One of the great treasures in my personal and corporate prayer life has been Douglas McKelvey’s two volume collection of liturgies titled Every Moment Holy (Rabbit Room Press). In the Forward to Vol. 1, Andrew Peterson draws on the wisdom of Wendell Berry, insisting that “there are no unsacred moments; there are only sacred moments and moments we have forgotten are sacred. If that’s true, then it is our duty to reclaim the sacredness of our lives, of life itself.”
McKelvey’s beautiful work has inspired me to take up the practice of writing my own prayers and liturgies. For my post today, I humbly offer this liturgy titled, “A Liturgy for One Who Doubts God’s Call.” It was written for a friend and colleague who recently accepted a call to a new ministry role. In a conversation between us, I was struck by her observation that, in all of the places that have called her to serve, she was never the first choice. She was second or third or maybe further down the line. And yet by the providence of God, she was just the right person in each of these places for that particular season.
I offer this prayer to all of us who may not feel like we were “the first choice.” Or to those of us who are struggling right now, doubting God’s call, wondering if we have what it takes to carry out the task in front of us. May this liturgy encourage your heart and remind you of God’s promises.
A LITURGY FOR
One Who Doubts God’s Call
By Brian Keepers
“I am vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I abide in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5
God of Covenant,
long ago you called Abraham and Sarah
to carry the seeds of gospel blessing
for all the nations of the earth.
You called Isaac and Rebekah to trust
in a future thought impossible, laughable.
You called Jacob and Esau
to let go of hustling and striving
and surrender to a grace that never lets go,
a mercy that both wounds and makes new.
You are the Faithful One who worked
through the arrogance of Joseph the dreamer,
and the betrayal of brothers burning with envy.
“What others intended for my harm,
God used for good.”
You are the One who heard the cries
of your people, and you sent
Moses, Aaron and Miriam
marching into Pharaoh’s court to lead
a people crushed in bondage
through sea and wilderness to freedom.
God of Hesed,
you are the One who ushered
your people into the promised land
through the courage of Rahab
and the boldness of Joshua.
You called Judges like
Deborah, Gideon, and Samson
to rise up and lead in times of darkness.
And you showed us the bright light
of Bethlehem, centuries before
the Savior’s birth, through
the tenacity and blessed alliance of
Naomi, Ruth and Boaz.
God of Faithfulness, you stayed true
to your promises even when your people
insisted on their own king.
You touched the barren womb
of Hannah, on her knees in prayer,
and through Samuel anointed
the least likely of kings:
a shepherd boy, a nobody—
forgotten, on the margins.
He wasn’t their first choice, but you said,
“The Lord looks at the heart.”
And you would speak to your people,
time and again,
reminding them of who they are
and whose they are,
through the mouthpiece of your prophets—
Isaiah and Jeremiah,
Ezekiel and Amos,
Micah and Habakkuk,
those who faced ridicule and rejection
for the cause of your truth and justice.
“Thus says the Lord…” they thundered.
And your word never returned empty.
Then came Elizabeth and Zechariah,
Mary and Joseph.
“Here am I,” the God-bearer said.
“Let it be with me according to your word.”
In the Word made Flesh, you came close,
too close for comfort.
Born in dirt and straw,
among livestock and shepherds.
A king cradled in poverty and
unnoticed by the world.
Once again, not their first choice.
“This is my Son, my Beloved;
with him I am well pleased,” you sang
over Jesus in the waters of baptism.
The heavens split open,
a dove fluttered and descended,
your Spirit rested on him.
God of Wind and Fire,
your Spirit would be poured out,
like a torrential downpour,
with flaming tongues flapping,
on your disciples—Peter, James and John,
Martha and Mary, and countless others.
There would be so many more.
Paul, Ananias, and Barnabas.
Luke, Timothy, Lois, Tabitha,
Cornelius, Lydia, Priscilla and Aquila.
Phoebe, Rufus and Julia.
Were any of them anyone’s first choice, Lord?
“You did not choose me,” you say.
“I have chosen you.”
I have chosen you.
“To go and bear fruit that lasts.”
God of Covenant,
O Faithful One,
help me take my place
in this sprawling and surprising
drama of redemption
unfolding here and now.
May your Spirit rest on me.
May you fill me with a torrential downpour
of your presence and power.
In this season of life and ministry,
when things feel so hard
and I find myself doubting your call,
help me to hear you singing over me
this sweet baptismal assurance:
“You are my child,
With you I am well pleased.”
And may I hear your Spirit whisper
into the deepest recesses of my heart:
“You are my first choice.
For this work right here,
in this place.
For these relationships right now,
in this time.
You are my first choice.
You always have been.
I love you.
I am with you.
You are called.
Now abide in me.
Stay close to me.
Rest your heart in me.
And you will bear much fruit.”