Tag Archives: worship

Completely: Prayers of the People based on Psalm 139

Psalm 139 has always been one of my favorites, and today’s lectionary gave me a chance to reflect on it. May these prayers remind us all that we are known and loved, completely. 

atgt snow

Oh Lord, you have searched us and known us.

  You know when we sit down and when we rise up;

you discern our thoughts from far away.

  You search out our path and our lying down,

and are acquainted with all our ways.


We praise you, O living God,

For you know us completely and love us completely.


You have created us good and holy,

lending your image in the act of creation.

Again and again, we have fallen away,

and you have brought us back with words of grace.

We have hidden from mystery of your presence,

and you have found us, again and again,

and repeated the call, “Follow me.”


You bring peace into the chaos we create;

You bring hope into the webs of doubt we spin;

You bring your holy spirit into the corners of our lives.


Even before a word is on our tongues,

  O Lord, you know it completely.

You hem us in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon us.


We praise you, O living God,

for you know us completely and love us completely.


We pray for the world wrapped in your love,

for the people and places dear to our hearts,

and for the ones known only to yours.


For those who are cold, whether in body or in spirit:

Bring the warmth only you can provide,

and move us to us to share the warmth we can provide.

For those who are hungry, thirsty, grieving or ill:

Bring the comfort only you can provide,

and help us to share the comfort we can provide.

(Continue with prayers for your specific community.) 


Hear our prayers, O Living God,

for you know us completely and love us completely.


On this weekend of marches and commemoration,

we give thanks for the life of your prophet Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As we celebrate his legacy, O God, let us recognize yours.

Convict us of the ways we support injustice through our action or inaction,

and empower us to work for your reign of justice, peace, and dignity for all.


Where can we go from your spirit?

  Or where can we flee from your presence?

If we take the wings of the morning

  and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead us,

  and your right hand shall hold us fast.


In the name of the one who was Love made flesh,





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Prayers of the People: Our Help.

These prayers of the people are based on two lectionary texts for today: Psalm 124 and Exodus 1: 8-22.

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Refrain: Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Heaven and earth, O holy God, cannot contain your boundless glory.

Heaven and earth, O holy God, cannot contain your everlasting love.

You are gracious, compassionate, and good.

You are loving, patient, and kind.

You are parent, mother, and father.

You are God, and we are not.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.


We give you thanks for your holy story, illumined for us this day.

You call us to be faithful at all costs,

especially when the powers of the world turn their backs

on people who are vulnerable or oppressed.

In the spirit of Shiphrah and the courage of Puah,

enliven and empower us to mean the words we often pray:

Thy kingdom, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Make us hear the truth of your calling,

and move us to follow with bold faithfulness.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.


We give you thanks, O God, for the signs of your goodness all around:

For the sounds of newborn babies,

who cry that you are making all things new.

For the hands of compassionate doctors and nurses,

whose care is an extension of your own.

For the voices of prophets, old and new,

whose stories attest to the challenge of your call.

For the church, your body in this place;

in our struggle and in our song, may we witness to your love.


Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.


Help, O Lord; Help, we pray.

As we pray to you from the depths of our hearts,

humble us to ask for your help,

and make us wise enough to recognize it.

We pray for the people and places who are hurting this day:

[Name the concerns of your community.]


Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.


For the people of the Sudan, suffering great violence.

For all in the path of tropical storm Harvey,

preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

For marginalized people everywhere,

who suffer in the same system in which benefit.

Bring your spirit of comfort, O God:

your spirit of healing, in your time and your way;

your spirit of companionship, in fostering community;

your spirit of justice, in creating change;

your spirit of love, stronger than death itself.


Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.


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Prayers from Matthew and Esther: For Such a Time as This

These prayers were written with Matthew 10:34-49 and Esther 4:1-17 in my mind and my transgender friends in my heart.

Let us pray.

