Sunday evening, November 6, we gathered for a service of “Prayers for the Nation,” featuring music and poetic prayers from lay leaders of our church. Today, the day following Election Day, we offer these prayers as a resource for all of us.
We heard of one church member who, deciding not to venture out twice on a Sunday, asked a friend to bring her a bulletin. These two sat together in her home and prayed through the prompts and movements of the service while their church community prayed down the road.
We invite you to follow her lead with the words below, as day by day we continue to pray and act in ways that reflect the loving presence of our God, whom we believe will “hear from heaven and heal our land” (2 Chronicles 7.14).
A BENEDICTION FOR THE ELECTION, by Pastor Alan Sherouse
Tuesday is a day of decision, but day by day we decide what world we want to live in. Each day, let’s try to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Let’s forgive as we have been forgiven. Let’s love our neighbor as ourselves, and love the stranger until they no longer seem strange. Each day let’s choose community over division, understanding over fear, and hope over cynicism, that bitterness and outrage might give way to healing and wholeness, showing that Jesus was right when he said the Kingdom of God can be near.
I. A PRAYER FOR CIVIL SERVANTS, by Dr. Scott Culclasure
Heavenly Father, when we address you as LORD, or describe your kingdom as mighty and everlasting, we use vocabulary that comes from a place other than our democratic society. Such words, however, suggest that our efforts to secure justice and to lift up the downtrodden, no matter how sincere, remain as incomplete as we are when we turn away from you.
We pray on behalf of those who lead us, whether elected or appointed, in local and state and national offices, that their chief reliance be on you and your wisdom. Guide and strengthen them, even when they are unaware of your presence. May they remain true to their calling as civil servants, doing good work even when the issues they confront lack simple solutions.
For those who risk their wellbeing to protect the liberties we enjoy, we pray for your strengthening hand, especially when they must confront issues of life or death. Their sacrifices are great, as family and loved ones who make due in their absence know better than anyone.
Closer to home, we remember law enforcement officers who help keep us safe as they patrol our streets and neighborhoods. May their work so reflect your righteousness that no one feels threatened or intimidated by their presence. And may they find themselves as valued for what they do as the lives they are sworn to protect.
So many of us wanted to be firefighters when we grew up, until we realized their work entailed far more risk than maintaining shiny machines and caring for spotted dogs. We are thankful not only for their efforts in times of emergency, but also for the refuge they offer daily at the stations they staff.
We know from Scripture stories of good judges and bad, enough to value the honesty and integrity our courts strive to deliver as judges and court officials seek the justice that is so central to your identity.
We speak poorly of bureaucracy, and yet in countless and drab office places and in classrooms made bare with too few resources, the work of caring and teaching goes on, even when we are unaware of it. We are thankful for those who labor with too little recognition to care for the poor, the abused, the young, the orphaned, the homeless, the elderly, the unemployed, the afflicted, and we pray for forgiveness when we expect these officials to make all things right with little engagement from us.
And, finally, Father, we confess that our lives tend to be ones of comfort and privilege. Sometimes we take for granted our safety or the security of our homes and possessions. We may disregard and even disrespect the sacrifices made by others on our behalf. We afford ourselves the cheap cynicism that assumes corruption by those whom we call public servants, forgetting the role our apathy plays in corroding public trust. Help us remember that our liberties come with responsibilities and expectations on how to live in community with those who are like us as well as those who are different.
Now, hear our prayers, as we lift up individuals who strive to serve the public good.
II. A PRAYER FOR MARGINALIZED PERSONS, by Anna McLeod Cushman
Lord, in this time of political change may we usher in and embrace an even greater change within ourselves. We must care for and commune with those who society says are insignificant more than ever before. There are so many people who we push to the edges of society, instead of offering them a place within it. We ask your forgiveness, most gracious father.
We pray for the poor people who want for basic necessities like food, water, safe, affordable housing, healthcare, and love. Help us to share our plenty. Bind us together as we share, Lord.
We pray for the strangers, the new-comers, who want for a genuine sense of belonging in a new land. Help us to stop excluding them from our community on account of culture, custom, or language. Bind us together as we learn and welcome, Lord.
We pray for the lonely people who want for a friend. Redirect us from our self-centered pursuits to create new friendships across generations and social strata. Bind us together as we comfort each other and connect, Lord.
