Please Slow Down

Prayers for slowing down

Advent is meant to be a season of spiritual focus, but it’s also the time when family and old friends come home. We catch up, celebrate, worship, feast and (hopefully) find a little rest. But that means life can get particularly busy in this season. Combine the rush with any number of other factors—from family drama to financial difficulty to private loneliness or grief—and we can easily find ourselves depleted, even despairing.

The following was put together as a time of devotion—a personal prayer service of sorts—and can also be used with a partner or small group. The prayers and selected Bible passages were carefully arranged to help you slow down during this sacred season and remain connected to the One who alone is able to lovingly sustain you through both the good and the bad. The whole experience should take you between 15 and 25 minutes—the pace is up to you. Come back to these pages as often as you need, letting the words lead you into the presence of God, who is always with you.

Begin by quieting yourself for a few minutes, calming your mind and heart. Then read the following aloud:

 

You made the day, O God,
and also the night;
You lit the sun and
set the moon among the stars.
You shaped the continents
and filled every ocean.
Summer and winter,
spring and fall began with
the stroke of Your hand.*

 

A Prayer of Confession
 

Pray the following, taking as much time as you need to thoughtfully offer yourself to God.

 

Lord, have mercy—please show me Your lovingkindness. Though my love for You is often wanting, and though I’ve treated Your love as something common, I confess my need for it now. Please forgive me for preferring darkness to the light, for choosing to pursue sinful appetites instead of You. Forgive me everything—all my sins—whether committed purposely or in ignorance. Fill me once again with the light of Your grace—in its brilliance no guilt or shame can remain.

 

The Lord’s Prayer
Pray

"Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven
our debtors.
And do not lead us
into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory forever. Amen."

—Matthew 6:9-13

 

Then say ...
I worship You, God—
maker of heaven and earth,
my everlasting Father.

I worship You, God the Son—
light of the world and
conqueror of death.

I worship You,
God the Holy Spirit—
my comforter,
my guide into all truth. 

 

A Reading
 

Read the following, pausing to silently reflect before moving on.

 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest. 
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”

—Matthew 11:28-29

 

Then pray …
I come to You now, my God, in anticipation—with a desire to encounter Your goodness. I look forward to the joyful celebration of Your Son’s birth, but I come with other expectations, too. Some of them are my own, and some have been put on my shoulders by the people around me. Please remove from my heart the clutter of perfectionism, fear of failure, and any unhealthy desire to please others, so there is more room for Your perfect love.

 

A Litany of Heartfelt Requests
 

With an open heart, pray the following. If praying in a group, one person can read the boldface text, with the group reciting the response in italics together.

 

Walking toward Christmas, I come with thanksgiving in this season of longing. I ask, God, for deeper joy and greater faith.

Have mercy on me, Lord, according to Your infinite kindness. 

But Advent is also a season of great complexity—one where memories, both happy and unhappy, are closer to me. Sometimes they weigh on me, holding me back from pursuing a relationship with You freely.

Have mercy on me, Lord, according to Your infinite kindness. 

In this season, I enter once more, O God, into my grief, feeling acutely everything I’ve lost—dreams, health, financial security, and most of all the loved ones who have died. My grief is always with me, but so are You.

Have mercy on me, Lord, according to Your unfailing love. 

I enter by faith, Lord, into Your loving presence, trusting that though I struggle to find You in the darkness, You are there, guiding me toward Your embrace.

Have mercy on me, Lord, according to Your unfailing love. 

I invite You now, Lord, to fully enter every part of my life—the past I long for and the memories I try to escape, my grief and my joy. Make Your dwelling in me, so that whatever I do and wherever I go in these busy, complicated weeks, I will always be at home with You.

Amen.

 

Meditation
 

Read the following Bible passages. Pause for a few moments on each to quietly reflect on what God is saying to you.

 

He who made
the Pleiades and Orion
and changes deep darkness
into morning,
who also darkens day
into night,
who calls for the waters
of the sea
and pours them out
on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is His name.

—Amos 5:8

 

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain. 
It is in vain that you rise up
early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

—Psalm 127:1-2 (ESV)

 

Then pray …
Lord, in the darkest moments of my anxiety and worry about never measuring up, please assure me that You are with me now and for eternity. Illumine my heart, just as You did Moses’ face on the mountain. Let this be the light that shines from me to others who also are trying to find their way in the darkness—the light that existed before the foundation of the world. Grant peace, O God. Hide me in the cleft of Your steadfast love.

 

A Reading
Read the following aloud, and if in a group, everyone can recite the verses in unison.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

—Psalm 16:5-11 (NIV)

 

Then pray…
As the year comes to a close, Lord, help me to remember that a life of hurry is one where I often miss You, failing to notice You are with me always. Thank You for being here now, and for the assurance that if I slow down, even a little, everything will be okay. Your love will carry me through each day. Whatever is left undone, through my negligence or no fault of my own, Your grace and forgiveness are enough. Help me to choose the better part—to return to You often in prayer. Amen.

 

 

*Adapted from Psalm 74:15-17

 

Photography by Vineta Cook

Related Topics:  Prayer

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What happens to my notes

9 Pray, then, in this way: `Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [ For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.']

28 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the surface of the earth, The LORD is His name.

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.

2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

5 The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.

6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7 I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8 I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely.

10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11 You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

15 You broke open springs and torrents; You dried up ever-flowing streams.

16 Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; You have prepared the light and the sun.

17 You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter.

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