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        Here is an anthology of over 1100 brief prayers and thought-starters, for each day of the year, with almost 400 original prayers by Bruce Prewer.
        Included is both a subject index and an index of authors-- an ecumenical collection of about 300 different sources.
Prayers for Busy People
        Title:  Brief Prayers for Busy People.
          Author: Bruce D Prewer
        ISBN 978-1-62880-090-6
        Available from Australian Church Resources,
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30 October - 5 November


Matthew 23: 1-12                                             (Sermon 1: Jesus on the Attack”)

1 Thessalonians 2: 9-13

Joshua 3: 7-17                                      (Sermon 2:  “A Hard Act to Follow”)

Psalm 107: 1-7, 33-37




God is our focus;

not our hopes, fears, joys or tears,

but only God.

God is our hope and our joy,

and source and our goal.


Let the redeemed give thanks for God’s sure love,

for the wonders done for the children of earth.



Love, mercy and peace be with you all!

And also with you.






As we assemble here, from the east and the west, the north and south,

let us recall with gratitude the many blessings of God.

            O give thanks to God, who is always good,

            whose steadfast love endures for ever!


Let all the redeemed sing their praise together,

for God has turned desert experiences into pools of water,

and made parched souls become like springs of living water.

            O give thanks to God, who is always good,

            whose love in Christ Jesus endures forever!




God of wonders, help us to recognise your radiance hidden in the familiar things around us in this house of prayer.

Help us to respond to your light reflected in the symbols of Bible and Cross, Font and Table. Help us to adore your glory in the love of Jesus of Nazareth and in the inner light of your Holy Spirit.

Help us to honour you in the hymns we sing, the prayers we share, the words we repeat, the Gospel to which we listen, and the gifts we offer.

You and you alone are the Joy that never diminishes or fades.

Blessed is your name forever!





Friends, let us come gladly to the well-springs of God’s refreshment, that in confession we may find the cleansing of our soiled lives, and the quenching of our thirst.


Let us pray.


If we have lived as if the success of the Gospel depended entirely on us, and then became despondent because our accomplishments are so few; Lord have mercy.

            Lord have mercy.

If we have been careless and hurtful in our dealings with others, but then tried to exonerate ourselves by blaming the victims for our failures; Christ have mercy.

            Christ have mercy.

If we have been too timid to enjoy our gifts and virtues, yet focused on our many sins, floundering around in a swamp of miserable guilt; Lord have mercy.

            Lord have mercy.


Most holy God, please give to us a clear picture of what we really are, a sincere repentance for our sins, and an unconditional faith in the healing springs that flow from the cross. May the saving love of Christ Jesus make us whole, and the fellowship of the Spirit encourage us to walk with our heads held high. To your glory and praise.





My friends it is the one, true son of God who says: “I have come that you may have life, and have it in abundance.”  Look no more to the past, but fix your eyes on the future where your Lord promises to be with you to the very end of all things. By love you are the luckiest people alive!

Thanks be to God!





Please God,

save us from trying to fool others

and from cheating on ourselves.

We wish we could be truly good,

both on the outside

and on the inside.


You know, God,

“true blue” through and through?


Help us to start now.

But keep at us, please,

because we easily forget

when we get with other kids.


In Jesus’ name we ask you this.



PSALM 107: 1-7, 33-37


Come and say thanks to our loving God,

whose generosity lasts forever!

Let those saved by the Lord speak out,

all who have been rescued from danger,

gathered from many continents and islands,

from east and west, north and south.


Many have wandered in spiritual wilderness,

not finding a path to the city of peace.

Hungry and thirsty they cried for relief

and God rescued them from their misery.

God led them on an unswerving path

till they reached the city of their dreams.


Let all these give thanks for God’s sure love,

for the wonders done for the children of dust.

For God quenches the thirst of the sincere,

and fills the hungry soul with good things.


When evil inhabits the mind and heart,

a fertile place will become a salt pan

Our God can turn their rivers into deserts,

or bubbling springs into parched ground.

But for the loving, deserts become still waters

and wastelands are transformed by clear springs.

With God, those who were hungry now live well,

with strength to build up the city of peace.


They can sow wheat fields and plant vineyards,

and receive a good return for their toil.

By God’s love blessings will multiply,

the stocks of the redeemed grow forever.

                                                                                                                        © B.D. Prewer 2001




            Matthew 23: 1-12


Call no man Sir,

call no man Master,

all pomp and power

are sure disaster.


