Feb 10, 2012

Praying Isaiah 58

Here’s a prayer based on Isaiah 58, one of the suggested scripture readings for Ash Wednesday.  It was written by Isaac, a Mennonite pastor, and posted on his Rusty Parts blog.

Pastoral Prayer
(based on Isaiah 58)

Holy God, God of righteousness and justice, we pray for your mercy.

The words of your prophet Isaiah strike like a double edged sword—a piercing light into our darkened lives. Our rebellion is exposed. Day after day, week after week, Sunday after Sunday, we claim to seek after God. Yet we continue to serve our own interests, and in so doing, blindly oppress our neighbors, both near and distant.

We confess that we use our acts of piety to make ourselves feel good about ourselves, to assure ourselves that we are Christians, to confidently claim that we are different from the rest of the world. But, as Isaiah says, we use our piety—our Lenten fasts and even this time of praying—to turn our heads upwards to the heights of heaven, while we crush the people around us under our feet. We walk blindly, unaware of our destruction.

As you say in Isaiah, the piety you desire, O God, happens as we contemplate the sinister ways the lives we enjoy may be wrapped up in hidden oppressions, secret violences. Thus you call us “to loose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke… to share our bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into our houses; and when we see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide ourselves from the needy.”

We pray that in your mercy, O Lord, you will go before us, preparing our eyes and ears to contemplate our lives during this season of Lent, so that we may discover the victims hidden from us, and repent of our sins. Then, O Lord, as your prophet declares, we may begin to see how your “light shall break forth from our midst like the dawn,” and your healing hands will work through ours. We will be given the profound gift of serving in your Kingdom, participating in your work of redemption, joining our lives to yours and tasting the fruit of eternal life.

Hold us in your grace, O God, that we may practice this kind of piety, this kind of Lenten fasting that bears witness to the justice of your holy embrace with which you hold the whole world. Amen.

— written by Isaac, a Mennonite pastor, and posted on his blog, Rusty Parts. http://www.rustyparts.com/

For more resources for Lent, click on Lent in the list of “Labels” at the lower right side of the page. 

For more resources related to Confession/Assurance, click on the Confession & Assurance Index at the upper right side of the page. For more prayer resources, see the Scriptural Prayer Index at the upper right side of the page.