One key element of our worship at Grace Fellowship Church is a pastoral prayer, in which one of the elders prays for the church and on behalf of the church. Every now and again I like to share one of those prayers. This was my prayer last Sunday.
Father, at various times each one of us is faced with the reality of our weakness. There may be times when we feel strong and capable and self-reliant. But then we get sick, or we get hurt, or something happens that we cannot control, and we realize just how weak we really are, we realize just how needy we really are.
And it’s in times like this that it’s such a comfort and assurance to know that you are strong. You are not dependent, like we are. You are not prone to illness and weakness and trials and uncertainty like we are. In times like this it’s such a comfort for us to remember that you know our frame, that you remember that we are only dust. We are just little dusty creatures whose days are like grass. We flourish for a time like a flowers of the field, and then the wind passes over it and it is gone and forgotten. But you have established your throne in the heavens. Your kingdom rules over all—over all time and all places and all circumstances. Your love is from everlasting to everlasting. You are eternal and never-changing. We are weak; you are strong.
Father, at various times—at many times—each of us is faced with the reality of our sinfulness. We are not just weak physically, but also morally. Each one of us sins against you every day. Sometimes we defiantly ignore your will as you’ve clearly revealed it to us in your Word. Sometimes we genuinely think we are doing the right thing when we’re actually doing the wrong thing. Even our best actions are tainted with some measure of sin. In times like this it’s such a comfort to know that you are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. It’s a blessing to know that you do not deal with us according to our sins or repay us according to our iniquities. Instead, you show us compassion like a father shows compassion to his children. You take away our sin as far as the east is from the west—that far do you remove our transgressions from us. Oh what a joy it is to be forgiven!
And so we admit our weakness to you, and we confess our sins and our sinfulness. We freely acknowledge the vast and infinite chasm between ourselves and you—between weak, sinful human beings and a perfectly holy, omnipotent God. We say, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good…”
Father, we want to give you thanks for your good gifts to us. We thank you that there is a mercy ministry here in this church that is able to extend help to those in need. Thank you for allowing so many of us to be blessed by that ministry and to be a blessing to others through that ministry. I pray that as we sometimes provide funds and sometimes provide meals and sometimes provide other gifts, that you would help and comfort your people. I pray that we would count it a joy to be able to provide these physical and financial manifestations of your care for us.
We thank you for the way you provide for the financial needs of this church. We want to thank you for your provision. We want to acknowledge that you are the one who ultimately gives all good gifts. You’ve provided richly for us, and so we joyfully give back a portion to you. It is our pleasure. It is our joy. It is our worship.
Father, we thank you that you continue to provide people to be part of this church, part of this community of Christians. We have been given so much by you—we’ve been given hope, we’ve been given forgiveness, we’ve been given eternal life—so we pray that we would tell others. We pray that we would faithfully and joyfully tell others about what Jesus Christ has done for us, so that they, too, would have the opportunity to believe in him, and receive forgiveness for their sins, and give glory to his name.
Now as we turn to your Word, first to hear it read aloud, and then to hear it preached, we pray that we would listen attentively, that we would respond appropriately. We pray that each of us would say in our hearts, “Bless the Lord oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Amen.