Prayer: some whisper of truth

May we, somehow, in the midst of all this activity, rest in your presence and hear some whisper of truth: of your exuberant love for us, the people of your world, the creatures of your world, the trees, the rocks, the sea.

Lord we pray for everyone affected by the earthquake yesterday in Morocco. Please help people who are grieving for friends and family who have died, and people who have lost their homes, or are uncertain about whether they can go back. Thank you for the people the UK is sending to help with the rescue and recovery process. Please keep everyone helping with the aftermath safe, and give them success in helping people, finding shelter for everyone, and rebuilding and making buildings safe. We pray for improved relations between the Moroccan and Algerian governments, and that Algeria would be able to help with the rescue and repair work.

We pray for an end to the war in Ukraine. We ask that everyone would be able to return to their homes and their lives. We pray for an end to the killing. We pray that Russia would stop the attacks targeting civilians and critical infrastructure. We ask for wisdom for our leaders about how to help end this war with a just outcome.

We thank you for the possibility of a deal in Palestine/Israel that might bring more rights and freedom for Palestinian people. We pray that real, substantial progress would be made, leading to a safer and better life for everyone in this region.

As we continue to see the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis all over the world, we thank you for the enormous changes that are taking place, including in this country. The UK emits almost half as much CO2 as it did in 1990, and emissions due to imports from other countries have been falling since 2007. The total energy we use has been falling since 2005. Our emissions from transport are down 8% since before COVID. Emissions from buildings fell 13% in 2022. We know none of this is going to be anywhere near enough for us avoid devastating warming, or to meet the target the UK set ourselves of reaching net zero by 2050. The parliamentary climate change committee recommended some things to get progress back on track: phasing out hybrid cars, limiting aviation growth, and diet change. We don’t have all the answers, and we won’t all agree here what the right thing to do is, but we pray, together, for resolute action from our government to continue and accelerate the work.

We pray for everyone starting a new year at school or college or university. Thank you for new starts and exciting opportunities. We know how much all of us were affected by the lockdowns during the pandemic, and we pray that our young people would recover from the negative effects they experienced. Help them find friends, and discover good ways to relate to you.

We bring our work to you. May we be hope to someone this week. May each of us learn about life from someone unexpected. May we break down the borders of our worlds so we don’t think in those terms any more. May we share our resources. May we share our lives. May we learn humility.

May we, somehow, in the midst of all this activity, rest in your presence and hear some whisper of truth: of your exuberant love for us, the people of your world, the creatures of your world, the trees, the rocks, the sea.


References: and

Prayer: safe to shore

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

When we read the news it’s hard not to be worried about our world. It’s hard to hear about the pain our fellow people are going through.

I was really struck last week when we sang the song “My Lighthouse”:

I will trust the promise
You will carry me safe to shore

I found it comforting to sing those words, and then I was brought up short by them. Will you carry us safe to shore?

It’s too late for the hundreds of people who drowned off the coast of Greece in June. You didn’t bring them safe to shore: they drowned in the terrifying ocean. We didn’t bring them safe to shore: we were too busy building our Hostile Environment back at home.

I was also struck last week by these words in the song “So will I”:

I can see Your heart eight billion different ways
Every precious one a child You died to save

Can we trust you were with those children trapped deep in the hull of that boat? God, please can we? Is there some comfort in believing they might be with you now?

Is it too late for the next crowd of people huddling onto the next boat? Maybe they set off this morning, full of hope for a new life away from violence and war.

It’s too late to stop the world’s temperature rising one degree – it’s already happened, and pretty much everyone agrees it’s too late to stop it rising past one and half. We don’t really know whether it’s already too late to stop it rising four degrees, with the devastation that will involve. Will you carry us safe to shore?

It’s too late for Ate Gloria who was so concerned about the damage to her grandchildren’s health from an open coal storage facility joint-owned by a British company that she organised a petition and campaign, and was killed in front of her grandchildren by two unknown assassins. Too late for the four people a week who, like her, are killed for defending their land and their health against destruction by companies who supply food and energy to people like us.

