As an ELCA pastor, you’d think I’d feel more comfortable praying in public. But I confess that nearly every time I pray in public, I feel self conscious, like my words weren’t moving, poetic or spirit-filled enough.
Because it’s my job, I can’t refuse to pray during worship or when someone in tears pleads for private prayer. Thankfully, I’m required to practice praying out loud.
I’ve found it helpful to read the Psalms, which show me that prayer can be an expression of awe for God and the wonders of the earth, confusion about injustice in the world, cries for help and healing or even anger at God, when God seems to have forgotten to be as present as is promised.
I’ve also found it helpful to memorize some of the beautiful prayers that almost always touch people’s hearts. Words like: “Now I lay me down to sleep,” “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” “God grant me the serenity” and “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Recently, I’ve enjoyed using hymns and spirituals as prayers and find that they touch my heart in a particularly moving way. Some of my favorites to sing are: “Jesus loves me this I know,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
Today is the National Day of Prayer. The theme is the title of Martin Luther’s famed hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.’’
This got me thinking about the way we pray privately and publicly. Whether it is through words, meditation, dance, enjoying nature, writing or singing, I hope your prayers will rise like incense.
As ELCA members we have many prayers that come from our core, our hearts and our tradition that the nation desperately needs. Here is my prayer for today:
God of justice, teach us to be better at praying for our enemies, loving our neighbor and giving others the same freedom to “sin boldly” that we enjoy.
Help bring your justice in a palatable way, so that we don’t feel like we need to take up arms in order to bring peace.
God of healing and health, help us to live lives free of pain and suffering. Grant us the ability to function as fully as we are able and give us the desire to ask for help when we need it.
Bring peace and comfort to those who become weaker each day, who live with a diagnosis or looming death.
Bless the hands and hearts of all who tend to the sick, that they may have compassion and that they will be able to see signs of life that help them not to be overcome with grief or loss.
God who is the Monarch of Monarchs, President of Presidents and Boss of all Bosses, help us to lead and follow with respect and to enable all to live life freely.
Grant those in positions of political power the wisdom to serve with humble hearts and minds to figure out difficult budgeting, so that the poor and vulnerable are not left without the services they desperately need.
God who is found in the poor, the hungry, the naked and imprisoned, be with all who have less than they need.
Help us to be generous people with creative minds able to help when we can.
Take the scales from our eyes that prevent us from seeing and responding to the needs of those who cry desperately for the help that only we can provide.
Thank you God, most of all, for loving us, naming us, claiming us, and despite all you know about our deepest natures declaring us your children.
Please share your prayers for our nation, our church and all in need below in the comments section.
Thanks for joining angels and archangels in being a part of the echo for a better tomorrow.
Megan M. Rohrer is an ELCA pastor called by five congregations, who has served as a missionary to the homeless in San Francisco since 2002.