By Barry Howard
Good and gracious God,
I come to you praying for those who are members, formally or informally, in the congregation I serve.
I pray for the young and the elderly, the sick and healthy, the employed and the unemployed, the happily married and the unhappily married, the active and the semi-active, the veteran saint and the new believer, and the spiritually passionate and the spiritually frustrated.
I am aware at this moment of the diverse and divergent life experiences confronting each individual on this day. I pray for those who are at the top of the mountain, experiencing success in their business, stability in their home, growth in their faith, good health, and/or unspeakable joy in their heart.
I also pray for those who are currently in the valley of despair, experiencing frustration in their business, anxiety in their home life, lukewarmness in their faith, mounting concerns with their health, and/or perplexing grief in their soul.
I pray for every member of this spiritual family to know the deeper purpose of congregational life, to worship and to serve with faithfulness, to listen and to speak with intentionality, to be honest and to be humble, to be reverent and to be respectful, and to weep and rejoice, privately and together, as needed.
Help us as your family to balance those ongoing tasks of reaching out to those outside our family while ministering to each other within the family, so that neither task is lacking.
Help us as your people to work energetically for the common good of your community-yet-under-construction, so that our personal ambitions and our preferential agendas do not derail or defeat your initiatives that are often invisible to the self-absorbed eye.
Help us as your church to experience an emerging momentum toward faithfulness, the elation of cheerful giving, the gratification of serving, a growing willingness to make sacrifices, and the inner peace that comes only through your divine presence within.
Help us as your children to continually and wisely realign our lives, not conforming to the mirage of pop culture, but always being transformed by the durable and timeless work of Jesus Christ.
Keep us in tune with your Spirit who convicts and comforts, guards and guides, and equips and encourages, and who is working actively to generate good in all circumstances, especially those things that we perceive as devoid of good.
Since life in this world is imperfect and every individual life including our own falls short because of the brokenness of sin, teach us to be more gracious and less judgmental, more inclusive and less exclusive, more compassionate and less condemning, because we have already seen this kind of grace demonstrated in the story of Jesus.
In this crucial day in time when many have forsaken spiritual community for religious conglomerate, replaced worship with trendy entertainment, and prioritized self-interests above service, remind us that we are people of the towel, both to wash each other’s feet, to dry each other’s tears, and to wipe clean the slate of sins on earth even as you have purged our sins from our private record in heaven.
Encourage and equip us to be your hands and your feet, your light and your love, and your disciples and your servants in a world that needs authentic witnesses of your love and your mercy.
May we receive each day as a gift, and like Jesus, to value relationships above the quest for riches and the preservation of traditions, and to prioritize covenant loyalty above comfort, convenience, and temporary gratification.
As you free us to live life to the fullest, make us to be incarnate representatives of your presence and illustrative constituents of your grace, for we pray in the name of the one who came to give us life and life more abundantly.