Prayers of the People

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Prayers of the People October 21, 2018

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Based on Job 42:1-5

Constant God, we came here this morning, to remember and give thanks for life’s blessings, even as we acknowledge its strains and demands.  And each of us is grateful for the blessings we know.  We have offered gifts of song and prayer and worship, along with our monetary offering, all out of our gratitude – for life, for friendships, for new starts and new perspectives, for love, for the beauty of our world, for the promises of faith – and for the hope you inspire.  We thank you for everything that thrills us and touches our hearts, that challenges us and stretches us, that comforts and reassures us.  We are grateful. 

And yet amidst our recognition of the great bounty we’ve received by your hand, we are also aware of those things we feel we lack.  We lack certainty about our future and that of those we love.  Some of us are uncertain about health, or about a hardship that lies ahead, or about a relationship that has failed or has been strained, or about antagonism or indifference we must face.  We lack the knowledge that these matters will be resolved as we wish.   Grant us the courage and confidence to face what we must, uncertain though we may be about ultimate outcomes.  Remind us that when our hearts are heavy, our minds confounded, and our spirits strained, that we never face distress alone. 

Teach us, as you have taught so many through the centuries who followed your Son, that we are held firmly in your grasp of grace.  And like the one we call our Savior, we can therefore trust that suffering is not a punishment delivered at your hand, nor is it the end of the story.  When we must face it, let it be the means by which we cultivate endurance, establish our character, and produce sustaining hope for our lives.  You are indeed a God of transformative goodness.  Take the raw stuff of our lives, God: the good and the bad, the hardships and the victories, the pettiness and the grandeur, and make of us firm, strong, constant, loving and ever-hopeful disciples. 

Help us to affirm the promise of Christ, that our own history and that of the wider world around us, is not headed into ultimate chaos and destruction, but steadily towards your kingdom’s coming.  And with that perspective, no matter what life offers, let us become your unshakably faithful and hopeful people.  We pray these things in the name of Jesus our Christ, who taught us to pray together, saying… Lord’s Prayer.

Prayers of the People October 14, 2018

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Extravagant God, you have given us every good thing imaginable and ask that we enjoy your gifts, honor them rightly, and distribute them justly.  We are grateful for the blessings of plenty.  Receive our offerings today, that like the rich man in today’s scripture lesson, who longed to live with honor and to inherit your finest gift, we too might live honorably and nobly in your eyes.

We pray for those whose needs we have seen – our friends and our families, and we pray for those whose lives will never touch our own – but whose needs, we nevertheless know, are pressing and great.  May some of the many blessings we have offered here today, be shared among those in greatest need.

Today, God, as we consider the gifts you have to give, our prayers extend to all those who cling too tightly to the things that fail to satisfy.  We pray for those who cling to terror, believing their violence could lead to peace.  We pray for those who cling to hatred, believing their rejection of others could ever make them safe or happy.  We pray for those who cling too tightly to narrow judgment of others, believing that their fine lines of division reflect your own and will lead them to a place of distinction in your eyes.  And we pray for those who cling to money or to things.  May they be allowed a glimpse of the extraordinary pleasure of giving away, that their empty hands may be ready to receive even more from you.   

And if we are among those who have clung too tightly to things that fail to satisfy, help us cling instead to you, God.  Help us heed your insistent call to us with the same self-abandonment that those early disciples did, who laid down fishing nets, and left the tax collector’s booth, to come and follow your Son.  Give us the confidence in him, and him alone, that lets us let go of everything else, to follow, too.

We pray all these things, and offer all else that lies upon our hearts today, in the name and the spirit of Christ, using his words as we say together… Lord’s Prayer.