Easter Prayer Practice 2022: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

This prayer practice was developed by Rev. Patrick Sipes for First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte, Nebraska. Offered at the beginning of worship during the season of Easter 2022.

“she still likes shoulder rides” by moominmolly on flickr.com

Two thoughts are leading us into this prayer practice for the rest of the season of Easter. One is a 10 cent word that I came across in my studies, “generativity”, which is a word that carries a lot with it. There is a sense of the word that speaks to the ability of something to be able to create or generate new things or life. There is a sense that it speaks to a concern to nurture and guide younger people and contribute to the next generation. There is a sense that to be generative is to be in and remain in a cycle of growth rather than decline. I bring this up not to increase your vocabulary but to point out that one thing healthy churches have in common is that they are generative, and that the more generative a church is, the healthier it tends to be.

Generativity does not just come out of nowhere however, it really takes a sense that you are involved in something bigger than yourself, something that started before you were here, and something that will continue when you are gone. A sense that we contribute to things directly for a few seasons, but that the more important contribution we make is not to the thing itself, but rather the indirect contribution of raising up and training those who will carry on after us, and then giving them the freedom to continue as they see fit and to adjust to the world as they need to.

In thinking of this, the phrase, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” came to my mind. It dates back to the 12th century to Bernard of Chartres, but is usually attributed to Issacc Newton, who, in a letter to Robert Hooke, said to Hooke, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” What Newton and Bernard were getting at is that they did not get to the places they were, they did not make the discoveries they did, they did not create all that they did, without all of the work that had come before them, without all this, they would be nothing.

As we gather today, we stand on the shoulders of giants. We have played our part, but we did not found this church or the town of North Platte, and even those that did, did not start the Church or found civilization, we are where we are after a long line of people. And so I invite you today in prayer to start with recognizing whose shoulders you stand on, who got you to where you are, who your teachers and mentors and inspirations have been. Take some time to thank God for these people.

 And then, pray for who you would like to place on your shoulders, what is it that you have to pass on, to teach, to gift to another, and who might that be? My hope is that you will be able to reach out to them in the near future, but you need to know who first. And so let us pray over these things today, Whose shoulders do we stand on, and who we would like to stand on ours?

Time for reflection.


Prayer Practice: Praying with Keys

The following is a guest post by my husband, Rev. Patrick L. Sipes. It is a prayer practice developed for First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte, Nebraska for use at the beginning of worship, and throughout the week. We pray it may help to deepen your conversations with God.


The congregation I serve has been going through the Faith5 course over the last few weeks and one thing that has stuck with me that Dr. Rich Melheim says is that, “if you don’t know your highs and lows (the good and the bad things that are going on in your life) you don’t really know yourself.” I also had one of my class members tell me afterwards, “This is a new thing for me and something I’m going to have to practice.”

The following is an “Everyday Object Prayer” that is meant to help you work on naming your highs and lows. The everyday object we’ll be using is a key. As you choose a key pick one that has peaks and valleys on it as you look at it from the side and starting on the tip end, follow the ridge up to the first peak with one of your fingers. As you rest there at the peak, bring to mind something that was a high for your week, something good that happened to you, something that helped you feel accomplished, something that came to completion or resolution. Bring this thought to God in celebration and then travel down the key to a valley and bring to mind a low spot of your week, something that didn’t go as you had wished, something that caused you to struggle and hasn’t yet resolved, something you are still unsure about. Bring this low spot to God and ask for God to be with you in it, and to give you wisdom for journeying with it. Continue down your key in this manner bringing to your focus, the highs and lows of your week.

As you come across this key throughout your week, consider when you might take time to use it in prayer again.


Locked Doors: A Prayer Meditation for the Season of Easter 2021

My husband, Pastor Patrick Sipes, will be our guest blogger with a prayer meditation for the Easter season. He is currently serving as the transitional minister at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte, Nebraska, and will be inviting congregation members into these meditations in worship. May God bless you as you explore Scripture through Prayer.

“Locked” by Phong6698 on flickr.com

Bible Reading

John 20:19-31 NRSV: Jesus Appears to the Disciples

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Jesus and Thomas
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
The Purpose of This Book
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Prayer Meditation

On the evening of the resurrection, Jesus visits his disciples in the upper room where they are hiding behind locked doors. As he enters, the room, he greets the disciples with the phrase, “Peace be with you.” Through this prayer, we ask for that same peace in many places of our own lives.

In our lives, we have places of fear, fear of illness, fear of injury, fear of others, fear at times that we simply cannot place a finger on or name but it is there none the less. This morning we take a few moments to bring those places of fear to Jesus.

(Take some time for bringing fears to mind, heart, and body.)

As you bring your fears to Jesus, hear his words, “Peace be with you.”

In our lives we have reason to rejoice. Places where we see new life coming, accomplishments that we have achieved, birthdays, anniversaries of many kinds, small things like simply getting out of bed. This morning, we take a few moments to bring those places of celebration to Jesus.

(Take some time for bringing things that make you rejoice to mind, heart, and body.)

As you rejoice with Jesus, hear his words, “Peace be with you.”

In our lives there are things that make us doubt. There is news that seems to good to be true, there or places where our expectations have not been met, there are lies and half truths that are difficult to sort through. This morning, we take a few moments to bring our doubts to Jesus.

(Take some time for bringing doubts to mind, heart, and body.)

As you bring your doubts to Jesus hear his words, “Peace be with you.”

May this time of worship be a time that fills your whole being with the peace of Christ. Amen.