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Friday Faith – A Prayer from Ruth

March 25, 2011

I finished up a four week study of the book of Ruth last night at church.  I wrote the study as part of my ordination requirements and really loved exploring everything that this small book has to offer.  Because it is only four chapters, it is easier to look at the story as a whole instead of breaking it apart piece by piece.  And, that’s exactly what we did.  The first week looked at the book as a whole.  The participants were invited to work in small groups to read the text and identify the characters, setting, plot, conflict, resolution, etc.  We talked about the role that story plays in our lives and the importance of understanding the biblical story as our own.  That is one of my main foundations in Christian Ed – locating ourselves in the greater story of God and God’s relationship with God’s people.  The bible is not a book of rules or an instruction manual.  Rather, it is a beautiful weaving of lives, a grand story of love and grace, pain and confusion, mercy and forgiveness; it is the story of people; it is our story.

In the following weeks, we looked at different aspects of the story.  First we did a character study.  Then, we looked at what the story has to tell us about holy friendships and the role of the foreigner in the Kingdom of God.  Finally, we looked at the Hebrew concept of “hesed” and how Ruth exemplifies this understanding of living in covenant relationship with loving kindness.  I cannot thank the participants enough for their great discussions, the questions they asked, the answers they provided, and the resulting questions left unanswered.

As a final exercise for the class, I invited each person to write a prayer or letter to God about what he or she learned from Ruth and what it means for them in their own lives, what kind of changes or transformations do they feel called to enter into.  These were kept privately, but I would like to share mine here with you.

Gracious God, for the times I have scowled and not smiled, forgive me.
For the times I have rolled my eyes and not let your light shine through them, forgive me.
For the moments when frustration has caused explosions of anger and not a release of laughter, forgive me.
For the instances of hate, of judgment, of misunderstanding, please forgive me.
Open my heart, so that I may accept your love and proclaim your love in word and deed.
Open my mind that I may not fear what is different or new but appreciate the beautiful and wonderful diversity of your creation.
Open my eyes that I may see what is good, what is true, what is grounded in you.
Open my hands that I may serve the people, all people, in your name and with your grace.
As Ruth loved Naomi, as Naomi loved Ruth, help me to love my neighbor, acknowledging the covenant relationship we share as children of God.  May I be an example of your loving kindness, steadfast love, and endless mercy.

**If you are looking for a great book on Ruth, check out Ellen Davis’s translation accompanied with Margaret Parker’s wood carvings of the story in Who Are You, My Daughter? Dr. Davis was my Old Testament professor at Duke, and she is fabulous!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2013 7:42 pm

    May I use some lines from your prayer in worship this summer? I’m preaching on Ruth in July. Thank you.

  2. T.R. Hardic permalink
    September 17, 2014 10:32 am

    I would also like to use your prayer with my congregation as I am preaching on the book of Ruth and your prayer spoke to my heart. Would it be alright. I will name use as author.

  3. Tony Rodrigues permalink
    January 15, 2018 5:19 pm

    Thank you for such a deep and beautiful prayer. With your permission, I would like to use your prayer in our up coming sermons. God Bless You.

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