Today I led the intercessions at Holy Trinity Huddersfield. Instead of my usual scatter-gun approach (a little bit of this and a little bit of that) I concentrated on two areas, prayers for the persecuted church, and prayers for peace.
This is what I prayed.
The focus of a lot of my prayers today will be for the church where there is persecution, remembering especially Iraq and Nigeria.
We praise you God that you are all-knowing, that in Christ you experienced shame, pain and agonising death, as well as the glorious resurrection. We thank you for His promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
We pray that all governments will work for justice and righteousness. Jesus, you said that in this world we will have trouble, You did not say that it will always be present in every place.
We pray that the leaders of our country will use their influence to find ways to reduce, if not end, persecution in countries where it occurs. We pray that they will listen to and acknowledge the voice of Christian leaders which have been raised in support af those who are being persecuted, both Christians and others.
We pray that the church will grow where persecution now flourishes, remembering that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
Lord God we pray that you will give strength and courage for those undergoing persecution, and for peace that only God can bring. Thank you that your grace is sufficient for their needs. We pray that their faith will not fail, but that their suffering will draw them closer to you and increase their faith.
Holy Spirit we pray that you will enable persecuted Christians to forgive and love their persecutors and that their Christ-like reactions will have an impact on their persecutors.
Lord, we pray that the Lord will be at work in the hearts of those who currently persecute our sisters and brothers to bring them to a saving knowledge of you.
Lord we thank you for the privilege of entering into the sufferings of our sisters and brothers, remembering that “if one part [of the body] suffers, every part suffers with it” .
We pray that Christians who are experiencing persecution will not lose the ability to accept or trust genuine approaches from those who have formerly persecuted them.Give discernment, and relief from unnecessary fears.
We pray for ourselves and for persecuted Christians that we will be spiritually ready for whatever tomorrow brings, be that persecution, respite from suffering or Christ’s return.
O Lord God,
your Son Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his resurrection
he restores life and peace in all creation.
Comfort, we pray, all victims of intolerance
and those oppressed by their fellow humans.
Remember in your kingdom those who have died.
Lead the oppressors towards compassion
and give hope to the suffering.
Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Celtic prayer:
May God the Father surround them with his angels of light.
May the Son surround them with his blood outpoured.
May the Spirit surround them with his fire of power
To save, to keep, to heal, to protect.
And some prayers for peace in the world.
Lord God of compassion,
whose will is for peace built on righteousness,
we pray for peace in Gaza and Israel:
for an end to hostilities,
for comfort and help for all who suffer,
and for reconciliation between Palestine and Israel,
through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Great God, who has told us Vengeance is mine”save us from ourselves, save us from the vengeance in our hearts and the acid in our souls.
Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt, to punish as we have been punished, to terrorize as we have been terrorized.
Give us the strength it takes to listen rather than to judge, to trust rather than to fear, to try again and again to make peace even when peace eludes us.
We ask, O God, for the grace to be our best selves.
We ask for the vision to be builders of the human community rather than its destroyers.
We ask for the humility as a people to understand the fears and hopes of other peoples.
We ask for the love it takes to bequeath to the children of the world to come more than the failures of our own making.We ask for the heart it takes to care for all the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, of Palestine and Israel as well as for ourselves.
Give us the depth of soul, O God, to constrain our might, to resist the temptations of power to refuse to attack the attackable, to understand that vengeance begets violence, and to bring peace–not war–wherever we go.
For You, O God, have been merciful to us
For You, O God, have been patient with us.
For You, O God, have been gracious to us.
And so may we be merciful and patient and gracious and trusting with these others whom you also love.
This we ask through Jesus ,the one without vengeance in his heart.
This we ask forever and ever.