Written by: Rachael Keefe

A Prayer for the Hagars and Ishmaels

Incline your ear, O Lord,    and answer me, for I am poor and needy.   Preserve my life,    for I am devoted to you; save your servant who …

A Prayer for the Hagars and Ishmaels

Incline your ear, O Lord,
   and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life,
   for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God;
   be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all day long.

Merciful God of all, it is so easy to forget that you hold this world in your hands. We think it is ours to do with as we choose. We think that we can decide who has your favor and who does not. Yet, if we listen to your Word, we know this is not true. We know that you call us to much greater things. You would have us care for the earth and welcome all people. You protected Hagar and Ishmael, claimed them as your own. Will you do the same for those who now wander in the wilderness?

Do you hear the voices of those cast out of their homes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Africa and other places where the violence of war makes new refuges every day? Do you hear the cries of those who wander without homes in every city and town? Do you see the tears falling from the eyes of hungry children everywhere? Do you feel the anguish of those who live with unrelenting symptoms of mental illness? Do you know the pain of rejection felt by LGBT youth no longer welcome in their homes or churches when they claim who their identity? Do you witness the foolishness of racism that harms so many innocent lives? The voices that cry out to you are more numerous than I can bear. Will you claim them all as you did Hagar and Ishmael so long ago? Will you call to them and show them that life is possible even in the midst of the desert when death looks like the only option?

Patient and steadfast God of life, I hear you even as I add my own cries in the wilderness. As I ask you what you will do, if you will claim these suffering souls as your own, you ask me the same. You tell me that they are already yours and ask when those who claim your name will act accordingly. You have shown us how to be merciful and loving when you saved Hagar and Ishmael with your love and grace. You offered them life beyond their imaginings. You wait for us to hear your Word and follow you with our whole lives. You desire for all your people a life of abundance beyond our imagining. Will your steadfast love endure until no one wanders in the wild places cast-out, forgotten, waiting for death?

Have mercy on those of us who think ourselves righteous because we live in homes apart from war, poverty, hunger, and disease. Open our lives to the cries of our neighbors that we might claim with your love, name them sister or brother. Teach us the way of gratitude and mercy that benefits the whole of creation.



Gladden the soul of your servant,                                              (photo from unsplash.com)
   for to you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord,
   are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love
   to all who call on you.


RCL – Year A – Second Sunday After Pentecost – June 22, 2014
Genesis 21:8-21 with Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 or
Jeremiah 20:7-13 with Psalm 69:7-10, (11-15), 16-18
Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39

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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

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