Congregational Prayers

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Holy Lord,

You have been good to Your people. To thousands of generations You have shown Your love and faithfulness to Your chosen. No less now than in the Red Sea, You bring Your children through their trials and adversities, satisfying our longings, giving end to our sufferings and bringing clear effect and accomplishment to our struggles, giving an object and focus to our experiences. We, like the exiles from Egypt, have been saved, but not in simply abstract terms. Israel was saved from slavery in Egypt. Likewise, we have been saved from something! Our state has changed not from one theoretical category to another, but from one clear, hard reality to another. We were dead and doomed to destruction; now we are made alive in Christ and anticipate Heaven. We were at war with God and filled with hatred to Him, now we are at peace with our Creator and love, seek and cherish His Person and presence. Our struggles are real rather than conceptual, and therefore so are the blessings we receive in Your deliverance. Heaven is to be our home. Our bodies are to be made new. We will never know want, hunger or weariness again. And our children will be heirs to the same promises. The outcomes of our travails are as real and solid as is the foundation of our faith itself, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose very real life and very real death fully satisfied the wrath of God against us and opened the blessings of the Kingdom unto us.

So we pray this morning not as those praying vaporous words to a vaporous god with vaporous objectives. We pray for real struggles, for discernable needs and identifiable sufferings. And we pray to a God who is there, to a God whose own self-description, I AM, bears testimony to this. And lastly, we pray for real and specific outcomes and conclusions: that the sick would be healed, that sinners would repent, and that Christ’s Kingdom would be established on earth as it is in Heaven.

We pray for the Church You have provided – our most tangible hold on Heaven today. Grow Her in numbers and in spiritual maturity. Protect Her from the attacks of the Enemy, that She would stand firm against sin and deceit, and would promote the holiness of Her Lord and Master. We pray for those You have given us to lead the Church, that You would likewise keep and sustain them, that their service would be diligent and effective and unstained by sin or scandal. We pray for our local body, that You would restrain our sin and change our natures that we would desire it no more; that You would meet our physical needs and our spiritual longings; that You would be our God and take us to be Your people. We pray for the specific needs of our local body.

We praise and thank You for Your real, objective and specific wonders and works and ascribe to You all praise and glory. We pray these things in the Name of Christ Jesus.