Sunday, March 2, 2008
Offered by Thomas C. Rook, Parish Associate
Lord of our lives, as we come before you, turn down the volume of our anxious hearts, we pray, and calm our racing minds. In these moments of quiet, let us sense something of your own presence.
As 2000 years ago, when the wind and the waves on a troubled sea prompted your disciples to plead, “Master, don’t you care that we are perishing?” so we in our need also call upon your mercy and reassurance. May we too hear your strong voice, “Peace, be still!” You know, gracious Lord, that worries about health and finances and vocation, about responsibilities and relationships, become for us our restless sea, causing us to feel regrets about the past, uncertainty about the present, fear for what may happen next.
How often our highest aspirations in life are mocked by our failings. Seeking to be loyal, we nonetheless betray ourselves and others. Yearning to live in self-giving love, we yet serve our own ends. Reaching for courage, we sacrifice the good for the safe and expedient. Even as a nation, while holding high ideals of freedom and justice and equality, we often accept much less and leave the weakest among us—the children, the sick in body or mind, the alien—to settle for the leftovers.
Within all these realities of our life, we look to you, gracious Lord, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who can sympathize with us in our weaknesses, you too having been troubled, tempted, and tried, enduring shame for our sake.” Our lives often take us in directions that we cannot understand and do not want to go. In such times when our faith is tested within something of our own Gethsemane, we find comfort that you, precious Lord, have been there too. And we come to know that, in the storms of life, while you go ahead of us, you do not go instead of us. By your grace, grant us hope to believe that your guiding, creative hand still draws forth new and unexpected growth—even from the dark soil of loss and pain and regret. And we express gratitude for the presence of all those who are helpers in our lives, who give us sound advice, who encourage us and uplift our spirits.
While we may not know everything, we can know you and your love, dear Lord. And so we give you thanks that you are our merciful Lord of the second chance, of new beginnings, and that through it all, “though afflicted, we are not crushed; perplexed, we are not driven to despair; struck down but not destroyed.” Reassure us that within the economy of your grace it is possible to fail and yet not be a failure and that our falling does not prevent you from loving us. Call us forward, renewing our trust in the One in whom our ultimate hope is rooted, our highest good is found, our deepest strength grounded, even in our faithful savior Jesus Christ, who brings triumph out of tragedy and life out of death, and who while on earth urged us to pray in these words, which we now say together, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church