Sunday, April 29, 2007
Offered John H. Boyle, Parish Associate
Holy God, merciful and mighty, we would always be praising you for the blessings of your promised presence, your steadfast love, and your forgiving grace. We are grateful for your gift of life with its bane and blessing, its pain and its pleasure, for the gift of courage with which we can endure the one and for the gift of gratitude with which we can respond to the other.
In the concrete jungle of urban life and in the high-tech world of instant gratification, the notion of being led as by a shepherd doesn’t seem to compute easily. So we are grateful, O God, for new metaphors more close to home that can encourage us to seek your guidance and be led by your Spirit. For you alone are the one who ultimately satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts, provides what we need, and helps us to keep from continually wanting what we cannot have.
In the face of the chaos and corruption that form the core of war, help us to have the decency to be tuned into the pain of others, to seek to discover the wounded soul in the heart of the one who wounds others and whom we so easily label “monster,” without acknowledging the possibility of the monster that may lurk within the hidden recesses of our own beings. Show us how to notice human suffering all around us in ways that do not harden our hearts to it, and how to witness to your abiding love and compassionate care by doing whatever we can to come to the aid of those in need and who cannot fend for themselves.
We pray for those who are locked in the prison house of pain, chained to the threat of death, and for those bowed down beneath the burden of sorrow. We pray for those who, though resigned to the ways things are, hope for the ways things may yet become, by your grace. Bestow your mercy, we pray, upon all who struggle with their inner demons, that they may have the strength to resist the temptation to succumb to the seduction of their destructiveness.
We pray for our nation and for the world, both riven with disagreement and division. By your Spirit, let stubbornness and rigidity be replaced with openness and the spirit of compromise, not of values held dear, but of opinions and illusions held too tightly, lest those who lead become oblivious to the evil such madness can produce. Temper our interest in quick and easy solutions, and save us from replacing difficult truths with comfortable lies. Help us all to determine how we can change for the better even when those around us and society itself don’t change at all to our liking.
God of serenity and peace, when in the course of human events, amidst the ambiguities of life, our frustration increases, our ire mounts, and our hope diminishes, lead us back again to the cross of Jesus Christ, there to be reminded that no matter what befalls us, we can never drift beyond your love and care.
We pray in the name of the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life to show us that love and that care, and with the words he used in teaching his disciples how to pray: Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church