Humility and Wonder: Prayers of the People

These prayers are based on Proverbs 3:1-20. This scripture is full of beautiful imagery for God: a tree of life and source of water; a loving parent and source of mystery. May these prayers carry the humility and wonder of your own! 

Peace,

Anna

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O Lord, you are a tree of life,

Shading us in mercy and grounding us in love.

O Lord, you are a refreshing spring,

Washing our wounds with compassion 

and reviving our bodies with strength. 

O Lord, you are a whisper, a breeze,

Blowing through the world with winds of justice and calls to change. 

 

We give you thanks, O God, for the goodness your grace

And the good things in your world.

When we feel desperate, you surprise us with hope.

When we find ourselves alone, you call us to companionship.

When we are certain that we are right

you confront us with with your righteousness.

 

Bind your good news to our lives, O God.

Write it on the tablets of our hearts

And paint it on the landscapes of our lives. 

 

We pray, O Lord, in humility and in wonder.

Keep us in your mercy: bound to you and to one another. 

 

We pray, O God, for places and people in your beloved world that are hurting. 

For the people of Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, 

affected by or recovering from the recent shootings.

For people who live in the fear or the reality 

of being separated from their families. 

For people whose fear has turned to hatred,

Whose suffering has turned to violence,

And whose faith has morphed into a dangerous ideology.

 

We pray, O Lord, in humility and in wonder.

Keep us in your mercy: bound to you and to one another. 

 

We pray for people in our community who are suffering:

[Name the prayer concerns of your specific community.]

For others, known to you and named in the silence of our hearts. 

 

We pray, O Lord, in humility and in wonder.

Keep us in your mercy: bound to you and to one another. 

 

In the name of Christ,

Amen. 

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Blessing of Students

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Students in Atlanta go back to school this week, and we will pray for students and teachers in worship this morning. This is my prayer, for them and for the students in your community!

O God, we give you thanks,
for the start of another school year and the renewed energy that comes with it.
We pray for the students of this church and this city.
Be present in their classrooms.
Let them be safe, known, and challenged.
Be present in their hallways.
Help them share your loving kindness with one another.
As their knowledge deepens, so may their faith.
As they learn about the beauty and brokenness of the world you love so,
May they find the places where their gifts can make a world of difference.
O Christ, you were called “teacher” by the ones who knew you best.
Bless the teachers in this church family,
and all the teachers who will cross paths with our students.
Give them strength and patience, wisdom and comfort,
And teach us all to be students of your grace.
In the spirit we pray, Amen.

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Spirit of Fire: Prayers for Pentecost

These are the prayers I shared in worship at Central Presbyterian Church of Atlanta this Sunday. May the words bring you a glimpse of the Spirit of peace and comfort, passion and compassion, water and fire.

Peace,

Anna

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Spirit of fire,

descend upon our hearts,

and dare us to join the dance of your flames.

Fill us with your presence,

and inspire us with your passion;

Let us see the world wrapped in Pentecost red,

so full of life that joy is bursting at the seams.

Challenge us by your spirit to be bearers of your peace,

midwives of your new life,

followers of your compassion.

 

Move us to recognize your spirit sweeping across the city and the world,

ready to release us from unjust systems and lifeless routines.

Move us to know the fragrance of your sweet spirit,

ready to revive us and breathe life into old bones.

 

Spirit of fire, descend upon our hearts,

and dare us to join the dance of your flames.

 

On this Pentecost day we give thanks for the birth of the church,

and we give thanks for the new life bubbling up on the margins.

We pray for new churches, seeking to follow you in a new way,

and old churches, seeking to follow you in a new day.

 

On this week of the anniversary of D-Day,

we pray for people impacted by war, families shattered by war,

lives ended by war, children who only know a world at war.

Spirit of peace, descend upon our world,

and dare us to follow your lead.

 

Spirit of fire, descend upon our hearts,

and dare us to join the dance of your flames.

Amen.

