March 18, 2007

Prayers of the People

John M. Buchanan, Pastor

Good and gracious God, we come to you in prayer this morning, grateful for the gift of life itself, for the gift of all the years and months and days of our lives. We come in prayer to thank and praise you for the creation; for the sun coming up over the lake again this morning; for the world you have made—slowly but surely now coming again to life, and growth, and flower. We thank you for the food we have eaten, for the common joys of breakfast and hot coffee, for the companionship and love of those with whom we share this life. We thank you for this amazing city: for its energy and diversity, for its politicians and artists, for its public servants and athletes, for its generosity and aspirations. And, O God, we do thank you for your love that will never let us go, that amazing love that follows us like the “Hound of Heaven” wherever we go, wherever we wander, wherever we flee; that love that comes running down the road, open-armed, to welcome us home.

Lord of the nations, we pray this morning for your world—particularly for the places where your world is torn by violence and war and intolerance. We pray for the people of Iraq, suffering and dying daily. We pray for the people of Iran and Syria and Lebanon and Palestine and Israel, caught, it seems, in a prism of sectarian and political intransigency. We pray, O God, for peacemakers—for courageous diplomats and politicians willing to take risks and leave old certainties, old wounds, behind to work for peace.

We pray, O God, for our nation: for our president and his advisors. We pray for politicians who debate and decide, for their courage and integrity and justice. And we pray for the men and women of our armed forces whom we have put in danger and who die serving our country. We pray for their families. And we pray today for those who have been wounded and whose lives have been shattered. O God be with them: comfort them; strengthen them; give them hope.

We pray now for the people of the Gulf Coast, for the Fourth Presbyterian Church mission group embarking once again for New Orleans; we pray for those we know who are ill, for those in hospitals recuperating from surgery. We pray for those who wait anxiously for test results. And we pray for those we know who grieve the loss of a dear one. Merciful God, bind up wounds of the spirit. Come to those who need you with healing balm.

As we walk more deeply into this Lent season, come to us with the mystery and majesty of love that goes into the valley of the shadow of death for us. Come to us once again with the old but always startling word about the one who dies that we might live: Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray.

Hear these prayers. Hear the prayers that remain unspoken, and hear us as we join our voices, praying as he taught us, Our Father . . .