All pride’s a load

the meek disdain,

riches the price

the poor find vain.


The best of seats

are grabbed by frauds,

they are condemned

by their own words.


Too late they learn

that power is weak

too late they find

that gain is bleak.


All virtues worn

on proud display

are best ignored

by those who pray.


The truly great

are always least,

they come to eat

the simplest Feast.

                              © B.D. Prewer 2001





Matthew 23: 2-3


Jesus said:

“The specialists in the law and the Pharisees like to think they are sitting in the chair of Moses. You should follow their words, pay attention to their teaching. But never         follow the way they live! For they say one thing yet do another.”  Matthew 23:2-3


Thus begins a chapter of the most remarkable invective from the lips of the man who was most noted for his compassion. Jesus goes on the attack. Matthew chapter 23 stands alone in the New Testament for the extent of its caustic language.


Had Jesus turned feral? Was this an aberration? Had he lost it for a few minutes during the pressures of that last week? Can one be a truly loving person and yet come out criticisms like this?


It gets worse, though. Our lectionary selection stops at verse 12. Verse 13 launches the full blast. Jesus labels the self-righteous leaders in Jerusalem as-



            blind guides


            whitewashed tombs full of decaying bodies


            snakes and vipers

            creatures fit for hell.


What do we make of this attack? Is it compatible with the idea that Jesus was the most loving of men?


There are a few things we should try to keep in mind.



1/ Not all the Pharisees were corrupt. People like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, were of a different mind. There were many loving and open minded rabbis in that land. Just as there are today. From contemporary Israel we often see film footage of the extremists and their hatred of the dispossessed Palestinian people. But not all Jews are like that. There are in Israel frequent protest marches from those who want no part in such bigotry.


We cannot tar all Jews with the same brush. Today, and back in the time of Jesus, there are as many extremes as there are in Christianity.


Matthew gives it the full treatment, sparing no detail, because he was writing out of the bitter experience of the early church. That church had to make its way constantly hounded by critics from Jerusalem who would come along after a church was established and try to destabilise it. Like Saul of Tarsus, who before his miraculous conversion set out to imprison Christians and eliminate them from the face of the earth.


But not all Jews, not all rabbis, were like those to whom this invective of Jesus was directed.


When I was in Pilgrim Church in central Adelaide, we regularly took candidates for confirmation to worship at a nearby Jewish synagogue. We felt it important for those prospective members of the body of Christ to get a feel for their Biblical roots. We were always made most welcome and cordially engaged in conversation in the fellowship cup after worship. We were among wonderful, open-minded, big-hearted, sincere believers in the loving God of Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Ruth, Judith and Isaiah.


Not all Jews were obdurate Pharisees. That outburst in Matthew 23 reflects Jesus’ frustration with those with closed minds and hard hearts. Those especially at the centre of influence in the capital of Jerusalem who were intent on having him exterminated.



2/ Jesus was especially committed to all the hungry, poor, misused, ordinary people of the land.


On the side of all those who suffered at the hands of the power brokers. Those common folk who were like sheep without a shepherd, under attack from wolves.  Jesus loved these common people passionately.


He saw some of those haughty Pharisees making themselves feel big by putting these poor folk down. Such self-righteous men lauded it over the struggling, poor people. Should the poor come for spiritual comfort, they received not encouragement from such aloof rabbis, but were given even heavier religious burdens to bear.


These religious elite hated Jesus because he loved the common people who listened eagerly to his teaching. Those ordinary folk found for themselves that Christ’s “yoke was easy and his burden was light.” Jesus did not come condemning them, nor laying additional religious duties on their long-suffering shoulders. He came among them to heal and to lift them up out of their misery.


Much of his anger was on their behalf.



3/ Jesus loved even those hard hearted Pharisees.


But they would not allow him to show that love. Therefore Jesus had to be like a surgeon: When an infection needed lancing, Jesus was not in the game of pretending an evil thing was not there. He was not willing to apply a comforting poultice. He had to take out the knife if the patient was to have any hope. And he did. His words in Chapter 23 are like one very sharp scalpel!


Love and hard words are not necessarily opposites. A rebuke in some circumstances can carry as much (or more) love as a word of comfort.


We will never know how many were pulled up short by Jesus’ outspoken words. How many came later to repent. Or how many may have amended their ways and (like Saul) become his devoted followers.



4/ How much of this attack applies to us?


I guess what we should ask ourselves as we read this passage is: “In what way does this drastic surgery apply to our situation today?”


