For Leaders and the Persecuted Church

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Written for November 23, 2014

Lord,

Last week we came to you and we asked you for your safety and presence as we entered another week.  Today we come before you and we praise you. Throughout the week you were with us as we went on our travels in this city and for some beyond. You kept us safe on the roads, you protected us from countless times of near accidents and harm that likely didn’t even make our awareness. We thank you for our homes, in which we were kept safe from the cold, fed with food to keep us nourished, warm enough to sleep the night and wake up to rejoice in another day with you. You provided us with health care when we needed it, safety and order through our various levels of government and services like clean water, electricity, sanitation, road clearing, garbage maintenance, and so much more. There is just so much about each day that we often forget to see and praise you for SO many blessings that we have just based on the miracle of being here at in this city and at this point in your history.

This week, we could see your awesome might in the storm of winter.  Again, we were stopped or at least slowed in our daily routines by the power of your creation.  Many of us thank you so much for the sunshine that we could see this week.  For those of us that wake up early enough to see the spectacular sun rise, we thought of you as your artwork decorated the skies.  And as the sun set, many of us were busy rushing home and maybe let the moment pass us by.  This coming week may we pause and see you in these simple moments.  May these moments grip our hearts and mind and remind us… we are here because of you.  We are here to worship you. Perhaps not to spend every moment in song and in prayer, but in awe of the gift that we received because you called us to be your children. You gave your son to die for us. Thank you lord.

This week many of us cried out to you.  Perhaps in pain, perhaps in frustration, perhaps desperation.  Perhaps in awe, perhaps in joy, perhaps because there was just no other thought that would fill our mind.  Lord, we ask that this week you again care for us. We thank you knowing that you do have our needs – our true needs in the palm of your hands.  We ask that you grow our trust in this so that we can be like the flowers of the summer fields – not worrying about where our food or our clothes.  But simply trusting and having faith in you for all we need.

We prayer an extra measure of your presence and grace be poured out upon our members who feel the limits of their created body so much more.  For those who are sick – the physically sick, the chronically sick, those who’s sickness is hidden and doesn’t require a cane or a crutch, but can be so much more limiting.  We pray especially for those who are awaiting diagnosis and are in the grips of uncertainty.  At times our minds can go so much further than they should.  So we pray that you can, in this case, quiet the imaginations and bring a peace that is beyond understanding.  We pray for wisdom for all of those who provide for the treatment and care of these members of our congregation.  In specific we think of:

[insert specific prayer requests here]

Lord, we need to pray for our leaders.  For the leaders in our workplace and schools.  Lord we need to pray for the leadership of this church and many other churches in this city and beyond.  We pray that you will be with those you have placed in these positions. We pray for their families.  We know that when our leadership is being effective, that it is at those times that outside forces seek to distract, complicate their lives, and make them ineffective.  The temptations grow, the troubles come from within and without. Place a protection around them.  May they seek wisdom and direction from you and lean not on their own understanding.

Lord we pray for our local government.  For our new city council, and the municipality. Those who provide our services, like policing, fire, water, sanitation.  For those whose stores provide for many of our wants – not just our needs. We thank you for the riches and privileges of life right here right now.

Lord we pray for our provincial and federal government.  So often we act like we have a choice to think and pray for them OR to forget about them and go about our daily lives, only stopping to complain in frustration. Lord we confess our pride and selfishness, and ask that you place the burden on our hearts to remember to pray for all of our leadership.

Lord we pray for our extended family of brothers and sisters in Christ. Even those of us that ignore the news know that while persecution of your church is not new, the level of violence and the target of that violence is growing in different ways.  That new names for this same violence are filling our news, like the Boko Haraam and the Islamic State movement.  We also think of the old names, like Kim Youn un, the Chinese communist party, fundamentalist Hindu and Islamic governments of India, Pakistan.  We think of the repression, imprisonment, physical beatings and worse, the destruction of property and livelihood and the countless lives being poured out like an offering because these brothers and sisters are not silent about professing your name as their Saviour and Lord.  At times Lord, we confess it feels like we have a choice. Maybe we will think about and pray for them today.  Maybe we will just forget. Here is the amazing thing.  You are working in these countries today.  The testimony that these believers are giving is causing growth to the church in numbers never seen before in these regions.  Stories of Christ appearing to Muslims in dreams and visions has lead to people seeking you and dozens of Paul type conversions.  We pray for the Christians who then must face their oppressors who are asking for forgiveness and teaching.  They are being asked to turn the other cheek and minister in love to these brutalizers.  And they are.  So Lord we bring these fellow believers to you.  We ask that they feel your presence.  That we will remember them this week and support them with our prayers.  We ask that you convict those doing the torture and destruction and call them to know you. Lord, we don’t want this persecution.  We don’t pray for this. Yet, we can see the amazing way you are turning this power against them into your glory.

Yes Lord, your glory.  Where does our help come from?  It comes from You. We cannot understand, here, right now, in this time and place, why you have called us here and not there.  Why we are lead where we are lead and how it will bring praise and glory to you. But Lord we trust you.  Be with us today as we leave this place of worship.

May we bring praise and glory, honour and testimony to your name.

Amen

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