Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Every once in a while I get the opportunity to help lead worship at our 11:15 church service. The official title is “liturgist” and my turn comes along three or four times a year. Essentially, I get to play the part of “One” in responsive prayers and readings, invite the congregation to “share the peace of Christ” with one another, lead the opening call to worship and prayer, and do the prayer of dedication after the offering.
I enjoy the opportunity to put the kind of thought and creativity into prayer that I do into my writing. The intentionality of it, and knowing I’m leading others into God’s presence, makes my written prayers different from the conversational dialogue I have with God “on the fly.”
So – and in response to a couple of requests – here are my two prayers from yesterday’s worship service at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church.
First, the Prayer of Praise and Adoration:
“Loving God, in a world torn by conflict, rampant with unbelief, plagued by division, and overwhelmed with doubt – we stand in your presence in a bold affirmation of faith and with a renewed commitment to declare our faithfulness to you!
“This is a weekend set aside to remember the great cost born by the men and women who gave their lives to guarantee our right to assemble here without fear. So may the completeness of their sacrifice be honored in the comprehensiveness of our faithfulness as uncompromising followers of Jesus.
“We ask that our eyes will be opened this morning to see your glory, that by your Spirit you will remove the barricades from our hearts, and that we will know Jesus with the kind of intimacy you intended for us since the dawn of creation.
“We love you, Creator God, and we affirm our praise with a loud voice!
“And all of God’s people said – AMEN!“
Then, after the offering:
“Sometimes, God, all we can do is to stand in your presence with tears of gratitude…. Sometimes, we can’t help ourselves but sing loud songs of praise…. Sometimes, all we can muster is a prayer of supplication or a sigh of longing…. Sometimes, all we can manage is to simply recommit ourselves to struggle the good struggle…. Always, most generous Creator, we can bring at least a portion of our treasure and ask you to use it for the extension of your Kingdom.
“Help us respond to the challenge to be faithful stewards of all you have blessed us with, Lord; and may the witness of this congregation be one of abundance, because that is how you always give to us.
“In the name of Jesus, who continues to show us the way – Amen”
Also, it’s a different perspective to listen to the sermon from behind Rebekah’s left shoulder, to look into the congregation from the stage area, and to remember what a privilege and a responsibility it is to lead people in faith.
As you read this post, put yourself in the position of one who is talking with God; and then put yourself in the position of one who is willing to listen to God too.