Prayers for the People

May 22, 2020

A PRAYER FOR CHURCHES RETURNING TO THEIR SANCTUARIES:

Almighty Father, we add our voices to that of the Psalmist as we testify to the truth that “You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God [who] gives power and strength to his people.Praise be to God!”

It is our joy to “Praise the Lord.” It is our privilege to “Praise God in his sanctuary.” It is our glory to “Praise him in his mighty heavens.” At any time, in any place, on any occasion, for any reason, with any accompaniment, in the company of anyone, we worship you, Lord, with heart and soul, adoration and thanksgiving.

Yet, throughout the ages of your gracious condescension to sinful humanity, you have invited us into relationship and communion at designated times and designated places sanctified by and for your divine presence:  a garden, a burning bush, a tabernacle, a mountaintop, a temple, a manger, a seaside, a cross, an empty tomb, an upper room.

We have raised sanctuaries as places reserved and preserved for the faithful to “come out from among them” and “be separate” from the world while congregating for worship and ministry, study and fellowship, service and mission. The church has became synonymous with the Church.

In these days when our familiar places and practices and participants have become off-limits, we may struggle to maintain our crucial connections with one another, and even with you, Lord. We may feel desperately, and immediately, the need to restore the essential Body life we are missing. We crave the return to all that is normal and comforting. We are not whole without the whole congregation.

Eternal God, grant us your grace and patience while waiting for appropriate approvals and plans to be finalized. Give us the sense of compassionate responsibility for the health and welfare of each other. Help us respect the roles of leaders both within and beyond the Church as they seek out the best path to lead us through this changing and challenging time.

Enable us to have enthusiasm for the routine and mundane tasks we may be asked to do for the protection and safety of our fellow worshipers. Stir up our creative gifts as we try to find alternate and resourceful methods to experience your presence among us and deepen our commitment to the Body over having our own preferences adopted. Finally, reveal to us the value of seeing you at work in all circumstances, turning an excess of free time into prayer time, and making all that we do ‘worshipful work’ before you.

In the Name of Your Son Jesus, the Risen Christ, we pray. Amen.

(Psalm 68:35; 150:1; 2 Corinthians 6:17)

May 14, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THOSE GOING HUNGRY TODAY IN AMERICA:

O God of all grace and generosity, it is true that the abundance of your gifts showered upon this people inspires occasional outpourings of gratitude and distributions of goods to the “less fortunate.”  The sensitive and compassionate American may also look with more than a little embarrassment on the conspicuous consumerism that stands in stark contrast to the starving children and food insecurities of other nations. But recent days have revealed just how tenuous the provision of resources can be, even for us. Emergency food supplies are in demand. Pick-up lines stretch for miles. Charitable giveaways can’t meet the needs. Farm products in danger of disposal, and formerly wasted excess, are rerouted to the hungry.

O Lord, more and more of the ‘suddenly poor’ find themselves identifying with the prophet who counseled, “Arise, cry out in the night….Pour out your heart…before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger….” And your servant Paul, who said, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” offered the answer: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Your Son Jesus affirmed himself as “…the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” May this conviction lead many to the source and security of all of life, now and forever.

Yet we understand, O God, that for one lacking daily necessities, hearing us say, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, is of no good or use. Your grace abounds to us, and from our sufficiency may we do good work, distributing freely to the poor. That sort of “righteousness endures forever.” We take your example and the commands of Jesus to heart when we do good to all without differentiation. We would be children of the Father who “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust; For there is no respect of persons with God.” We would look for no recompense in being generous as you are.

Blessed be Your Name, as in the Name of Your Son Jesus, the Risen Christ, we pray. Amen.