Speak to us this day, O God,
and humble us to hear your word.
Make us still enough to notice your presence,
Quiet enough to hear your voice,
Brave enough to speak your good news,
and wise enough to follow your spirit.

So often we pray to you for life:
to preserve life, to prolong life,
to guard life, to begin life.
Today we pray something else.
We pray for courage to lose our life for your sake,
and we pray for the wisdom to find it.

As Mordecai challenged Esther to be faithful at all costs,
make us hear the voices of people oppressed,
whose stories challenge our way of life.

We pray for your children everywhere:

For your people who are suffering,
Discriminated against because of their race, gender identity,
sexuality, or religion.
For your people who are fearful,
Faced with losing their access to healthcare or treatment.
For your people who are isolated,
Living in the shackles of addiction or abuse.

Holy comforter, challenger, redeemer,
We know that you are in our midst.
Help us recognize your spirit on the move,
and empower us to join your work.

Help us be your church, reformed and still being reformed.
Help us be your people, formed and still being formed.
Help us boldly share the news of your love,
For such a time as this.


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Holy Holy Holy: A Prayer from the Lips of Isaiah

Refrain: Holy are you, Lord of Hosts. Holy, holy, holy.

God of mercy we pray to you,
With all our joys and all our burdens.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

Your power is beyond our imagination;
Your grace is beyond our comprehension;
Your presence is beyond our senses;
Your goodness is beyond our wildest hope.

We give you thanks for the movement of your spirit:
In the church and in the world,
In the past and in the present,
In our lives and in our neighbors,
In our hearts and in our minds.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

Even as we praise you for your power and your might,
We carry the weight of a hurting world.
Where there is pain, breathe your comfort.
Where there hunger, help us share our bread.
Where there thirst, splash living water.
Where there is weakness, help us know your strength.

Hear the prayers of our hearts,
O God our maker,
and hear the prayers we dare not put to words.
Lift them into your being,
Lift our hearts to your presence.
Into our lives, breathe your love.
Into our silence, breathe your mercy.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

In the name of Christ,
In the love Christ,
In the grace of Christ, we pray.

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Signs and Wonders: Prayers of the People

I have the honor of serving as the liturgist for the Massanetta Bible and Church Music conferences this week. Over the course of the week, I am leading worship eleven (ELEVEN?!) times,  and I have written every word of the 30 page worship book. It has been a lot of work, but it has also been an incredible joy. 

My office for the week

I will not post all 30 pages here, but I will post a few of my favorite pieces. These are the Prayers of the People from Monday Morning worship, inspired by the conference theme, “Remembering the Reformation,” and the sermon scripture for the day: Acts 5:12-32. 

Let us pray. 

Holy God, three-in-one,

We give you thanks for your holy spirit moving through this place.

We have seen your signs and wonders;

We have heard your teachings in the street.

We have felt the shadow of your presence,

and we have been witnesses to the depth of your grace.
We give you thanks for abundant grace

that you have showered upon this world.

We give you thanks for the saints of our faith,

who have followed your leading at any cost:

For Peter, John, and Mary, who were there tell the news of the first Easter Day;

For Paul, Lydia, and Chloe, who built the church on the foundation you laid;

For Martin, John, and Marie, who dared to lead your church in Reforming,

For all the reformers since,

who have dared to challenge the status quo.
We give you thanks, O God of wonders, for these and all the signs of your goodness.

People of God, for whom and for what else do we give thanks?

(Prayers are named aloud or in silence.)

We give you thanks, O God of Mercy,

Hear our prayers. 
Your apostles carried your good news into the streets,

into the temple,

into the lives of people who were hurting.

As you did then, O God of Peter,

speak to us with your signs and wonders.

Hear our prayers and free us from our bondage.
We pray for the world that you so love:

For the ones who are imprisoned, and find no angels to open the doors.

For the ones who are sick, and find nothing to heal them. 

For the ones who are lost, and fear that no one will find them.

For the ones who are hurting, with no balm to ease their pains.
People of God, for whom and for what else do we pray?

