Worship prayers for 07/05/15 ~ Flood Over Us, oh God

Good morning and a blessed Lord’s Day to you all. Below are the prayers I prepared for worship this morning. The text for preaching as I continue in the Gospel of Mark sermon series is Mark 11:1-11; Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday).

And as you worship and lift your petitions to God, remember to pray for our nation:
~ Racism
~ Spiritual complacency
~ Leaders
~ The Church
~ Compassion
And the list goes on. But also remember that God is still God even though it is 4th of July weekend.

Let us pray…

Opening Prayer
Holy Father, loving God, awesome Creator, it is our joy to bring You our worship. It is our heart’s desire to lift our praises to You. It’s the core of our being to bask in Your presence; for we are not of this world even though we live in this world. We are destined to live in Your glorious Kingdom through Christ Jesus our Lord. And so as we come to this place this morning, may we close our eyes to worries of this world and look forward to Your Kingdom. May we smash the false idols we have set up and bow to You. May we come to receive from You a holy rest as we offer our worship and hear Your Word proclaimed. May all falsehood and hate be left at the door for Your purifying flames to burn away. May we leave changed and more firmly placed on the road to holiness. So here we are to worship You, through Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching
Holy God, loving Father, as sinners in need of cleansing and restoration, wash over us with Your Word and flood us in a sea of Your mercy. May a tidal wave of love overwhelm us and sweep us away from all desires that are not founded in You. And as Your Word drips from our washed souls may we not waste a single drop through careless seeking of worldly streams; streams that can not satisfy. May all refreshment be found in You as we continuously thirst and hunger for Your righteousness. So send Your Holy Spirit to open our ears to Your life-giving Word; inflaming the faith of those You have chosen. All praise and glory be to You, oh God, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Prayers of Intercession
Holy God, we come before you as broken people; dependent on You for mercy and for our daily bread. You would be just to withhold Your gracious hand from us but rather, as a loving Father, You provide for our daily needs. We also acknowledge that we don’t truly know what we need but yet we come before you with these petitions; asking that You might align our wills with Yours. May You receive the glory as You shower blessings upon us and may we have the faith to lift up our thanksgivings in response. Lord in Your mercy, [Response: “Hear our prayer”]

For the Church, oh God, may You send Your Spirit to inflame faith to lead people to live boldly for You. May our anchor rest on Your promises and may Your Word be our guide as the shifting tides of this culture try to toss us to and fro. Lord in Your mercy, [Response: “Hear our prayer”]

God of mercy, bring healing to this nation as racism and hate seem to be the order of the day. May Your love shine forth in and from our lives, so much so, that the flames of hate are doused in a holy flood of Your love. Bring people together from across all boundaries and break down the barriers that prevent us from seeing each other as Your beloved children. Lord in Your mercy, [Response: “Hear our prayer”]

Hear our prayers, Oh God, and give to us out of Your abundant grace and mercy; but only that which brings glory to Your most holy name. We pray this through Your Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen

Post-Communion Blessing
May the words “given and shed for you” instill in your hearts a peace that surpasses all understanding as you take joy in the fact that God so loved the world that He gave Jesus to die for you, Amen.

Post-Communion Prayer
Oh, God, you have fed us with the body and blood of Jesus. May the reality of Jesus’ death on the cross send us running to Your merciful arms and may the hope of the resurrection give us strength and boldness in this world. Send us now, and use our lives to bring glory to Your most awesome name, through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.

Benediction (from ~ “Benedictions: A Pocket Resource” by Robert Vasholz)
Receive this blessing ~ Now may He who has rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, fill you with all knowledge so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of the Lord. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Have a blessed and safe weekend :-)

The Pastor -|—

An Anniversary Prayer

Here’s another humble and feeble attempt to express myself through poetry as I give thanks to God for 11 years of marriage to my wonderful wife and 11 years of ordained ministry (yesterday). Let us pray…

Dear Lord,

You called me on this journey and promised to hold my hand.
You called us on this journey and promised to hold our hands.

You started something great but not because of me.
You started something great because You are holy.

You joined two people together as husband and wife.
You joined two people together because it was right.

So I give You thanks this day for this holy journey started.
I give you thanks this day that with us Your love never parted.

Through Jesus’ most holy and awesome name. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Eleven Years

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
[Colossians 3:16-17]

Eleven years ago today I made some promises. Nope, I’m not talking about my marriage promises; that is eleven years ago tomorrow. I am talking about eleven years ago TODAY when I was ordained into the ministry of Word and sacrament. It was a wild weekend to say the least, but one filled with promises that are important, and even more so today, as I have grown in my call as a pastor and a husband.