It’s too late to prevent the damage to people’s health by smoke from the fires in Canada and Australia. It’s too late to rescue the people killed, or to save homes and businesses destroyed, by flooding in Bangladesh or Germany. Is it too late for people living in coastal cities like Bangkok, Amsterdam, Cardiff, London?

Lord, how can we respond? We have built a dazzling statue of wealth and power and its feet are clay because it is built on the suffering and oppression of our fellow people. We long for your triumph. We hope for rescue.

Maybe we can repent. If we, the people in this room, repent, would that mean anything? What would it look like for us to repent as a country, or as a world? Will you carry us safe to shore?

Many of us here have enough problems that the last thing we need is someone like me going on about stuff like this. We pray for those of us who are unwell – please give people to provide the care they need. We pray for those of us who are out of work, or working in bad conditions – please give good work, and courage to look for it. We pray for those of us trapped in hard relationships – give freedom to escape where needed; give courage to turn away from wrong behaviour; give reconciliation and forgiveness.

We are here because we believe, sometimes with confidence and sometimes with none, that you are here, and that you are good.

We will trust the promise
You will carry us safe to shore

Help us understand. Help us be part of what you are doing.


Prayer: May your mercy bring change in us

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

We pray for peace in Ukraine, in Sudan, in Syria, in Yemen. It’s hard to keep asking, when from a human point of view there seems little hope for reconciliation or negotiation, but we remember again the ordinary people who are fighting, suffering and dying. Please give us miraculous hope and peace. Guide leaders towards decisions that are not about pride or revenge but guided by humility and love. Thank you for those working for peace in Sudan, and their success in arranging a 24-hour ceasefire yesterday. We pray that it would have been successful and lead to an end to the fighting.

We ask that your mercy will bring change in us.

As unprecedented wildfires burn in Canada we watch with fear for what is next from the climate crisis. We are sorry for the decades we have spent failing to face up to what is happening, and we ask that we can put this failure behind us. Give us courage to take radical action to reduce carbon emissions. Give us compassion for everyone who is suffering now from what is already happening. Prevent us from falling for the temptation to turn away from those in need. We will be next, and our only hope is to work together. We know that we only have hope if you decide to step in.

We ask that your mercy will bring change in us.

We pray for everyone suffering in the huge Dengue fever outbreak in Peru. Please protect people, especially health workers, and help decision-makers get help to where people are needed. We ask for the money, resources and organisation to get people treatment.
We pray for everyone affected by the knife attack in Annecy – please help the victims recover, and help the community respond in ways that reflect your character. We pray for the attacker too – that whatever led him to do such a terrible thing would change.

We ask that your mercy will bring change in us.

We pray for staff and patients of the NHS. The pressure seems to mount all the time, and we only hear stories of things getting worse. We thank you for the excellent treatment so many of us have received, and we ask that things would get better, and there would be even better treatment for everyone who needs it. We especially pray for people living with cancer after recent stories about staff shortages. We ask for more staff, and we also ask for peace for people already coping with overwhelming fear as they hear news like this.

We pray too for our police forces as they come to terms with criminal actions of some police officers, and strong criticism from the inspector of policing. We ask that the systemic failings he identified will be addressed, and the police will provide safety for everyone in our society. We especially pray for people who right now see police more as a threat than a help: let change happen so that trust is built up.

We ask that your mercy will bring change in us.

We pray for our church. We thank you for the wide range of different people we are. We ask that we would get better at stepping out into our community to embrace and learn from more people. Where our differences cause tensions we ask for acceptance and humility. We pray for your help to understand how to get involved: with our church and as a church, in our area. Help us to move on from things that are not right any more, and find new ways. Help us to buckle down when things you are asking us to do are hard, always receptive to where you are leading us, and especially to who you are putting in front of us. If we’re making each other uncomfortable that might be a good sign, but please show us how to work together with compassion.

We ask that your mercy will bring change in us.

We pray for all of us who are unwell and grieving, and our friends and family. Bring peace and comfort. Use us to help each other. Don’t let anyone in our town be isolated by suffering, but bring us together.

We ask that your mercy will bring change in us.