We pray for peace. We do not just call for the absence of war, but we seek the completeness and wholeness of every individual, within societal relations, and for the whole world. Help us to bring people in from the margins to make a new wholeness held together by love. You have given us Christ’s example, and we ask that you grant us the courage to follow Him.
We pray for those who are discriminated against based on their immutable characteristics rather than their actions. Help us to ease the pain of this injustice through a lived respect and an expressed love for these qualities. You know the beauty within and the power we have, through you, to overcome our mistakes and failings.
Put us to work, Lord, so all of the people who have been pushed to the edges, will be welcomed to the center and celebrated as your children. May the invitation come from our lips and extended hands.
Bind us, together, Lord, so we may be elevated into a more God-like humanity.
III. A PRAYER FOR THE WORKPLACE, by Jody Moore
Turn your hands open to the heavens as you open your hearts and minds.
Lord as we come to you in solemn prayer for each other, for our community, for our nation. We ask for your peace to wash over us. We ask for your guidance and introspection.
Lord let us consider those that work in the job that none of us see and for the pay that barely feeds their family.Bring into view the father that has dreams of providing for his family and just needs a helping hand. And remind us to celebrate the young woman that got that key promotion at work.
Father, guide us down the path that allows us the vision to see what is fair and just. As we interact with those around us, those we lead, those we follow, those we work with let us be fair and inclusive in the actions we take. Let us speak in a language of togetherness, lets us talk about how we bring fulfillment to one another.
Lord, remind us there is a calling in what we do for one another, that we are all put on earth to serve. To serve each other. In our days at the office or in the street, we have the opportunity to be Christ through our jobs or just through the smile to the person standing beside you.
Father you have taught us in Hebrews- Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…”
God our Father, now we need encouragement, we need equality, we need peace, but most of all we need to show love. Love of you and love of each other.
IV. A PRAYER FOR THE CHURCH, by Martha Robison-Spangler
Our Father, when we think of our church, our first thoughts are of thanksgiving—how grateful we are for the physical building, the beauty of it, how thankful we are for the teaching ministry of the church, the preaching ministry. We praise you and thank you for our pastors. You have given us such gifted and dedicated leadership. We are so thankful, our Father. We praise you and thank you.
But Father we need unity; we need your holy spirit to guide us and give us direction. We ask that you will bless us as a people committed to serving and living for you, that you will bless us with a sense of unity and direction, that you will help us to love each other, and that this neighborhood, this town, will know that we know you because we love each other. May that love shine out into the community, and with your spirit’s leading, may it minister to this community in new ways.
We ask for your blessings on all of the ministries that we’re already doing in this community, and as our prayers and our money goes out to our missionaries that are serving around the world in your name, we thank you for that, and we ask that you give us renewed dedication and commitment to that ministry, that you will be with our pastors and our leadership, and that we may be speaking the good news in this community and around the world.
Renew our commitment, our Father. Make us sensitive to your voice and to your direction in our lives, that we might be the church that you want us to be in this neighborhood and in this part of the world.
And we join our hearts tonight in praying for the universal Church, the greater Church of which we are a part, praying for the many parts of it that are in persecution tonight, that do not have the freedoms that we have as a people. Pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, for that part of the Church is a part of us too.
Bless us as the body of Christ in this community, and continue to use us, continue to infuse us with your spirit, so that we speak your love to people who need it, that we can be your presence wherever you put us.
We thank you again for the ways you have blessed us and for the work that you have called us to do, and for the talents and abilities and the monies you have given us to do that work. We thank you, and we commit it all again and again to you and praise your holy name. Thank you Father. In the name of Jesus our savior, Amen.
V. A PRAYER FOR HOME AND FAMILY, by Laura Wall
Heavenly Father, we gather as family of faith, brothers and sisters who desire community, unconditional love and wisdom.
We bring to you our families… Some of us are in a season of celebration of the covenant of marriage, the addition of new babies, the achievements of our growing children, the bittersweet task of preparing our children for their journey beyond the safety of our home, and the love we share with our spouse. Some of us juggle parenting our children while caring for our parents. Some of us are in a season of reflection, of celebrating the generations of our family and some of us look to celebrating with our heavenly family. We thank you Lord for the joy we find in each other.
Some of us come anxious to know where our families are headed, if wounds of distrust can be mended, if the health of a loved one will be recovered. Lord, we grieve the loss of life…of miscarriage, of infertility, of loved ones we expected more time with, we grieve the loss of lifetime friends and the loss of a spouse. In you we place our brokenness and hope. We ask you to quiet our anxious, defensive thoughts and for you to replace them with wisdom and for grace to fill us. Forgive us Lord as we learn to forgive and help us lay to rest our worries. Reveal to us for the ways you are mending and refining our lives and bring us up out of our grief to see those in our life that remain.
