Reading recommendation: Prayers for imperfect days

Sometimes, pastors need help finding the right words. Rebecca Gresham shares a resource she turns to when she's tired, overwhelmed, or feels at a loss.

The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie is a must-have resource for any person of faith who has ever had a less-than-stellar day. While this is not a book that you will sit down and read in a few sittings, it is one you will pick up over and over again as you navigate a life of faith. It includes prayers for when you are tired, grief-stricken, overwhelmed, facing tragedy, and so many more moments where it is hard to find the words. It also includes blessings for beautiful moments and liturgical seasons.

As a pastor, I find this to be a valuable resource in two ways. The first is when I need to pray with others, and I cannot find the words. The second is when I am tired and need a prompt in my own prayer life. As a pastor and single parent, sometimes I need help starting my prayers in the morning or evening. I can open this book and flip through a few that seem relevant. Even if my prayer only lasts a few minutes, it is enough to refresh myself so I can go out into the world to care for my congregation and those I meet along the way.

This book is particularly special to me because it was a gift from a member of my congregation. After watching an interview with Kate Bowler, they thought I would love it, and I do.

These past few years have been full of all sorts of transitions, and I am not living a version of my life that I ever dreamed of, though I have come to feel deep gratitude for the beauty of the life I have. This resource helps me hold space for the transitions and where my life is now. For instance, “for the life you didn’t choose” helps me to pray:

“Blessed are you in the tender place
of awe and dread,
wondering how to be whole
when dreams disappeared
and part of you with them,
where mastery, control, determination,
bootstrapping, and grit
are consigned to the realm of Before
(where most of the world lives),
in the fever dream that promises infinite choices,
unlimited progress, best life now. …”

I pray you might find yourself blessed by these reflections, prayers, and blessings no matter where you find yourself in ministry or life.