Prayer: we look to Jesus

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

We pray for the people of Sudan as the bombing and fighting in Khartoum and elsewhere continue. We pray that there will be a ceasefire, and an end to violence. We pray for peace and a stable civilian government. We look to Jesus to understand how to resist violence. He chose not to lead an armed revolution against the empire oppressing his people but to remain non-violent in the face of oppression, torture and death. It’s hard to wrestle with what that means in every situation, and we ask for your help to understand. Please help everyone in Sudan who is resisting violence and killing. Please help us to support them.

We pray for the people of Northern Ireland. We thank you for the Good Friday agreement, and the peace it has brought us. We pray that our leaders and communities can find a way forward for power sharing, so we can continue the road to peace and safety for everyone. We look to Jesus to show us how to forgive. He prayed for forgiveness for the people mocking him even while we was being tortured to death. Let us learn what it means to forgive, and to love our enemies.

We pray for the church around the world. We look to Jesus for our example of how to live, and we see him having dinner with people rejected by society because of their moral corruption. Help us learn from him what this means for us. As the church takes positions on what is right and wrong help us see clearly the power structures at work, and side with the the poor, captives, the blind and the oppressed. Make us a voice for people considered unacceptable, corrupt or beneath contempt. Every time we’re tempted to throw the first stone, remind us of our own mistakes as a church. Free us from a false sense of moral superiority, so we are ready to get our hands dirty living in true friendship with the oppressed.

We pray for ourselves. We look to Jesus and see his trust in you: teach us to call you Abba when we are desperate, and know your gentle love. We see in Jesus an excitement that heaven is here now: help us to understand that this really is good news, and to share that excitement around. When it feels like our lives are not successful or meaningful, help us to know your acceptance as your children right now, and to trust, like Jesus did, that your Spirit in us can take care of the plan for our lives while we get on with acting with love to our fellow-people.

We pray for everyone among us who is unwell, and for all of us who are grieving for people we have lost. We pray for our world as it cries out in sickness because of the damage we are doing to it. We ask for a rescue, knowing that Jesus is with us, and rescuing is what he does, and we take hope from that.

Prayer: not joining the pile-ons

Lord, you are good. We resist any lie that tells us otherwise, or that tells us there is no way back to you. And because you are good, we are able to bring these prayers to you.

We pray for the survivors of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey. Please comfort everyone who is grieving and heal those who are injured. We pray for more help, in Northern Syria especially, and ask that the help that is available would be able to get through borders and be effective. We pray for justice over poor building construction, and for safer buildings to be built everywhere that is at risk. We pray for the Disasters Emergency Committee as they provide shelter and food – please help them get to where they need to, and give them the money and resources they need.

We ask for an end to the wars that are destroying so many lives. We pray for Ethiopia. We ask that the deal signed in November would lead to a fair and lasting peace. We ask that the Eritrean forces would withdraw, and that the Tigrayan people would be safe and free. We pray for justice, truth and reconciliation over the atrocities committed during the war. It’s impossible to imagine the grieving process for half a million people. We ask for your help, for healing.
We pray for an end to the war in Syria, which led to so much avoidable tragedy after the earthquake, and we continue to pray for peace in Ukraine. We don’t have any answers: we are just asking you for help.

Please help the Scottish National Party as it chooses a new leader. We thank you for Nicola Sturgeon’s service, and we pray for all of politics in the UK: please bring leaders with integrity and vision to help us deal with the huge challenges of our time: global inequality and climate emergency, medical and social care, borders and trade especially in Northern Ireland, and so many others.

Lord, help us to learn from Jesus how to live out morality: standing next to those considered beneath contempt by the respectable people, and asking who is without sin. Give us courage to resist the pile-ons of social media and newspapers, refusing to throw stones with the crowd. Give us compassion for the sinner, knowing we’re all in the same boat.

We want to learn how to be like you, but so often in the church a sense of setting ourselves apart has become distorted into bullying and rejection of others. Help us to welcome and love everyone, especially those who don’t fit our sense of proper behaviour. Give us the humility to learn with and from those people, never imposing a blinkered formula for right living, but listening to their story.

