Prayers of the People/Intercession on Racial Reconciliation

Sermon Illustrations on Race

O God,

whom we cannot love unless we love our neighbors,

remove hate and prejudice from us and from all people,

so that your children may be reconciled

with those we fear, resent, or threaten;

and live together in your peace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Let us pray for those who govern us.

[Silent prayer]


The Worshipbook: Services,The Westminster Press, 1970.

Spirit of the Living God—Fall afresh on us this day. Spirit of God present and powerful, Spirit of God fruitful and faithful, Spirit of God filling and fulfilling us as children of the Father and followers of Jesus: Hear our prayers: Come, move, create, redeem and restore …… please.  Joyful Spirit—we celebrate Your grace evident in new ministries begun, in lives changed, in babies born, in relationships reconciled, in needs met and in salvation embraced. 

Healing Spirit—we ask You to please restore those who are  ill or injured, physically, emotionally and mentally.  

Comforting Spirit—we ask you to please console and encourage the grieving, to rescue the depressed and burned out.  Peaceful Spirit—we ask You to please replace fear with faith in these days of anxiety and uncertainty. 

Enable us to trust the Father’s Sovereign power and grace more than our portfolios and bank accounts.  Help us to be able lean into Your goodness and power, and lean into the wind to hear the voice of Jesus the Son coming across the crashing waves of the storm—“Do not be afraid. It’s me. I’m with you always.”  

Reconciling Spirit—we ask you to please bridge the divides in our world and in our nation: divides between people of different ethnicity, economic status, race, party affiliation, education, language and geography.  

The bridge over our troubled waters is Jesus—take us to him and bring us together in Him.  Living Spirit—where there’s death: the death of hope, the death of love, the death of grace, the death of a marriage, a relationship, a career, a dream …please bring life out of death, just as You raised Jesus from the dead.  Find a way. … Make a way, for we ask it in Jesus’s name.  AMEN

Richard Herman

Jesus, Lord—because you took on flesh, You know what it’s like to be us.You know what keeps us awake at night, or yanks us out of sleep in the early morning. You know what it’s like to have good days and bad days, too. You know the feelings of being physically tired, emotionally exhausted and mentally drained.

We’re grateful for a God who knows what it’s like to be us. You know the joys of a newborn child in a family. You care about parents who care for their children with wisdom, love, grace and faithfulness so that one day they’ll turn and follow You. Give them what they need to fulfill their calling to love as You love. 

You care about weddings and marriages that follow. Bless husbands and wives with your love that bears all things,hopes all things, endures all things, that never fails. May our homes reflect Your love for us and ours for You to all who see them.You also know what happens when the wonder fades and real life takes its toll on families and marriages—when relationships get strained, sometimes to the breaking point, when our own strength is not enough, when forgiveness and reconciliation is tough. 

Lord—come as the One who specializes in reconciliation, in hope and in persistent love. Make a way home for those who’ve wandered; and an open door when they return. Lord: You’re aware of what sickness does to us. You showed compassion for the ill or injured. Lord—come as the One who can and does heal. 

Come to make well and to uphold, to encourage and to restore. Come also to caregivers, imparting strength and patience, so that they won’t flag in their loving care. We pray especially for: You also know death, grief and mourning. 

You’ve wept at the graveside of a loved one, You’ve even walked through death’s door, and in so doing, broke its hold on us by Your resurrection. Come, Risen One—as the Lord of Life. Comfort those who grieve with Your presence. Give them peace, hope and courage. We pray especially for the parents who’ve had to bury their children: something no parent should ever have to do.You also know the ways of nations and kings, of armies and diplomats. 

Father—we ask you to comfort families in grief because of war—those who’ve lost sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Be to them a warm presence, and a gentle light in the cold, dark shock of grief. 

And, Lord—may there come a day when nations will not need armies to protect peace and justice, when there will be no more war; and may it come in our lifetime. Today—we especially want to remember the refugees and immigrants who have no place to call home–some displaced by wars, others who are targets of oppression and persecution, still more for whom deprivation, hunger or hopelessness have driven them out. We also pray for….This–and more still within our hearts–is our prayer, offered in Your name. Amen. 

Richard Herman

God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Lord of all our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows: thank you that we don’t need to be afraid of what’s coming because you’re already there ahead of us. Nothing takes you by surprise. Nothing confuses you or confounds you. 

There’s never a drop of sweat on your upper lip from anxiety, worry or panic. Therefore, trusting not ourselves but you, we open our hearts to your strength and love today, giving over what we can’t change so you can. 

For those ill or injured, anticipating surgery or recovering from it, for those who await test results or who are anxious for another: come, as our Healer; and dispel diseases of body, soul, mind and emotions. Speed recovery. Strengthen care-givers. Assuage fears and restore trust in your power. 