(Philippians 4:11-13; Lamentations 2:19; John 6:35; James 2:15-17; 2 Corinthians 9:8-10; Matthew 5:44-46; Romans 2:11)

May 7, 2020

PRAYER FOR MOTHERS IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC:

Dear God,

It is not much of a stretch—if any at all—for us to acclaim as both an essential and a vulnerable population, the mothers among us. Though for much of humanity’s comparatively brief history on this earth, women have been viewed as the weaker sex and second-class citizens, their lofty roles as life-bearers and social-stabilizers belie that perspective. We have learned from You, O God, as you have consistently enabled and ennobled the place and contributions of women, modelling mutuality and respecting motherhood. It is not by accident that the scriptures are full of examples of mothers conceiving and carrying and birthing and nurturing the called and chosen leaders and saviors, including your own Son, Jesus. We are humbled in the presence—or at the remembrance—of the mothers who have given each of us—and every other person ever to breathe the air of this planet—the life we call our own, but owe to them.

And so it is that we lift before you in these crucial days the mothers of every sort and every generation who carry the extra weights of heavy expectations and daunting needs as they care for others, often at their own expense.  Though we cannot name them all, by way of naming these groups perhaps may we be led to pray for individuals in them and beyond them, as well.  So, Lord, hear our prayers, and provide your blessings, for those we recognize as Expectant Mothers, Postpartum Mothers, Working Mothers, Single Mothers, Teaching Mothers, EMS Mothers, Quarantined Mothers, Estranged Mothers, Military Mothers, Special Needs Mothers, Senior/Aging Mothers, Mothers Caring for Mothers, Low- and No-Income Mothers, Mothers With Sick Children, Mourning Mothers, and Empty-Nest Mothers.

Grant every one the confidence and encouragement that you are aware of their selflessness and reward their efforts.  Strengthen their spirits with your Spirit.  Give patience and hope in the face of stress and worry.  Show yourself worthy of the belief and trust they place in you.  May faith become sight daily.  And let us all “rise up and call them blessed.”

In the Name of Your Son Jesus, the Risen Christ, we pray.  Amen.

May 1, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THE EMOTIONALLY DISTRESSED DURING AND BY THE PANDEMIC:

Please pray with me:

We come to you acknowledging, O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you are the only wellspring of compassion and source of all comfort. Yet, to be honest, we must admit that we trust far too often in our own meager supply of willpower to appear for all the world to be ‘keeping it all together’ and ‘totally in control.’ You are aware, Lord, that the crises of these days have rattled the fragile shells of our self-reliance, revealing our fears and insecurities, all the while mocking our attempts at hope and faith.

A popular song puts words to the feelings:  “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough, every single lie that tells me I will never measure up.  You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing.  You say I am strong when I think I am weak.  Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know.”  We are the righteous, the brokenhearted, who cry for help.  Hear, and deliver us out of all our troubles.  Your words are our hope:  “The Lord is near to and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Help us to believe for ourselves what you spoke to your servant, Paul:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Give us the grace to cast all our anxiety on you because we know you care for us.  We want your Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind to banish our spirit of fear.  Glorify yourself in us, as we manifest your gifts of beauty replacing ashes, gladness replacing mourning, and praise replacing faint-heartedness.

And in taking your Word to heart, grant that we may then extend to others in any trouble the comfort we ourselves receive from you.

In the Name of Your Son Jesus, the Risen Christ, we pray.  Amen.

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Psalm 34; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Timothy 1:7; Isaiah 61:3; 1 Peter 5:7)

April 23, 2020

A PRAYER FOR ALL WHO ARE THE DECISION-MAKERS:

Please pray with me:

O God of Wisdom and of Understanding, we would be prudent and perceptive, too.

O God of Counsel and of Might, we would be thoughtful and valiant, too.

O God of Knowledge and of Righteousness, we would be intelligent and faithful, too.

As Your Spirit rested on our Christ, may that same Spirit stir in us “delight in the fear of the Lord” as our sole motivation and guiding principle.

These are days fraught with impacts large and small, for good or ill, from every decision made and course of action selected. From the levels of world and national governments, to statewide authorities, to local administrators, to responsible leaders in our homes, we intercede with you, Lord, for the decision-makers there. May the judgment of each and every one be based, not on “what he sees with his eyes, or decide[d] by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness…and with justice…give decisions for the poor of the earth.” (Isaiah 11)

We pray that decision-makers will “not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [the] mind” and so “approve what God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is.” (Romans 12)

In that way, we pray, decision-makers and their decisions will be blessed along with those who are the recipients of them, and You, O God, will receive the glory and honor due Your Awesome Name.

