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In the weeks ahead, we will be highlighting one of the many resources on the Fourth Church website that is available to you for your personal reflection
and prayer life: the collection of the Prayers of the People
offered during Sunday morning worship.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:26–39
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
   we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NRSV)

Gracious God,
in this moment our hearts and minds are full—
filled with the inspiration and hope we come here to feel;
filled with happiness and joy from the many blessings of our lives;
filled with anxieties and fears from the challenges we face;
filled with sadness and grief from our failures and losses.

Even in this moment,
even in this place,
sometimes we don’t know what we should pray.
Sometimes we don’t know how to pray.
Yet in this moment, in this place,
and when we are not in this place,
living our lives in the world to which you call us,
we are grateful that your Spirit fills us up
and prays with us, prays for us.

In this moment, loving God,
we hold silence and seek to feel your presence.
We open ourselves to your Spirit;
we listen for your voice.

God, if you are for us,
who or what can be against us?
It’s true that some of us are sick;
it’s true that some of us have terminal illnesses;
it’s true that some of us have lost love ones;
it’s true that some of us face uncertainty;
it’s true that some of us are at risk;
it’s true that some of us are marginalized or oppressed;
it’s true that some of us are hungry or homeless;
it’s true that some of us fear for our lives in a culture of violence;
it’s true that many in our world are in the midst of war;
it’s true that each of us are sinners in need of redemption.

But we know, O God,
that none of this separates us from your love.
We know that ultimately the victory is already won.
We know that you will be with us, no matter what.

Holy God,
we are profoundly grateful for your love and care.
The weight of our troubles
is matched only by the magnitude of your grace.
The joy we share
is a reflection of your presence in our lives.

Even when we don’t know what to pray,
even when we struggle to hear the Spirit’s voice,
we have the prayer that Jesus taught us.
So hear us now as we join our voices as one,
praying for the coming of your kingdom,
using the words of your Son, our Lord.
Our Father . . .

Offered as the Prayers of the People by John W. Vest,
Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry,
on Sunday, July 27, 2014

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