From time to time 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 before the congregation and to intercede on their behalf. It’s a precious element of a service. I prayed this prayer earlier this month.
Our Father in heaven, what a joy it is that we can call you “Father.” You rule over this earth, but don’t tell us to pray to “your majesty.” You are high and lifted up, but you don’t tell us to address you as “your highness.” You are judge of the living and the dead, but don’t tell us to say “your honor.” Instead you invite us to call you “our Father.” And so we don’t speak to you today as subjects before a king, or citizens before an emperor, or plaintiffs before a judge—we speak to you as children before a father. We speak as children who are confident that our Father loves us, confident that our Father hears us, confident that our Father is eager to act for our good.
Father, we have already confessed that we are like sheep who have gone astray. But we are also like children who have rebelled against a kind and benevolent father, a father who has only ever loved us, a father who has only ever acted in ways that benefited us. We have chosen to defy you, to revolt against your authority, to go so far as to wish you were dead. We are so sorry. And we are so thankful that you continued to love us, that you continued to care about us, that you patiently and willingly drew us to yourself. What a God you are! What a Father you are!
For those of us who are fathers, we pray that we would learn from you, that we would model our fathering after yours, that we would look to the way you relate to us and extend all of that mercy, all of that love, all of that compassion to the children you’ve blessed us with. Let us love as we have been loved. Let us be fathers in the way you are a Father.
Father, we thank you for the many precious gifts you’ve given us, not the least of which is this church. Thank you that since we are all your children and you are Father to us all, you’ve drawn us together into this community, this family.
We thank you for granting us the gift of elders and deacons and Father we ask that they would serve well, that the elders would lead on your behalf and that the deacons would serve on your behalf. And we pray that you would grant us more elders and more deacons. You promise that if we ask according to your will you will listen and you will provide. We know it is your will for a church to be led by elders and served by deacons, so we ask that you would raise up members of this church who would be called, and qualified, and willing to serve as elders. We pray that you would raise up members of this church who would be called, and qualified, and willing to serve as deacons. We see this as a great need in this church and so we pray that you would grant what we ask. We pray that you would burden individuals to serve and we pray that you would grant wisdom to the members so we can identify those people and simply acknowledge your calling on their life.
We thank you that you are not Father only to the people in this congregation but to Christians throughout the world, throughout the country, throughout the city. We think today of our brothers and sisters at [nearby local church] on the east side of Toronto. Please bless them as they meet to worship you today. Please bless [pastor] as he pastors that church. He has served there faithfully for many years and we ask that you would grant him many more. We pray that you would help the people of that church to serve as a faithful and committed part of your family right here in this city.
And Father as we turn to the Word, to hear it read and preached, we ask that you would help us listen attentively and apply diligently. We pray that we would listen as children who so badly need the wisdom of their Father, as children who are committed to imitating their Father, and as children who long to please their Father. I pray that you would speak and we would listen—that you, who are perfect and unchanging, would do a great work within us who are imperfect and in desperate need of change. Please let us leave here today as children who have heard from their Father, who have grown in love and trust for their Father, and who are eager to be like their Father.
We pray all this in the name of our precious Savior, our elder brother, Jesus Christ. Amen.