I have returned from a week of refreshing renewal at the Academy for Spiritual Formation. Dick Eslinger taught writing the berakah (Hebrew "blessing"), the traditional form for prayer in Jewish faith. This form was the context of early Christian eucharistic prayers and is divided into three sections: blessing God for God's majestic and creative works, thanksgiving for God's redemptive actions, and petition.
While, interestingly, Hebrew has no real word for "thanksgiving", I found the berakah to be a deeper way to pray than my typical prayers of surfacy thanks. I wrote a "Berakah for a People Weathering Economic Downturn" and I hope it blesses you during this week:
I. Blessed are you, ever-so-personal Creator
of all that was, and is, and is to come,
of all that is born and all that dies,
For you breathe into us life's breath.
You feed famished souls with good food of the earth.
You quench parched spirits with flowing waters of grace.
II. We give you thanks, Holy One,
for awakening in us every desire to
breathe, to eat, and to drink,
for it is your deeper desire to give.
We thank you, for giving us your Son,
Jesus Christ, who calls us to consider the lilies of the field
and the birds of the air.
We know that you provide. You are Jehovah Jireh,
the Great Provider.
III. Have mercy, Living God, on us who
forget with our hearts what we know in our minds,
that you are the source of all breath, food, water, and life.
We sing occasional praise from one side of our mouths,
while we continually speak words of trust in our own
security and exacting control,
in our banking institutions and investments,
with the other side of our mouths.
Restore us, oh Lord, to a people who
live out of your abundant goodness
rather than cowering in our self-created sense of scarcity.
Bring us back to dependence on the one thing,
love of God and neighbor,
when we are disturbed by so many things.
It is enough, oh Lord, for YOU are enough.
Blessed be you, oh keeper of the universe,
who draws us back to your heart.