Category Archives: Prayers

Where’ya goin’?

seagulls-birds-beachJonathan Livingston,
where art thou?

For those who grew up in the 60′s and 70′s the memory of Jonathan Livingston Seagull isn’t that distant.  Let Wikipedia refresh us …

[ Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, is a fable in novella form about a seagull learning about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection. It was first published in 1970 as “Jonathan Livingston Seagull — a story.” By the end of 1972, over a million copies were in print, Reader’s Digest had published a condensed version, and the book reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list where it remained for 38 weeks. In 1972 and 1973 the book topped the Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United   States. ] – from

I grew up on the West Coast of Florida, along the sugar white sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico … no shortage of gulls there! In my photos, gulls are prominent rather than a lofty eagle or mighty hawks … gulls are ubiquitous with life near the beach.

seagulls-birds-flightToday, I live near the mountains of Southern California where I’m remembering those gulls – their gawking and squawking and bullying one another for a scrap of whatever could be stolen from beach visitors. They’re really a needy, greedy flock who would snatch from one another without hesitation! Still, when a gull takes flight, there is a certain beauty, even in these ill-mannered, self-absorbed birds. It’s easy to see where Richard Bach got his inspiration for the novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull!

seagull-bird-flight-beach-Where-Ya-GoinSo, I’m asking myself, today, “Where’ya goin’?” Am I mulling around the shoreline, fighting for every scrap, or am I a bird in flight? What’s my perspective today … bound to the ground or sky high? In reality, I don’t imagine gulls in flight are really thinking heavenward; they’re looking down to find their next quick morsel and return to the motley crew along the shoreline.  Maybe, in this life we’re caught between heaven and earth – it’s just the way it is!

As I start a new day and a new week, I’m aware that there must be a sense of flight in my own daring approach to the future.  I must be “goin’” somewhere, or I’m just another dirty bird stuck on the shore until time is up!

My heart cries out, “Lord, lift me up and set me on a course that is life!”  What does that look like?  Don’t know – isn’t that part of the fun and adventure of it all?!  How far dare I go from the familiar, and is it possible to think and act like a bird of a different feather?

Heavenly Father,

“In You we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)… from You, I draw life and breath … in You, my true life is headed and my true “self” is discovered!  Lift me up, this day, from grabby ways and crabby attitudes.  Help me to be more than I can be, alone.  Free me from comparing myself to those around me.  I press into that place of work and flight, and effort and rest, where you teach me better ways.

Whatever the outcomes of “today”, may I be a better person, because I have looked to You and trusted in your sustaining Presence in my life.  Through You, I come to realize who I am.  Amen.

Stuart Swann


What in the world do you want me to do, God!?

Europe-walkway-cobblestone-Direct-Thy-Paths-Prov3.6Stepping out is fun to do!

I was guest preacher at a very fine mission church near my apartment this past Sunday.  As always, it’s such a joy and privilege to share the Good News of God’s love for us in Christ!  I talked about the possibility that our purpose in God can become clearer as we age, even as our life options become more narrow (jobs, time, health, whatever these options may be).  I shared on the process of waiting, discerning, and reconciling with things, people, and places in our lives as steps toward fulfilling our callings.

As I continue in a time of discernment here in Southern California, I’m often reminded of this promise from the Book of Proverbs … it has been an encouragement to me all the way back to college days when I first memorized it:

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6, KJV)

I use the King James because that’s how I first was introduced to scripture and I find it really does stick in my mind.

Do you ever find yourself feeling like you’re wandering – maybe, aimlessly – looking for a hint of what you’re supposed to do!?  I have often felt that way since arriving in Southern California four months ago.  It would be easy if God would just make it clear and loud – “THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO!” – but, I find that God doesn’t speak to me that way.

I was thinking about it the other day:  As a parent would I want my children, at any age, to constantly be asking me, “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO, DAD?!”  It would be sad to see a child grow up without the confidence to just BE and DO his or her best without fear or people-pleasing.  I would want my own children to be confident in who they are and from whence they come.  I would want them to know that their decisions and steps in this life will not be without risk and setbacks, but to know even more that they have all they need to move forward with boldness!

In my own walk with the Lord, I find that I need to claim more of who I am “in Christ”, a child of the King, beloved by God, infused with the strength and gifts of the Holy Spirit, equipped with the counsel of Scripture and upheld by so many good, faith-filled people!  How can I fail with such a strength beneath my feet?!

Wherever you may be today … with the decisions, even the dilemmas that face you … right there, I believe “God is”.  Right there, I know that if we “acknowledge Him”, giving honor, thanks, and praise, sharing our testimony, and receiving the promise of loving providence in our hearts, there will be nothing to separate us from that great Love that is guiding our steps – not dictating, but guiding.  Still, we must take the steps.  God will not do this for us.

I pray today for the confidence to act, the assurance to know and honor the image of God within my own life and person, to be free from people-pleasing or fear of failure, and to grow into the full stature of Christ, who loves me and gave himself for me.  Oh, Lord, I move forward in You, and I thank you for guiding my steps.  Amen.

Stuart Swann

Make my day – “TODAY”!

hand-up-prayer-river-TODAY“Open”, says a me!

I opened my day with this thought and prayer (click on photo).  Why?  Because, I couldn’t sleep past 4 am, and knew there was something bothering me.  After making a cup of coffee, feeding the cats, and regaining my eyesight, I settled in a comfortable chair to take inventory of what’s going on “inside”!?  There, I realized so much of what needs expurgation.  I find that the best way to move on with the day is to just be honest with myself (as honest as I can be, anyway!) about what’s going on and what needs attention … then, to offer these to God in a prayer.  Here’s my prayer for “today”.  I guess it will work for “tomorrow”, too, because it will soon be today.

Maybe, it will be a strength to you, my friend, as well.  Have a great day – “TODAY!” …