Introducing Prayer Pairs
Today we launch a new series in our Virtual Prayer Room. I’m calling this series ‘Prayer Pairs’ and each week will be based on a pair of words familiar to us each on their own and in their pairings.
The pairing of the words often have other meanings beyond the words themselves. Reversing the order of the pair seems to change the meaning. ‘Butter and Bread’ sounds like items on a grocery list, but ‘Bread and Butter’ is not just food to eat, but describes our ordinary activities or the job we hold to put food on the table. In our Prayer Pairs series we’ll take the word pairs as a pair, but also individually, with two prayers offered each week. We can think of the two prayers as a pair belonging together.
I made a list of 53 different pairs with ideas for prayers for each pair. That’s enough to take us through an entire year if we wanted to stay on the Prayer Pairs track for a marathon run. Don’t worry though I’m only planning on this being a three month series!
Here’s the full list of Prayer Pairs coming up in this series….
02/07/2022 - Bread and Butter
09/07/2022 – Soap and Water
16/07/2022 – Apples and Pears
23/07/2022 – Shoes and Socks
30/07/2022 – Fish and Chips
06/08/2022 – Needle and Thread
13/08/2022 – Peas and Carrots
20/08/2022 – Pencil and Paper
27/08/2022 – Salt and Vinegar
03/09/2022 – Pots and Pans
10/09/2022 - Chalk and Cheese
17/09/2022 - Bricks and Mortar
24/09/2022 – Sugar and Spice
Bread and Butter
I love baking my own bread. There’s something about the whole process I find enjoyable, from the smell of the yeast, the rhythm of kneading the dough, the wonder of watching the dough rise, the way the house fills with a smell of comfort as the bread bakes, the pulling apart of a loaf still warm from the oven, the sharing of bread with others. There are so many different types of bread across countries, cultures and history. Bread unites us with others - a commonly prepared basic food we can all share in eating together.
The metaphor loving side of me was intrigued early on in my faith journey in the way Jesus spoke of being ‘The Bread of Life’. Baking bread, breaking bread, eating bread, sharing bread always feels like a spiritual practice to me.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:35 NRSVUE
The pairing of the words ‘Bread and butter’ indicates the reliable and dependable job or ordinary activity we are engaged in to provide an income. This is putting food on the table income, it pays the rent and the power bills and means our children have shoes to wear to school. It’s basic, but it provides us with shelter, warmth, food and protection. What we do for our ‘bread and butter’ doesn’t have to be our dream job or our passion even if we might enjoy what we do. ‘Bread and butter’ is ordinary stuff. It’s how we survive ourselves, day after day in living and also in caring for others in our households and community.
‘Bread and butter’ indicates something simple and basic. The two together can form a simple meal, or accompany a larger meal. With the current cost of living crisis and the price of butter here in Aotearoa New Zealand, perhaps bread and butter isn’t quite so ‘ordinary’ as the pairing of words indicates. And with the war in Ukraine and the shortage of grains around the world, even bread is not quite so basic for many right now. We hold these tensions in our prayers today.
Child poverty in our country was trending downwards as of this time last year but in the year ended June 2021, 13.6 percent of New Zealand children (156,700) lived in households with less than 50 percent of the median equivalised disposable household income before deducting housing costs. It’s the second day of July, and the stats for the 2021/22 year are not yet published. Despite measures to further reduce child poverty, it doesn’t take too much imagine to guess with the cost of living rising, the goals for this year are unlikely to have been met. We have record high employment currently. People have jobs. Record numbers are earning their ‘bread and butter’ but the bread and butter isn’t quite stretching far enough to cover all of the basics anymore.
We have two prayers today, one focussing on bread and the other on butter. They’re a pair of prayers, thinking first of the needs of others and then our own needs.
Warm Bread Prayer - Intercession - A prayer about others and God interacting with them
Spreading Butter Prayer - Supplication & Petition - A prayer about us and our needs and interaction with God
When you’ve finished praying these prayers you may want to end by praying The Lord’s Prayer.
During the week ahead whenever you encounter bread or butter or alternatives for either of these things, take a moment to pray, for the needs of others and for your own needs as well as prayers of gratitude.
I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.
On the journey
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