Looking East from Hilltop Farm towards Gladstone South Australia

Intercession

This prayer was placed upon the data projector, with the bold and italic formatting you see below. I sat in the front pew and led the congregation in prayer. It was written in the week following the attack by Israel on the Gaza flotilla. I was surprised by the depth of feeling in the congregational response, even though I had noticed Facebook activity from members around the subject. We mention Sudan in the prayers. We have members who have fled Sudan, and who still have family in the country.

You might note that the congregational/everyone responses are carefully written arranged in short phrases. This makes it much easier for people to read material sight unseen.

The prayer is open acknowledgement of the fact that some of us struggle with the meaning of intercessory prayers.

Leader:
Why do we pray for the people, God of all things,
when we are called to be Jesus
to the world around us?

Why do we pray for the people, God of all things,
when we know others may pray
for a different outcome?

Why do we pray for the people, God of all things,
when heart of hearts honest
we are not sure if you answer?

(Pause...)

We pray because we know how badly we fail at being Jesus...
how small we are, and how little we can do
how much we are not like Jesus,
how much we want to walk by on the other side
how afraid we are to be involved in some of the muck of the world.

Everyone:
We pray,  God of all things,  for the people who come to our Op Shop
who are struggling to keep life together
with too little money,
and too many commitments.
We pray for our friends and family
whose pain, or illness, or struggle
never seems to end.

May we be Jesus to them
Body of Christ
Church together.

Leader:
We know what is right is often no longer clear…
and others sometimes long for a different solution,
but we still pray
because we see there is need.

We see what is not working out in the world
where life seems to have gone awry
and we cannot remain silent
or ignore evil and injustice.

We pray for the people of Israel and Palestine
where right and wrong
have long been crushed  under hatred
and swallowed by the political needs of big countries.
Where the innocent are killed
the children are fed with hatred
along with mother’s milk
and left with no hope of an ending.

We pray for the people of Sudan
the boat people on Christmas Island
the poor people sleeping in the parks
We pray for people
wherever injustice has become a monster
too big for us to control
almost beyond understanding
serving the rich and powerful
not caring for the poor
We pray for people
where what is right seems no longer clear
or beyond achievement.

Convert our souls to compassion and justice
protect us from the pull of political power
open our eyes to the compromise of our own self-interest.

Leader:
We pray because it is wrong to be silent.
We would still pray if there was a guarantee
that you will remain silent
that you do not hear
that you will not answer
that our prayers make no sense…

We would still pray
because the needs of life are enormous
and we are small and weak
we are often afraid and overwhelmed
we long for a friend and a way forward
someone who listens.

Everyone:
How can we not pray for our children, O God?
Bless them and guide them when we cannot.

How can we deny our grief for our friends?
Bless them and guide them when we cannot.
Heal the ache in our hearts when they are gone.

How can we tell our friends and families
of the pain in our hearts and the fears in our soul
when we are supposed to be the strong one?
of longings which we barely understand and which shame us
when we are supposed to be grown up? 

How can we share the solitude
and the loneliness which drills into our very essence
when no one cares
when we’ve already been rejected and ignored too much?

God- heal us, hold us,  let us find the way,
let us be at peace.
Amen

Andrew Prior


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