I’m learning so many things about faith and worship during this transitional time for our family. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is a beauty to the liturgy. So many different elements are weaved into the worship service, and they all are designed to prepare you for receiving the Eucharist.
Along with the prayer of confession, other corporate prayer opportunities are presented. One such series of prayers are often called the Prayers of the People. In three of the four Anglican/Episcopal churches we’ve visited, they have followed this portion of the liturgy.
Personally, I love it. So often in our prayer lives, we become singular minded. Lord give me this. Lord, help me with this. Lord, this, this, this. And aside from people directly in our sphere of life, we don’t think about all the other people we should pray for. So, when I’m sitting in a service and hear the Priest/Pastor/Vicar (take your pick depending on the church) say:
I ask your prayers for God’s people throughout the world; for our Bishop(s);for this gathering; and for all ministers and people. Pray for the Church.
For our President, for the leaders of the nations, and for all in authority, let us pray to the Lord.
For this city, for every city and community, and for those who live in them, let us pray to the Lord.
For the aged and infirm, for the widowed and orphans, and for the sick and the suffering, let us pray to the Lord.
For the poor and the oppressed, for the unemployed and the destitute, for prisoners and captives, and for all who
remember and care for them, let us pray to the Lord.
well, I sit up and take notice. These were not prayers regularly heard in the type of churches I had been part of since my birth. These prayers take your focus and most definitely direct it on others.
Love God, Love others. Praise to God, Prayers for others.
And I just want to say that these prayers, this weekly exercise in so many churches, could be taken for granted. But it shouldn’t. Instead it should be a regular reminder that while we have a relationship with God, we also have a relationship with the rest of the world. We are capable of interceding for our clergy, our fellow church members, the worldwide Church, our leaders, our neighbors, the elderly, the ill, the poor, the homeless, the foreigners, the persecuted, the struggling, the inmates, and the caregivers.
So, if you don’t go to a liturgical church, there is still application here for you, for all believers. Make it a regular daily or weekly habit to pray for the different people groups mentioned here. Truly, pray for them. Without agenda.
And even before we started our church hunting, God was working on this in me. Specifically when it came to our leaders.
Quick back story – I used to be as Republican as they come. Worked campaigns, led a College Republicans group, listened to talk radio, card carrying member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, regular Fox News viewer, you name it. If it was conservative, I lived, ate, and breathed it. My dog was even named Reagan… Yeah.
But lately, God’s been moving in me. Nudging me out of my comfort zones. Having me explore my beliefs and read the Bible through the lens of Jesus.
One day it hit me (and I’ve had so many friends echo this exact sentiment, especially this week in politics) that I hated our President. When someone said “Obama” it made me angry. I felt antipathy, disdain. He was nothing more to me than an adversarial, dirty democrat. I honestly hated him.
And boy did I ever feel convicted about that.
The Bible is pretty clear that hatred is not of God. It’s part of darkness and God is not found in darkness. God is love. Jesus was the walking, talking embodiment of that love. And in Matthew 5, Jesus flipped the religious establishment on its ear by declaring: Love your enemies. Love those that are different from you. God sends his rain and his sunshine on everyone. Be Kingdom minded and love your enemies. Pray for those who treat your badly, yes, even those who persecute you.
That’s huge. That’s life changing. That’s paradigm shifting. We spend so much time in this country deeply involved in partisan politics. Evangelical and Conservative go hand in hand. And I’m not saying to change your politics. But remember this, the Kingdom to which we owe our allegiance is not this country. We don’t owe our allegiance to any one country. We owe our allegiance to God and His Kingdom, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
And I was convicted that I needed to live like I was a citizen of that eternal Kingdom. And to do so, I should pray for the President. And not partisan-motivated prayers. But prayers filled with peace and goodwill.
I urge you to pray for our President and our leaders. I urge you to do so from a position of grace and mercy. For a month daily then for another month and then another. It’s so incredibly hard to hate someone you pray for. Petitioning God in His love and mercy will change Your heart.
Our churches think we can change our country by electing people who believe like our churches. But perhaps instead of relying on a democratic system, we should rely on the Kingdom’s system. If collectively we spent as much time praying for our leaders as we did fighting partisan battles and watching Fox News and listening to the vitriol spread across talk radio, I think we’d see more positive change – if not in our country, at least in our individual hearts and lives. And that is honestly, what really matters.
God’s peace to you all!