Prayer: God with us

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

Please help the rescue teams working right now after the explosion in a block of flats in Jersey. We pray for everyone mourning for people who have died, and everyone who has lost their home. We ask that more survivors will be found.

We pray for the people of South Sudan as new fighting seems to be breaking out. We ask for peace, and we pray for the people being sent out to monitor the ceasefire agreement. We pray for the people who have escaped from the fighting. Please keep them safe and help them get back home soon. Help us to pay attention to South Sudan and help our leaders use their influence to work for peace.

We pray for the people of Ukraine as the war continues. We pray for everyone working to restore energy supplies in Ukraine, and we ask that Russian attempts to destroy infrastructure would fail. Please bring an end to this war, and allow people back to their homes in safety. As winter slows down the war, we pray for everyone stuck without power or living in temporary homes. We ask that the Russian leadership would change their strategy, and a fair peace can be found.

As the cold comes in here, we pray for everyone who is struggling to pay their bills. Please provide what is needed to prevent people dying from the cold. We ask for money and warm spaces and most importantly for people, who notice who needs caring for. We ask you to use us to help: thank you for the people in our church looking out for those in need, and the different ways we have to help. Please help all of us to notice, and step in, when our neighbour or friend is in trouble.

We pray for the many strikes and industrial disputes going on at the moment. We thank you for the vital work of our key workers. We ask for fair pay. We ask for good faith on all sides of these disputes, removing people from the picture where they have wrong motives. We ask for protection for everyone affected by strikes. Please bring fair results as soon as possible.

We pray for the hospitals and ambulance services struggling with queues and lack of beds. Please help our leaders to improve our social care structures and get our health care into a sustainable state. We thank you so much for the security we all get from a properly-working NHS, and we ask that it can be restored into a good state.

As we see harsh drought in east Africa and a terrible heatwave in South America it’s hard to hear about a new new coal mine in Cumbria that the government’s official advisor called indefensible. We pray for our leaders: this climate emergency requires wisdom and courage way beyond even what is needed for day-to-day government. We are so often foolish and cowardly: please help us.

It’s hard to ask you to help in all these situations. Many of us find it hard to hope that you are going to turn these huge things around. We thank you for the mystery of Christmas, where we see that you did get involved and get your hands dirty. It gives us hope that you truly are God with us.

Teach us the courage to get involved and get our hands dirty.

Prayer: Rich and Poor

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

We pray for the war in Ukraine. Please end the violence and allow people to return to their homes in safety, and soldiers to return home unharmed. We ask for a way out that all the leaders can accept, and makes a lasting peace. We ask for an end to this war, and the wars going on in Ethiopia, Yemen and Myanmar, and many other places.

We pray for the people living at the sharp end of the climate crisis like farmers in Kenya who are dealing with flooding, lost crops and food shortages. Please provide food and safety. Please help the human race to find a way to resist this disaster.

So much of what’s going on at the moment seems to be about whether you are rich or poor.

Those of us who are rich at this moment turn to you and acknowledge that our safety and comfort depend on you, not our privileges. We confront the lie that we have a right to be safer or more comfortable than someone else. We thank you for sustaining this world moment by moment and we acknowledge that every thing belongs to you. We ask you to teach us generosity. We know that we are not safe while our neighbours are not safe. We ask you to work with us to tear down systems that hurt and oppress our fellow-people, especially where those systems have made us rich for now at the expense of others.

Those of us who are poor at this moment turn to you and ask for safety and peace. Where we’re wondering what our options are, please give us a way through. Provide solutions and set-ups that allow us to live at peace with ourselves and others, not scrabbling month by month for a new bad answer. We confront the lie that our value as people is calculated by our bank balance. We ask you to give us grace to accept the help of our friends and fellow-citizens, acknowledging that next month our roles could be reversed. We too want to tear down unfair systems, but never tear down people, not even our enemies.

