The following prayer for the nations of the world was offered at our recent Election Worship and Prayer Gathering in Sydney by Director for Global Interaction, the Rev Andrew Palmer.
Our Great and Gracious God,
Even these five words are filled with meaning.
You are our God, but not ours alone. You are the God of the planet, who holds the whole world in the palm of your hand.
You are Great. Your power is limitless. You create with a word and hold all things together.
We are often puzzled by why you sometimes seem so absent in the face of great tragedy or systemic violence, most often experienced by the least powerful and most easily ignored.
Yet we also see that your greatness is most amply displayed in the humility of the Crucified Christ; your strength magnified in apparent weakness. Teach us more of this servant-heart, God.
You are Gracious.
Your word declares that you alone are holy and that you cannot abide the wickedness you see in the world. Even so God, you reach out to us with grace and compassion. Teach us also to live this way – and with this tension.
And you are God.
There is none like you. You alone are worthy of adoration and praise. You alone are glorious and wholly good. There is none like you.
So we come to you, our great and gracious God, and we plead on behalf of the nations and those most affected by loss and lack.
We lift up to you those whose lives have been shaped by poverty and loss in the absence of justice and abundance. We lift up to you the women and men and children who each day live without because of the greed and corruption of those invested with power, or because of catastrophic events in a broken world.
We remind you God of your own word in Isaiah 25 that,
You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
We plead that this would be the experience of those living with poverty and injustice; that they would experience you as their refuge and strength; their strong tower in the storm.
And at the very same time we recognise God that you have called us, Your Church, to be your hands and feet, the vehicle of your goodness, grace and compassion, and we confess we have failed in this charge.
Continue to change our hearts and minds, O God. By your Holy Spirit continue to transform us into the likeness of your Son, our Lord Jesus, who declared,
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Finally Lord, we ask that this desire and mission not simply be the call and cause of the Church, but that justice, empowerment, integrity, accountability and respectful engagement would be a driving motivator for governments, community leaders, diplomats and international bodies as they address the core causes of poverty and injustice around the world.
We declare God that as human beings, fallen and weak, we do not do well with power. We use it for our own comfort and gain most often. We too easily justify our own actions; we conflate affluence with human rights, and consumption with need. Forgive us, O God, and teach us a better way.
We plead the words that Jesus instructed us to pray: that your kingdom would come and your will be done right here on earth as it is in heaven.
We know Lord that we ourselves do not have the power, connection or influence to bring about these changes – and that even together God we cannot accomplish this type of justice. It seems impossible.
And so we ask for the faith to continue in the quest, believing that you alone are capable of what to us is impossible because you alone are our GREAT AND GRACIOUS GOD.
Rev Andrew Palmer is the Director of Global Interaction NSW/ACT and Director of the Beyond Festival.
This prayer was prayed at the Sydney Worship and Prayer Gathering on Saturday 18 June. For details about other Pre-Election Prayer and Worship Gatherings in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs & Brisbane click here.