By Stephon Carlisle Void
We Need Your Healing Presence
A Prayer of Confession, Inspired by Mark 7:24-37
Let us pray,
Father God, like the immigrant woman at Tyre, we desperately need your healing presence. We know we are not worthy. We are like soiled rags. However, we know that with the power of your grace, you can make us as clean as fresh snow. Touch us, O God. Break down the walls we have placed around our hearts. Breathe a new breath upon us. Strengthen our resolve, so that we can do the work you have called for us to do. Help us tap into that fountain of living water that will quench our thirst. On this day, give us a word that will soften the hard-hearted. Show us your face and fill the tabernacle. Stir up a fire in our hearts like on the day of Pentecost. May that fire purify our hearts so that we shine like pure gold. Shake us until our chains of bondage are loosened. Then, we can run and tell the world your story. It's in your name, we pray. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession, Inspired by Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Yes, God, we are guilty. We are guilty of placing limits on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Forgive us, we pray!
If we, the church, were placed on trial today, our rap sheet would be a mile long.
Forgive us, we pray!
We have excluded, intentionally and unintentionally, the least of these, the outsiders, the backsliders, the young adults who don't look like us, those who suffer from addiction, and those who suffer from mental illness.
We worship our temples and focus our attention on internal ministry, while our community is slowly dying around us.
When crisis arises, we offer up dry prayers, dry praises, and empty promises.
Father God, we are convicted by our neglect and inaction. When the Spirit cried out, we ignored him. God, we ask that you give us a heavenly pardon. Sentence us to serve the people we are called to help. Strengthen our resolve and help us to allow your Spirit to move through us. From this day forward, we will uphold your laws of sharing hope and salvation with all humankind.
Wait Your Turn
A Response to the Word
Before worship, prepare index cards with the phrase, “We are tired of waiting for…” At the end of this prayer, you will ask worshipers to use the index cards to describe the kind(s) of change they are waiting for in their community. If altar prayers are among your congregational practices, have them bring those index cards to the altar for prayer.
All our lives, we have been told to wait our turn.
We wanted freedom; we had to wait our turn.
We wanted racial equality; we had to wait our turn.
We wanted equal pay and job equality; we had to wait our turn.
We wanted to start ministries that can change lives, and again we had to wait our turn.
We waited and we are still waiting.
We are tired of waiting! We are tired of standing in line and constantly being passed over.
Our time is now.
Church, let us bring our concerns for our church and community before God here at this altar.
Allow time for the worshipers to write petitions on the index cards. Invite them to bring their cards to a basket or bowl at the altar and to remain at the altar as the prayer concludes.
Let us pray.
Lord, on these cards, we wrote about what we have been waiting to see happen in our community. Hear our voices and hear the weary cries of your people as we place these petitions on the altar and ask for your help. Lord, we know that change does not always happen overnight. We realize that change can be a gradual and tedious process. The cards we placed here represent our concerns for homes, church, and community. Help us through your guidance and wisdom. Help us be the agents of change that our community needs. The period of waiting is over. Like our ancestors of old, we must make change and be the change we seek. Bestow upon us, O God, the tools we need be the change we seek. Thank you for what you are about to do through us. It is in your name, we pray. Amen.
Stephon Void is a Certified Lay Servant in the South Carolina Annual Conference and is a member of New Covenant United Methodist Church in Bowman, South Carolina. He is currently a nuclear magnetic resonance technician and facilities manager at Claflin University.