My Ash Wednesday Prayer

My Ash Wednesday Prayer

Eternal God,

We have been horrified by a Russian army that uses banned weapons. By order of their war criminal President, they kill civilians. The Russian army has invaded a free sovereign nation. Vladimir Putin, as the agent of evil, spews the same language of grievance that Hitler used to deceive his nation into a grandiose lie.

God, pour out your judgement on him and those who bow to him, but also on us who watched him do it before and said little. Bring the world together to do Your will. Grant us discernment to choose actions in a sea of difficult and hazy choices. Save us from blaming, indifference, excuses and disunity. Fill us with a spirit of relentless self-sacrifice and determination to jam a spoke in the wheel of evil.

Forgive us for turning our eyes away from sin and misery. Help us to stare at this moment and see. Prepare us for the long fight for the helpless, the refugee, the vulnerable and the truth.

In this season of Lent, call us who call ourselves Christians to give cheerfully and sacrificially when it hurts to do it, to feed and clothe and heal and help. May we fast from indifference. May we repent of pride, resentment, division, and unrighteousness.

Help us to take up practices and disciplines of deep resolve and fierce action that express a living and genuine faith. If they have lain useless by our distractions and misbegotten selfishness, wake us. In the weariness of a world with too many temptations and escapes, help us to focus. Help us to walk with each other, hand in hand, for the sake of all the is worth saving and for the sake of Your Kingdom. But let us never mistake soft sentimentality or smooth words for faithfulness.

This our painful Lenten prayer. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. ashwednesday2022

Good Friday

Morning coffee comes to our cells,

We are not in jail, we are monks of the pandemic

“Go to your cell. It will teach you everything.”

This time can teach us, too.

We can go to Good Friday here.Jerusalem



By three o’clock, the world shaken,

The darkness a shadow across our souls,

the failures and oblivion of us all fully revealed and judged.

By three o’clock, the thieves will have died, too.

The crowd dispersed, the disciples disheartened,

His mother and the Beloved Disciple,

Having to keep their distance, wait to receive His body.

All will descend into silence.


Even Easter will begin with a graveyard disruption

A woman alone

And disciples hiding behind locked doors.

We can do this.

A Prayer Amid the Epidemic

Prayer and blessing given at the Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting, Vestavia Hills, Alabama, March 10, 2020, by Dr. Gary Furr, pastor, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church.

God of grace and mystery, healing and love

In this moment, we pray

For health workers and the CDC, and all in positions of care

Protect their lives, use their skills, lift them up in their weariness

For lab workers and immunologists, scientists and community leaders

for nurses and physicians, and those already exposed to illness.


Above all, protect us from hopelessness and the fear of one another Continue reading A Prayer Amid the Epidemic

A Prayer for Simplicity

Invocation and blessing offered at the October 8, 2019 meeting of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce by Dr. Gary Furr, Pastor, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. 

God Almighty,

The complexity of these times overwhelm us–

too much information, too many problems,

too much acrimony and division,

too many words spoken thoughtlessly.


Grant us true simplicity

to see ourselves truthfully

to give our hearts freely

to see others lovingly

to make our decisions faithfully

to speak our words with clarity

and honesty and purpose.

Continue reading A Prayer for Simplicity

Praying On Main Street

Civic prayers are perilous, and yet unless we would make the exercise completely a matter of private preference, we venture with trembling now and then out into the public square. As a Baptist I am squeamish about these places, sensitive to the realities of those gathered, but also to the potential to trivialize prayer (“so we can get started”). Still, there is something about the heady moment of freedom to act in public, understood or not, to call out to that which is deepest within and among us. I write prayers because there is nothing particularly more virtuous about an unthought about prayer that makes it superior.  If anything, our “spontaneous” prayers can be crippled by the habits of mind that tend to bring the same structures and words about without careful reflection. A good editor doesn’t diminish words but strengthens them.  I always try to think carefully about what I say about God, representing God, and to God that it be the best I have in that moment.  I offered this prayer at the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, before busy people who all needed to be somewhere next pretty soon.

Eternal God,
O what a tangled web we weave when we try to voice what we believe!
We affirm that you are in control—and that it is all up to us.
In our political life, we talk as though our nation is falling to pieces
And it is also the greatest nation on earth and that nothing can stop us.
In our personal lives, we call out in the helplessness of crisis,
And then remember the scripture that says that through you we can do all things.
No wonder it sometimes looks odd to those who watch us without joining us.

Continue reading Praying On Main Street