For those who mourn, whether grief is fresh or lingering: come, as the Resurrection and the Life; and console the grieving. Comfort and companion the lonely. Share in tears of sorrow and in laughter at remembering. Impart hope for this life, and hope for beyond the grave. 

For those with relationships coming apart at the seams; for families stressed by estrangement, separation, or divorce; for friends divided by anger; or colleagues separated by differences, for any alienated by sin from someone they’ve loved–Jesus, come as the great Mediator and Reconciler: break proud spirits–and replace them with humble hearts. 

Enable each to speak truth in love; to repent and to forgive; to be patient and gracious with one another and with their own selves. Restore them to the right relationship with each other. For peoples, countries and nations–including our own: come as King of Kings, as Lord of all and Prince of Peace. For those in leadership–give them wisdom from above; and the courage to do what is right, not just expedient or politically correct. 

In dangerous places and in war zones: Protect the innocent. Guard combatants, especially our own sons and daughters, from harm–and their families from fear and anxiety. Insure justice and mercy, truth and freedom, so the Gospel may flourish in hard places,as your people live safely there.

For missionaries and pastors, congregations and evangelists, who live your truth and declare your truth in hostile nations or among indifferent people: come as Light and Truth, with grace and love: keep your people faithful. Strengthen missionaries whose vigor flags; and encourage them when they’re discouraged. This is our prayer in Your name, Jesus. AMEN

Richard Herman

God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–You know what it’s like to be many and one at the same time. In You, we too are many … yet one. You’ve made us one body—a single family unified for one purpose; with one baptism—giving us a single identity. You’ve given us one Spirit—Your Spirit; and one hope—in the same future. And, with one faith we trust You for our salvation, our one Lord, Jesus Christ. 

So together, with one voice and a single heart, we hold varied anxieties and hope, concerns and commitments, and give them to You. For those we love who are ill or injured, anticipating surgery or recovering from it–we pray healing of body, peace of mind and trust in You. 

For families who gather this week–we ask safety in travel, joy in shared times; and where reconciliation is needed to bring a marriage and family together, we ask You to give grace, humility, forgiveness and growth in love and trust. For those who can’t be together this week–we ask peace. 

May Your grace give reason for thanks in shared memories. For our nation–so blessed by You over the years, we offer thanks: for freedom, for abundance of resources, for the ability to worship You unafraid. Yet, we’ve also grown proud of our power, our wealth and our technologies. Forgive us for turning to other gods to lead and protect us; and for when we’ve trusted ourselves too much and You too little. 

For our world, so splintered by national interest and suspicion, by prejudice and hatred: we pray for understanding and empathy, justice and compassion between peoples. Strengthen Your missionaries, keep them faithful in serving You as they declare and live Your gospel as lights throughout a dark world. For Your Church, for this church–we thank You. Thank You for Your people who love us as we are, who care for us when we hurt, who lift us up when we fall, who are there when we are in need. Thank You for a church that’s faithful to proclaim and demonstrate Your truth with grace and compassion. Thank You for ministries that quietly change lives, for leaders who faithfully serve and for all who sacrificially give of themselves. So, with thanksgiving in our hearts, we pray all this, in Jesus’ Name. AMEN

Richard Herman

Lord Jesus—the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and the author of change, who’s constantly doing “a new thing,” which makes us sit up and take notice.  We admit, we’d be more comfortable with a predictable, controllable, less imaginative deity—but we’d also be less filled with wonder, delight and praise; and You’d be less worthy of our trust, obedience and worship.  But You are worthy!–which is why we come to You as we are.  

We come asking You to change us—before we ask you to change anyone else or to change our circumstances.  We come to present our friends and loved ones in need of comfort after the loss of loved ones.  

Be a companion in loneliness, bringing hope in despair, light in the darkness and peace at all times.  Guide them into the new “normal” of the next part of their journey, and give those who walk with them special strength and grace.  We also bring to you the sick, the injured and those recuperating from surgery: Heal them.  

Give them confidence in Your presence as their Savior and Healer by replacing their anxiety and pain with trust and peace.  Make them well—physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually; and encourage their caregivers.  But there are other needs we can’t meet but You can: such as a need for ..

Reconciliation in families between husbands and wives, children and parents; and Reconciliation in nations between ethnic groups or political factions–and we think especially of those in [Afghanistan]: protect them, and bring peace to that land.  Keep your people there faithful in their witness, truthful in their living and their speaking, and compassionate, gracious and loving at all times.  

We pray for nations and leaders of nations–for our own and those who call other lands their home, that the interests of those who have no voice–the poor, the oppressed, the abused, and disenfranchised–might be paramount, and that Your kingdom might come, and your will be done among us, and among all nations. 

And we pray for your church—for this church.  Make us a faithful people, a courageous people, a gracious people, a creative people and a loving people…so that others may see You through us and encounter you in us. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. AMEN

Richard Herman