How much hurt can a human heart hold? Where is God in…all this?
I’m trying to keep up with the blast of national and international news, which is full of inequity, violence, and suffering. It feels like too much, and yet, the dog needs to be let out, the kids need hugs after a tough day at school, and the groceries need purchasing.
What will we tell our children? How much more, Lord? How do we hold it all?
When I pray, I sometimes feel like I’m shouting in the wind. Does God hear my prayers of lament and grief for both home and abroad as I go through the seemingly ordinary motions of following up on emails and unloading the dishwasher? And if I’m being brutally honest, does God…care?
Maybe you’ve felt that way, too.
I pray for my heart to stay tender. That my care would not turn to cynicism, that my empathy would not turn toward despair. And I have hope for those of us trying to walk the way of Jesus when, in the midst of so much unfurling pain, we have moments of praying through a shared liturgy. This is when I’ve caught a sacred glimpse of Christ’s body, a throaty shared voice of the people, a diverse symphony of one accord.
Yours, mine, and ours.
Threads That Bind Us Together
I almost wrote that I hope this care package finds you well — but I know. In all the myriad ways I don’t know things, I know you are meeting work deadlines or advocating for your children or mending broken relationships. That you’re holding inner struggles as you work to make ends meet, care for your kids, and create a better world.
So, rather than saying I hope this finds you well, I will say:
I hope this small collection of prayers in your inbox meets you in the ways most needed for the day. I hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone.
We pray, we pray together, and we pray together to a God who was and is and is to come.
As I write in To Light Their Way:
Liturgy, the prayers of worship at times of celebration and lament, roots us in the ancient truth that God dwells in us and beside us. That we are called beloved and our children are called beloved, and that we are each a pebble in an ocean of deep, abiding love. Liturgy anchors us as the waves of real life wash over us. We pray in the mundane; we pray in the unknown; we pray when we have nothing left to give. Scripture tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us with wordless groans. God knows our ache.
A Prayer for Ukraine
I woke up to a stream of headlines, photos, and videos confirming what many of us have feared — and so much is left unknown. Will you join me in praying for the people of Ukraine?
A Breath Prayer
In the most overwhelming (or spiritually dry) moments, breath prayers have been a gift to me, and I hope they can be an anchoring force in your life, too.
Below is a playlist of instrumental music for when you just need to let your breath become prayer.
I included a section of breath prayers in To Light Their Way because let’s be honest — we don’t always have the space in our lives to do much more than, well, breathe.
In that section, I share that, “Breath prayers are short meditations to help you focus your body and mind on the One who gives each breath. Rooted in Scripture, these simple praises and petitions act as connection points, providing space to slow your breathing and be present with God.”
Let this simple breath prayer remind you that God is a God of peace and God is with us. Inhale, exhale. Paul signed his letter we find in Romans 15 with a simple, “The God of peace be with you all.”
May it be so right now. May there be peace on earth, and may it begin with us.
A Prayer for When Your Child Sees Something Scary on the News
I wrote this prayer because I needed it — and I wonder if maybe there’s a whole bunch of us parents and caregivers helping our children navigate the very real, very scary realities of our world.
If you have a copy of To Light Their Way, you can turn to the “Prayers for a Weary World” section for this prayer. (It’s on page 88.)
Here’s an excerpt of the larger prayer:
We pray for eyes to see You.
May we learn from our child
What it is to be moved to tears.
And will You give our family
Hearts that cling to hope
Even when life is scary
Or feels out of control?
O God, You are constant
In turbulent times.
You are unchanging,
And we can trust You
To be with us
Even when we feel
Like we’re reaching out for You in the dark.
In Psalm 27:1, we find words prayed for centuries. We can turn over these well-worn prayers over and over again in our hands, the rocky bolder of our needs tumbling into a smooth stone.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
A Prayer for Peace
This might be one of the prayers in To Light Their Way that I feel most passionately about. (That’s why it’s, well, so long.) It’s found on page 133 in the “Prayers for Nurturing Faith and Character” section.