Those of us who are finding it easy to hear you at this moment, who can pray and feel comfort or challenge, and those who are walking with a decent level of confidence that we’re heading where you want us, we turn to you and thank you for your mercy. We confront the lie that we earned this. We know that we are not rich while our neighbours are poor. We ask you to teach us generosity and empathy. We ask you to help us find ways to share your peace and your guidance that nourish our fellow-travellers rather than our own egos. We know these times have seasons, and we thank you for this one, and for the rhythm of change.

Those of us who turn to you and hear nothing, feel nothing at this moment, refuse to walk away from you. We turn to you too and acknowledge your authority. Nothing has changed: no matter how empty some of the words sound, we still choose to act with love, and to wait for you. We confront the lie that our value as people is calculated by the strength of our belief. Sometimes we long for your voice or your touch, and sometimes we feel embarrassed at the naivety of that longing. Give us grace to accept the help of our friends and fellow-travellers, acknowledging that next month our roles could be reversed.

All things come from you, and of your own do we give you. Please guide our political leaders towards good decisions based on compassion and wisdom.

Prayer: your manifesto

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

We pray for Sri Lanka. With food and fuel prices unaffordable and rising, and shortages of medicine, people are angry and afraid. We ask for relief for ordinary people who need to travel to work, and need food and medicine. We pray for peace and safety for everyone. We ask that the protests would avoid violence, and that they would not be met with violence from the authorities.

We pray for the vote on Wednesday to choose a president, and we ask that whoever wins that vote will be able to organise fair elections that put leaders in place who are acceptable to the people and able to bring economic stability. We pray for good decisions by Sri Lankan leaders now and after those elections, and we pray for decision-makers in the IMF and the rich countries: make them able and willing to free the country from crippling debt in, a sustainable way.

Here, we pray for the Conservative party as its MPs and members choose our country’s prime minister. We pray that our next leader will take up your manifesto:

“Bringing good news to the poor” – real life good news for those who are deciding right now whether to spend what’s left of this week’s money at the supermarket or on the electicity meter.

“Proclaiming liberty to the captives” – working for peace and safety in Ukraine, in Northern Ireland, in Palestine and Israel, in Syria, in so many other places, freeing those who are imprisoned by enemies and by insecurity; prioritising helping people who are running to us away from war and violence.

“Bringing sight to the blind” – discarding the dishonesty and the bubbles of political journalism, being truthful about the difficult decisions they make whether it’s about taxes, or COVID, or the energy crisis; sparking constructive debate instead of bullying and corrupt influence: on climate, on gender, on the next culture war.

“Setting free the oppressed” – we are excited to see a group of people standing for leadership many of whose race or gender might have been a barrier not long ago. We pray for a leader who stands up for the marginalised, who stands beside the powerless, even those despised by respectable religious folks, as Jesus did time after time.

“Announcing the time when the Lord will save his people” – dare we ask for a leader who has answers for the climate crisis? We know we need saving, and this is too big for any leader to overcome. We pray for your help, and we ask for a leader who is in tune with what you are doing.

We ask for a good leader: with integrity, vision and compassion beyond what many of us, in all honesty, expect or even hope for.

We pray for ourselves. Many of us feel uncertain: maybe about the future, about how to escape loneliness, maybe about who you really are or whether you are there, maybe about illness or how to live with grief. We don’t know what to expect from life or from you, but we choose to believe that you are love, and that you are with us.

If you are love, and you are with us, then take us by the hand. We need to know you accept us as we are, and you continue to accept us even as we change into different people day by day. You walk with us.

We need the courage you can give us. Help us take up your manifesto, just as we prayed for our next prime minister. Give us integrity, vision and compassion beyond what many of us, in all honesty, expect or even hope for.

Prayer: A glimmer of hope

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

We pray for the people of Ukraine. We ask for safety, and an end to the war. We ask that people would be able to return to their homes. We pray for Western leaders and the Russian leadership: please give them cool heads. Give the world a way to step back, and prevent Russian leadership from feeling the need to make an aggressive move for tomorrow’s victory day parade.