Eleven years ago I promised to assume the office of pastor as God’s call in my life. I promised to hold scripture as the sole authority of faith and life; holding it high and never to water it down. I promised to preach and teach the Word of God in all faithfulness and truth. I promise to care for those under my charge. I promised to be diligent in my study of scripture and the use of the means of grace. I promised to pray for my congregation and the world. I promised to be an example of faithful and holy living. I promised to serve God in this vocation.

I will, and ask God to help and guide me.

Eleven years ago I made these promises.
Eleven years ago I began this journey.
Eleven year ago God began to shape and mold this pastor,
And now eleven years later, God continues to shape and mold this pastor, as I continue to serve in the congregation who first called me.

Wow, eleven years. Where has the time gone?

I have indeed grown in so many ways and I look forward to seeing how God will continue to shape and mold me for the world that is today and into tomorrow. In the mean time I will continue to dwell richly in the Word and proclaim Christ in everything I do. I know I will fail and fall short (as I have may times before) but may God help and guide me; forgiving and restoring me, for to God belongs all glory and honor and praise and worship

Eleven years and counting.
Praise be to God!

Holy God, I give you thanks for these past eleven years. I thank You for shaping and molding me; for using me; for sending me. Continue to grant me Your Spirit that I may be faithful with all you have made me to be and with all You have blessed me with. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Morning Light

Lord, God, I seek You in the morning light,
that my heart and soul may always be right;
singing Your praises all day and all night.

So…

Here me, Lord, despite the sin that’s in me.
Hear me, Lord, that I may be, wholly free
to serve You; giving glory unto Thee.

And…

Use me, Lord, to proclaim Your holy name.
Use me, Lord to show people Your great fame;
healing me so I’ll never be the same.

The Pastor -|—

Change

And going into the house they (The magi) saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. [Matthew 2:11-12]

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. [Luke 2:20]

And Jesus said to him (Bartimaeus, who used to be blind), “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. [Mark 10:52]

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he (Jesus) saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus [Matthew 4:18-20]

What do all these texts have in common? It’s OK, you can go back and read them again. I’ll wait…

[Cue Jeopardy theme]

…waiting…

…waiting…

…did you see it?

In all these situations/encounters, the people leave changed. They encountered Jesus and they are changed. The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God. The Magi returned by another way (and I would say figuratively as well; meaning THE Way). Bartimaeus listened to Jesus and went “his way” which happened to be the way of Jesus. Peter and Andrew meet Jesus and when invited/commanded to follow, they dropped everything and followed.

And it makes sense, really. I mean, how does one meet Jesus and not be changed? How does one encounter the Son of God and return to your former way of life? How does one hear, “I love you and I forgive you” and say “That’s nice“? How does one receive the Gospel and not say anything about it?

Jesus changes people.

And so I am lead to conclude that if you are not making your way the way of Jesus then maybe you haven’t met Jesus yet. If you are not proclaiming the Gospel through word and deed then maybe you haven’t received it yet. If you are just going with the flow of culture then maybe you haven’t been confronted by the Son of Man. For you see, when the Good News of Jesus Christ takes hold of you, it takes hold of you. I am not saying that you will be perfect in your following but at least you will know where to turn when you do fall. You will care about the fact that you sinned against God and therefore will seek reconciliation through the blood of the Lamb. Repentance will be your desire. Holiness will be your goal. Worship of God Almighty will be your life.

Jesus changes people.

Therefore I can’t imagine peering into that manger stall without being blown away by the love that had just entered the world through a tiny baby. I can’t imagine standing face to face with Jesus and not dropping everything to be near him. I can’t imagine being powerfully healed by Jesus and not shouting “Alleluia!” for all the world to hear.

Jesus changes people.

I look at what is going on in the world and it saddens me but I am not angry with people. I am not angry with our government. I am not angry with our leaders. I am just saddened because I am part of an institution that has not done enough to introduce people to Jesus. But instead of just sitting here feeling sorry for myself, I need to do a better job of introducing/proclaiming Jesus.

~ Being more bold in my faith
~ Being more bold in practicing forgiveness
~ Being more bold in encouraging people
~ Being more bold in calling people to repentance
~ Being more bold in advocating for the Word of God
~ Being more bold…(God, You fill in the blank)

Change me, oh God, to be who You need me to be for the sake of the Gospel.

Meet Jesus and then “go your way“; following the one who has redeemed you from your sin and show people the love our your Savior. Let the Holy Spirit work through your life and give praise and glory to God our Father.

