Pastoral Prayer - God's Care
(Note: At someone's request, I'm going to start posting the pastoral prayers I write for gathered worship each week. There is a long tradition, in my corner of Christianity, of viewing the pastoral prayer as an important duty that, just as much as preaching, is meant to help God's people grow in worshipping and following Him. I hope these might serve you well in private devotion or reflection.)
You are a God who cares for us. Not because we are impressive or inherently worthy – we are creatures of dust. You care for us simply because of Your unfailing love. As our Creator and our Savior, you watch over us as those formed by Your words and purchased by Your Son. As our covenant Lord, You promised to make us Your people and to be our God. By Your Spirit and our union with Jesus Christ, you have adopted us into Your family as children. You have done all of this not because of something within us but simply because of Your kindness and grace.
Father, as you began a good work in us by Your mercy, so carry it on to completion. Protect us from the honeyed lies of the world, from the slavery of the flesh, and from the fiery arrows of the accuser. Work in us to break the lingering corruption of sin, to stir up our hearts towards good works, and to desire Your glory and the healing of Your world. Comfort us when we are discouraged, strengthen us when we feel beaten down, and teach our fearful hearts the confidence of faith.
As You work in us by Your love, so also teach us to work in the world. Make us agents of Your care for all that You have made. Teach us to steward what You give us, to love those You place around us, and to do the work You have prepared for us this day as those working for You as our true master. When we are wronged, help us to respond with grace as those forgiven by You. When we fail, grant us the confidence that You are at work in and through us. When we succeed, remind us that every good thing is a gift from Your hand and give us joy and humility that You are at work in us.
As we seek to care for the world, we pray especially for those places in it You have put us. We pray for our neighborhoods and communities – bring Your blessing and good news to them, both through us and through Your providential working. We pray for our state and our nation, that You would work to heal what is broken in them and bring peace and obedience. Be with all our elected officials, helping them to view themselves as stewards of their offices who must answer to You. Teach them to recognize that You care for those they serve and give them this same heart.
As we think about Your care for the world, we should not miss Your care for those specific people who are on our hearts. We pray for them as well. For those who are lost, we pray that You would seek and save them. For those who are sick, we pray that You would heal and support them. For those who are discouraged or heavy-hearted, we pray that You would speak to them of Your love. For those who are near to death, we pray that You would shepherd them through the Jordan and welcome them to Canaan's bright shore.