Prayers of the People

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Prayers of the People October 28, 2018

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Based on Luke 11:1-13.

Receive our gifts this day, God.  And let them be a statement of our recognition that we owe our well-being to you.  In gratitude for all we now have, and all we have yet to receive, help us to hold lightly the blessings in our care, that we may be always ready to give what we can to those whose needs exceed our own.

Especially today do we acknowledge the need of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh to receive our sympathy and support in light of the shooting yesterday that has shaken them deeply.  Help us find ways to acknowledge our connection to those who are grieving.  We humbly ask that you will bring all of us wisdom for this hour.  Grant us all your enduring peace.

We stand in so many ways today, O God, in a thoughtful and humble attitude before you.  And like Christ’s disciples of old we ask… teach us to pray.  Whether we pray in complex words and deepest thoughts, or with simple caring acts, expand our vocabulary of prayer.  Teach us to pray.

If we’ve veered away from acknowledging in our prayer that you are the one who is both near as our every breath, and higher than the heavens we watch in awe, then remind us that we stand in relationship to you as our maker, our keeper, our sustainer, our closest friend, our Father.  Or if we pray as if we alone deserve your ear and your attention, remind us that Jesus taught us to pray with every other sister and brother in mind.  Then may our prayers be turned outward with compassion, more often than inward with need.  Teach us to pray… to pray well, to pray often, to pray faithfully, to pray in ways that matter for our lives and the welfare of our world.

Then as we pray, we trust, O God, that Jesus’ promises to us will be fulfilled, and all our seeking, all our asking, all our knocking will yield some results – even if the greatest results we witness will be changes to our own hearts and souls.  Teach us to pray, God, that whether we receive what we ask for or not, we may open ourselves, nonetheless, to receive everything you have to offer to us. 

We pray these things in the name and memory of the one who first taught us to pray.  And using his words we sing them together now… The Lord’s Prayer … Amen.

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.

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