see you in… the
    sparkling eyes of my grandkids, family, and true friends, in the breathtaking
    beauty of peaceful mountain lakes, in the pages of my Bible, mighty roaring
    rivers, sparkling mountain streams, stunning sunrises and sunsets, outrageous
    colors of flowers, baptisms, healed and restored lives, marriages and
    friendships, love letters, and in fine art.

    i
    feel you in… Your
    everlasting love and steadfast acceptance of me as I am, the embrace and mutual love of
    family and friends, in communion, in prayer, my soul dances with You when I am
    immersed in worship music, the joy of witnessing a life transformed and healed,
    knowing Your justice is bigger and better than anything in this world and
    knowing that ultimately Your justice will prevail for all, My deep love and trust
    of You even when I don’t understand some of Your mysteries.

    i
    hear you in… the
    wind as it moves through the trees…oh how I love that sound, the giggles and
    laughter of children, rain drops, ocean waves, music, the quiet still peaceful
    moments, the words I love you and I forgive you, and in poetry.

    i
    smell you in… the
    sweet fragrance of new born babies, fresh baked bread, spices, flowers, fresh
    linens, the mountains, the beach, and ripe peaches.

    i
    touch you when i touch… the hand of another broken sinful person like me that is
    cherished by You but has a hard time understanding and internalizing that love

    thank
    you for these gifts.

    despite
    all the things i don’t know, i can still cling to this…. You are a good and loving God
    that loves me and others more than we can ever comprehend and even when our
    circumstances are painful and hard.

    and
    for that i, too, am thankful.

    God,
    please keep sustaining me in these shifts.

    i
    do want more of you in my life.

    amen.

    Reply
    • thanks for sharing, laurie. so beautiful. i like how you said “the feeling of bliss in my ignorance.” i used to say ignorance was bliss but it so wasn’t, just the feeling of it.

      Reply
  • God, i used to think you were packageable.
    i used to be able to say to others, to myself “this is exactly what God is like.”
    when i read the Bible i used to feel comfortable and right, affirmed in my belief
    now i sometimes feel bothered by what I read, and oh so tired, and still thirsty
    oh, how i miss being sure about you-
    but God, i’m trying to lean into the present, to experiencing you in new ways.
    i see you in the faces of children
    i feel you in a sudden cool breeze when the sun is blaring down
    i hear you in laughter and honest conversation, in the vulnerable
    i smell you in an unexpected rainstorm, in the fresh morning air
    i touch you when i touch the difficult, the messy, the un-explainable
    thank you for these gifts.
    despite all the things i don’t know, i can still cling to this….you are full of compassion and mystery, and oh so
    unpackageable
    and for that i, too, am thankful.
    God, please keep sustaining me in these shifts.
    i do want more of you in my life.
    amen.

    Reply
  • God I used to think you were simple
    I used to say to others , God works like this…
    When I used to read the bible I used to feel SUPERIOR
    Now I feel humbled by every word
    Oh how I miss having all the ANSWERS!!
    But GOD I am trying to lean into the present, to experience you in new ways
    I see you in the mess, the unanswered questions, the waiting, in what I don’t understand.
    I feel you in the uncomfortable moments, in the moments of courage
    I hear you in the laughter, and in the UGLY cry.
    I smell you in the rain, and in the roses
    I touch you when I embrace your people
    Thank you for these gifts
    despite all the things I do not know, I can still cling to this,
    Your Grace is for me too.
    For this I am thankful
    please continue sustaining me in these shifts
    i do want more of you in my life.
    Amen

    Reply
  • I printed out the template for a few of the prayers you mentioned and look forward to writing out a few of my own.
    Thank you for your honesty, your insights, your wisdom, your vulnerability. Thank you for being the woman you are.

    Reply
    • thanks, gail. i hope they are good for your soul somehow. it was so lovely to meet you & glad we can be connected out here now. thanks for the comment, too, ha ha.

      Reply
  • this prayer is both hard and beautiful. it’s tough exposing what’s inside. speaking the hard words. being honest. thank you for your honesty. i am completely encouraged having found your blog and having met you.
    thank you kathy.

    Reply
  • God, i used to think you were… perfect, comprehensible, loving but demanding

    i used to be able to say to others, to myself… God will miraculously change our circumstances

    when i read the Bible i used to feel… confident that I knew exactly what it meant

    now i sometimes feel… (big sigh) I’ve misunderstood the purpose of Scripture and much of what Jesus taught

    oh, how i miss… the security of knowing and being right

    but God, i’m trying to lean into the present, to experiencing you in new ways.

    i see you in… the beauty of creation, especially your affinity for the color green and the life you provide for us through these gifts; the calmness and refreshment that bodies of water give me; the beauty of darkness accented by brilliant sparks of light

    i feel you in… in the embraces of those I adore

    i hear you in… many voices across spiritual traditions and especially in the voices of those I am convinced love me

    i smell you in… the aroma of skillfully cooked food and in the fragrances of plants, flowers and essential oils

    i touch you when i touch… those I dearly love and feel deep affection towards and when I impart a blessing

    thank you for these gifts.

    despite all the things i don’t know, i can still cling to this…. although I don’t have you or life figured out and don’t have all the answers, I am loved and I am not along

    and for that i, too, am thankful.

    God, please keep sustaining me in these shifts.

    i do want more of you in my life.

    amen.

    Reply
  • a shifter’s prayer 
    God, i used to think you were real
    i used to be able to say to others, to myself, that I was an Evangelical Christian.
    when i read the Bible i used to feel it was accurate
    now i sometimes feel it is a myth
    oh, how i miss the certainty and the acceptance
    but God, i’m trying to lean into the present, to experiencing you in new ways.
    i see you in my children
    i feel you in my children
    i hear you in my children
    i smell you in my children
    i touch you when i touch my children
    thank you for these gifts. 
    despite all the things i don’t know, i can still cling to my calling as a mom
    and for that i, too, am thankful.  
    God, please keep sustaining me in these shifts.
    i do want more of you in my life.  
    amen.

    Reply
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