“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to THE breaking of bread and THE prayers” (Acts 2:42).
The Pastoral Prayer (approved 9/30/05)
Approved by the Liturgical Forms and Confessions Committee to the churches of the United Reformed Churches in North America
Almighty and merciful God, we realize and confess before you that if you should regard our merits, we would be unworthy to lift our eyes toward heaven and present our prayers before you. Our consciences accuse us, and our sins testify against us. And yet in your fatherly goodness you have adopted us in Christ and delight to hear our prayers which we offer through his mediation. Therefore we look to no other King and seek no other Advocate for the help that we need in this world and in the world to come. You call us to seek not only our own salvation and good, but that of your whole church and the world, and we do so now.
We pray first for your benediction on your holy Gospel, that it may be faithfully proclaimed and the world filled with the knowledge of your truth. To that end, please send workers into your field to plant, water, and harvest a people for your name. But frustrate the work of those who would sow weeds of heresy and discord. Pull down all of the strongholds of Satan in this world and establish your kingdom throughout the earth. Please give fatherly attention to your servants who suffer persecution for the sake of the Gospel and strengthen them in mind and body by your Spirit through the means of grace. [Specific prayers added for the peace, purity, and progress of the Gospel throughout the world.]
We pray also for those who serve our common welfare in temporal affairs, especially those who govern us, that they may do so with wisdom, integrity, and the knowledge that their councils stand under your final judgment. Dear Father, who sends rain upon the just and the unjust alike, give to us also, we pray, such humility of conduct and faithfulness in our worldly callings, that we may contribute to the good of our neighbors. We ask that you would restrain wickedness and vice in society, promote justice and the
common good, and cause us to be salt and light in this evil age. [Specific prayers added for civil authorities.]
We remember also all who suffer from physical dangers, temptation, doubts, illness of mind or body, financial distress and especially those who are near death. May the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ your Son refresh them in their trials and give them the grace to bear the difficulties you send them for their good. Give also to us the grace to share in their suffering and provide for their needs as we are able. Comfort, we pray, all widows and orphans and be to them a father. Show your mercy to prisoners, to those in the military or whose business takes them great distances. Guard their families and bring them back safely, we pray. [Specific prayers added for members of the congregation.]
Bless the land with fruitful harvest, and give us wisdom and patience to be good stewards of it and of the resources you graciously give us for our callings. Keep us from exploiting your good gifts for our own selfish accumulation and grant that we may be ever mindful of our duties to each other and your creation. Order our priorities and interests, so that our callings in life will promote rather than hinder our love for you and our neighbor.
We ask that you would deepen the bonds between us as spouses, parents and children and resolve conflict and strife according to your wisdom and grace. Give to those among us who are single gifts for building up the communion of saints as well as faithfulness in the face of temptation, and grant that your people may build them up in the most holy faith.
Strengthen us through your means of grace that we may worship you not only with our words but with our lives, and so build us up into one body, a city in the world whose light cannot be hidden. Make each of us, we pray, a living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to you. For this is our reasonable service in view of that sacrifice which alone has reconciled us finally and forever with you. We bring to your throne these intercessions on behalf of each other through that intercession of our Elder Brother at your right hand, even Jesus Christ your eternal Son. Amen.
Next: the other prayers in the worship service