Written by: Rachael Keefe

Praying the Ten Commandments

Voice 1:          Then God spoke all these words:  I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; …

Praying the Ten Commandments

Voice 1:          Then God spoke all these words:  I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Voice 2:          Your people yearn for your voice! The ancient stories fade from our memories along with a sense of your nearness. It is so easy to worship gods of our making and believe that they will strengthen us.
All:                  Forgive us for the shallowness of our faith. Forgive us when we worship our small gods of money, success, power, drugs, sex, self-hatred or whatever turns our hearts from you. Remind us that you are the God who saves, who strengthens, who loves us without end.

Voice 1:          You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Voice 2:          May your name be praised at the rising of the sun and it’s setting! How easily words tumble from our lips with so little attention given them. We have forgotten that words have power to hurt or to heal, and that some words are have sacred meaning.
All:                   Forgive us for letting the power of your name be forgotten. Forgive us for using words to bring pain to you, to our neighbors, and to ourselves. Remind us that you are the Word who lived among us that we might have life abundantly.

Voice 1:          Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work.
Voice 2:          In your wisdom, you made the sabbath for us. You knew that we would forget to rest, to take time to be still with you. How foolish we are to try to live without time to rest in you.
All:                  Forgive us for our foolish ways. We work too hard. Over-schedule ourselves and can barely take an hour to worship you. Remind us of the rest and renewal that comes from time spent being still and knowing that you are God.

Voice 1:          Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
Voice 2:          We give you thanks for those who can honor their parents without hesitation. At the same time we pray for those who have difficult relationships with their parents, for those children who are lost in the world of addiction or illness and cannot honor their parents, and for those children who have no parents.
All:                Forgive us when we fail to honor our elders. Forgive us when we fail to reach beyond our own families and into the community to extend care, compassion, and love to those fathers and mothers who are alone in the world. Remind us that you created us to be in relationship to one another and to care for those in need.

Voice 1:          You shall not murder.
Voice 2:         All people of the earth are created in your image and you have called us to love one another. While murder may seem far from our daily living, there are those among us whose loved ones have been murdered, and those whose loved ones have committed murder. Yet we often remain silent in the face of violence in our world, in our country, in our community, in our homes.
All:                 Forgive us when we fail to see you in the face of another. Forgive us when we choose what is over what could be. Remind us that you are the one who gives peace, peace that brings hope, healing, and life for all your people.

Voice 1:          You shall not commit adultery.
Voice 2:          You shaped us and breathed life into us. You desire for us to live in loving relationships and for some this is celebrated in marriage. Society makes it easy for us to believe that marriage and other relationships are not sacred and that we may do as we desire.
All:                  Forgive us when we fail to see you in our relationships, when we do not treat one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Forgive us also for those times when we make harsh judgements about those whose failures become public. Remind us that you call us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to live lives of respect, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness.

Voice 1:          You shall not steal.
Voice 2:          You know us more deeply than we know ourselves, knowing our needs and our wants. Sometimes the world seems so unfair and we entertain the impulse to take what is now ours. Others feel they have no choice but to steal in order to survive.
All:                  Forgive us for those moments when we take what we do not need. Forgive us for not feeding those who are hungry, leaving them little choice but to steal in order to feed themselves or their children. Remind us that those you have blessed with more are the ones whom you have asked to bless others.

Voice 1:          You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Voice 2:          Your wisdom displays our foolishness so clearly! We are ruled by our emotions so very often, letting petty differences ruin relationships. From the time of Eve we have struggled with taking responsibility rather than placing blame.
All:                  Forgive us for those moments when our neighbor seems to be our enemy. Forgive us for those times when we let fear or anger determine our actions, causing pain to another. Remind us that you have given us a spirit of self-control and a call to live in love.

Voice 1:          You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Voice 2:          How well you know the human heart! You know how difficult it can be for us to be content with what we have and how easy it is for us to believe that what others have is far better than what we have.
All:                  Forgive us for all the times we want what others have and fail to give you thanks for what we do have. Remind us that our value is in who we are, whose we are, and not in what we possess.

Voice 1:          When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”
Voice 2:          Long ago you gave these commandments to your people because you knew the challenges they would face. You also knew their desire was to love and serve you even when they fell short. Not much has changed in human nature in the thousands of years since.
All:                  Forgive us when we think we can get through life on our own, having no need of you. Forgive us when we forget that you desire only good things for us and our own choices often get in the way of that goodness. Remind us of your power and presence, your loving-kindness, and your steadfast love which endures forever. Amen.

2014-09-27 13.48.36

RCL – Year A – Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – October 5, 2014
Psalm 19 or
Isaiah 5:1-7 with Psalm 80:7-15
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46

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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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