Think with me for a moment about that word hypocrite. It originally meant one who acted on the stage. One who was playing a part. At first the word had no religious or moral taint. Later it became used for those who were insincere.


A hypocrite then, is one who words do not come from his heart, and whose deeds have no intentions of matching his professed beliefs.


Please don’t misunderstand this.


There is a gulf between a sincere Christian who tries hard yet fails often, and a pretend Christian who never has any intention of trusting Christ with all their heart and soul and mind. The sincere battlers are not hypocrites. Those whose religion is an act are the present day hypocrites.


However, having said that, I ask you to turn the scalpel of Christ’s words on yourself. I am not your judge. Neither is anyone one else in this congregation. Let Christ be the only one who assesses where you are at in the matter.


How far is your heart in the business of Christ?  If it is not, even though you may try to live a good life, then you are among the members of the church to be much pitied. For if your heart is not in it, then religion will become either a burden or you will lapse into patterns of outwardly respectable hypocrisy.


To be among those who outwardly say one thing yet do another is to choose a path that leads to misery. Sooner or later, misery.


That applies to both congregations and their pastors. Those present not excepted.





Joshua 3: 7: 17


“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and be of good courage.” Joshua 1: 5b-6a


Let me let you into a small, murky secret: With my tongue in cheek I have been known to comment to fellow ministers, as we compare notes about those clergy who have preceded us in our parishes, “All predecessors should be obliterated!”


That’s a nasty little confession, huh? However I reckon that some of you sitting here (with such benign looks on your faces) may be able to identify with it. Numerous “successors” have experience similar feelings; discomforted by the success of those who preceded them. Think of those newly installed school principals, directors of nursing, kindergarten teachers, hospital chaplains, choirmasters, police inspectors, office managers, football coaches, archbishops, musical directors, bowling club presidents, restaurant chefs, parish priests, city mayors, G P’s, news readers, factory foremen, chief mechanics and shop owners, who have felt threatened by the good reputation of their predecessors.


In most cases it is not that our predecessors have set out to make like difficult for us. Rather it is the fact that our insecurities and fears are raised by comments from kindly supporters of those who did the job before us. We hear comments like: “Well the Rev Godley always did it this way”, “our old Dr Kindley7 used to always prescribe such and such,” or “my motor car never ran as well as when Joe Tuner was chief mechanic,” or “When Mrs Bright was school principal the kids were never allowed to get away with that.”  At such times these successors may well have a rapport with my tongue-in-the-cheek comment “All predecessors should be obliterated.”


The better our predecessors were at their job, the harder it is for successors to be accepted in their own right. What is more, with the passage of time the faults of our predecessors seem to shrink and their virtues marvellously expand into a grand myth. Most of us (not all, but most!) are at least a little bit insecure. Most of us want to be approved and liked.  Therefore it is hard to be a successor of a much loved and capable person.


Spare then a thought for Joshua, son of Nun.


He was called to fill the shoes of one of the greatest leaders in all history. Joshua had to succeed the inimitable Moses as leader of the Hebrew tribes. That is what I call a hard act to follow!


There was one thing that would stand between Joshua and abject failure. Just one thing. It would neither be his IQ, nor his thorough training, nor his standing as a warrior, not his personal charm, nor his political cunning. It would be the promise that is found in the opening page of the Book of Joshua. God said to Joshua, son of Nun: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and be of good courage.”


That is why Joshua, son of Nun, became an adequate successor. Nothing else would have been sufficient except the help of God. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and be of good courage.”


You may have noticed that I used the words “adequate successor.” No one could pretend that Joshua was in the same class as Moses. He could not have given the right leadership when the newly liberated slaves were just a fractious rabble. He would not have been able to provide the people with one of the highest moral codes the world has known. Joshua could not have come up with all the social and health regulations necessary for the maintenance of a healthy community. God had his special person, Moses, for that situation.


But as Moses came to the end of his life, God knew another fellow who would be able to provide adequate leadership for the new tasks he would face. God took this adequacy and allied it to the assurance that Joshua would never walk alone. Always God would be with him to guide and assist. That assistance was soon illustrated before the eyes of the Jewish tribes, who I suspect, were watching their new leader and asking whether he was up to the challenge.


Joshua began his leadership with a new miracle of salvation.


At the time when Joshua brought his army, followed by the thousands of women and children, to the edge of the Promised Land, the river Jordan formed a formidable barrier.


