Lord, teach us to pray. We really don’t know how.
If we bring you the details of our lives,
The bumped knees and parking spaces,
The lunch menu and what to wear,
We are in danger of trivialising prayer,
Of treating you as our personal fairy godmother.
Even our prayers for the sick,
And, Lord, there are so many we love and care for,
Even those prayers become shopping lists of things we want done:
People to be healed, problems to be sorted,
Lives to be straightened out:
“Here’s a prayer, Lord, now please fix these problems.”
And when our prayers focus on global events:
Zimbabwe’s elections, climate change
And the interminable conflicts of the Middle East;
Or politics, corruption and service delivery failures;
Our prayers become impersonal.
We have nothing to contribute and nothing to do,
Except complain and criticise. And our prayers become:
“God, you sort it out while we get on with our lives.”
Lord, teach us how to talk with you.
Not to bring you our lists, whether global or personal,
But just to talk with you, as we do with each other
When we raise issues that concern us,
Speak passionately about things that trouble us,
And express outrage over injustice and suffering.
Teach us to walk with you, on quiet days and busy days;
When we are blessed and full of peace,
And when we are angry and trembling with rage.
Help us to talk to you about our temptations and our weaknesses,
As well as our strengths and our delights.
And, Lord, as we bring you the cares and joys
Of our lives and of our world,
Help us to listen.
Help us to hear you say, “I care too. I, too, am angry.
I gave my life for this and for these.”
Help us, also, to hear you as you answer our prayers;
Calling us to go out in your Spirit,
To preach, to teach, to heal
And, through it all, wherever we are, to love—above all, to love.
In Jesus’ name,
This (Supplication) and the previous prayer (Adoration) were used to introduce two sections of last week’s worship service. The service was divided into four sections along the lines of the A-C-T-S method of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (intercession). I was asked to introduce each section with a prayer, which was followed by songs and hymns. The confession and thanksgiving prayers were communal, extempore prayers.