• Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

Simple, Humble, Actual

I have a little blue book called "Guide to Prayer for Ministers." It has suggested prayers, psalms, scriptures, and other readings for each day of each week of the year. This week, the opening prayer includes:


"O God our Father, renew our spirits and draw our hearts to thyself; that our work may not be a burden but a delight... Help us that we may serve thee with cheerfulness and gladness of children, delighting ourselves in thee..."


In prayer, I thought of the children that were cheerful and glad about going to school in Uvalde but didn't come home. I pictured the children of Ukraine trapped in movie theaters or factories or schools, while bombs fall around them or on them. I saw children's faces running from violence and cartels toward the American border just to be caged.


Yes, I pray for cheer and delight. But, the tears confess the reality of the struggle.


The suggested Psalm from my Prayer Guide is Psalm 84, which has instructions "for the Director of Music" before the verses read:

10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;


This week, I've been collecting photos of Kate across the history of the church. In prayer, I felt the thousands of days Kate has given and served this church.


Yes, I pray with gratitude for Kate's service and celebrate the next phase of her life journey. But, the tears confess I am missing her already.


One of the readings is from "Prayer" by Simon Tugwell. He writes:

"We must not think that as we progress in prayer everything will necessarily become much more overtly holy. What it will become is more simple, more humble, more actual."


In prayer, it feels simple to me that violence, weapons, and war are not the way of God. It feels simple that transitions happen and are moments of reflection and gratitude. I am humbled by my inability to effect good change in the world around me.


Yes, I pray in simple hope and in humility. But, I grieve the unholy while we work and wait.


May your prayers this week give you some clarity on what is good and right before God.

May your prayers inspire you to speak and act with passion for God's kingdom but keep you humble as you do so.

May your prayers be grounded in hope and trust that does not look away from grief and pain but walks toward them with love.


Blessing, Laughter, and Loving be yours,

Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

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