Prayer: our sin holds us here

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

We bring before you now our fellow-people in Palestine and Israel. Ordinary people lying in their beds waiting for a bomb to drop on their house. Parents wondering whether their children will be killed on the way to school. Deep inequalities leaving people desperate. This has been going on so long it’s hard to believe it will change. We don’t know how miracles work, Lord, but if there’s a limited supply, can’t you use some in Israel and Palestine? Please bring new ideas, forgiveness, solidarity.

Our sin holds us here in this hatred and revenge. Give us freedom from our sin.

We ask for your help with the climate emergency. We pray that governments and companies would work together not to do the minimum, but to start a rescue plan, to make our best attempt at avoiding the devastation of the human race. We pray for world leadership by our government while it runs the G7 this year.

Some of us are already starving or migrating because of climate change, while some of us are unlikely to see its effects in our lifetimes.

Our sin holds us here in the blindness caused by greed. Give us freedom from our sin. Give us obedience to you.

Some of us are starting to feel safe from COVID, while some of us are being torn apart by it. We pray for the people of Nepal and India and other places where COVID infections are very high. We pray for protection for health workers. We pray for people whose family and friends have died. We pray for medical supplies from countries like ours with the resources to provide them. We pray for the COVAX scheme – we ask for effective sharing of vaccines, tests and treatment. We ask for this pandemic to end, and we acknowledge that that won’t happen if we just deal with it here: we need to work together globally.

Our sin holds us here in this self-centred naivety. Give us freedom from our sin. Give us love for you.

Some of us have our pick of jobs, while others, some of whom we heard from in Hartlepool this week, can’t find work, and have no hope of doing so.

Some of us live in safe homes, while others continue to live with the daily worry that the fire in Grenfell Tower might be what happens to them, with the same cladding on their home, and the same lack of attention from the authorities.

Some of us are surrounded by people, while others are isolated.

Right here in our town, some of us have good places to live, while others have nowhere.

Our sin holds us here. Teach us the mystery of how to love you and be obedient to you. Give us the freedom you promised.

Right here in our church, some of us have easy relationships with family, while others live with the fallout of our own and others’ mistakes, or grieve for people we loved but couldn’t live with. Give us the friendship to support each other, to love you by loving each other, to forgive, to escape, to belong.

In this church, who do we allow to stand up here and speak? Does my face, my voice, my school, fit, while others are expected to be quiet and listen, or not welcome to walk through the door? If I say something stupid at the front of church, how many people will email the vicar questioning my calling? How about if I looked different?

Our sin holds us here. The good that we want to do, we don’t do. The people who share our lives, we have ignored.

Teach us how to love you with our whole hearts.

We look forward with excitement, and also nervousness, to being allowed to be together with each other in our homes and other places. We look forward to going to school without the irritation and separation of wearing masks in class. We hope that loads more people, especially people in care homes, will get to see their families. We pray for joyful reunions. Help us be gentle with each other in the next few weeks. Change is weird. Let us work out together how to do this, each at our own pace.

As we begin to explore our new freedom, show us the freedom you have promised. Freedom from our sin, and release from where it holds us.

Teach us how to love you with our whole hearts.

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