(Prayers are named, aloud or in silence.)

Bring your signs and wonders, Holy God, 

into our lives and into your world.

Breathe your healing presence, triune God,

and burst through our locked doors. 
We offer these prayers in the name of the Christ,

The one whom you sent to bring freedom to the world.


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God So Loved: A New Liturgy for John 3:16

I have a complicated relationship with this Sunday’s lectionary gospel text, John 3:1-17. John 3 is a beautiful story of Jesus speaking with Nicodemus in the night. It is a witness to Christ’s invitation into communion with God, and it is a story that has been reduced to a catchphrase.

In worship at Central Presbyterian this week, we will reframe our thinking about John 3:16 and its surrounding story with words of love, invitation, and hope. Perhaps these words will resonate with you, too.


Nicodemus by Henry Ossawa Tanner

This Call to Worship draws from scriptures about love, including quotes from 1 John 4:7, Leviticus 19:18, 1 Corinthians 13:8, Romans 13:10, Matthew 22:37, and John 3:16. 

Hear these words from Scripture:

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God.”

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Love never ends.”

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

“God so loved the world.”

God so loves the world.

Let us worship the God of love and life.


Prayer of Confession

Holy one, holy three,

The winds of your Spirit beckon us to follow,

but we cannot hear the wind over the noise we have created.

Again and again, you call us to believe.

Again and again, we look the other way.

You offer us freedom, but we choose independence,

Pretending that we have ultimate control.

You offer us life, but we find ourselves perishing,

Buried under the weight of our own self-interest.

Forgive us, God of life.

Heal us, and bring us peace.  

Silence and kyrie


Assurance of Pardon

God so loved the world that God would come among us,

Become one of us, live with us, and suffer for us,

That we might have life and have it abundantly.

Hear this good news:

God loves us, God forgives us, and God calls us to try again.  

Thanks be to God. Amen.


Affirmation of Faith                  Excerpts Adapted from the Heidelberg Catechism (1562)

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own,

but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—

to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

What is true faith?

True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true

all that God has revealed to us in Scripture;

it is also a wholehearted trust,

which the Holy Spirit creates in me by the gospel,

that God has freely granted,

not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins,

eternal righteousness, and salvation.

These are gifts of sheer grace,

granted solely by Christ’s merit.

But why are you called a Christian?

Because by faith I am a member of Christ

and so I share in his anointing.

I am anointed to confess his name,

to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,

to strive with a free conscience against sin and evil in this life,

and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for eternity.

Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own,

why then should we do good works?

Because Christ, having redeemed us,

is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image,

so that with our whole lives

we may show that we are thankful to God for God’s benefits,

so that God may be praised through us.


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In Step With The Spirit: A Prayer After the March


Atlanta Women’s March, January 21, 2017

This prayer was written for worship at Central Presbyterian Church the day after the international marches for women and social justice, inspired by the gospel lectionary for the day: Matthew 4:17-23.

Holy one and holy three,

We give you thanks for your presence in this place,

For your call in our lives,

For your gifts in this world.


We pray, O God,

That we may hear and follow your voice.

Guide us as we seek to walk toward love and away from hate;

Toward freedom and away from oppression;

Toward justice and away from mere comfort;

Toward community and away from isolation.

Move us, O God, to walk in step with your spirit.


Keep us humble, O Christ.

Remind us not to walk alone,

For you never called the disciples to walk alone.

Lead us to walk together, hand in hand,

Supporting one another and reminding one another

To walk in step with your spirit.


We pray for our nation’s leaders,

And all who have great power in this world.

Move them, O God, to walk in step with your spirit.


We pray for all who feel the tug of your calling

After the weekend’s marches.

Challenge us, O God, to continue to march for a new way,

Not only in organized crowds,

But in our daily walks in and out of the workplace,

The bank,

The voting booth,

And the school.

Move us, O God, to walk in step with your spirit.


In the name of one who called us to follow in his steps,



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