If you visit the Israel these days, and go to see the Jordan, you way wonder how it ever could have been seen as a barrier. It can be a real let-down! A huge amount of water is now drawn off for Israel’s extensive irrigation schemes, leaving the Jordan not much better than a third rate stream for much of the year.


[We know all about that kind of abuse of rivers in Australia. Our legendary Murray River has been so overused for irrigation that some years it now cannot even meet the sea. At the river heads, where once sea-going vessels sailed through to anchor at the Port of Goolwa, and take on board the rich cargo of wool that had been brought down the Lachlan and Murray rivers by paddle steamer, now you may find just a dry sand bank.]


At its best, the river Jordan was never a large river. It was only a minor stream compared with the famous rivers of the region such as the mighty Tigris and Euphrates and the magnificent Nile. Nevertheless, when the snows of Mt Hermon melted, the old Jordan became an awesome, raging, impassable torrent. In springtime it regularly overflowed its banks, flooding into parts of the surrounding valley.


Joshua was there in the flood season. He needed a miracle to get his army and people across. He got the miracle. At the right time, as the leading priests who were carrying the sacred Ark of the Covenant walked ankle deep into the flood waters, the river actually stopped flowing and the tribes of Hebrews walked across to the “land flowing with milk and honey.”


This is one more typical miracle of salvation from the steadfast love of Jahweh. God had the right man of faith in the right position at the right time.


As Yahweh was with Moses so Jahweh was with Joshua. Remember when they crossed the Reed Sea? When they were fed by manna in the morning and quails in the evening? When Moses struck a rock with his rod to release a flowing spring for the thirsty people to drink? With Moses, God had the right person in the right place at the right time.


Now Joshua is at the centre of a similar miracle. The only difference is, I suspect, that Joshua was more in ignorance of the lay of the land than Moses had ever been in the wilderness. His chief virtue was that he trusted God, and therefore moved his people to the Jordan at the exact time when Jahweh wanted them there. He had them there despite the evidence of his eyes which must have said the river was impassable. God did the rest.


Such wonders may still happen


An interesting angle on this miracle comes from that terrible First World War of the twentieth century.


A British officer leading his troops in that Jordan region, without the support of army engineers, wondered how on earth he was going to get his soldiers across the river. An Arab guide, told him to draw near the banks, stay under cover and be patient. After a few frustrating days, the river stopped flowing for almost an hour and the troops crossed with ease. The Arab guide knew about the phenomenon, but could not predict the time.  What happened was this: Early in the spring season, when the waters started to flow with vigour, the current would at times undermine tall cliffs in the region nearer Galilee. A mighty landfall would occur and the water would temporally cease flowing.


Does that lessen the wonder of the miracle in which Joshua participated? Not for me! I hope it does not do so for you. The good Lord had his man of faith, Joshua, there with his followers, at the right time. Joshua did not have to have great patience and wait and wait and wait (as it was with the Arab guide and the British officer) for the right time. The God he served knew the right time. As the priests carried the ark into the fringes of the flood waters, the river stopped flowing. It is a miracle of salvation well worth celebrating!


As I emphatically said some weeks ago, when we look at the Biblical miracles it is not a matter of arguing about what God can or cannot do. Such an argument would be fatuous! God can do whatever God wishes to do, at what time, and in what manner that suits the Divine will and purpose. Nobody can tell God what is possible.


The pertinent question is this: How is God likely to work miracles today? My answer is that by finding people of faith, who are adequate for the task, and placing them at the right place at the right time to fulfil what they know must be done. We don’t have to be “Wonder Woman” or “Superman.” We just need to be faithful.


Often these people of sincere faith, do not realise they are adequate for the task. Frequently they object and protest, and inform the heavens that God has got it wrong. But God insists:

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and be of good courage.”


Where there is trust and humility, we can be a part of miracles


They happen with both ordinary people and with extremely gifted people.


They happen when we trust God enough to be humbly obedient. To be humbly obedient will in some situations mean refusing to accept the verdict of our own ears and eyes. Obedience may seem to fly in the face of “logical” assessments.


The eyes of Joshua could see the river overflowing its banks, his ears could hear the roar of the torrent. But this successor of Moses trusted God more than he trusted himself, and so the salvation miracle took place.


I am most grateful for those people in every congregation who trust God enough to allow miracles to happen. In my own parish experience some of these servants of God have had outstanding gifts, but most have just very ordinary people. Their love and faith, employed by God to participate in miracles of love, has immeasurably enriched the church, and in times when pastors like me are having a “downer”, they inspire us to keep going.


