Last week’s lectionary brought us both the Beatitudes and Micah 6:6-8. Since I preached on the Beatitudes, I chose to pray Micah 6 (my prayer based on the Beatitudes is here). As someone said in Bible study last week: “Easy to understand, difficult to do.” Let us pray:
“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before [the LORD] with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” – Micah 6:6-7 (NRSV)
As we do each week, steadfast and righteous God, we come before you in prayer. Sometimes we come before you, sure of ourselves. Not in a way that is meant to be proud but in the certainty of your presence in our lives and world. But at other times, we come, uncertain about the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and the path we are to take. We wonder like the prophet Micah, what you would have us do? What shall we offer that will please you?
But you have revealed yourself to us in many ways. Your words, O God, are not hidden from us. Neither has your will for us been kept a secret. You have indeed told us what is good and all you require of us:
Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you, God. – Micah 6:8
And so we pray for justice. We lift up people who have been chased from their homes due to violence, famine or persecution. We name as sin the injustice due to prejudices against race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, economic class, or nationality. We condemn the exploitation of the weak and the vulnerable.
We seek your loving kindness – not only for ourselves but also for all people. Teach us to remember the mercy we have received so that we may extend that mercy to others. We pray your presence and comfort on those who receive hate or cruelty: victims of sexual and other assault, the hungry in communities of plenty, the homeless, those suffering with mental illness with no access to care, and for veterans who still struggle with war even though they are home.
We ask for humble hearts. May we have the eyes of Jesus to see the blessed and those in need of blessing. Give us patience to sit with those who mourn; peace to share with the anxious; gentleness to wrap around the sick; faithfulness in times of uncertainty.
How shall we come before you Lord? May we come with faith and an open heart so that we may go into the world with justice, mercy and humility. With a boldness that comes in the midst of your grace, we join our voices praying the prayer Jesus taught us using the words each of us find most familiar: 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.