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Our Language in Public Prayers (Elliot’s Blog)

I’ve been experimenting with using different language in prayers, trying to purposely get away from the connotations of traditional church-y words, and intentionally turning things on their head. I find a lot of spoken and written prayers full of jargon I don’t understand, and I’m keen to expand our view of God as I look to communicate with people outside the church on social media.

My aim is diversity — and I recognise that as a straight white male who’s grown up in the church, I’m not always ideally placed for that. But I hope to bring my perspective, writing from my experience as a young open-minded person of faith.

This blog collates most of my written prayers, as a discussion starter to see what you make of them. I’m not a poet, I don’t usually write prayers or liturgy. This is all new to me, and so much of this feels rough around the edges. Treat this as unfinished first attempts!

Finally, in the interest of transparency, note that AI (Chat GPT) was used in the brainstorming of these prayers — although in all cases, they have been edited, adapted or rewritten by me. Just as in the past I might have Googled prayers first to find inspiration before beginning to write.

SETTING THE SCENE

Holy presence,
We’ve grown weary of the church’s ways, where tradition outweighs compassion. We long for a faith that breaks free from old moulds, where love isn’t just preached but lived out loud. Grant us the strength to challenge the status quo, to forge a path where justice and equality lead the way.
Let it be so.

A PRAYER FOR PENTECOST

Cosmic breath of God,
On this day, we celebrate the fire of your love.

Let your otherworldly presence…

blaze in our music,
crackle in our prayers,
sparkle in our discussions,
roar in our revolution,
and glow in our faces.

May the floaty-thing of you surround us and shine passionately in all we do.


In quiet times, our souls wander and entwine, grateful for the connections we share. We don’t find meaning in strict rules, but in the whispers of our minds. We’re thankful for the stars above and for friends who see our inner glow. In the rhythm of nature, we feel love, flowing like the tide, connecting to the ebb and flow.

O Great Spirit,
In the lichens clinging to ancient stones,
In the nettles that sting me,
In the beauty of the slug,
I sense you.
I am a part of Your Spirit

O Celestial Sky,
In the erosion that scars the cliffs,
In the bats that seek the shadows,
In the beauty of the swamp,
I see you.
I am a part of Your Sky

O Divine Water,
In the textures of the damp earth,
In the polluted rivers,
In the beauty of the driving hail,
I feel you.
I am a part of Your Water


ASKING FOR HELP

Hey friend, if you’re there, I need some help. Things are a mess down here, seems our planet and humanity are falling apart, and I’m just trying to keep it together. Feeling lonely and looking for my people. Help me not to give up. Can you come over and be here with me? I know you can’t solve everything, but it feels good to talk to you buddy. Catch you later. Thanks mate.

Oh universe!
In this relentless chaos of children and chores, in this overwhelming exhaustion, I need a moment to breathe… Engulfed in schedules and sleepless nights, I cry out: Where is my sliver of peace, my moment of respite?

Oh universe!
I ache with the weight, my burdens feel too much for my soul to bear: whisper to me that I am enough, just as I am. Let me find strength in the small victories, the fleeting moments of joy.

Oh universe!
As the dishes pile up and the emails flood in, let me remember imperfection is the essence of being human. Through tantrums and tears, laughter and love: embracing the messiness of this journey.


SIMPLE REALISTIC PRAYERS FROM MY HEAD

Hey, that is a beautiful sunset.
I’m so glad to be alive.
Thank you…
Thank you for everything.

God, please, let me sleep!
I need to rest. A few hours.
Please.
Help me.

I’ll chat with you in a sec Lord.
Just let me grab my coffee!
I’ll check back in soon.
Promise!

Ah shit! Where are my keys?
God, pray I’m not late!!
Got them! Thanks
Amen

Why, God?!
I’m sick of this.
The world is F*cked
Where are you?!


PRAISE AND ADORATION

Trying to push the boat out a bit more…

Dear daughter, Jesus, Duckling of God,
You are my weakness and my defenceless soul;
My heart breaks for You. You challenge me.
I’ll help You, my child, as I learn Your ways.
Like a sitting duck, my vulnerable being is exposed.
With my parenting I praise you, and I will play your joyful game.
And every day, we’ll do it all again.
Amen.

(vaguely based on Psalm 28:7)

Shout to the Stars, all the atoms of the universe. You are the Architect, weaver of dreams and destinies. Know that you are the source. It is She who carries the echo of the Big Bang, and we are made of Her stardust. We are Her elements, the DNA of Her body.

In the rhythm of our heartbeat, we give thanks for our evolution. Woven into the intricate web of existence. May we enter the dark earth with praise, returning to the simplest bacteria; Marvel at our 13.7 billion year legacy, from single-celled organisms. For the laws of physics endure forever, and we are loved.

In all that is sacred and profound, we share in the creation of the cosmos; May our symbiotic ecosystem sustain us, across the generations: A continuum of life that stretches from the singularity of our origins, to the infinite possibilities of our future.

(vaguely based on Psalm 100:1–5)

Something to try and bring it all together…

Dear beloved inner self,
You are he, she, they. The brave “I am”. “We are”.
You are the Big Bang. You are the universe. We are your universe.
Eternal force. You are the internet of life. You have no plug.
Holy Alien. You see all parallel universes. You are nothingness.
Graceful Goddess. You are always changing. You change us.
Our democratic leader. You are our frontline worker. You support us.
Zombie of the grave. You are early, on time, and late. You are always.
Aunty Agnes in heaven. You are looking up at us. You are here with me.
Daddy Sky and Mama Earth. You are warm darkness. You are cold starlight.
Fragile ecosystem. You are the smooth river stones, and the sharp pine cones.
Sacred mystery and magic. You are refillable love. A potion of rejuvenation.
You are the essence of life. A higher power. Something more.
You are our Shared Humanity. You are in the space between us.
My childhood friend. You are imaginary. Sat beside me. One with my soul.

Do these feel comfortable or uncomfortable?

Things to discuss at our Wednesday Gathering on 12th June 2024:

  • What words for God resonate with you?
  • Should private and public prayers sound different?
  • Does our lack of diversity in language limit our view of God?
  • Where do you stand on swearing in prayers?
  • How do we move away from church jargon that has negative (or just restrictive) connotations?

I look forward to discussing this with you! — Elliot

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