I call to mind the faces of plumbers and home carers, school teachers and factory workers, dairy farmers and bakers, gardeners and lawyers, nuns and artists, butchers and office cleaners. God’s ordinary miracle workers. At this moment I look on your faces and know that the divine possibilities are also right here. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and be of good courage.”





God of glory,

            Father of the true Son,

            when we commune with him

            we find the clear focus

            of every ray of light

            that has warmed our day

            or cheered our night.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for you are good,

Your love and truth endure forever!


Encountering Christ

            all pet theories

            and all other voices–

            no matter how brave

            or rationally seductive–

            become mere chatter

            or games of evasion.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for you are good,

Your love and truth endure forever!


Through him alone

            you offer that sheer love

            which can create much

            out of very little;

            or in our darkest hours

            out of nothing

            make everything.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for you are good,

Your love and truth endure forever!


Your relentless Christ

            leaves naught unchallenged,

            and nothing  unused;

            every seed of faith

            is nurtured and warmed,

            while each vagrant aim

            becomes transformed.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for you are good,

Your love and truth endure forever!


Though He lives large–

            the One far ahead–

            he never engulfs us

            nor deserts us in the ruck;

            the irreversible cross

            and discarded tomb

            permit no loss.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for you are good,

Your love and truth endure forever!

                        Adapted from Australian Prayers page 103

                        © B.D. Prewer and Open Book Publishers





The compassion of the Spirit of God within our hearts compels us to reach out in prayer to other people.


Let us pray


From around the world we hear many children crying, O God; crying for food and drink and someone to enfold them in loving arms.

Hear their prayers, dear Lord, and make us instruments of your peace.


We see the desolate eyes of refugees, O God; plodding along war devastated roads, or looking from transit camps, and from behind barbed wire, for glimmers of hope.

Hear their prayers, dear Lord, and make us the instruments of your peace.


We read about the abused sisters and brothers, O God; cringing from family violence, or suffering in paddy-wagons and jails, or assaulted in their own homes by strangers.

Hear their prayers, dear Lord, and make us the instruments of your peace.


We hear the sobbing of the broken hearted, O God; betrayed by spouse or lover, deserted by parents, watching at the bed of the dying, or following a hearse to the cemetery.

Hear their prayers, dear Lord, and make us the instruments of your peace.


We know about the disasters that afflict others, O God; the bodies mangled in road accidents; those devastated by disease or war, and the minds that have cracked under pressure.

Hear their prayers, dear Lord, and make us the instruments of your peace.


We read about your church, O God; in some places overcrowding its buildings, in others battling to maintain services, or in some countries meeting secretly behind locked doors.

Hear their prayers, dear Lord, and make us the instruments of your peace.


We look on the faces of both friends and enemies, O God.  Some of our friends are doing it hard, while enemies seem to be getting it easy; yet all are souls for whom Christ died.

Hear their prayers, dear Lord, and make us the instruments of your peace.


Holy Friend, while we have been praying, you have been busy answering our petitions with an ineffable wisdom and an indefatigable love. Thank you. Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.





You will never guess what is going to happen to you this week.

Yet one thing is certain: your Lord will be there in every situation before you arrive.

There is no human happiness beneath his dignity, and no difficulty beyond his gracious help. Christ is in daily life with you for the long haul, and nothing can snatch you out of his hands.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ, Amen!


The blessing of............



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Third edition May 2014

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Jesus Our Future

Prayers for the Twenty First Century

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Although this book was written with young people in mind, it has proved to be popular with Christians or seekers of all ages. Through the eyes and ears of a youth named Chip, big questions are raised and wrestled with; faith and doubt,  unanswered  prayers, refugees,  death and grief, racism and bullying, are just a few of the varied topics confronted in these pages. Suitable as a gift to the young, and proven to be helpful when it has been used as a study book for adults.

Australian Prayers has been a valuable prayer resource for over thirty years.  These prayers are suitable for both private and public use and continue to be as fresh and relevant today as ever.  Also, the author encourages users to adapt geographical or historical images to suit local, current situations.

This collection of original, contemporary prayers is anchored firmly in the belief that no matter what the immediate future may hold for us, ultimately Jesus is himself both the goal and the shape of our future.  He is the key certainty towards which the Spirit of God is inexorably leading us in this scientific and high-tech era. Although the first pages of this book were created for the turn of the millennium, the resources in this volume reflect the interests, concerns and needs of our post-modern world.