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Prayers of the People

Written by Loren McGrail
February 21, 2013

St. Andrew's Scots Memorial Church
Jerusalem

The following is a prayer I created for our worship service at St. Andrew’s Scots memorial Church in Jerusalem. St. Andrews uses a hymn as a response inside the call to prayers for the people. I tried to create a prayer that was contemplative and inviting that honored the different practices people have for Lent as well as to go with the lectionary text about Jesus being tempted in the desert. I was told not to expect anyone to speak aloud their prayers but much to the worship team’s surprise a number of people spoke out. I have included the verses from the hymn because the prayer and the hymn worked together to draw people into a quiet place of stillness from which to pray.  This was a new way for me to think about prayers for the people as it includes both a centering experience as well as a space to offer prayers for others and the world.

Lent is a time of conversion, a time with the Spirit’s help we open ourselves up to change. It is a time to step away from the preoccupations of our own self interests.  It is a time for getting lost in the wilderness of God.  It is a time for giving up those things we thought were essential or precious so that we might enter that liminal space of the holy where the veil is thin enough to catch a glimpse of our true selves, a glimpse of the God who calls us Beloved. It is a time for walking the way of the cross, for accompanying the crucified One and those who are still being crucified today.

Sing verses 1 & 2
1
Loving spirit, loving Spirit
You have chosen me to be,
You have drawn me in your wonder,
You have set your sign on me.

2     
Like a mother you enfold me,
Hold my life within your own,
Feed me with your very body,
Form me of your flesh and bone.

I invite you in this time of prayer to contemplate what you need for your journey not just as pilgrims in the holy land but as sojourners in life. Those of you who are traveling have already left behind the familiar, habitual, the known routines and rhythms that both shape and bend your life. You are ready.

Sing verses 1 & 3
1
Loving Spirit, loving Spirit
You have chosen me to be,
You have drawn me in  your wonder
You have set your sign on me.
3
Like a father, you protect me,
teach me the discerning eye,
hoist me up upon your shoulder
let me see the world from on high

I invite you to enter into the wilderness and receive what comes. I invite you to ascend the mount of Temptations not on a cable car but on the gift of grace and prayer. I invite you to dialogue with those things that tempt you. So whether you are fasting or not, unloose the chains that bind you. Unloose the chains of injustice that bind others.

Sing verses 4  & 5
4
Friend and lover, in your closeness
I am known and held and blest,
In your promise is my comfort
In your presence I may rest.

5
Loving Spirit, loving Spirit
You have chosen me to be,
You have drawn me to be your wonder,
You have set your wonder on me.

In the stillness of your heart I invite you to name aloud or in silence those people or places you wish to lift up today in prayer. Lift up your temptations, burdens, worries, and concerns.  Lift up your joys, loves, thanksgivings.  God in your mercy here these prayers expressed aloud or silently.

Hymn Loving Spirit is #597 in Church Hymnary
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