Here’s a part of that prayer. I hope it serves you as you enter into a time of reflection and communion with the One who is peace, even as your hearts — and indeed, our world — may not feel very peaceful.
God, help us work for peace
With and for our children.
Help us raise children
Who sow love instead of hate,
Planting seeds that will become
Mighty oaks of righteousness
And cultivating lives of justice
So that our world may bloom with
May our family be known by our love
And by our willingness to show up
And stand with those who are often unheard.
May we use our voices to speak
When something is wrong
Or someone is hurt.
We pray for those—locally and globally—
For whom conflict is a close companion,
For whom violence waits in the shadows,
For whom war is never far away.
We ache for the day
When warring nations will be at peace,
When brother will not fight against brother.
We cry out for the ways
We have hurt one another
And ask forgiveness for the times
We have not stood up for peace.
In Matthew 5:9, we hear it plain and simple:
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
Our collective hearts are heavy. We ache for the joyful celebration of Easter, and yet we sit in the tension of now & not yet. I’m working on some simple, accessible lent resources for us, so stay tuned for that.
In 2020, I had the honor of contributing to a book called Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus & Justice, where I wrote liturgies for both Advent and Lent.
As we approach this season of the Christian calendar (Ash Wednesday is less than a week away), I’m reminded of what I share in Rally:
During Lent, the church observes and reflects upon the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. It was there that he faced great temptation and there he fasted and prayed. Jesus intimately knows the suffering and the ache of the flesh, and as we observe Lent, we sit in the tension of now and not yet, asking the Lord to help us follow his example to seek God as the Sustainer of all.
We gather together to lament and confess the ways we have fallen into temptation. And we ask an ever-merciful God to help us escape these entrapments and entanglements of the soul.
As of right now, To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers & Liturgies for Parents is back in stock on Amazon. (It has been out since Christmas! If you ever find that it isn’t, it’s always available on my publisher’s website & ready to ship, too.)
I wrote this book because I refuse to ignore the suffering and I refuse not to bear witness to the sacredness in the seemingly mundane. I wrote this book for all of us aching for a better way for the children in our lives. I wrote this book for you. Thank you for supporting my work in this way.
For those for whom a book is not yet accessible, I share liturgies and breath prayers often over at @liturgiesforparents. I hope you find whispers of hope there to serve you in your comings and goings.
If you’re looking for a compelling, soulful read and want to support the deep work of another new author and fellow liturgist: Please consider grabbing a copy of my writing-friend Cole Arthur Riley’s newly-released book, This Here Flesh. Cole is the creator of @blackliturgies and is a kindred spirit. And, pssst: If you’re a listener of Upside Down Podcast (a collaborative podcast I helped found five years ago) you may hear my interview with our soon.
And Now, A Short Benediction
May you know the deep love of the One who hung every star in the sky, and indeed breathed whole galaxies into being. As you go through this day, may your breath be a reminder that you are known, held, and loved. May your laughter be a balm and may your every tear be collected in the palm of a merciful God who calls you beloved.
As always, you can find my personal wonderings on Christian spirituality and parenting over at @kayla_craig.
May all your life be a prayer,
PS: I have never shared a digital tip jar before (awkward), but I’m realizing that as a professional writer and new author who is also feeding four kids and living on a one-income ministry budget, it’s okay to be paid for my work, too.
This newsletter is free for all (so is all I share at @liturgiesforparents) and it always has been. Your contributions will help keep that possible. I’ve been navigating how to best cultivate community, serve you, and handle finances for the time it takes to write in the future (A paid subscription? Patreon? Downloadable PDFs for purchase?) and I don’t know which direction to go, so I welcome any feedback.
For now, thank you for supporting my work and liturgy writing. You can click the link below (or my Venmo is here) if you have the margin to support my work financially. (If not, that is obviously more than okay, too.) Thank you for being here.
Beautiful and refreshing. Thank you.