A Prayer for Renewal

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31

Heavenly Father, thank you for this week off from work. I nearly reached my breaking point this month. I asked for help over and over again and didn’t get it. I was ready to quit. It was like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Lord, the last six months have been stressful. My dad died. A few days later, we moved to another state. In my haste to get back to work, I buried my grief. I went through another busy season at work. And just when things were looking brighter, the world was rocked by a pandemic. All of this has taken a toll on me.

Lord, You are always with me. You are my rock and my refuge. Renew my strength during this week of rest. I want to run and not grow weary. I want to walk and not be faint. But mostly, I want to be my normal helpful self, not a person who resents people for expecting too much of me.

God, grant me the serenity to live one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will.

Amen

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A Prayer for My Country

Father, I have been struggling to put the prayer of my heart into words. As much as I want to believe that this country can be united by a shared interest in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, it is wishful thinking. Many people resent restrictions on their freedom even if the purpose is to protect the safety and well being of all of us. People are understandably worried about the survival of small businesses. People understandably want things to get back to normal. People are understandably tired of staying home.

I want to pray for unity but I am a realist. This country has been divided for years. Divided by ideology, divided by an “us versus them” mentality. The same issues and mindsets that divided us before this pandemic divide us now. The other side is still the enemy.

Lord, you told Isaiah to go and tell the people,
‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the hearts of this people calloused;
deafen their ears and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.

Father, I have no illusions that this is a Christian nation. It is a nation with millions of Christians who worship you in Spirit and in truth and millions who are Christian in name only. A vast majority has turned its back to You. They have other gods before You. The hearts of this nation are calloused. Otherwise, they might hear with their ears and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.

Lord, before there can be unity, there must be healing of hearts. I pray that You will use this pandemic to turn people to You. Help the people of this nation to see the truth with their eyes, to hear the truth with their ears, and to understand with their hearts.

Amen.

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A Prayer for Aching Hearts

Heavenly Father, thank you for my health and for the health of my loved ones. Lord, everyday I hear about widespread physical suffering and death from the coronavirus pandemic. It is not like anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. Lord, again I pray for doctors, nurses, and nurses aides who put their own health at risk to save lives. Again I pray for essential workers who risk their own health to provide essential goods and services to the public.

Lord, this global pandemic has caused more than physical suffering and financial woes. It has brought widespread heartache. In normal times, doctors and nurses and ministers learn to face the reality of suffering and death. My sister has made a career of caring for the elderly, including our mother. She has seen a lot of death. This pandemic is like nothing anyone has experienced.

When my mother-in-law was dying, we stood at her bedside in the hospital and held her hand as she struggled to breathe. We had the chance to say goodbye. When my mother lay dying in the nursing home, we gathered around her bedside as her organs failed. We kissed her face and held her hand and said our tearful goodbyes.

This is different. When a person is afflicted with a contagious disease, healthcare workers can only approach wearing masks and protective clothing. Doctors and nurses cannot extend a human touch of comfort. Loved ones cannot surround the dying in the last moments of life as we surrounded my mother with love.

Father, this is heartbreaking.

Lord, bless the hearts that break for others. Comfort those who must maintain physical distance to guard against infection, even as they long to comfort the afflicted. Be their personal protective shield against this virus. Give them strength to face each day.

God of mercy, hear my prayer. Amen

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Thank you, Jesus for walking with me

Lord Jesus, since I was a little girl, you have walked beside me wherever I go. Because you are with me, I will not lose heart. I am hard pressed on every side, but I am not crushed. I am struck down, but not destroyed. I am perplexed, but not driven to despair. I am ridiculed for your name’s sake, but not forsaken.

When you walk beside me, I am strong and courageous. I am not afraid. I am not discouraged.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

I am comforted by your presence. I am encouraged by your presence. I am strengthened by your presence. My cup overflows.

Thank you, Jesus, my rock and my redeemer.

Amen.

A Prayer for the Church

Heavenly Father, thank you for this new day. This morning, I remembered a childhood rhyme we recited on our way to church. We would interlace our fingers, placing our thumbs parallel to each other. Then we would say, ‘here’s the church.’ We would lift our index fingers, touch them together and say, ‘here’s the steeple.’ Finally, we would turn our hands out with the fingers still interlaced and say as we wiggled them, ‘open the door and see all the people.’ 

Tomorrow on what is normally one of the most “peopley” days of the year, most churches around the world will be empty. As they have for the past few weeks, pastors and priests, musicians and others who serve in the church have recorded a service for Easter Sunday. The people will watch from the safety of their homes.

Jesus, today I remember what you said to the woman at the well about places of worship. She said that her ancestors worshiped on the mountain but you Jews claim that the place we must worship is in Jerusalem. You said to her, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 

Jesus, Messiah, this pandemic is proof that true worshipers do not need a physical building to worship you. We worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth! We will gather together virtually to pray and sing your praises. 

Lord, just as you warned, there are many false prophets and teachers out there, including those who promote the false prosperity gospel and those who falsely link religion and politics. I pray that those who lead people astray will be revealed for what they are and that people will discern the truth. You cannot serve both God and money. You cannot serve both God and political power. You alone are God. You alone are sovereign.

Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. As Isaiah prophesied, you were pierced for our transgressions, you were crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on you, and by your wounds we are healed. 

Father, I pray for the body of believers. I pray for the clergy who lead us. Help us to grow spiritually through this challenging time of physical distancing. May we let our lights shine in the darkness so that others will see our good deeds and glorify you.

Amen


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