Prayers of Intercession, Fifth Sunday of Easter

Old First Reformed Church, April 24, 2016

The prayers of intercession for this Sunday morning were inspired by today’s Lectionary readings.

[Acts 11:17: “…If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”]

God, remind us that we cannot hinder your work in the world. Bolster our trust in you, so that we can move forward in discerning boldness. Strengthen our faith in you, so that our stance would be one of quiet confidence–not in our own abilities but in your boundless goodness. We pray for our political leaders, for our president and our governor, for our members of congress and our mayor, for those who aspire to be in positions of high authority, that you would keep them humble and merciful, gentle and gracious. We pray for our other leaders as well, for the musicians who inspire us, for the artists who give us new ways to see our surroundings, for the teachers who open up new possibilities, for the doctors and nurses and health-care workers who bring healing, for people in all fields who deploy their hearts and minds in the service of good and of God, that you would give them ingenuity and innovation. Grant us all gladness for life–and an appreciation for the ways in which you constantly renew this world through creativity and new creation.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

[Psalm 148:1: “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens! Praise him in the heights!”]

God, turn our hearts toward praise for you, and turn that praise into action. The flowers and the blossoming trees, the sunshine and the rain, shout reminders to us of all that you have made. Then there are the tremendous people in our lives, who testify to the blessings that you have given us, not least of all the power and collective strength of community. There is this congregation, this wonderful Old First family, which over more than 360 years has told the story of Christ in Brooklyn. And the beauty of this planet bears witness to one task that you have called us to: the wise stewardship of these gifts, these resources, this earth. Help us not just to be grateful for all these things but also to be vigilant about their care.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

[Revelation 21:4: “…he will wipe every tear from their eyes…”]

God, wipe our tears away. We only have to look at the paper’s front page or turn on the news to be immersed in tragedy. We remember the refugees; be with them in their journeys. We ask you to be with the survivors of the Ecuadorean earthquake, as they clean up the rubble and mourn their dead; let them know that even now, especially now, you are there. We commend to you the sick and the suffering; heal them and give them relief. We pray for the victims of war, and we ask you to be with those in Iraq and Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen, South Sudan and Libya, and the other conflict zones around the world; grant them protection and bring them to peace. We ask you to draw near, especially, to the lonely, to those with secrets, to the people who feel they must hide and who feel they are unworthy of love; open them up, if not to us at least to you, and give them not only comfort but also confidence. We also pray for _______________ as well as for those whose names we now lift up to you in our hearts.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

[John 13:34: “…Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”]

God, help us better love one another. We pray for the many ministries that reflect your love throughout the world–especially for CHiPS and their work of feeding the hungry; and for LEAD, our partner in Liberia, and their mission of combating poverty. And we pray for ourselves, that you would expand our hearts and turn our gaze outward. Give us the knowledge and the wisdom to be good friends, to know how to come alongside those in our lives who need encouragement or someone to walk alongside them. Give us kindness, especially to those closest to us, who often bear the brunt of our quote-unquote honesty. And give us courage to fight sin, to set aside our own selfish desires, and to do the difficult thing of living out love in a world that often doesn’t encourage it.

We pray all these things in the name of Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again in true self-sacrifice and true love so that we could have true joy and true freedom. Amen.

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