Pastoral Prayer - A God Above and Near
The heavens are Your temple and the earth is the stool where You rest Your feet. You stretch out the floorboards of Your house over the waters and its rafters arch among the stars. In these and the many other pictures Scripture gives, we are reminded that You are both above and near to all things.
You are above us. You are greater than us in every way. Your power makes a mockery of all human ambition. Your wisdom turns our greatest insights into the babbling of children. Your mind contains all that was and is and is to come. Your perfection shows our highest achievements of righteousness as nothing but dirty rags. You are holy, set apart, greater than our minds and hearts could fathom.
Yet Your greatness does not make You a distant God; You are too great for that. You are near to each of us, knowing our inmost beings. You have numbered our steps and the hairs on our heads. You watch over us in our comings and goings, in the little triumphs and sorrows of our days. You know every thought and hear every prayer, and that isn’t even hard for You. That is how great You are.
Even more, as You are near to us, so You have drawn near. You spoke to us through apostles and prophets, giving us Your very words. That Word became flesh, taking on our humanity in Jesus Christ and dwelling among us. As we are in Christ, You indwell us with the Holy Spirit, moving with our bodies and seeing through our eyes and into our hearts.
As we celebrate this season of waiting for Christ’s coming, speak to us the truth that He is also here. Let that be a comfort to us in our struggles. Let it be a challenge to us in our sin. Let it empower and embolden us to carry out His mission, to share His love with the world, because it is He who works in and through us.
Teach us to be like Christ in our lives. Let His self-sacrificial love, His passion for Your glory, His tenderness to the lost and His courage to defend those in need all inform our actions. Let our words be like His – sweet with grace and sharp with truth. Let our hands work like His, bringing healing and comfort even as they are pierced by those they work to save. Let our hearts be like His, humble before You as our Father and bold in the face of a world that, though it might kill our bodies, can do us no lasting harm.
As You work through us, also work in Yourself apart from and even despite us to make Your presence manifest. Glorify Your name in the nations. Bind up the brokenhearted. Heal the sick. Strengthen the suffering. Bring Your reign of justice and peace on earth as it is in heaven.
All of this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our God and fellow human being.