Carol Penner

Prayer for Playing

As children, as young people, and as adults

we thank you God for time to rest and play!

Help us to choose activities in our leisure time

that re-create us and diminish no one.

Tune into TV programs with us.

Listen to music with us.

Surf websites with us.

Play sports with us.

Party with us….

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Advent Peace Prayer: Behind Bars

Emmanuel, God with us,

Saviour to captives and prisoners everywhere,

at this celebration of your birth

be with each lonely soul

exiled behind bars.

Emmanuel, God with us,

Saviour to prison guards and wardens everywhere,

at this celebration of your birth

protect those with power

from temptations of tyranny.

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Glimpsing God

At the very edge of hearing,

at that fine line

between what is in and out of reach,

in the wondering moment

where a fragrance is apprehended

but unrecognized,

when you gaze intently

and in the shift between seeing nothing

and seeing something (who knows what),


God arrives.

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Smooth Hollow of Worship

gather the eyes in

stand and seek them out

the tired, the hopeful,

the sad, the skeptical, the inquiring eyes

gather each pair

with these upraised arms,

this gaze,  these words

I gather you in

gently patting you into place

this place

this place here

this smooth hollow

of worship

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The Best Christmas Gift

Christ comes as a gift into your life,

but he doesn’t come

wrapped in shiny paper and ribbons

and you can’t say

“Isn’t that nice,”

as you quickly slide him under the bed

or store him in a dark closet

thinking that someday you’ll find a place to put him.

Christ is a gift that you can’t

pack away neatly in a box,

bringing him out for special holidays

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Good Tidings: A Prayer about War

Dear God: 

The newspaper brings nothing new

only an old, old story of war—

more bombing, more shooting, more bloodshed.

One more family wailing a funeral song.

Against the backdrop of brutal images,

we hear the old, old story of an angel with good news,

who brought good tidings of great joy for all people.

Angel of Bethlehem, we long to hear your song again this day.

We want good tidings for countries in crisis.

We want good tidings for people who long to govern themselves.

We want good tidings for soldiers caught in webs of violence.

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The Big Mess: A Prayer of Repentance

Even in the small schemes of our lives

there are times when we come upon the big mess

which we may or may not have caused.

The challenges given, the first shots fired,

volleys of words thrown like grenades,

the bodies prone, the revenge promised…

war even on the tiniest scale wreaks havoc

and rejects consolation through the years.

The fog of war never completely lifts

but the casualties are completely clear.

Trust and innocence blown to smithereens,

hope sidelined in the trenches

with bitterness like a rat

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Wedding Blessing

So much in love

this happy couple can’t stop smiling,

their eyes drawn into each other’s joy.

The pictures will capture this moment

but only you can capture this spirit

embedding it in the long-term memory

hardwiring it as the default setting

making it a part of their life’s blood.

Grant them love that is long in forgiveness

and wide in laughter.

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Prayer for the Teenage Years

God who gave me children,

give me wisdom in the in-between.

Between the child and the adult,

between the clinging and the pushing away,

between the I love you and the I hate you,

between the we and the me,

between the innocence and the maturity,

between the fearfulness and the confidence,

between the needing and the not needing,

between the staying together and the going away,

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About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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