This past summer brought with it some challenges we hadn’t expected. The routine surgery Jimmy Tunnell underwent on May 1 resulted in a month in ICU and weeks in rehab. (We’re so grateful he’s now returned home and recovering well!) The monsoon storm in early August necessitated the cancellation of Sunday worship for the first time in EPC’s 55-year history. Then came the events of August 13 when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, three died, and many others were injured in the ensuing violence. Five days later a terrorist attack took place in Barcelona just minutes after our missionaries in Spain, Josh and Alisha Garber and their son Asher, had been walking down the very same street where the terrorists struck. From Yemen and South Sudan and other corners of the globe comes news of widespread famine and disease. Many in our own country are reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey with thousands of people having been displaced by unprecedented flooding.
Times like these “drive us to our knees” as my mother used to say. But there are times I hardly know how to pray. In recent days I have found some prayers in “The Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland” to be helpful and I offer excerpts from them here to guide our prayers as we strive to live and act as faithful followers of Jesus.
God and Father of us all, in your love you made all the nations of the world to be a family, and your Son taught us to love one another. Yet our world is riven apart with prejudice, arrogance, and pride. Help us to love and understand one another better. Increase among us sympathy, tolerance, and goodwill, that we may see in all people our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Save us from jealousy, hatred, and fear, and help us to live together as members of one family at home in the world, sons and daughters of one Father who live in the liberty of the children of God.
Gracious God, through your Son you have taught us that nothing in life or death is able to separate us from your love. Look in mercy on all to whom great sorrow has come, through sickness, through oppression, through terror, through famine, through death, through ravages of nature and evils of human design. Help those who are injured.
Strengthen all who bring relief and comfort. Console and protect those who have lost loves ones. Give your light in darkness to all who are near despair, and assure us that you hold all souls in life and in death; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord.
God of righteousness, hear our prayers for the life of our country and the world. We pray for those whose position and authority affect the lives of others. Rule in their hearts and encourage their endeavors for good. Help us all to seek service before privilege and the honor of your name before the popularity of our own. Give us liberty, peace, and joy, and bind us in service to the world and in loyalty to you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.