Each week at church a portion of the service is for “Prayers of the People.” Each week it’s a different member of the congregation who has prepared in advance and comes up to pray for a few minutes. The very general guidelines are prayers for the world, the Church, and ourselves. This week, I was on.
It was a hard week to be on.
With the bombing of an Egyptian church just a few days before, horror in Aleppo and Yemen, a state of emergency in Ethiopia, and South Sudan on the brink of genocide…plus the health issues, injustices, and other overwhelming hurts I know that people in our church are dealing with…It’s a lot. This advent season has been a tough one.
Below is the prayer I prepared and shared. I ended up crying a bit as I shared it, and afterwards a few people came up and said that I’d articulated exactly what they’ve been feeling. I share here because perhaps it will resonate with you as well. Thanks for reading. May we hold dear to Gods promises this season.
King of all nations.
We come to you today lifting all peoples, tribes, nations and tongues to you. We look around at the world and indeed our hearts are heavy.
We pray for the crisis and conflict in Syria. The starvation and war in Yemen. We lift up those facing desperate times and massacre in Sudan and South Sudan.
So much loss of life. Unspoken horrors enacted on people you’ve created.
We lift up Nigeria and Somalia. We pray for Turkey. We lift up those experiencing persecution. For their faith, their race, their gender. We ask that all of your people, all over the world, would see your image in each person you have formed.
Father, we look around, and we see brokenness. We see a world desperate for you and we cry out. Our friends are struggling, our families hurt, people we love face situations we can’t fathom. And yet we know there are those who face things even worse. Wars seem unceasing, hate seems rampant, and we see hurt everywhere we look.
In this season of Advent we hurt, Father. Your body has been attacked here in Egypt. Your children have been killed. We grieve and you grieve with us. We ask now that you would be Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. Heal those recovering in the hospital who were injured in the attack on Sunday. Jehovah Shammah, God who is there, be near to those who lost loved ones. Be near to those grieving this brutality.
When this world hurts us and breaks us, when we are tempted to forget your Word and your power and your promises, when we are tempted to live in fear… Jehovah Shalom. Lord…be our peace.
We carry our own hurts, the hurts of those we love, the hurts from this week in this beautiful nation, and the hurts we see all over your awe-inspiring creation. Be with those who lead us. Our Archbishop, our Reverend and his wife. They carry the hurts of many and we ask that you would strengthen them as they strengthen your people.
We ask for your restoration. In our bodies, in our hearts, in our relationships. In this broken world aching to be restored to you. Use us in this restoration work, we ask. Be near to the brokenhearted, heal those who are sick, nourish those who are hungry. When we empty ourselves in this work, we ask that you would fill us again.
Jehovah Jireh, be our provider.
We thank you that you do not abandon your people. We thank you for the Advent promise. Jesus, our savior. The Savior of the world. Emmanuel, God with us. The most beautiful gift we could receive.
As we celebrate Christ’s first coming this Christmas season, we ask that you would guide and lead us as we live, by your Spirit, as children of the Word. Help us to use our hurts as opportunities to connect with others who are hurting. May we use our brokenness to share the hope that we have in you. Give us eyes to see, generous spirits, and wisdom in knowing how to love those who are hurting around us. And to pray and support those hurting who are far away. Help and equip us to care for the weak, the poor, the stranger, the widow, the orphan.
King of kings, Lord of lords, ancient of days, help us remember who we are in you. Yahweh-Raah, our Good Shepard. You are good, you have always been good, you will always be good to us. Strengthen us by your love, equip us by your word, and keep us near to you.
May we love our neighbors. May we love our enemies. And may we love the unloved, remembering that you have loved us first.
In your mercy, hear our prayer.