Elder's Prayer - June 11, 2017
Please find below the notes from the Elder's Prayer this past Sunday.
I'm sure this has been a difficult week for many of you. As a church, we're struggling with how to pray for and reach out to a member who is turning away from the faith.
For some, you feel the weight of your own sin and you wonder if you also will turn away. Or maybe you are dealing with the consequences of ongoing sin and wonder how your situation will turn out.
For some, you feel the weight of illness, either a long-term illness you've been dealing with for a while or a new diagnosis that scares you.
For others, you feel the weight of caring for that person with the illness. How do you care for them? What is the best way that you can come alongside - do you need to take over certain things or just be there to listen and to help as needed?
There is a darkness in all of these things. Whether dealing with specific sins in our lives or suffering the consequences of living in a fallen, sinful world, some of what we go through can seem hopeless and overwhelming.
But God is bigger than all of those things. God knows what we're going through, what threatens to overwhelm us. He knows that suffering is part of our time in this world.
That's why God has told us about himself. He holds the heavens in his hands. He is full of power and glory that we are not. He is merciful and gracious. He is never changing, always faithful to his people.
So when we come to God in prayer, we can approach him with the confidence that he knows what we are going through, what burdens our hearts. He knows our fears and our hopes. And he listens.
But our final hope isn't in this life. We can't let our earthly struggles move our hope off of our God who never changes and who will never leave us.
There is no other God before you. You are a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Hear our prayer this morning, give ear to our pleas for mercy. In your faithfulness answer us and help us to rest in your mercy and grace.
We pray for our lost member. Please turn his heart back to you and away from his sin. Stop him from running away from you. Remind him of your steadfastness, of your unceasing grace, of your great love. Harden his heart toward his sin. Soften his heart toward your church and your people. Help us to know how we can pursue him, how we can minister to his wife and son.
We pray for those here today who are in the midst of sin right now that is leading to destruction. Help them to see where their sin leads and what their sin reflects the condition of their hearts. Open their eyes to your mercy and grace toward us, that even when we were still sinners, you sent Christ to die for us and pay the entire penalty for our sin.
We pray for us as well. Constantly remind us of the appeal and destructiveness of sin. Help us to see that everything that looks good isn't good for us. Help us to know your word so that we can recognize the deceitfulness of sin and that we can hate sin. Give us the wisdom and courage to run away from sin.
We pray for those who are sick, whether dealing with a long-term illness or learning of something new in their lives. Remind them that the ultimate hope they have is in Christ and in your promises for eternity. Help them to be content with where you have them right now. Remind them of the grace that you've already extended to them and that that grace will never cease.
And we pray for healing where it is possible. We know that you can and do heal, so we ask for you to heal those of us who are sick and that you be glorified through the healing that you provide.
Help us to know how best to serve those among us who are sick. Give us the wisdom to see their needs, to see how we can encourage them in their faith. Remind us to be faithful in prayer for them.
Remind us of Jesus' words:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Help us to more fully understand these words. And help us to live like we believe them.