Holy Lord, we come to you today with our prayers for others.
Lord, in (today’s reading - Genesis 21) you heard the cry of a single child in the wilderness. We would pray today for the millions of children who are crying today throughout the world. Some cry for their lost parents, others for want of food or water; some are diseased, some are malnourished; some have been abused, and some are lonely or friendless.
We pray for them not because you are unaware of them, because we know that you hear each and every one - not as a cacophony of sound but as millions of individual sighs, cries, wailings or screams. Each child heard and understood - and loved. Instead, we pray for them because we ourselves are so often deaf to their needs - to their suffering. We turn our deaf ear to their plight because they are easier to ignore than to help; because we like our safe comfortable world that a starving child could disrupt; because we hear in their voices a call-to-action that threatens to spoil the false peace of our ungodly materialistic lives.
Lord, open our ears and our hearts to the children of the world. Move us to listen to your guidance, and to change both the world and ourselves for the benefit of the young, the peace of our own hearts, and for your glory.
Lord, you know of each and every sparrow. You know of every sheep, spider, fish or fly. You know and can number every creature that walks, crawls, swims, flies or wriggles - none are beyond your sight, or your love. Though the diversity of your creation is seemingly unbounded, though your creatures may be as numerous as the grains of sand on the beach, or as few as moons in the sky, each is individually known and loved by you. Every leaf on every tree; every blade of grass; every single seed, every fungal spore, every individual bacteria - all are seen and known to you.
We pray for the ecology of our planet that you have entrusted to our care. We pray not because you have forgotten it, or because we think we understand it better than you, nor because you need reminding of its delicate ecological balance. Instead, we pray because (despite our research, despite our education, and despite our dependence on it) we are blind to the natural world that we are part of. We destroy forests because we cannot see tomorrow, only today. We poison our rivers and oceans because they flow away from our view and away from our consideration. While whole species become extinct, we congratulate ourselves on our technology and lifestyle. We betray our children’s future for a myopic vision, where happiness can be ’bought’, where ’new and improved’ is the mantra of our unfettered desire, and where the covenant which you created between ourselves, the animals and yourself has become just our uncontrolled consumption of creation.
Lord, open our eyes and our souls to the wondrous world in which we live, and which we share. Help us to be responsible stewards to your creation rather than just consumers of it. We are charged with the care of our fragile planet - power us up with a dedication worthy of your trust. May we learn to consider our fellows of creation, to appreciate the beauty around us, and to justify your trust in us.
Lord, you know every hair on every head. Not a single cell in our bodies is beyond your perception. You perceive every thought before it arises in our minds, every feeling before it is felt in our heart, every desire before it is wished for. There is no part of us that is to you unknown, strange, hidden or forgotten.
We pray for our family, our friends, our enemies and ourselves - not because you have forsaken them, or they are forgotten. Nor because you favour one over another as we do, nor because we have any right to demand favour. Instead we pray for all of your people because we have forsaken them, we have forgotten them. We are guilty of favouring those we like, and of ignoring or harming those that we do not. Jesus loved us with an unconditional love, yet we offer only conditional love.
Lord, open our hearts to all of your children. When we love those who it is easier to love and ignore those for whom love is difficult, fill us with your unbounded love. When our love is selective, or we hold it back as though we were rationing it, help us to share our love in abundance. When we would rather strike or punish our enemies, help us instead to love our enemies, as commanded by Jesus. When we would put others before Jesus in our dry, crusty hearts, flood us with the Holy Spirit to embrace Jesus with an unreserving love that has room for everyone.
We pray also for (insert names here)
Lord, Jesus has said that no pupil is greater than his teacher. You have given us the greatest teacher and the greatest master - in Jesus. How much we should love to please Him. How much we should aspire to follow him. How much we should yearn to love Him. And you have given us other teachers, to reflect His glory, and to assist us on the road to Life in Christ.
We pray for our Church - which is not bricks and mortar but instead flesh, blood and Spirit. We pray for our Minister Reg, and his wife Marlene, and for all those who lead us in the path. We pray for the navigators, trying to plot our course into your future, and for those who care for us on the journey. We are sometimes lazy in our faith, preferring others to worship for us. Other times we think that we know best, that we are the masters, that we have learnt more than our greatest teacher.
Lord, grant us the confidence, dedication, enthusiasm and perseverance to follow Jesus, and to keep following. When our ego’s give us false airs and graces, blow the Holy Spirit through us, and fill us with Your grace. Guide those who are leading us along your path. Protect them from false trails, and impasses, and fill them with eager devotion. Give us renewed strength to journey alongside. Help us be carriers rather than carried; Pilgrims rather than spectators; may we give our life to Jesus, rather than die into an oblivion that excludes him.