Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
A Congregational Prayer written in response to the above passage.
Dear Father God,
Before Creation you spoke. You spoke into the void and there was. You spoke and there was light, darkness; waters, land and sky; the plants; the sun, moon and stars; the animals on land, fish in the sea and birds in the sky; and you made us. As the hymn says, “Father long before creation, you had chosen us in love. And that love, so deep, so moving, draws us close to Christ above.” And that love “will keep us, firmly fixed in Christ alone.”
And then you God, Creator God, spoke to us and you said to us: Do not worry. You are mine. Lay all of your burdens down at my feet. Do not focus on the worries of tomorrow. I love you. Give me your burdens, sorrows; your tiredness and loneliness and I will give you rest. Likewise bring me your joys, your laughter and know that all that is good comes from me.
You said, know that in both the sadness and the joys, no matter the results of our human choices – I have a plan for you. And it is a good plan. And I will work through this world that has been thoroughly twisted through sin. I will work through my Creation, and through you. I will work out my plan for righteousness and you will know that I am God. You are mine.
God, how do we respond? Are we able to keep the sheer enormousness of that in our minds as we live our daily lives? Do we bring it all to you? Are the words of our mouths, the mediations of our minds pleasing to you?
No! God, we come to you in confession, speaking what you already know. We do not honour you every day. We do not live lives that are fully transformed. We do not remember you in our activities, speak of you in our conversations, and determine our actions based on your teachings to us.
Lord, though undeserved by our actions yet granted to us in grace through death on the cross, we bring before you our thanks.
[insert specific prayer requests here]
Lord, we think of many in this congregation who have lived with a cancer diagnosis and gone through the treatment process. We pray for those who carry the ongoing fears of cancer, those who carry the grief of loss as a result of cancer, and those who love people carrying these fears. Be with them all.
Lord, we think of many in this congregation who live daily with other ongoing diagnosis. Be they of hurt heart, of hurt mind, of aching and worn body and so much more. Help us all to lay these burdens down at your feet and accept the rest and peace that are yours that you freely want to give. And when we pick them back up, help us to lay them back down again, and again.
We bring before you our joys! Our church year has started again and our programs are starting up. We bring you such thanks for our volunteers. We bring you thanks for the participants. We bring you thanks for the work that has gone into creating these programs.
We bring before you thanks for those in our congregation who work quietly in ministry. Like those organizing large events like the Bazaar and the Costume Party. We bring before you thanks for the fellowship that happens at our Soup Sundays. We bring before you thanks for the work of our committees. We thank you for our Education and Discipleship Committee, the Campaign Glory Committee, the Board of Stewards, the Worship Committee, and the other committees that my unprepared mind cannot remember.
We bring before you thanks for our Elders and Deacons, our Pastor, Custodian and Church Secretary. We bring them before you in prayer too. We receive the results of their service, often with too much questioning and not enough thanks. Lord, may we hold them up in our prayers. Remember to speak the thanks that we have doubly and bring our concerns and cares to you first. Help us to grant these appointed servants with the same grace that you extend to us.
We bring before you our brothers and sisters in Christ outside the walls of this Sanctuary. May we remember the needs of Your Church. We here are only a tiny portion of those you chose long before Creation.
Lord we bring before you your creation. You created an amazing world that has been so thoroughly tainted by sin and destruction. It is easy to see both the effects of sin, but also how truly amazing you created this world. We thank you that we can place our worries about our world in your hands and then pick up the work of being your agents of change and transformation without worry. Help us as we do this through our daily work and activities. May we honour you in what we do.
Lord, this is but a few of our prayers. There are words that haven’t been spoken. Needs that we can rely on the Holy Spirit to advocate for us on our behalf. For you have provided for us in this need too.
Father God, you are a good, good father. You have chosen us and we have responded.
By your grace, through the advocacy of the cross, hear our prayers, Lord, hear our prayers.