We grieve for the people of Ethiopia who have been killed in the civil war. Lord, have mercy on the people of Tigray, who have been blockaded by government forces. We thank you for the small amount of supplies that have been able to get into Tigray since April, and we ask for more: enough for everyone. We ask that the UN investigation will be successful and bring justice for the ethnic massacres that have taken place. Please frustrate the efforts of government-backed militias to destroy the evidence. It’s hard to hope for, but we pray for some kind of path towards peace and safety for the people of Ethiopia.

This week we heard that the Amazon rainforest is being illegally cut down faster then ever before. This is a shock even though we are used to hearing things like that. We pray for change to the economic and political forces that are behind this, and for helpful steps from our own government. We acknowledge our own responsibility in the climate emergency, and our ancestors’ responsibility, and we ask for hope that our whole world can find ways to reduce the impact of this disaster. We pray for the Amazon: Lord will you save this place of beauty and richness of life on which we all depend?

Our church is embarking on a season of evangelism, focussing on sharing the good news. I have often wondered what good news we have to offer when our religion has been at the heart of empires and colonies that have abused people and exhausted resources; when it has been a power structure that enabled abuse of vulnerable people by trusted leaders.

Maybe still, we can share a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the universe is not indifferent, and you are a person, and you are good?

Or that there was a person who modelled how to be powerful by surrendering and taking on suffering to become a peacemaker?

Or even the idea that those two people are the same person, and that this surrender is at the heart of the one who made the universe?

A person who made our hearts to be like theirs?

Lord, we don’t presume to think that you speak to us and no-one else. Give us the humility to open ourselves to hear from the people we might mistakenly call “outside” about what you are doing in their lives. To learn from them.

We admit that we are as confused as anyone about who you are, and what you are doing. We look forward to how we can grow, as we are surprised by how vast your compassion is. We do not look to fit people (including ourselves) to some human pattern mixed up with class or race or conformity. We look to learn about you from your children.

We see that there is hope in loving and caring for people, and offer our love and care to people before you not as a recruiting tool, but as a simple gift. We also admit that we fail to become a family if we don’t expect and receive love and care from the same people, not seeing them as cases to be solved, but fellow-workers.

We even admit that showing love to someone will sometimes include trying to describe that glimmer of hope.

We know living all this out is hard and involves breaking existing patterns of thought and behaviour, and we ask for your forgiveness for our mistakes, and your help in learning how to do it.

We pray for our friends and family who are unwell: for those who have long covid, we ask for progress in medical research, and healing. For those who are suffering pain, we ask for relief and recovery. For those with life-threatening or life-ending disease we ask for peace and healing, and for good relations with family and friends. Please show us who needs helping and give us the courage to respond.

Prayer: addicted to our dishonest scales

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

The words of Micah 6 are hard to hear.

I walk past two people sleeping in the walkway by Waitrose and I try not to
think about what part I have to play in the cause. Who removed them
from the place they were staying?

We hide our eyes from the violence we participate in.

I hear about people in Afghanistan who are being rounded up, or just don’t
have enough to eat, and I don’t stop to wonder what makes those people worth
less than me.

We are so addicted to our dishonest scales that we can’t imagine how
to run our world a different way.

I see our world being destroyed, what we store up not being enough, as deserts
take over forests and farmland, and I don’t ask what sins are ruining us.

We beg you to be allowed a harvest. We beg for the empty stomachs to be filled.
We confess the sin that puts us in this position, and we confess our total
lack of vision for how to repent. Give us new vision.

We think we know you don’t give up on us. We want to believe you won’t
leave us without hope. We try to trust that you are still here, still involved,
still see value in each of us, even when we face up to our sin.

Lord, surround us with your love. We pray for the people we know who are sick,
and mourning for people who have died. We pray for everyone who is isolated
right now, including many of us here today. We ask you to help us move closer
together after being separated for the last couple of years: where we have
forgotten, teach us how to encourage each other, help each other, challenge
each other.

Lord, if we’re going to face this sin and learn how to repent, we need to do
it together.

The fact that you’re still here, still saying this to us, thousands of years
after you said it to Israel helps us believe you won’t give up on us, helps
us understand we’re not the first and we won’t be the last, helps us trust
we’re not lost and you can still save.

We want to turn around, but we still don’t know how. We’re running out of time
and we’re lost without you.