 

 

 

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O Gentle Shepherd: Prayers of the People on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is not a liturgical holiday.

On the Sunday of Mother’s Day each year, there is an unspoken expectation that all women be joyful, be dressed in their best sundress, and have reservations for a fancy brunch after worship. That expectation is unfair, and I hope this prayer, leaning on the imagery of the 23rd Psalm, can carry the range of emotions you may feel today.

Feel your feelings, be kind to yourself, and know that the gentle shepherd has grace enough for you. 

Hear our prayers, O gentle shepherd,
and lead us to the waters of grace.

We give you thanks, O God,
for the good news of your love and our lives:
for all that brings us laughter and joy;
For the honor of worshiping you,
and the blessing of being sent to serve your reign.
Hear our prayers, O gentle shepherd,
and lead us to the waters of grace.

We give you thanks, O God,
for the love of community,
and we pray for people among us who are in need:
For our mission partners around the world,
speaking your peace in the midst of violence;
For our neighbors in this city,
serving together to bear witness to your justice.

Hear our prayers, O gentle shepherd,
and lead us to the waters of grace.

On this mother’s day,
we give thanks for the people in our lives
who have reflected your mothering love.
And we pray, O God, for all for whom this day is difficult:
for people whose mothers have died,
or who have painful relationships with their mothers;

For people who long to be mothers
or parents who have lost their children.
For mothers whose children are far away,
and children whose mothers have been separated from them.
Hold the range of our emotions in your tender care.
Enliven us in joy, comfort us in sorrow, encourage us in despair,
and show us how to care for one another.

Hear our prayers, O gentle shepherd,
and lead us to the waters of grace.

Amen.

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This We Know: An Affirmation for the Journey

I originally wrote these words for the Montreat Women’s Connection in 2018, and I keep coming back to them as this Lenten journey continues full speed ahead toward Good Friday. You are not alone in the boat, dear ones.

So is the sunshine

This we know: the clouds are real,

and so is the sunshine.

The winds are strong, and so is the grace.

The pain is fierce, and so is the joy.

As people of Christ,

we follow a savior who is with us in the boat,

even when we are certain that it will sink.

As people of Christ,

we are bound by the Spirit in a love that will not let us go,

even when faced with death itself.

As people of Christ,

we boldly proclaim that God walks with us through the valley,

and the most faithful thing that we can do

is walk with one another.

 

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Where Does Love Come From? An Affirmation from 1 John 4

Where does love come from?

Love is from God.

Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

 

What does God’s love mean for us?

God sent God’s only son into the world

so that we might live through him.

Since God loved us so much,

we also ought to love one another.

If we love one another, God lives in us,

and God’s love is fulfilled in us.

The commandment we have from God is this:

those who love God must love their siblings also.

 

Why should we take the risk to love, when it is easier hide behind fear?

We love because God first loved us.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God,

and God abides in them.

Amen.

 

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Good News to the Poor: A Prayer from Luke 4:16-20

The following prayer was written for worship at Central Presbyterian Church on January 27, 2019.

Hear the words Jesus reads to begin his earthly ministry:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

  because he has anointed me

    to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

  and recovery of sight to the blind,

    to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

 

Let us pray.

 

We pray, O Lord, for people who are poor:

the ones to whom you came with good news.

Challenge us to bear that good news:

to be agents of change and witnesses of love;

to be makers of peace and sharers of bread.

 

We pray, O Lord, for people who are captives:

the ones to whom you came with release.

For people who are victims of war or violence;

for people who are captured by ideologies and systems.

Release us, O Lord. Release them, O Lord,

and teach us to unbind one another’s chains.

 

We pray, O Lord, for your spirit,

the spirit which blew over the waters of creation,

the spirit which was upon you at baptism,

the spirit which sustains your church through the ages.

As the spirit was upon you, O Lord,

may we notice her in our world:

Calling us to lives that reflect your justice and your mercy.

Amen.

 

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