Prayers for a Congregation #1

[Prayer Spark: Laziness…. This is Congregation Prayer I offered on November 3 at Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church]

God in heaven,

Thank you for this beautiful day. That we can be together in this space singing your praises, hearing your words, and now bowing before you in prayer. Thank you for warm spaces, for comfortable seats, and for every person who fills this space and these seats.

Thank you for the arms and legs, for hands and feet. Thank you for minds and hearts and souls that do your work in this world, that reach go into the corners and crevices or wide-open spaces of this world and bring your light and your love with them.

God, even though we thank you today for sunshine and blue skies, with November comes days where the weather turns and the skies gray up. Often turning our moods right with it. And the winds blow colder and the days tighten, so do our hearts. And as the leaves wither and fall, we are reminded that death and decay are parts of this life.

Today we think of those we love who are no longer with us, we remember relationships that are no longer what they once were. We mourn dreams that have not come to be, opportunities that are long past. We consider what illnesses or addictions have robbed us of. We bristle at the sins we’ve committed even as we flinch at the sins committed against us.

Lord, in all of this, we crave your comfort. We long for your peace and warmth to fill our souls, to surround our anxious minds, to hold our broken hearts in your healing hands.

So today God we ask that you grant us your comfort. We ask for signs that you are with us, that you remember us; that you forgive us; that you await us with your mercy, with arms ready to hold us close or lift us up.

But God we know that you have called us to comfort one another; to offer each other our arms as extensions of yours. That you call us to speak words of encouragement and kindness into one another’s lives. That you’d have us remove masks, to be vulnerable in our words and deeds, to tell the truth about difficult areas of life, as a means of comforting one another, as a way of showing others none of us are alone in our struggles or disappointments, in our doubts or with the demons we wrestle. Let us all understand that we all walk this road together—at different times, in different ways. No one escapes the trouble of this world.

God, as we seek to comfort one another, let us be people who commiserate, who empathize, who remove masks of perfection, who come clean with the brokenness we all share. Let us do this in love, in an act of hospitability, so that no one here feels alone, beyond your hope and your healing. So that no one here is crippled in shame.

Let us offer this to those who sit here today worried about the week ahead: those awaiting health news or job news; those worried about finances or families; those worried about homework or housework; those worried about bullies or friends; those worried about death, those worried about life.

Give us eyes and ears to see and to hear those who need to feel you today. Open arms and conversations and arms.

As we sing the words of St. Teresa now, cement in us the knowledge that we are your body. Make us willing to reach out and reach in to one another’s lives with your grace, your peace and your comfort.

Amen.

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