Lord, we gather in your presence just as the multitudes did so many years ago on a hill in Galilee. We gather not only to hear your word to us but also to bring the joys and concerns of our lives to you. Lord, hear our prayer.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Our spirit can be poor in so many ways. We lift up those who struggle with addiction, mental illness, physical illness, violence, oppression, and fear. Each of these tears apart what you have created, and their daily burden attacks the very essence of who we are. We pray for freedom from these struggles – for us and for those known only to you. We claim your promise that we belong to you in this life and the life to come.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
There are many things we mourn in this life: loss due to death, to aging; losses of jobs and relationships. These losses are very real and very difficult and we find comfort knowing that you also wept and mourned loss in your life. We claim your promise of a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Lord, we don’t desire to inherit the things of this earth but pray for humility and grace as we live our lives. Our inheritance comes through you, who overcame all the powers of earth so that we may be with you in both life and death. We claim your promise that we shall share in your inheritance.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Jesus, you told us when we seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, then the things we need will be provided. Help us to trust in your words, that when we seek you: loving mercy, acting justly, walking humbly, that you will provide. Give us the courage to stand up to injustice even when we are afraid. We claim your promise that one day, justice will roll down like the waters and righteousness like a stream.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
In a few moments we will pray, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” In teaching us this prayer, you also taught us how to be merciful. Help us to let go of our pride so that we may find reconciliation in our relationships. Help us to see those who we see as other: the homeless, the immigrant, the violent, the foreigner – as our brother and sister, your beloved child. We claim your promise of mercy as we are merciful to others.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
We know the human heart is deceitful, Lord, so how will any of us see you? Help us to lay down the pride, greed, envy, anger and lust in our hearts. Refine our intentions and desires so that your will is our will. We claim your promise to make the blind see, so that we may see you.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Violence seems to rule the world. Whether in the streets of our towns, the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts of Syria and Iraq, or the cities of Africa, we are killing each other. Lord, forgive us. We pray not only for the absence of conflict but for true peace: where weapons become instruments to tend crops and harvest trees and there shall be no more war. We claim your promise that people will come from the east and the west, the north and the south, to eat at your table.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Most of us do not know about persecution, especially for righteousness’ sake. May we be aware of those who suffer and even die as the stand up for justice, liberation, peace and basic human rights. As we gather so freely to worship you this morning, we pray safety for those who do so at the risk of prison or death. Shield them from danger as they boldly proclaim your word. Strengthen us so that we may be willing to stand up for what we know is true. We claim your promise that your kingdom is greater than all the kingdoms of this world.
Risen Lord, we are able to trust in your promises because you have defeated even death: nothing can separate us from your love. As one and as your Body, we claim your promises to us as we choose to live as you lived, and as we join our voices to pray the prayer you prayed, saying: Our Father…
If you are interested in more prayers like this, consider checking out my book:
Prayers for the People: Scripturally Based Prayers for WorshipPrayers for the People is a collection of prayers for worship. These prayers offer the worshipping community fresh perspectives for praying the words of Scripture, using current language and references. Cross-referenced to the Revised Common Lectionary, pastors seeking to lead their people in prayer have found a relevant and beautiful source for worship planning.