Pastoral prayer from this week, reflecting on Psalm 23.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Jesus, our good Shepherd, these words are so familiar that we easily forget their richness. You provide not just food and drink for our bodies, but also for our souls. You restore us in times of brokenness. You lead us even when we choose not to follow. You do none of this because of our merits but because or your mercy and righteousness.
Lord, we lift up to you those who are food insecure and may only have food for today – or none at all. May they find green pastures. We lift up those who have only muddied water to drink, for Ribe. May they receive the water of life for body and soul. We lift up those whose souls are anything but restful, those who feel abandoned, and those who have wandered from the path. May they hear your voice calling to them.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Holy Spirit, ever with us, help us to set aside the fears and dangers in our lives. Though we don’t like it, we need both your rod and your staff. By your staff, you lead us on right paths. By your rod, you convict us of our sin. At your abundant table you offer us forgiveness and call us as your own.
God of all people, soften our hearts so that we would not desire fear and darkness, punishment and hunger for our enemies. Teach us how to make room at your table for those whom we don’t like but are still loved by you. Let us show the same generous hospitality to others that you have shown to us.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.
Eternal God, you call us and lead us while also hemming us in from behind with your love and mercy. You are our protector. You are our refuge. Your commandment is eternal life; that we would dwell in your house forever. Lord, lead us in the ways everlasting.
For those who know no goodness: those rejected for their skin color, their language, or their country of origin. For those who know no mercy: those trafficked for their bodies or their labor. For those who know no home: those whose families have closed their homes to them due to their sexual identity and refugees forced out of their homes by war and violence. For all of these and others whose days are too short and nights too long, may you be light in the darkness and may they find hope in you. In Jesus name we pray together, 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.