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A Pastoral Prayer

Pastoral Prayer

Our Father, we are so thankful that you are a God who loves. In fact, you are not just a God who loves, but a God who is love. For you, love is not merely something you do, but it is who you are. To be God is to be love, to be the very source the very fountain of love. For all eternity, you have existed in a relationship of love with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loving one another wholly and perfectly. What a joy it is for us to know that you created us so we could enter into your love. And what a blessing it is for us to know that even though we rejected that love, you sent Jesus to do the most loving thing possible, which was to die for us and in that way to win us back to yourself, to make us once again lovers of God. And we do love you.

Father, we love you. Son, we love you. Holy Spirit, we love you. Triune God, we love you. We know we love you because we have been loved by you. So we say with the hymn writer, “O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure—The saints’ and angels’ song.” This rich and pure love never began and it will never end. It’s measureless, it’s strong, it will endure to every age.

And so we thank you, our Father, that in this time of uncertainty, in this time of suffering, in this time of sorrow, in this time of grief, we know that we are loved. Even though so much has changed all around us, you have remained unchanged. You have remained fixed and constant in your being, in your nature, in your purpose, in your love. Your love has not wavered. And so we know that even in death, even in unemployment, even in fear, even in shortages, you love us and therefore are working all things—even these difficult things—for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose. As your children we say to you, we plead with you, remember us—remember your love for us, remember that you have promised to work even these things for our good and your glory. Give us faith to believe that. Give us eyes to see that.

There are so many things we are grieving in these days, and we want to pray for your comfort. We pray for our sisters [Name] and [Name], one of whom is mourning the loss of her grandmother and the other mourning the loss of her father. And so, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, we ask that you would be near to these dear sisters and to their families. We thank you that they both have the ultimate comfort of knowing that their loved ones were known and loved by you, so that they fell asleep here only to awaken in that place that is so much better. We thank you that they are now with the Savior they loved.

We pray for the many people in our church who have lost their jobs in the past couple of weeks, or who have seen their hours radically reduced, or who know that their time is coming very soon. We pray to the God who feeds the ravens even though they neither sow nor reap, and to the God who clothes in splendor even the lilies of the field, and we pray that these dear brothers and sisters would not be anxious, for they are of so much more value than birds and flowers. We pray that they would rest in the promise that “if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,” well then of course he will provide for people made in his image and saved by his Son. We pray that they would not be anxious, that they would not lose faith, but that they would instead rely on you. Give them faith to believe that you will care for them. I pray that in this time we would be the church, that we would gladly, joyfully, and sacrificially help one another. I pray that those with needs would have the humility to ask for help; and that those with means would have the generosity to provide it.

We pray for those in our church who are locked down alone. We ask that as a church we would take special care of them, that we would make an extra effort to reach out to them and to remain in community with them the best we can. We pray that you would meet them in their loneliness and bring them hope and comfort.

We pray for those in our church who are on the front lines of the battle against this virus, those who are exposed to it in their day-to-day work. We pray that you would protect them and keep them from harm. Keep all of us from harm, we pray. Keep us healthy. Give us your wisdom to make wise decisions in the days and weeks ahead.

And Father, there are so many reasons for which we want to see this outbreak come to an end. But in this context of broadcasting a kind of chapel service and then watching it alone or as families, we ask this: Please bring it to an end so we can once again meet together. We’re thankful that we can take advantage of cameras and screens, we’re thankful that we can at least do this. We are genuinely thankful! But it isn’t really what we want. We want to be together, Father. We want to read your Word together, we want to raise our voices in song together, we want to listen to sermons together, we want to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we want to see people be baptized, we want to enjoy face-to-face fellowship. We want to be the church gathered, not the church scattered. So please, Father, let us endure this trial well. Let us honor you in it. But please, for this reason among all the others, please bring it to an end. Until then, let us long for that day and look forward to that day when we can once again gather together as your people, as your church. When we can finally see one another again, hug one another again. Prepare us even now to rejoice greatly on that day, and to give you all praise and all glory.

We pray these things in the name of Christ our Savior. Amen.

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