As the heavens and the earth were once called as witnesses that life and death, blessings and curses have been set before your people, may we all now choose wisely the things of life and love, health and safety, so that we and our children and our children’s children may live, love You Lord, listen to Your voice, and hold fast to “the only wise God our Saviour, that is able to keep [us] from falling….” (Deut. 30, Jude)

In the Name of Your Son Jesus, the Risen Christ, we pray. Amen.

April 16, 2020

A PRAYER FOR OUR NEIGHBORS IN A TIME OF CRISIS:

Please pray with me:

O God, in your great wisdom and provision, and following the six days of the institution of this earth, you planted a garden.And when you placed in it the man and woman you created, Eden became the first neighborhood, where you were to be found “walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” We rejoice yet today in this concept of intimacy and fellowship, and crave the harmony and mutual support that is intended to be the hallmark of our lives with You and with one another.

Your Word describes you, Lord, with images such as a lion and a shepherd, a father figure and a nursing mother, a consuming fire and a warrior, a rock and a friend, though not as a neighbor. But truly, in Jesus, you have ‘moved into our neighborhood’ and befriended us. And when we respond to your invitation to “be my people and I will be your God,” we move into your neighborhood, to become your friends, and more.

Wherever our neighborhood is, O God, take up permanent and transforming residence there. And whoever our neighbors are, O God, whether familiar friends or strangers who could yet be friends, grant them the comfort and assurance of sensing your love there. And in our efforts to be neighborly as Jesus defined our responsibility to all of those He considered His, and our, neighbors, and to care for their needs in every way we are able, give these folks the spiritual vision to see you at work in all of us. For, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor…” (Proverbs 12:26a) and “Everyone helps his neighbor and says to his brother, ‘Be strong!’” (Isaiah 41:6)May the bonds forged in these difficult days lead to lasting friendships and grace-full neighborhoods.

In the Name of Your Son, the Savior of all who believe, Jesus the Risen Christ, we pray. Amen.

April 11, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD AT EASTER:

Please pray with me:

Heavenly Father, it is only by means of the redemption and intercession of your precious Son Jesus—and our own confession unto salvation—that we have free admission to your presence and the privilege of addressing you as Abba. We approach you now as children will: with love, because it is your love for us that has taught us how to truly love; with joy, since being near you is always a pleasure; with hope, the confidence that you hear and answer our prayers; with trust, that within your divine purpose for us all will be well; and with peace, the blessed protection of our hearts and minds in Christ.

Still, many of your children, O Lord, are distressed beyond measure at the disruption of the much-anticipated communal commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus. The Easter celebration is an event of the highest order for believers, and we love to honor our God. But resisting the wise counsel of the authorities who are acting to protect the health and well-being of all, and defying the laws enacted to do the same, is to dishonor you, Father, giver of the liberties we cherish. May leaders who intend to violate the limitations on large gatherings, and encourage their flocks to do the same, thereby putting many at risk, be granted the humility and clarity to use other means to worship together and preserve their testimony before the unbelievers.

Forgive us, O Lord, for our presumption in thinking that our traditional approaches and customary practices and personal preferences constitute the only divinely-approved methods to pray, proclaim, praise, preach, or promote the Faith of the Gospel. Let our goal be your glory above all.

Provide us your promised antidote for anxiety of any kind, about any and all things: the perfect peace which surpasses all understanding, as in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving we let our requests be made known to You. And may we, as your children and siblings with Jesus our Elder Brother, keep our minds “stayed on thee” and whatever is true, is honorable, is just, is pure, is lovely, is commendable, is excellent, and is praise-worthy.

In the Name of Your Son, the Savior of all who believe, Jesus the Risen Christ, we pray. Amen.

April 6, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THOSE UNEMPLOYED BY THE PANDEMIC:

Please pray with me:

God of all gods, Lord of all lords, and King of all kings, “All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.” (Ps. 145:10)

We your people praise you, Almighty Creator of all, and stand in awe of your wonderful acts, the works of your hands.  They testify to your presence and provision in the world you have brought into being.  In six days you made all that there is, and blessed the seventh and made it holy, because on it you rested from all the work of creating that you had done. (Gen. 2:3)  You established the nobility and responsibility of work, and set the continuing example for mankind by planting Eden, and placing Adam and Eve in the garden to work it and take care of it.

Honest and profitable and conscientious labor “as unto the Lord” remains a holy calling and an essential element of every world structure.  Our work is closely tied to our personal identities, our contributions to—and place in—society, our family needs and stability, our aspirations for the future, our sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, and even our faith, through stewardship and charity.

We lift before you, O God, all those who have been left without gainful employment in these days of upheaval and so many cascading losses.  We hear their uncertainty, fear, futility, frustration, and desperation in the news and on social media.  With little or no income to cope with ongoing expenses and debts, individuals and families are in crisis, often seeing nowhere to turn.  None of us is immune to the possibilities many are experiencing as realities.  Our prayer is for them, and also for us.

Our hope is in you, Lord.  Help our unbelief.  Reverse this woeful situation.  Save us alive, we pray.  Restore to us the measure of blessing we have enjoyed freely at your gracious hand.  Make us mindful of small things and contented in what is enough.  Pry open our grasp on what we want, so that you may pour abundantly into our hands what we most need.  Enable us to walk by faith even when what we see is scary.  If not the comforts, grant us the basic necessities.  Grant us sufficient to share with those who have less.  Teach us the humility that accepts, in place of the pride that rejects.  Let us find places in mutually supportive community…social, relational, emotional, financial, spiritual…so that we may “in deed”—and Lord willing—get through this together.

In the Name of Your Son, the Savior of all who believe, Jesus the Christ, we pray.  Amen.

April 2, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN DURING A PANDEMIC:

Please pray with me:

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.  Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”

O ‘Heavenly Father,’ we cherish the depth of affection and connection represented by that title, one that your Beloved Son used and also commended to us, your spiritual children.  We are promised that “from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children….”

Truly you embrace the children of every generation with a special degree of care and blessing, as did your Son, Jesus.“  Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” he commanded.  And that adoration and respect was returned, as when on the occasion of Christ’s triumphal entry the children saw his miracles of healing and shouted in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

Children hold a special place in our hearts, too, Father God.  So it is that we petition you, by the infinite love and glorious power you wield, to intervene for the protection and provision the children of our day require.  Regardless of age, they are the powerless, the vulnerable, the innocent, the trusting, the dependent.  They deserve adequate basic needs to be met, safe and healthy environments, comprehensive education, reassurance and support, sound advice, to be trusted with the truth, a hopeful vision of the future, and guidance into the Faith that You, Father, have the will and ability to see they get there untouched by this tragedy.  So provide, we pray, the wise and discerning and compassionate adults who will be tasked with being examples, mentors, listeners, teachers, counselors, nurturers, protectors, and spiritual disciplers as needed.

Your Word tells us that “Children are a heritage from the Lord.”  We accept this ‘divine childcare’ as our high and holy calling, Lord.

In the Name of Your Son, the Savior of all who believe, Jesus the Christ, we pray.  Amen.

March 30, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THOSE ON THE FRONT LINES OF DEFENSE FOR ALL FROM THE PANDEMIC:

Please pray with me:

All Powerful, Preserving and Protecting God,

In the face of an invisible and insidious foe, many would consider it prudent to run away from it.  But in your wisdom and grace you have called and gifted certain people who distinguish themselves by running toward danger in order to rescue others threatened by it.  We call them ‘responders’ and we thank you for these women and men whom you inspire with courageous and self-sacrificing commitment to act at a moment’s notice.

That moment has come, and they continue to appear first as emergency services—like medical, fire and police—, then hospital staff—like doctors, nurses and technicians.  Alongside them work authorities to organize preventative and provisional efforts, medical equipment producers, laboratories in search of a cure, and a whole host of people who do every other job from industriously cleaning surfaces to respectfully caring for the dead.  We thank you, O God, for giving us them, and we thank them, O God, for honoring you.

Place a hedge of protection about these special servants, Lord, as they face mounting pressures to perform their tasks, while bearing the heavy burden of the risks they necessarily take.  May your servant Peter’s counsel (1:5:6-9) buoy them up:“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  Though this pandemic may be described as “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” and much of “the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings,” your servant Paul (2 Timothy 4:17) attests that “the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength,…I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.”

To You be glory for ever and ever. In the Name of Your Son, the Savior of all who believe, Jesus the Christ, we pray.  Amen.

March 27, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THE LONELY AND ISOLATED DURING THE PANDEMIC:

Please pray with me:

Holy God, you know these are desperate days for your children, and that in our desperation to break the chain of infection and spare as many as possible from its devastating impact, we have had to implement desperate measures. We use euphemisms like ‘social distancing’ and ‘sheltering in place,’ but those who feel the effects most acutely might prefer to call it ‘solitary confinement.’  Though not a punishment, necessary isolation can breed loneliness and despair.

We know that for You, Our God, relationships are of eternal value. You, in your great wisdom, have manifested yourself to us in Three Persons, a Trinity of Divine Family:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Like Jesus, who sought solitary places to commune with and pray to His Heavenly Father, may all who feel alone, even abandoned, find security and comfort in the One who is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  You are “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows….” and you “set the lonely in families….” (Psalm 68:5-6a)

So we make this appeal for ourselves, and on behalf of those who may or may not have those supportive family networks of either the earthly or Heavenly variety.  “Let us not become weary in doing good,…let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:9-11)  We kneel before you, Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, praying that you will strengthen us through your Spirit in us, so that Christ may dwell in all our hearts through faith. (from Ephesians 3:14-17)

In the Name of Your Son, the Savior of all who believe, Jesus the Christ, we pray.  Amen.

March 25, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THOSE WHOSE LOVED ONES HAVE SUCCUMBED TO THE PANDEMIC:

Please pray with me:

O Ever-present and Loving God, hear our heart-felt prayers for all those who grieve at the death of loved ones suddenly and inexplicably stricken by the mysterious malady now known as COVID-19.In our common experience of mortal life, uncertainty and loss come to all of us, we have learned. And yet, these days have brought unimaginable sorrows on a scale this generation has never seen. The tragedy has touched both the weak and the healthy, the old and the young, regardless of socio-economic class, in ‘third world’ states, and in nations believed to be invincible.

As our Lord Jesus was “…not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities…” (Hebrews 4:15), but himself wept at the grave of a beloved friend (John 11:35), so may we choose to be in sympathy with others after His example.  May they seek after Him who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” And Heavenly Father, should it be that we ourselves even now are among the number for whom this prayer is extended—or it may be our lot at some time to come—“Open the eyes of [our hearts], Lord. [We] want to see You…high and lifted up, shining in the light of Your glory. Pour out Your power and love…” on us who testify to the hope and help You alone provide for your hurting children.

In the Name of Your Son, the Savior of all who believe, Jesus the Christ, we pray.  Amen.

March 23, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THOSE PHYSICALLY AFFECTED BY THE PANDEMIC:

Please pray with me:

Almighty and Most Gracious God, hear the prayers we offer this day in intercession for those individuals around the globe most fearfully and painfully afflicted by the viral plague sweeping our world.  Grant to us compassionate spirits and empathetic hearts—unbiased by social or political difference—as we lift before you all the persons of various nations and languages and skin colors and cultures and ethnic heritages who have contracted the disease through no fault of their own.May our intentions turn toward moral and material support, and away from blame and recrimination.

O Great Physician, we implore you to make your loving and comforting presence real to each of your children who has been exposed, infected, carries, is asymptomatic, diagnosed, quarantined, or hospitalized with this dreaded strain.  Extend your powerful hand of healing to restore to health the suffering and stay the spread of additional cases of the disease.  Be pleased to perform your miracles in our day apart from—or by means of—the efforts of skilled and selfless medical practitioners, as you choose.  As you strengthen ravaged bodies and calm stricken minds, so too draw wounded souls to your spiritual embrace, that hope might become faith and faith might become sight, and sight might become praise to your glory.

In the Name of Your Son, the Savior of all who believe, Jesus the Christ, we pray.  Amen.