From time to time, probably every month or so, I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer that was prayed at Grace Fellowship Church. The pastoral prayer is a time for one of the pastors or elders to pray on behalf of the congregation and to intercede on their behalf. This particular prayer was prayed by me, for our online Easter service, during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020.
Our Father in Heaven,
In your Word you’ve told us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If this is your will for us, then we want to be obedient. We want to express gratitude to you even (and especially) in circumstances like these.
Today is the day we call Easter. So today, of all days, we thank you that you so loved the world that you sent your only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Today, of all days, we are thankful that he lived a sinless life and so fulfilled the Law—he kept it perfectly in its every part. Today, of all days, we are thankful that he who knew no sin became sin for us on the cross, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Today, of all days, we are thankful that he rose from the grave so we could have life in him. Thank you that through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ you provided a way—the only way—for us to be saved from our sin.
We thank you that you sent your Spirit to dwell within us, to guide us to all truth, to warn us away from all evil, to seal us as your own possession, to be the guarantee of our inheritance, to equip us for all righteousness, to sanctify us to all holiness, to assure us of your love and faithfulness. What a joy, what a blessing, what a cause for gratitude!
We thank you that you have promised us that just as death could not hold our Lord Jesus Christ, death will not be able to hold those of us who have put our faith in him. Just as Christ rose from the grave and went to the Father’s side, we too will rise from the grave and go to be with you. And so in a time when death seems to be on the prowl, we do not need to fear our ultimate destiny. With our eternity fixed and certain, we can give thanks even during a pandemic because death has no claim on us.
We thank you that you’ve provided the church to care for us in difficult times. Each of us has taken a covenant in which we’ve said, “I to engage to watch over you, my brothers and sisters, in brotherly love; to remember you in prayer; to aid you in sickness and distress.” We are grateful to you that brothers and sisters in the Lord are able and organized and willing and ready to help those who have needs. We are so thankful that we are not enduring this difficult time without people who care for us, without people who are there to assist us should we need it.
We thank you that you’ve provided government to oversee us and to lead us. You remind us that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” So we thank you for those in authority over us, knowing that it is your will that they hold these positions. We thank you for Prime Minister Trudeau and pray for him as he attempts to guide and steer the entire nation; we thank you for for Premier Ford and pray for him as he leads our province. We thank you for the mayors of the different towns and cities represented by members of this church and pray for them as well. We ask that these leaders would lead us with wisdom. We are thankful that we are led, that it is not every man for himself; we are thankful for these leaders and pray your richest blessings upon them.
Father, we thank you for health and for safety. We thank you for care and provision. We thank you for jobs and for studies. We thank you for food and for shelter. We thank you for rain and for sunshine. We thank you for the budding of trees and the blossoming of flowers. We thank you for good books and entertaining movies. We thank you for C.E.R.B. and employment insurance. We thank you for family and friends. We thank you for singing and sacraments. We thank you for Word and for prayer. We thank you that we can express gratitude; we thank you that we know the one from whom all blessings flow and that we are not left expressing gratitude to the universe, or to empty skies, or to the void. But we can express gratitude to the maker and sustainer of all things, to the giver of all good gifts. We can speak to you and know we are heard as we say, “Thank you.”