Trinity Creation

Learning to pray for our city and world can be challenging. I have sat through many worship services that failed to utter a single word about traumatic events taking place outside the doors of the church. My own track record as a pastor on this account is abysmal. What I needed was practical examples of pastoral prayers that bring Scripture and theology to bear on how we intercede in prayer for God’s world.

What follows is a pastoral prayer from the liturgy of the 2015 Missional Living of Scripture conference at Calvin Seminary. What I find compelling about this prayer by Professor Mary Vanden Berg is the way it uses the Lord’s Prayer to teach us how to “pray the gospel forward” in the world that is filled with beauty and pain.

As we approach God in the way that Mary models for us, we cultivate what Peterson calls a “praying imagination” in which our prayers are molded along the counters of the eschatological prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9-13).

 

By Dr. Mary Vanden Berg

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Indeed you are holy, O Lord, and most worthy of praise.

All glorious God we give you thanks for in your Son, Jesus Christ,

you have given us every blessing.

We praise you for the richness of your grace,

for the splendor of your gifts,

and for the wonder of your love.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

How long, O Lord, must we wait?

It feels sometimes, Lord, like your kingdom is far from us.

It feels sometimes like evil’s word is stronger than your word

in our homes, our churches, and in the world.

We lament the brokenness in our homes

where the call to serve our spouses and children

can easily be drowned out by self-interest.

Rule us by your word and Spirit, Lord

so that we can be examples of self-giving love to the world.

We lament the brokenness in our churches

where our own comfort often trumps our desire to bring your good news to our neighbors.

where our fear of criticism thwarts our passion to speak the truth.

Keep you church strong and add to it, O Lord.

We lament the brokenness of our world, Lord,

Where the voices of terror and death have been loud of late in places like Paris,  Beirut, and Syria.

Where people are forced to flee their homes or to face death.

Destroy the devil’s work and every force which revolts against your will.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Give us this day our daily bread,

for we know that apart from your provision and blessing, Lord,

our work would be in vain.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,

We know, O Lord, that even as we pray that you will destroy evil in our world

so very often we are part of the problem.

We are apt to seek your will only insofar as it does not undermine our own will.

Forgive us, O Lord, just as we are fully determined as evidence of your grace in us to forgive our neighbors.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one

Because by ourselves we are too weak to resist the devil, the world, and even our own desires.

Uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever

Amen

Mary Vanden Berg is Associate Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary

Further Reading

  • Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination.