A Prayer of the People

The following is a prayer written by Rachel Ebbers for our worship service on July 16th:

LORD, thank you for meeting us here. Some of us come here today like the Bible tells us Nicodemus did: in a shroud of darkness, full of questions. Other come as Mary did: in humility, thirsty to know you. Some of us come as Thomas: unsure of Jesus’ sacrifice. Like Jacob, some of us come wrestling. Like the paralytic, rejoicing. Like the woman who followed Jesus in the crowd: bleeding, desperate. You take us all in, our refuge. We are your doubting, ecstatic, broken church.

LORD, accept our broken hearts. Be with us, now in: our unbelief. In our anger. In our broken marriages. In our estrangement. In our financial need. In our physical pain. In our fear. In our crippling anxiety. In our depression, our grief, our loss.  

Our assurance is this: You knew all of it, already, before we arrived. As individuals and as a church, we need healing. Instruct us: use the wise people in our lives, your word, your creation, to teach us how to speak to each other, how to listen, and how to trust you. Help us to rest in this promise more fully: the LORD is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 

LORD, accept our broken world. It is polluted with superficial chatter. It is tempting and easy to say ruthless things. It is difficult to separate truth from deceit. There is too much language, and too little regard for it. Our leaders malign and slander each other. It is confusing and depressing to watch the news. We are caught up in our own lies; we are distracted by the “likes” we seek and accumulating followers. 

Our assurance is this: we are your followers, your disciples. It is tempting to despair about our culture, our nation, and our world. Thank you for your word, and that it is a bedrock of truth in sand: it reminds us that you are sovereign and have a plan.  It says your soul hates the wicked and those who love violence, that your plans stand firm forever, and the purpose of your heart through all generations. Give us faith in this plan. Help us to see need, and move our hearts to serve. Thank you for giving us the story of grace, and make it our prevailing story, the one we tell to others.

LORD, accept our broken church. Our sinful nature makes us hesitant to help each other but quick to cast judgment. Our sinful nature tempts some of us to be Pharisees: to privilege the rules of behaving like “good Christians” over mercy or compassion. Others among us take hold of grace without consequence: we don’t share it with others, or we allow it to become an excuse to act how we want. In more ways than we can count, we distance ourselves from you. 

Our assurance is this: this is your church, not ours. Make it look more like yours: help us to share what we have. Help us to listen to each other. Move us to serve or to lead. Make us an encouragement to Brian and his family. Teach us to be completely humble and gentle; patient, bearing with one another in love. 

We bring all this brokenness before you because your grace permits it. Help us to listen for your voice first: you have the words of eternal life. Help us to do your work: to believe in Christ, the one you sent. Help us to reflect your image: to be ministers of reconciliation. We pray all this in your holy name, AMEN.