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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.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:1–9
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (NRSV)

Gracious God, thank you for this day, for this time, for this very moment. Thank you for this space, for the people sitting next to us, or behind us, or in front of us. Thank you for all the people over the years who have sat just where we are sitting now, for you were their God just as you are our God. You heard their prayers, just as you hear our prayers. You softened their hearts, just as you soften our hearts.

Again we come to you with the unpleasant task of praying for a world that is struggling, and despite all of our questions and our confusion and our doubt we pray, because we so want to believe that you hear us, that you know our worry, that you have your eye on the world, that you are Sovereign.

As the Ebola virus spreads across national boundaries and makes its way onto different continents, ratchet up our international efforts to bring aid, to stem this threat, to increase compassion. Remind us to pray for the health workers in the most devastated cities in Africa; remind us to pray for our own troops on their way; remind us to pray for all who are suffering. And through it all, remind us of our connectedness as human beings and the value of life and health.

We pray for refugees all over the world, but especially we pray for refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. We pray for people in towns under direct attack by ISIS. Somehow, O God, transform hearts full of hate and envy into hearts full of love and compassion. Somehow, O God, transform hearts, ours included, into hearts that beat for justice. As powerless as we feel, remind us that we can ratchet up our own ability to love and to show justice in the worlds in which we travel.

God, we have our own personal struggles, too. Some of us worry about our health. Others of us worry about our jobs or the ability to provide for a family. We have burdens of caring for aging parents or children who need special care. Some of us desire to have children and find that desire thwarted. Others of us have regrets, life decisions we have made that were harmful, or times in life that were taken for granted, or words exchanged that can’t be retrieved. So we need you, O God. We need to trust you to carry our burdens with us, and we need to know that despite our regrets, you always give us a way forward.

We pray for our church and its leaders, staff and lay leaders alike, that you would empower us with the vision you want for this particular church, that you would bind all of us together in Christian community, always with our eye toward those who are hurting, both inside and outside of our walls. Give us joy and grateful hearts that overflow with praise. And keep us humble, trusting in your leading.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for loving us, for living in this world for us, for showing us who God is, for reminding us that the Holy Spirit will always be with us. Hear us now as we pray again in one voice for the coming of your kingdom, saying together, Our Father . . .

Offered as the Prayers of the People by Judith L. Watt,
Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care,
on Sunday, October 12, 2014

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