Some of us Lord, are searching for family. We need someone to see us, to help us identify the gifts you have given us and discover what paths you have for our life. We yearn for relationships that are vulnerable enough to let us share our story and brave enough to help us stand in the light of your Love in a world that can seem so judgmental and dismissive. Help us to step forward, to reach out to one another and to discover.
We are here Lord, in this space we find you. Our father who lets us come as we are, who loves us in our messiness and rejoices with us even in the smallest moments. Lord help us to see our families through your eyes. Help us to see Christ and to share Christ. Teach us ways to model your love. Love to those in the pew beside us, the house beside us, the towns, the states, and the nations around us. Love to our friends who become our chosen family and love to the family that makes up this body, the family that is yours.
VI. A PRAYER FOR HEALING, by April Eller
As we pray, I invite you to be active and present in your breathing. Be deeply aware of your breathing. Be intentional with your breathe as it becomes deeper and slower more regular and quieter. Let us pray.
Lord, you are the creator of all of life. It is you that sustains our life with the gift of each inhale and exhale. In your great wisdom you gave us breathe to help give us pause.
We pause now, breathing deeper & slower more regular & quieter and reach so longingly to you. And, of course, Father, you have been there all along because you are a God that is ever present.
Lord, you see our every hurt and every disappointment. You see our anxiety when as a community we feel divided.
In our time of loss, Lord, you know intimately our grief and sorrow that is suffocating and too heavy to bear alone. Sometimes you have been the only comfort near as we weep for ourselves or loved ones suffering from a mental illness or an addiction.
And Lord, you have sat with us while we have been weak and ill. Oh gracious Father, you are so close that we can hear you whispering in our ear: “sons and daughters… come to me, come to me now, I have heard your call, I have felt your pain, I alone can heal your broken heart, your grief , your division, your sorrow, your anger and emptiness, but most of all come to me expectantly for I am faithful. I see your burdens; surrender it all to me, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST”.
And Lord, the Great Physician, we do come to you in this moment surrendering all and asking you to heal our bodies and restore our health. Give comfort to those with illnesses and those that are dying.
We ask for you to heal our aching souls that feel empty and lonely by filling us with your Holy Spirit.
Make foreign to us greed and selfishness, toss from our lives indifference and hate. Fill us so deeply with your love, close our divides, and make us whole again and able to love you fully and to love others sincerely.
And, Lord, heal our minds. Do not let our minds be led by the forces that do not come from you, those of prejudice and judgement. Set us on your path, recognizing that no matter where on this earth we were born we all belong to each other. Restore us with your Word and your truth so we are prepared to be your healing hands on our hurting world.
Lord, we know the rest and healing you provide is the only authentic restoration, it is the healing that with each breath deeper and slower more regular and quieter reaches every inch of our bodies and to the depth of our souls and to ever corner of our minds. For you alone, as our most awesome creator, can truly restore and heal us. Heal us now and those we lift up to you.
VII. A PRAYER FOR DEVOTION, by Rev. Dwight Fickling
I invite you as you are able to please stand, turn and face another person, and reach out and touch someone—take a hand, touch an arm, or a shoulder, so that we may symbolize, and perhaps even feel, our oneness in Christ. Now we pray.
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name on all the earth. Your
name is a name that is above every name, a name worthy to be exalted, a name to be listened to and obeyed. You are God; we are not God. We here before you Lord are your people because of your great love and mercy extended to us in Jesus the Christ.
We live in a world created by you, but frustrated and broken by the entrance of sin, disobedience, the desire and attempt by humanity to be number one, to be in control, instead of obeying your benevolent and gracious control.
This shattered world in which we live is not our final, permanent home. Our real home is that heaven sent home envisioned by John,
which will be apparent after the consummation of all things.
In the meantime, as Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, for what is seen is
temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Or again, as the writer of Hebrews, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who is sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In our time, Lord, help us not to be burdened and weighed down and disheartened by all the negative and frightful things swirling around us. Help us, day by day, to, as the Psalmist has said, look to the Lord and his strength, seek his face always. Help us, O God, individually to come back to the circumstances where we can know and say along with the Psalmist, “My eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you, I take refuge.