Elements of Worship: The Prayers of the People

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Editor’s Note: One essential component of corporate worship is corporate prayer—the prayers of the people of God. At Christ Presbyterian Church, these prayers are written and delivered by individuals from within our congregation. Each time, a designated person spends the week before their appointed Sunday praying and reflecting on what is happening in our world, in our city, and in our church. They then compose a prayer which includes lifting up to God the needs of the world, both local and global, and the church, also both local and global. We pray for the poor and oppressed. We pray for the events happening in our city and our world. We pray for the ministry of our own church and we pray by name for other churches as well. The following Prayer of the People, written and delivered by Brooke Smith-Casella, is a wonderful example of a God-centered, grace-focused, and beautifully written corporate appeal to God:


Almighty God,

We thank you for this new season, for the coming of spring. As we reflect on the beauty and new life beginning to bloom all around us, we are reminded of who you are. Although the days have been dark and cold, you, O lord, have been at work all along in the deep places under ground where we cannot always see.

You never leave us or forsake us.

You are a God who keeps his promises.

You make things new.

You, O lord, are faithful and your love and care for us never fails.

Forgive us, Lord, for being so busy that we miss the many ways you reveal yourself to us. And forgive us for being so consumed and mindful of our own lives that we miss the many needs of those around us. We turn our hearts and minds now to those many needs, to the things in your world that are not as they ought to be:

            We pray for the people of South Sudan who are suffering because of civil war.

            We pray for the people of Peru who have been devastated by a massive flood.

We pray for the families and the many children of Syria who face an unknown future and are desperate for safety. Lord, have mercy.

We also pray for our world leaders who are making decisions on behalf of so many of these vulnerable people. Please give them wisdom and discernment and deep compassion.

As we are taught in your word, we pray now for our enemies.

We pray for those who persecute your church.

We pray for those who want to cause us harm and for those who have offended us in some way.

Gracious God, thank you for loving us while we were still your enemies. Thank you that you have loved us even as we have caused harm and have offended others. Grant us, by the power of your Spirit, to humbly love our enemies well.

We thank you for the city of Nashville, for all of the growth and prosperity we are experiencing here. We pray that this growth and development would benefit all of Nashville’s people and neighborhoods. We pray for our local leaders and community developers, that you would use them to protect the vulnerable and ensure opportunities for all people in this city to flourish.

We thank you for the many churches around Nashville that are worshiping together with us this morning. We pray that our churches would be filled with an abundance of both grace and truth, and for a spirit of unity and true partnership in the gospel. We specifically pray for our brothers and sisters at New Livingstone Church and for pastor Ronnie Mitchel.  We ask that you would continue to cultivate a relationship between our two churches and that we would see our need for one another.

We thank your for the various and creative ways you have called each one of us to participate with you in establishing your kingdom here in Nashville. Through our different vocations you have called us to be artists, architects, and athletes; teachers and students; lawyers, gardeners, investors, builders, stay at home parents, CEOs, social workers, and so many other things. Help us to see these vocations as your holy and sacred work in this world.

            May we create beauty.

            May we bring justice.

            May we work for the common good.

            May we cultivate your shalom in this city as it is in heaven.

And finally, as we prepare to hear your word to us today from the Sermon on the Mount, help us to let go of our desire for approval and affection. Empty us of our need to be noticed and applauded. Instead, fill us with such a depth of your love that we are content and compelled to quietly and faithfully serve others.

Thank you, God of the universe, that you come close and you hear the prayers of your people.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

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