Prayers of the People

Sunday, September 5, 2010
Offered by Sarah A. Johnson, Minister for Congregational Care

Gracious and loving God, giver of all good gifts, as the last days of summer come to a close, we give you thanks for the seasons of our lives and your constant care for each of us in those seasons. As the days get shorter days and the air begins to cool, we are reminded of the world that you created and your providential care for it. You care for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air; how much more you care tenderly for each of us. Breathe new life into those places where we are in need of a new beginning; sustain us in places where we are in need of your strength.

On this Labor Day weekend, as we pause to rest from our labors, we remember with gratitude the work that you have given each of us to do. We give thanks for the work of human relationship: for mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, partners, caregivers, and friends. May we deal kindly and patiently with each other. We give thanks in these early days of the school season for those who teach and those who learn. We pray for those doctors and nurses who care for our bodies, those counselors who care for our minds, and those whose wisdom cares for our souls. We pray for those who work in our marketplace and those whose labor puts food on our tables, from farmer to truck driver to merchant. We give thanks for those who drive our buses and cabs and deliver our mail; for all the many jobs big and small that sustain our lives. May we remember our need for one another, our interconnectedness.

On this Labor Day weekend, we are mindful this day that most hard labor in this country is performed by people maybe not like us. We pray for those who labor in the most desperate of situations, who settle for being cheap labor while food and housing continue to grow more expensive. We pray for soldiers and sailors, for those who serve the military in our own nation and in every land. We pray for the families and loved ones from whom they are separated; we pray for those who have lost loved ones in acts of war. We pray for those who work under conditions of constant stress and anxiety. God, we also lift up to you all those who cannot work and those who continue the hard labor of looking for work.

We pray for those who labor this day in the wake of disasters. We pray for those suffering from flooding in Pakistan, those still suffering from the earthquake in Haiti, and for those whose livelihoods have been affected by the oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

God, we lift up to the work of your tender care those we know who labor under the burden of illness, who are in the hospital and face the anxiety up an upcoming surgery. We pray this morning for those whose hearts grieve the loss of a loved one and are in need of comfort and assurance in the face of death; we also pray for all those whose loneliness, depression, and anxiety threaten to overwhelm them and are in need of courage in the face of life.

On this Labor Day weekend, with most of us so privileged that we do not sweat unless we play tennis or jog, give us a fresh perspective on our labor, that our lives consist in more than eating and earning, in making and selling, that our lives consist in the difficult, urgent work of being partners in bringing about your kingdom in the here and now.

There is service to be rendered by each of us—a labor of love to which you call us. Move us beyond serving our own self-interest to using what we have been given to serve others in your name. May we lessen the divide between the haves and the have-nots, heal the sick, care for the least of these, cast out demons, and do the work of justice.

Empower us that we may birth new well-being, that we may know the joy of compassion that overrides the drudgery of our common day.

In the name of Jesus, in whom we know your own self-giving life and who taught his disciples to pray together saying, Our Father . . .

Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church


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