Pastoral Prayer (Romans 12)
God we come to you on prayer from a time and place where everyone seems edgy. We come in prayer from a world where people yell and reprimand each other in grocery stores lines. We come from families where our children bicker at each other and marriages are long overdue for a date night. We come from the same screens where we have read angry emails or comment threads or maybe even from places where we were the ones that typed them. We come to you O God from a place that craves kindness. We come to you not because we think it’s kindness is a good idea that pairs well with a printed t-shirt, or because it’s some universal virtue to pursue, but because we are desperate to experience it, to embody it, and to demand it as a standard of our behavior as your covenant people.
Remind us O God that you have claimed us. That we are yours, and you are our God. As such, the covenant we share is based on this crazy notion that we bless those who persecute us, bless and do not curse them. It suggests things like we don’t just live within the boundaries of this world but we transform this world, we work harder and go the extra mile because of a dream and vision you have upheld for your people even when we could not see it and especially when we weren’t fulfilling it. Raise us up to the level of kindness and integrity that Paul demands of the new believers in the letter to the romans.
Keep us humble Lord, especially when we think we are right; especially when we feel the need to tell others how right we are. Send your Spirit through us to calm our boil; not calm our boil for justice, not calm our boil to stand up for what is right and to defend the vulnerable, but calm ourselves so that we can speak, write, move, and be to others in a way that leads with kindness and not reaction. It is hard God. You know it is hard. You know we are all tired, we are counting year anniversaries from when the world turned weird and masked and scary and sadder. Remind us Lord you called us to communities for encouragement, accountability, and creativity. Together we can model what kindness really means; not because we should but because we want to; because when we lead with kindness we are left with residues of integrity, satisfaction, and pride. When we exemplify kindness, it inspires others to do the same; it shows others a different way of relating, even when we are feeling at our worst.
Thank you for raising the bar. Thank you for the transforming experiences of kindness and grace that we have already experienced with you, and move in us that we may be that experience for others at a time they need it most. These and al our prayers we offer in the precious name of Jesus, amen.