Douglass Blvd Christian Church

an open and affirming community of faith

n open and affirming community where faith is questioned and formed, as relationships are made and upheld. 

Filtering by Category: Prayer

Prayer of the People

Delivered by Brian Cubbage on Sunday, August 17, 2014.

Merciful, loving, and gracious God,

We come before you today to confess that we seek to be the whole body of Christ in our own right. We seek to be self-sufficient islands, complete unto ourselves. But you remind us that we are only who we are within community. We are, therefore I am. Help us to remember that we are members of one body, borne upon one another's joys and griefs, struggles and victories; hurt by injustice done to any; liberated only by justice done for all. Help us to learn which member of the body we are. Help us to do and be well at being the part we are called to be, whether we be a hand to help; a mouth to speak; a leg to move; an ear to hear; a heart to feel; an eye to see.

This day we pray for all those members and friends of our community of faith who have need: Beth Eilers, James Knox, Raymond Philpot, Vicki Land's father, John Cutsinger, Craig Schroeder, Margie Moody, Kristina Peters, Max Chancellor, Jack Pittenger, Clara Cruikshank, Roger Geeslin, Richard Nash, Millie Rott, Harold Lindsey, Norman Harrison, and Hazel Wintzer

We pray for our community of faith as we reason together about our outreach into our neighborhood and our city.

We pray for the families of Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri; Ezell Brown of Los Angeles, California; Eric Garner of New York City; and for the families of all others who have died at the hands of police in our country.

We pray for the entire community of Ferguson and St. Louis, for those who protest for justice and for those sworn to uphold it, that honesty and a desire for truth guide all their, and our, words and actions.

We lift up in joy today all those, both within our community and without, who prepare to start a new school year. May your blessings be upon the learning and discovery they and we experience this year.

We pray for all those who struggle today with unemployment; with burdensome debt; with foreclosure; and with poverty and homelessness. We pray that, in a land of plenty, all may find a place at the table; and that we may know the favor of your jubilee.

We pray for all of those who endure the hatred and oppression of others on account of their race; their ethnicity; their nationality; their gender expression; their sexual orientation; their religion.

We pray finally for all those whose joys and woes and needs are known only to you, God, that you may shelter those deep within your heart.

It is in Jesus' name that we pray.


The Gift

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Pray in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:7-15).

Do you pray?  I don’t mean when it’s your turn at the supper table, or when someone calls on you in Sunday School class.  Do you pray?  What do you say?  Is it hard to pray?

Prayer has been addressed for so long as a formal thing that is unlike anything else we do during the day.  We expect that prayers follow some kind of standard of length and prettiness; that is, we figure that the longer and lovelier the prayer, the better it is.  And the better the prayer, the more chance we will have of God hearing it and answering it.  Of course, this view of prayer makes it almost a magical incantation.  Which is to say, you have to find the right words in order to yank God’s chain hard enough to get anything done.

Jesus, on the other hand, heads us in a different direction.  Jesus tells us to pray simply and directly.  One doesn’t have to heap on the words for God to hear it—God already knows what you need before you ask.  Prayer is honest communication between us and the one who made us, and who watches over us.

Prayer is not a tool to manipulate God into doing what we want.  Prayer is the foundation of the relationship between God and humanity.  It isn’t designed to convince God to forgive us, or to take care of us.  God has already promised in Christ to do that.  Prayer is a way of allowing us to see our need (for a “Father who art in heaven”, for forgiveness, for bread, for aid in facing trials and temptations, etc.), of admitting that we couldn’t live without God’s grace.

And maybe that’s why Jesus tacks on the saying at the end about forgiving our brothers and sisters who have trespassed against us.  Because if we can’t see God’s grace in forgiving us so that we might forgive others, then we’ll never experience our bread, our trials, or the kingdom of heaven as a gift from God.  If we never get the picture that God’s forgiveness of us frees us to forgive other people (people that the world says we have a right to hold a grudge against), then we don’t have a clue about the rest of what’s involved in being a Christian.  How can God forgive those who have no idea what forgiveness is, or that they even need it?

Prayer is not a mystical formula, or a flowery show of devotion.  Prayer gives us a sense of the majesty of God, and to what great lengths God has gone to show us mercy.  It gives us understanding about gratitude and about whom we depend upon for even the most ordinary things in life.  Perhaps, most of all, prayer allows us to see that God lost in a Son in God’s desire to reconcile—even with those who have done us wrong.