Congregational Prayers

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Holy Father,

You are gracious and loving unto Your children. Without fail You provide all that is needed and beneficial to those who are Yours. The food we eat, the homes we live in, the employments and enjoyments we partake in – all are providentially provided in right and good amounts to sustain and preserve us. While we should praise You ceaselessly for these gifts, we tend rather to sin against You in them in two ways. So often we grumble at what we perceive to be inadequacies to what we think we need, and in our bitterness and indignation at a small presumed neglect, we fail to give You praise and thanks for the great multitude of blessings we have received – failing or being unwilling to realize that discomfort and suffering are among the paternal tools of discipline that You bring to bear in love and charity on Your children, to sanctify, build, strengthen, and redeem us.

And when our sin is not one of grumbling for a lack of blessings, it is surely one of gross ingratitude for an abundance. At times the blessings and material gifts You have given us are so many and so great that we become numbed to Your generosity, failing, or again, being unwilling, to realize the gifts we have or acknowledge the source from which they came. We become self-satisfied and self-reliant, insulated from the needs of our brothers, and focused only on our own interests and desires. Our constant blessing, rather than sating and satisfying, brings on only more hunger and covetousness, so that we neither thank God for, nor actually enjoy the gifts of His hand. We who have so much given us become swallowed in greed and selfishness.

These sins, those of grumbling and those of thanklessness, are the sins that plague our souls even now in our redeemed and justified state. How humiliating and sorrowful it is to see them for what they are! Lord forgive us the wickedness we create out of Your providence. Change our hearts that we might see and emulate our Savior Jesus Christ, Who was thankful in all abundance, and respectful, trusting and submissive in all trails.

And so we do heartily thank You today for our blessings: our homes, our families, our work, our church. How blessed we truly are. And we do come before You in humility and submission with the needs You have sent us, not to deprive us, but to boost us along in sanctification and holiness.

We pray for our Church body, both here in this room, and across the entirety of the globe. Strengthen and sustain our ministers, consistories and councils, and wash our congregations in the Word. We pray for a tight and loving community with strong families and deep friendships. Help us to learn to love and serve one another and how to engage the world around us to Your glory. Help us to raise our children up in loving discipline and sweet affection, bringing them into our holy household at an early age, that they may benefit from many years of sanctification.

In Jesus Christ You have given us all we need, and that in incalculable abundance, and so it is in this rich abundance of His grace, and in His very name that we pray.

AMEN