Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

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Restless Hearts and Summers End

August 21st, 2012 · 3 Comments · Sharp Prayers

Summer is drawing to a close.

Today, I have been packing to leave my in-laws’ house in Duluth, Minnesota, for New York and what promises to be an exciting year at FAPC.  This morning I taped up a box of books (Duluth is study time for me) that I have to mail back to NYC.  I took the kids’ bikes and our old picnic basket down to the basement.

August is nearly gone.  It’s time to get back to work, back to school, back to life.

Transitions like this are as regular as clockwork, but they are not for sissies.  They pluck at your heartstrings.

Right now, some of my friends are making a gut-wrenching drive to drop their children off at college for the first time.  Wild emotions roil their stomachs.  Can it really be time for me to being doing this?  Is she ready for this?  Am I?  Oh my.

I don’t know about you, but I am terrible with transitions.  For all the newness and promise that come with “natural” changes, there is also something precious passing away—something irreplaceable that I must mourn.

I’ve been grieving some this past week.  Hanging baseball gloves in the closet, I already miss summer games of catch with my two kids.  Reading emails from friends who have made “the drive” and returned home to a room that still smells of their child, their keen sense of loss grabs me.  Talking with a friend who now faces life without his beloved wife, I am overwhelmed.

These three experiences are very different.  Of course, they are.  And yet, they are all about change—small, seasonal changes and huge alterations in life’s course that we all must negotiate.

In times of transition, people of faith have long sought to fix their eyes on a stable point.  In the wilderness, the Hebrew people focused on and followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  For me, I find that carving out time for daily prayer helps enormously when change is all around.

Lately, I have been praying a prayer that is based on the writings of St. Augustine, a Christian bishop in North Africa back in the fourth century.  At the start of his book, Confessions, Augustine famously wrote: “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

I take great comfort in the notion that my restless and sometimes heavy heart will always find its true home in God; even—or should I say, “especially”—amidst life’s change.  The prayer I have been praying comes from The New Zealand Book of Prayer.

Here it is:

Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless

till they find their rest in you;
so lead us by your Spirit
that in this life we may live to your glory
and in the life to come enjoy you for ever;
through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

See you soon!

See you in worship,


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3 Comments so far ↓

  • JohnNo Gravatar

    Your timing and choice of prayer are spot on, Scott. Thank you!

    On Saturday, we take our daughter to Queens College. It is not very far from where we live but it will feel as far as Mars to us. She will stay on campus with three other girls from long island. I am sure their families are thinking much the same as we are.

    Tonight, we feel what Jet Propulsions Laboratory probably felt when they launched Curiosity. We have for the past 19 years been planning this launch. There have been plans, alterations, modifications, adjustments, setbacks, faulting wiring, rewiring, launch tests, drills, and countless sleepless nights thinking about this launch. We have been been confused and consoled. We found council in many people smarted that ourselves. We have held our breath at launch tests. We have picked up the pieces of failed tests and celebrated successful ones and every time we have gone back to the drawing board to re-evaluate our launch sequence and ask ,”did we . . ? , could we . . ?, can she . . ?”

    All of this will commence in an flurry of activity on Saturday when our rocket leaves the launch pad and heaves to new frontiers at 08:00:00.

    Like the scientists and engineers at JPL, we will hold our breath as this priceless rocket breaks free and is on her way. We will, no doubt, have warning lights and have to make adjustments. But those adjustments will be from afar and we can only hope that the message is received. We can only trust that we set the course right. That the hardwiring of faith and integrity that we tried to make will work as intended. We are as hopeful and as scared as ever.
    We are excited about where she will go!

    • SBJNo Gravatar


      Your analogy here is brilliant! I have been glued to the Mars Lander (Curiosity) coverage, and live-streamed the mission control on the night (early morning) of the touchdown. Thank you for this, and good blessings with your launch!



  • Barrie

    Thank you, you continue to touch my heart.