Prayers of the People

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Prayers of the People March 10, 2019

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Based on Matthew 4:1-11 The Temptation in the Wilderness

Receive our offering today, O God.  We acknowledge that there are others whose needs exceed our own.  We pray that through our gifts their burdens may be lessened, or their healing may begin, or hungers may be satisfied, or hope may be re-instilled, or a new beginning may unfold.  Use our gifts in ways that best serve your people in need, we pray.

This day and every day, keep our attention closely focused upon our constant friend and companion, Jesus.  Filled with your Holy Spirit he endured forty days of testing and temptation alone in the wilderness; then he returned to resume his ministry, filled with power.  In this Lenten season of forty days, may we, too, be filled with an awareness of your Holy Spirit – alive and alert, strong and supportive in our midst, empowering us to engage our world and meet its tests and temptations.  

We admit that our temptations may stretch from forty days to forty years, and still we have difficulty learning to meet them.  Whether we yield to them or deny them, bury them under distractions or mask them with demonstrations of our goodness, all too soon we find new temptations surface to trouble us.  When we feel we are in a wilderness of tests and temptations, teach us to meet them as Jesus did: simply, directly, and confidently – always weighing the quick fix and easy satisfaction against the bigger picture of faithfulness to you, God. 

  • Jesus has told us that we do not live by bread alone. So when we are tempted to accept temporary satisfaction, let us acknowledge that the gifts you offer us, God, are far more lasting and satisfying. 
  • Jesus has told us that we are to worship and serve only you, God. So when we are tempted to offer ultimate allegiance anywhere else, stop us and reorient us to you.
  • Jesus has told us not to put you to the test, God. So when we are tempted to exploit your generosity and graciousness, make us accountable.   Help us to live with humble integrity before you and others.

Through every test and trial, God, shape our faithfulness.  Help us forgive our own and others’ failures to withstand temptations, even as we become, slowly and surely, more resolute and capable of meeting them.  Help us wear the scars of our encounters and triumphs over temptation with certainty that you see them as our finest trophies.   

We pray today in memory of the one who leads us safely through every wilderness and points us toward your eternal realm, saying now the words he taught us to use when we pray … The Lord’s Prayer.

Prayers of the People February 24, 2019

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Based on 1st Kings 19:1-5

Receive these, our gifts, God, with all our gratitude – and with wonderment for the array and the extent of the gifts you offer us every day.  It is easy, we confess, to take your bounty for granted, or to overlook it.  We may focus on what is lacking from our lives, and miss all the goodness they already contain.  Or we may convince ourselves that we have been the authors of our own success, and neglect to concede we owe everything - our very lives – to you. 

So loosen our grip on the things we are clutching too tightly now, that we may share with others who have fewer of life’s riches; and so that we may, with empty, trusting, open hands, reach for all you have yet to offer us.  Re-orient us to ourselves and our lives: so that peace may be their hallmark, not discord… so that humility may infuse them, not pride… so that kindness may flourish in us, not harshness … so that trust in you may prevail, and not discouragement.

Discouragement is, indeed, a form of bedevilment we have all known, God.  This old world’s endless, vicious cycle of wars and skirmishes is discouraging.  Its unaddressed hardships and injustices are discouraging.  Our apparent inability to reconcile with our foes and forge new friendships is discouraging.  The string of promises to us that have been abandoned or broken is discouraging.  The conditions in our lives that cause us pain, or grief, or worry are discouraging.  And so, God, we are ready at times, like your prophet, Elijah, to lie down in misery and declare defeat. 

Be with us then, gentle and patient God.  Give us bodily rest, for strength.  Show us a wider view than we are capable of seeing through the foggy lens of discouragement, for perspective.  And then motivate us, God, to get up and respond to whatever we must face, with grace and joy at the tasks still before us, and with hope for what lies ahead of us.   Remind us that you are a God of new beginnings, of new life, of resurrection miracles… and we are sure to be recipients of your endless, bountiful goodness. 

We have learned to trust in your promises, for we have responded to the call to be Christ’s followers, and have found that wonders abound in his path.  And so we pray confidently today in his memory, and using his very words, we say together… Lord’s Prayer.

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