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Category: Writing



The long, dark nights of winter make the early morning a time of almost – almost light, almost new – and I find in these early-morning, liminal moments, the perfect threshold for prayer. It is still quiet. But the morning quiet is a quiet of anticipation, not the evening’s tired silence. It is still dark. But the morning’s black sky, edges changing to silvery gray, makes a promise of warm light to come. It is still, the perfect setting for contemplative prayer. For waiting.

So I wait.

And each morning, as I wait, I feel peace, at ease. I feel that yesterday’s concerns don’t apply today, that everything hard’s been set aside, that it can wait.

And each morning, as I wait



Every Monday morning, I meet with an 8th grade, home-schooled student for a writing session. Afterward, as I walked to the post office this week, I prayed that he would feel good about the work that he’s done, that God would help him to think clearly and to organize his thoughts as he works to become a more effective communicator.

Early on Tuesday, I watched from my office window as high school students rushed to school, filling up the parking lot across the street. I prayed that God would ease their anxieties, help them to slow down and enjoy being in community no matter what the work for the day might entail.

On Wednesday morning, I was scheduled to meet with another youth pastor for coffee. He texted me two minutes before our meeting to say he was sick and unable to come. Instead of walking back to the office, I sat in the coffee shop and prayed that God would give him comfort, relieve him of the stress he feels as a young minister, carrying parent and community expectations, wondering if he’s doing decent work.

On Thursday, I took the back road past Champoeg State Park on my way to the seminary, both praying for and experiencing God’s blessing in the mist, in a stand of trees back-lit by early sun, in an open field, in the sky.

And I realized, that each day as I’d prayed for God’s blessings for others, I’d also been praying for me.

As I’d prayed for God’s blessings for others, I’d also been praying for me.

Names for God


Each of us has an image of God. In our lives and in our communities, we have created God in our image. And we continually recreate that God as a reflection of both our experience and of our need.

We have many names for God – gracious Father, Father God, Abba, Daddy, precious Savior, Jesus Son of Mary, Redeemer, Comforter, Emmanuel, Adonai, Lord – but our words for God represent nothing more than “our conceptions of the divine nature” (Gregory of Nyssa). They do “not convey the meaning of that nature.” Our names for God are human constructions, even if they are revealed in scripture.

Why, then, do we name God?

The issue of naming is an issue of control. Consider the formula “to pray in Jesus’ name,” a formula that simply gets it wrong. To pray in Jesus name must always be a prayer of humility, must never be a prayer of control.

What, then, is spiritual maturity?

It is a willingness to let God be God.

Our names for God are human constructions

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