Every now and again I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer from Grace Fellowship Church. I do this because there are few examples of pastoral prayers online and I thought these may serve to inspire themes, passages, or ideas as other pastors and elders prepare to lead their churches in prayer. Here is one I prayed before our church not too long ago. (For context, it was my first time leading in a service after Nick’s death, and I had just thanked the church for their love and care for my family.)
Father, each of us in our own way stands before you as a person who is broken. We are broken by sin, first and most prominently. But then we’re also broken by the effects of sin, by living in a world marked and scarred by sin—we are broken by pain, by illness, by trials, by trauma, by losses, by sorrows. We are broken. And in our brokenness we ask you to remember your promise that you will not break a bruised reed and you will not quench a smoldering wick. Let us truly believe we have nothing to fear from you. We can come to you small, come to you weak, come to you broken, and you’ll receive us. You’ll help us. You’ll care for us. That’s the kind of God you are.
And, in fact, Lord, you make it clear that you love to use what is small and weak and broken. Our brokenness doesn’t make us useless to your purposes but it’s the very material through which you can display your goodness, your power, your glory. You say, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden.” That’s us! We are weary and weighed down, so please receive us as we come to you. You tell us that your special blessing is upon those who are poor in spirit, who are meek and mournful. That’s us! We are poor, we are sorrowful, so please pour out your blessings upon us. You tell us you deliberately choose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise and what is weak in the world to shame the strong. That’s us! We are not regarded in the world as great, as powerful, as mighty, so please, use us to showcase your wisdom, to display your strength.
Father, it’s our longing to bring glory to your name—it’s our longing to display your power in our weakness, your wisdom in our brokenness. And so we willingly submit ourselves to your purposes. You are the Creator, we are the created. You are the Potter, we are the clay. If we can best bring glory to you through weakness, then we say take our strength; if we can best bring glory to you through poverty, then we say take our riches; if we can best bring glory to you through loss, then we say take what we have, take what we love, take what we cling to. We can endure any trial, surmount any suffering, face any sorrow, as long as you do not leave us, as long as you do not forsake us. And you promise you never will. In fact, you promise you will work all things for good and so we ask that in our lives you would do that. Work our weakness for good, work our losses for good, work our brokenness for good, for we love you and have been called according to your purpose.
We know that often the green pastures lay beyond the dark valleys. We are willing to go. We are willing even to go into the Valley of the Shadow of Death as long as our Shepherd is with us, as long as your rod and your staff will comfort us. For if you are with us, even if everything else is taken away, still we will lack nothing that we need. We ask only that in our lives and in our deaths we would glorify your name.
Father, we have often sung that our only comfort in life and death is that we are not our own but belong in body and soul, in life and death, to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. And so our God, we trust you with our death and all that comes beyond the grave. Now, we pray that we would trust you with our lives and all that comes until the grave. We pray that you would use us to glorify yourself. Use us, Lord. Use us just as we are—little, weak, and broken. Whatever it takes, whatever it costs, we pray only that you would receive the glory.