Prayers of intercession, Old First Reformed Church, Brooklyn — Sunday, March 27, 2016
God, here we are, coming before you in prayer. For some of us, it’s the continuation of a long conversation. For others, it’s not something we do often. Our minds wander. Prayer is kind of awkward. Meet us all where we are, God, in our fear and our joy and our confusion and our hope and our disbelief, just as you did on that Resurrection Day. Ignite our honesty. Accept our questions. And as we reflect in the next couple of minutes on what we know about Easter, or what we think we know, grant us glimmers of trust so that we sense you’re listening. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.
God, we know that Easter means you came to make this world whole. So be with those around the globe whose lives have been ripped apart by the realities of humanity’s sin. We pray for Belgium and Nigeria, for Syria and Iraq. For those harmed by war. For those who suffer because of drought and disease. For those hurt by unjust systems and by our greed; those marginalized by our ignorance and by our bigotry. We pray for refugees and for orphans, for the homeless and the hungry, for all the people we tend to see as “them” rather than “us,” for all those whom the world forgets but whom you know by name. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God, we know that Easter means the triumph of the despised and rejected over that which society deems powerful and prestigious. So we ask for a spirit of humility and justice in our governments and institutions as well as in our political leaders. Be with this nation as we continue in this polarized election season, so that massive waves of mercy and love might wash away fear and hate. Bless this congregation, our pastor Daniel, our elders and deacons, and all who worship here and seek to be your open-hearted servants in Brooklyn. Grant all those in positions of responsibility thick skins and tender hearts, compassionate spirits and kind souls. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God, we know that Easter means that you promise healing and new life. So we pray for the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs of our families, our friends, our community. Grace them with laughter and art, joy and beauty. We lift up to you __________________ as well as those whose names and cares we now voice to you in our hearts. Give these beloveds courage and strength, comfort and the reassurance of your presence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God, we know that Easter means that you meet us in our humanity—and sometimes our humanity means that we have doubts. So we pray for ourselves. Show us again your hands and your feet, the wounds and scars of the suffering you endured. Remind us that you know human pain, and equip us to be the best versions of ourselves, reflecting the image of God you knit into each of us. Turn our hearts toward you in those moments when we feel only selfishness or impatience in our relationships, whether it’s our parents, our partners, our children, or our alleged loved ones. Be with the lonely who cry out for companionship; the depressed, amid despair or self-loathing; all of us when we’re ashamed even to voice what bogs us down, from the biggest things to the smallest details. Tell us again how you loved us so much you laid down your life–and then say it one more time, because we’re too human to be certain and we’re still not sure what it fully means. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God, we know that Easter means great hope and tremendous love. So open us up to receive these gifts with joyous spirits, so that we can radiate them to others. Grant us otherworldly confidence in these otherworldly things, confidence possible only because of the example, sacrifice, and triumph of Jesus, who died and rose again so that we might pray all these things in his name.