By Carmen Joy Imes

Prayer for a New Place

Moving is exciting, exhausting, and disorienting. I’m convinced that God has work to do in us that can only be done in a state of dislocation. As much as we dislike being unsettled, it’s an opportunity for God to show us the state of our heart and the ways we depend on predictability and familiarity rather than depending on God. I wrote this prayer in the midst of my own major transition — from Canada to Southern California, from a town of 3400 people to a university campus of over 4000 in Los Angeles, from a 2400-sq-ft house to a tiny condo. Though I am convinced that God brought us here, I still feel wobbly in the face of so much change. Writing this prayer has helped me to take a deep breath and renew my trust in God. I hope that you can find solace in it as well.

Prayer for a New Place

You have brought me to an unfamiliar place.
I am new here, but you are not.
I don’t know these people well, but you already know and love them deeply.
They don’t know me well yet, but you do, and you have already called me “treasured.”
This place doesn’t feel like home yet. Be my true home.
Thank you for your promise to be with me, even to the end of the age.

I feel ambitious and eager, impatient to be settled and integrated in a new community;
            Help me to set a sustainable pace for this new journey.
I am surrounded by an ocean of possibilities;
            Be my anchor as I find my footing.
I face an overwhelming number of decisions;
            Be my true North — show me the direction to go.
I have so many new things to learn;
            May your Spirit be the wind in my sails.
I don’t fully understand the dynamics of my new environment;
            Be my captain as I navigate new territory.
I haven’t developed support systems yet;
            Supply from your storehouses everything I need.
I haven’t figured out yet who is safe;
            Be my lighthouse to warn me of dangers yet unseen.

Grant me patience to learn, flexibility to adapt, joy to share with others, and space to grieve the loss of what I’ve left behind.

Grant me grace for myself while I adjust and grace for others who do not have the capacity for hospitality and friendship. Help me not to be so preoccupied with my own needs that I fail to love others well.

Grant me discernment as I choose whom to befriend, where to worship, how to serve. Help me to see this place as you do — to love what you love and hate what you hate. As I negotiate a new role in a new community, give me the strength to resist conformity to systems or practices that are unjust.

Grant me energy to make decisions and adjust to new procedures and understand the culture of my new environment. Help me to establish healthy rhythms — spiritually, emotionally, and physically. As I settle in, let me never lose this sense that I desperately need you.

Every new place reshapes us. Let this one transform me so that I become more like you.

In Jesus’s Name,



Photo by WDnet Studio on StockSnap.
About the Author

Carmen Joy Imes (PhD, Wheaton) is associate professor of Old Testament in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, she is the author of Bearing YHWH's Name at Sinai, Bearing God's Name: Why Sinai Still Matters, Being God's Image: Why Creation Still Matters, and the editor of Praying the Psalms with Augustine and Friends.

Imes has written for a variety of websites, including Christianity Today, The Well, and the Politics of Scripture blog. She is a fellow of Every Voice, a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Society of Biblical Literature. Imes and her husband, Daniel, have followed God's call around the globe together for over 25 years.

Read Carmen's article on being God's image as a woman in the academy and the church.

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