Advent Prayer Calendar 

Advent invites us to wait with hope. To wait for the light promised in the darkness. To wait for rescue from God who promised and continues to promise to come for us. Waiting in hope is for each of us individually…and ultimately its fullness is found when we wait in solidarity with one another and in particular with those who know great need. 

This Advent we invite you to a daily prayer practice for The River’s local and international partners. These are people and ministries that our Giving Fund supports, many of whom we’ve been connected to for many years. Remembering them and entering into their need is one way to experience a widening of our waiting in hope this year.

Pick up a physical calendar on a Sunday morning and sign up for daily text messages (by texting Advent2023 to 408-789-8755) to be reminded who we are invited to pray for on a given day. At the link below, you will find the particular prayer requests of each partner.

As Advent begins, set an intention for yourself and/or your household. Consider how you will build this prayer into your daily rhythm. Suggestions follow, but anything that works for you, works!

With Devotional Reading

  • The devotional suggested for this Advent (Brian Zahnd’s The Anticipated Christ) ends each reading with a written prayer. Continue from there, praying for the day’s partner.

Mealtime Prayer

  • Over a meal, reflect/talk about what, if anything, you know about the day’s partner, their ministry, their region of the world or the Bay Area.
  • Where there is interest (This might break some “no screens at the dinner table” rules!), do some light “research” to inform your prayer. Many organizations have websites. 
  • Light a candle (use your Advent wreath candles if you have them) as a sign of the Light of Jesus we wait for in Advent. 
  • And pray. ☺ Pray as your mind, heart, and spirit lead you. Use the written requests offered by our partners and also invite God’s Spirit to give you prayers to pray.

A Word to Parents

We want to acknowledge as we encourage you to consider using this prayer calendar in your households that a number of the ministries we partner with are involved in some of the world’s most horrifying and grievous problems. This calendar only names the ministries, but the enumerated prayer requests online and the websites of the organizations will walk you into tender territory. Use your discretion and parental wisdom regarding whether/how you want to engage these topics with your kids.


Advent Prayer Requests from Ministry Partners


Advent Playlist

The River Youth Team is putting together an Advent playlist for their middle school program with songs inspired by each of the Advent candles. You can give it a listen here


Advent Giving

Each year we invite the church to participate in giving an extra gift during the season of Advent to a few of our ministry partners. Learn more about this year's causes and how to give at



Advent Art

There are many ways to engage Advent. This year, our Compassion & Justice team is presenting a contemplative art engagement. There are pieces from international artists inspired by our lectionary text and pieces that will be created by River artists in our service. There will also be pieces from some of our high school students who are learning about art and justice. These will be on the left side of the Sanctuary and added to this page throughout Advent.

Two suggested methods to contemplate, are Visio Divina (long) or viewing the art and reading the artists interpretation (short).

Visio Divina

GAZING Consider the image or object before you. Look slowly and thoroughly, taking a first glance, noting the colors, movement, textures, people, places and things. Remain with the image for a time. When you are ready, allow those sights and thoughts to pass by, making space for the inner eye of the heart to open and interact with the image.

RESPONDING Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Did it open a new awareness, or spark a conviction? Offer that prayer to God. 

REFLECTING Take a second, deeper look. Rest in the presence of the image; allow the image to reach beyond the intellect and into an unconscious level. What truth does it hold for you? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? You may also journal, and/or use these questions to inspire your reflections: How does this image inform or illuminate your relationship with God? How does it speak to your spiritual journey? How does this experience support your willingness to be opened, to be healed? 

RESTING Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Did it open a new awareness, or spark a conviction? Offer that prayer to God.


December 3rd - Stay Awake (Mark 13:24-37) Secondary text: Isaiah 64:1-12

A fig tree with figs at the front, the leaves blowing away in our Isaiah passage.

The moon and sun in passage, they are really different but similar, made the border in between using the same colors.
The moon and falling stars, a beam of light representing God.
Fig tree in our passage, in the second coming the light is beaming all through separating the clouds of darkness.
The Second Coming of Christ "Alexandrovskaya village", Alexandro

December 10th - Repent (Mark 1:1-8) Secondary text: Isaiah 40:1-11

A drawing of a tree in the gallery inspired: There is always some kind of hope (the tree is floating) and if the world is burning there is always something saved.
The hands are always postured, clasped together when repenting, these hands are ambiguous we clasp in giving and receiving so repentance goes both ways
Inspired by John the Baptist Baptizing the Multitude. Pellegrino Tibaldi (Italian, Puria di Valsolda 1527–1596 Milan
May God’s love cause us to open up, cause us to open us our hearts may his light cause us to shine so bright, that we bring hope into the dark.
Thinking of a very dark night, walking through a scary city when the sun starts to rise, like the grace of Christ in this time.
What does is look like for the whole world to be gathered in the wilderness to confess their sins and be baptized?
The world before Christ is chaotic and into this Chaos Christ comes bringing beauty in the wilderness. John was called to make a straight path in the wilderness and came eating grasshoppers and wild honey.

December 17th - Testify (John 1:6-8;19-28) Secondary text: Isaiah 61:1-4; 8-11

This asks who do you see? In seeking to illustrate with fire and explosions the situation was inspired by our prayer at the beginning of service to represent side by side a Muslim woman with hijab and Jewish man with yamaka in the midst of religious icons and destruction. Calling attention to common humanity.
Do not gloat when enemies fall. The hands are helping people up rather than watching them fall.
The ego is being crushed by a general soul form. The left of center image represents the artist creativity and the deep feeling fill the cave. The combination is to represent how ego can affect one's feelings
The whole idea is that we hang onto our sorrows, but when we focus on jesus we use all the colors of the rainbow to represent people and their spirits. The underline is gold because that changes all the primary colors into something different. The gold leaf is used to represent our light shining through.
Testify The graphic novel: Highlighting the opening song and the theme of John pointing the way.
Icon of Saint John the Baptist from Decani Monastery, Kosovo, Serbia. 1350 Egg Tempura. Byzantine style

December 24th - Adore (Luke 1:26-38;2:1-14) 

December 31st - Hope (Luke 2:22-40)

Senegalese depiction of the presentation of Jesus
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