Congregational Prayers

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our Redeemer Father,

How we sometimes remember, as from afar, that joy we encountered in our first days as Your children, when the wonders of Christ and the magnitude of His glories and our pardons were innumerable and incomprehensible, when our service was spontaneous and enthusiastic, and our prayer and devotion simple, free-flowing and unchecked. How distant such passions seem to be at times. It is not You Who have changed, nor the nature of Your salvation, for You are the sole Unchanging Constant of our entire existence. It is we, in our persistent sinfulness, who have traded joy and anticipation for a dull melancholy and ambivalence; service and sacrifice for sloth and false security; peace and contentment for anxiousness and restless ambition. We no longer trust, we no longer sacrifice, we no longer give up this world for the next; we play it safe. We hold our lives in our hands with clenched fists, as if we alone can be trusted to control our destinies. And we weary from our labors in the flesh.

Can we who have seen such mighty miracles at Your hand be content to return to the bitter fields of Egypt? Have we been baptized in the Red Sea only to return to the dust of our prior humiliations? May it never be! But apart from Your perpetual refreshing and restoring, that vestige of sin within us tends to re-blind those eyes You have opened and re-calcify those hearts Your have softened. Fix our eyes afresh on Your glories and majesty, and turn our hearts to the precious workings of Christ unto us. Restore unto us the joy and wonder of our salvation, that we would remember and be humbled. Persist in that great work of our sanctification, that we would persist in Christ. Give us this day our daily Bread, Who is Christ, that our yet-sin-burdened bodies would show signs of that incremental transformation into His very likeness.

We pray also for Your Church, Universal and Local, that She would provide the context and confines of those works of salvation and sanctification. Be with our ministers, elders and deacons, be with our congregants and children. Grow us all in grace and mercy; soften our hearts and fill us with love for Christ and one another. Concentrate the true Gospel among us, both in the content of the preaching and in the conduct of our lives. We pray for the specific needs of our own local body.

Out of Egypt You have called Your Son, and in Him we too have been rescued from the pits of slavery. Grant us the graces to remember our Exodus, and joyfully endure the manna and the miles, without grumbling and complaining or backtracking, until You bring us into our Promised Land of milk and honey. We see it from afar and long for it.

We pray these things in the name of Christ Jesus, Who is our Pillar of Smoke by day, and Tower of Fire by night.