Let Jesus change you that he may change the world.

Holy Father, send Your Spirit to change people. Send Your Spirit to embolden people. Send Your Spirit to save people. And in the end may Your children praise and worship You. Glory be to You, oh God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

God, Help Us and Have Mercy

Holy and merciful God,

ALL of scripture is breathed out by You.
ALL of scripture is inspired by You.
ALL of scripture is authoritative.
ALL of scripture is useful for teaching and rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness.

ALL of scripture is life-giving and holy and blessed, but yet, as Your Church, we don’t run to and grasp Your holy Word as we should. We more often than not toss Your Word around as just a tagline or a sound bite or as an arrow to be fired off in an argument/debate. The awe of Your Word is more times than not, lost on us and thus we are lead to actions and thoughts and words that are anything but glorifying to You, oh God.

For this I confess on behalf of me and the Church, but only I can declare my intent to repent and receive Your Word as Your almighty, authoritative Word. My hope is that the Church would too, so I ask that Your Spirit may be sent into Your Church. Bring about repentance and a deep desire to speak Your Word of truth with passion and conviction and honesty and boldness; yet doing so out of love for ALL of our neighbors.

Oh God, have mercy.

May we flee judgmentalism
May we flee idolatry
May we flee hate
May we flee worldly passions
May we flee cultural acceptance

May we see the way of Jesus as our way; fearing nothing but You, oh God. And as curves and bumps and deadly ravines appear along the way, may we cling to Jesus.

We do not live in heaven on earth, far from it, but Your kingdom is coming. May we look with longing expectation for that Kingdom; proclaiming this truth and calling all people to repentance; ALL people.

May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven and help us to see this through Your most holy Word.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Worship prayers for 06/28/15 ~ Spiritual blindness

Good morning and happy Lord’s Day.

The sermon text for this morning is Mark 10:46-52. This is Jesus’ encounter with blind Bartimaeus on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. This is the last healing story of this Gospel as we head into chapter 11 with the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem (what we call Holy Week). My focus will be on spiritual blindness and the Church’s call to seek the blind with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for when one calls out to Jesus in faith, he will stop, as he did for Bartimaeus. So the prayers are written with that theme in mind.

May your Lord’s Day be blessed as you worship our awesome God.

Let’s pray…

Opening Prayer
God of Hope, in a world filled with spiritual blindness, we come looking for Your guiding hand; seeking Your forgiveness; seeking Your Truth. For You are God almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
You are our King.
You are our Life.
You are our Light.
And so we plead with the words of the blind Bartimaeus, Lord, have mercy on us. We humbly beseech You to stop and turn to us as Jesus did on that Jericho road.
Receive our worship.
Receive our praise.
Receive our thanks.
Restore our sight.
For You are worthy and thus we are worthy of judgment, but have mercy upon us as You heal our blindness and make us so bold that our way becomes the way of Jesus. So here we are. May our worship be pleasing to Your ears, in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching
Mighty God, our great Physician, You are the opener of eyes, the healer of faith and the giver of hope. Through Jesus Christ You heard the call of the blind man and did for him what he had asked through faith, that You may be glorified. You then sent him on his way; healed and redeemed. And so we gather here on this dusty road of life as blind beggars; seeking Your Word and healing touch. May all who hear Your Word cast off all that would hinder their coming to You and may they run with haste to get a taste of Your glorious Word. So I humbly ask that You would send Your Holy Spirit to open our eyes that we may proclaim the glories of Your awesome name. Heal all the ails us, not according to our will but may Your will be done. Drive away despair. Bury our sin. Grant us hope through Jesus Christ our risen Savior, Amen.

Offering Prayer
Holy Father; giver of life, nothing we give compares to what You have done for us through Jesus Christ, but it is not about trying to out give you but rather express our thanks through our worship. So receive these gifts collected this morning as our worship to You for the advancement of Your Kingdom, and in turn, may You continue to bless us that we may bless others; for this ministry is not ours but Yours. Let our lives be a living worship service unto Your glory as we serve our neighbors in love. Through Christ Jesus our Lord we pray, Amen.

Benediction
As Jesus opened the eyes of the blind,
may your eyes be opened to the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May you see your lives as fleeting in this world but held secure in the arms of God.
May you see the plight of your neighbor and reach out with the love of our Lord.
May you see the strength of our awesome God as your strength.
May you see the spiritual blindness in this world as your calling to live boldly for God.
And may you see the way of Jesus as your way.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen