Spirit of the living God, the Bible says “If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God, help us to do that. We are Your people, but we have for too long looked away from You. Too many of us have been silent when we should have spoken up; in looking away from You and not seeking Your face, our silence has been fueled by fear. We have perhaps prayed with our mouths – perhaps, I repeat – but have not prayed with our feet, going to the people who are in most need, seeking them out, hearing their stories and attending to their needs. We have become or some of us have continued to be – spectators of suffering rather than participants in helping to ease it. The people in this country do not seek You but, rather seek their own political values, at the expense of decency. We are not kind to each other; we do not support each other as You would have us, and our land – not just in this country but all over the world – is being ravaged by storms, resulting in even more people needing help and Your presence. God, come. We are Your people. Help us to treasure that fact, and to move from our silos into the vast openness of human need. Hear this prayer, God, Moisten our hardened hearts and spirits with the dew of Your Holy Spirit. Spirit of the living God, hear this prayer; help us to humble ourselves, seek Your face, pray and turn from our wicked ways so that You will hear from heaven, forgive our sin (which is our separation from You) and heal our land. Amen
Spirit of the living God, come to those who ache because of the hypocrisy in this world. Some wonder why a white boy who does something wrong at age 17 is “just a kid,” while a black boy who is suspected of doing something wrong at the same age is a “thug? Some wonder why the white kids who act like kids are allowed to live, while too many of the black kids who act like kids end up dead. Some wonder why people cannot see all of Your children as human beings, and not as objects, unworthy of fairness and respect and dignity. There are mothers crying because their unarmed children are gone, while there are other mothers who are able to help their kids beat the system. God, in Your mercy, please hear this prayer! We believe in You; we need You. But we are struggling as we see how hypocrisy works in our world, in our country, and in our society. Spirit of the living God, please come to those who are aching tonight because of the hypocrisy in this world. Amen.
Spirit of the living God, on this Labor Day, come to those who are unemployed and/or underemployed. In this country, where there is so much opportunity, there is also so much resistance to being fair to working people. People work 2-3 jobs and still can’t make ends meet – and in addition to struggling to make a living, are called “lazy.” Mothers work jobs where they cannot get off to take care of their children when they are sick or are in trouble at school – and they are called “bad mothers.” Families are forced to decide what to spend their money on – food or medicine. Children in this, the most wealthy nation in the world, go to school with shoes that are too small and without adequate clothing in the winter. In this country, too many public schools are in disrepair – no air in the summer and little heat in the winter – making it hard for children to learn, but their parents cannot take them out of those schools because they cannot afford better housing. In this country, some would do away with labor unions because unions fighting for workers means that the profits of their employers are affected. Many people who are employed in service jobs work long hours but have no health insurance. There are people who are working but who make so little money that they still need public assistance. Lord, help us to say what we need to say and do what we need to do to heighten the capacity of people to care about each other. On this Labor Day, come to those who are unemployed and/or underemployed, and help us to raise our voices against economic injustice in a way that compels those who have closed their hearts and their ears to hear and to make changes that result in lives of dignity for those who work for little to nothing. Amen.
Spirit of the living God, thank You for walking with us when we are in our valleys. There is something insanely comforting in knowing that if we look for You and lean on You, we will find a calm that the world cannot give and which the world cannot take away. Sometimes, things just go crazy – in an instant, a second, we can find ourselves in a space which we did not bargain on. Sometimes when we are in those spaces, we break down, but we thank You that if we can call on Your name between gasps of pain and tears, You begin to do what You do. We are grateful that trouble passes; it is acute for a while but then it loses its sharpness and the cloud that it causes to fall in front of us begins to rise. God on this day, if anyone is in a valley, visit them and just let Your presence be felt. Visit them and remind them that life’s valleys will always come but that if we honor You by never letting go of You, You will honor us. Remind us that “church” isn’t a building but is, rather, a state of mind and of being. Help us to be “in church” even as we cope with the darkness of our valleys. Lord in your mercy, hear this prayer. Amen.
Spirit of the living God, come this day to those who know they need to confess something to You but will not or cannot. Come to those whose spiritual pores are clogged with resentment, desire for revenge, insecurity, confusion, hurt, anger …and anything else, keeping them from seeking You and talking with You. Come to those who feel like they cannot be forgiven, and come to those who believe that because they have made serious mistakes in life that they are their mistakes, making them feel ashamed, inadequate, afraid and alone. Come to those who need to cry, but will not, to those whose lives are falling apart but who will not admit it. Come to those who know they lied on or to someone and want to fix it as best they can, but who cannot find the courage to do it. Come to Your children who are doing something they need to do because they are afraid to do what they have been called to do…and who will not go to You to ask forgiveness for ignoring You or faith enough to trust You. Come to those who need to confess to You all of the bits of life which have kept them hiding from themselves and therefore, from You. On this day, God, come and help those who need to confess something to You but will not or cannot. Amen.
Spirit of the living God, deliver us from evil in high places. We, Your children, are manipulated and used by politicians to get elected, but once elected, there are so few who really care about the masses. There is little compassion, little concern for mercy or fairness or justice on the part of so many, and yet the need for all of those is great. Even though you are a God who supplies all of our needs, there are too many people suffering from lack, because of policies and practices which are unfair and tilted to help those who know how to work the system and who have the money to do it! God, open our eyes to see the evil and then give us the spiritual tenacity to keep on fighting it, as so many have done before us. It would be a true gift if greed and the blind quest for power would wipe out evil, but that has never been the case, and so deliver us and inspire us to make Your kingdom be “on earth as it is in heaven,” helping us to understand that to work for “the least of these” is just a part of carrying our crosses. Lord, in Your mercy, hear us, and deliver us from evil in high places. Amen.
Spirit of the living God, come today and help Your children be released from fear. We know that fear cancels out faith – that one cannot have true faith unless and until fear is gone, but fear often has such a grip on us that instead of letting it go, we hold onto it even tighter. Some of our fears are real, and some, we have made up and in fact, made bigger because they are made up. We are afraid of ourselves, our own potential; we are afraid of succeeding and of failing. We are afraid of doing wrong, of making people angry, and of speaking up and out. We are afraid to ask for what we deserve and for what we know we are worth. We are afraid of the bullies in our lives and we are afraid of perhaps losing something we do not need if we stand up to them. We are afraid of what we know and of what we do not know. Our lawmakers in Washington seem to be afraid of the president. Lord, in Your mercy, hear us! Replace our fear with faith, and help us to act in faith to face our fears before we are no longer able to. Help us to understand that if there is a cost for facing our fears, it will be far outweighed by the freedom we experience once we let the fears go. Spirit of the living God, come today and help Your children be released from fear. Amen.
Spirit of the living God, come today to those who are dealing with the hole in their lives that they are facing because of the loss of a loved one. In times of grief, the silence is more silent than ever before, and loudly reminds those left behind that their loved one is gone. In the time of grief, we close our eyes so as to shut out the pain, but the pain sits with us, reminding us that it will leave only when it is ready. We call on You, God, but sometimes the call is feeble because we believed or maybe we just wanted You to keep our loved one alive. We ache to see their eyes open, hear their laughter or just the tenor of their voices. The hole is with us and holds captive as its emptiness sucks our very breath away from us. You are there, but lifting our eyes to You is not moving us away from that hole. We sometimes do not want to talk to You; we do not want to seek Your face, but at the end of the day, Your presence is the only thing that gets us through. You sometimes fill that awful hole, if only to give us a few moments of respite and relief, but truthfully, we too often do not know it or cannot/will not acknowledge that You are being You in the only way that can soothe our pain. Come today, God, because someone has just lost a loved one, someone else is facing the loss of a loved one with deep dread, and someone else has been on grief’s journey for a while. In the movement of this day, please come. Amen.
Spirit of the living God, when I look at what You have created – the sun, the moon, birds that sing, plants which close when they are touched, rivers which never stop moving, the air that we breathe, bodies so magnificently made that we have tongues that distinguish one taste from another, hearts that beat for years, spirits which can connect to Yours …I marvel. Here in the silence of the morning, I can hear Your presence. I feel it …but I also hear it. You say to us through the cawing of birds – which does not disturb the silence, amazingly – the gentle movement of the morning breeze, the overcast sky, the smell of the foliage and flowers..that You are here. This morning we/I honor You and what You do. The earth is Yours and the fullness thereof; nothing we say or do cedes this land and its beauty to us. We take and squander and too often destroy what You have made. God, help us to commit to experiencing You in the silence of the morning. Help us to love You so much that we come to You in the morning silence to hear You as we so often do not. Help us to breathe in Your spirit of love and power and joy and mercy, and exhale anything in us which would keep us from You. Lord, in Your mercy, hear us this morning. Amen.
Spirit of the living God, hear us this evening. Hear the frightened, hear the insecure, hear the confused and bothered, hear those who are looking for direction in their lives. Hear those who are not sure of their worth, hear those who are so sure of themselves that they do not believe they need You! Hear the frustration of those who share words of warning and wisdom to us who cannot yet see what they see. Hear the spirits of those who cannot pray; hear the words of anger and pain of those who feel they have been wronged. Hear the words in the silence of those who mourn; hear the pleas of those who do not believe or who have stopped believing that You are near. Spirit of the living God, hear us this evening. Amen.