This Advent, I want to help you keep things simple. Each week I’ll share ideas for simple prayers, encouragements, practices, and celebrations. Today, as we anticipate the start of Advent this weekend, I offer suggestions for simple Advent prayers.
Choose a bowl, basket, or box that you can set in a central spot in your home. If this will be a family activity, you might place the container on the table where you have your meals or on a shelf near where you enter or exit your home. If you are doing this by yourself, then place the container on your dresser or some spot in the house you walk by frequently.
On small cards or slips of paper, write names—one name per card—of friends, family, and others you want to pray for during the holidays. Every day between now and Christmas, pick a name and keep that name with you throughout the day, in a pocket or somewhere you’ll notice it and be reminded to pray specifically for that person.
You could make this a family project, keeping the names in a dish on the dinner table and every day praying as a family for the person whose name you picked. Of course, this would influence whose names you put in the dish and what kinds of prayers they needed, because some matters would be out of the scope of what you share with other family members.
From now until after Christmas, we’ll see extra lights just about everywhere—strung over trees, shrubbery, posts and poles, rooflines, and so on. You might be one of those people who decorate your own home right after Thanksgiving. I confess that I am one of those people, daughter of a father who went a little crazy over the Christmas holiday. (We didn’t take down our Christmas tree until Dad’s birthday, January 23.)
Here’s the prayer: when your attention is attracted to holiday lights, pray something like, “God, may your light be present in me today.” Or, “Jesus, may your love in my life create light for others.” Make up whatever short prayer you want. Allow that light-related phrase to be triggered whenever lights shine on you.
The Christmas music has already begun on television and radio airwaves. In fact, some of us started hearing holiday music just barely after Halloween. If you’re like me, you turned off holiday sounds, because you prefer to celebrate one holiday at a time.
But now you can make those airwaves work for you. When you hear a Christmas carol, pay attention to the words. And just snatch a phrase or two for your prayer during this morning’s commute or chores around the house. For instance, maybe you’re hearing an instrumental version of “Away in a Manger,” a song usually relegated in our minds to the category of children’s songs. But here’s the final verse, or at least my memory of it:
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay
close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care
and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.
That’s a pretty good prayer, if you ask me. Why not make it your prayer this morning?