I am in Phoenix, and yesterday I attended the worship service at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Litchfield Park. Since the church I am part of in NYC is a contemporary evangelical church, it was a refreshing switch to participate in a liturgical service. God’s word saturated the service from start to finish, and throughout the time, we journeyed together through the whole gospel story of the creation, fall, redemption, and the hope of restoration, through Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior.
The part that impressed me the most, however, was how the communion of the saints at St. Peter’s prayed together. I am used to very extemporaneous prayers, with perhaps a list of concerns, but no real form or guidance. For this reason, the guide we followed together was much more comprehensive and conclusive than what I am used to, and I realized that it could serve as a guide for my personal prayer life.
Perhaps it could serve you, too. I’m planning to use the following as an outline for personal prayer. I’ve plugged in my own details – people, situations, concerns, celebrations, etc. – in italics.
With all our heart and all our mind, let us pray to the Lord, saying, ‘Lord, have mercy.’
For the peace of the world, and for the unity of all peoples, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. (For the conflicts and potential conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, many parts of Africa, and the Middle East. For those missionaries and humanitarian workers serving there. For the innocent civilians caught up in the midst of war. For the men, women, and children simply trying to go about their lives in peace.)
For our Bishop Kirk Smith, and for all ministries and people, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. (For my pastors, David, John, and Peter, and for their wives, Rebecca and Rosie. For the elders at my church, Art, Tom, and Michael, and their wives, Stacey, Jeannine, and Jill, and for all serving in our ministries to youth, internationals, ESL students, urban poor, lost and lonely in our community. For those friends of mine working in the art-and-faith crossroads. For those serving at home and abroad, proclaiming the hope of Christ to all peoples.)
For our President, Barack Obama, for the leaders of the nations, and for all in authority, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. (For peace with those friends of mine with different political views. For wisdom, humility, and integrity in those who are charged with civic and governmental leadership, locally and nationally. For peace in our land. For justice and mercy to flow like a river through our land.)
For the good earth which God has given us, and for the wisdom and will to conserve it, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. (For those working in research fields, seeking better ways to steward the earth. For consumerism to be less pervasive, and for people to live in better harmony with the earth. That Christians would have a higher view of the Creator, God, and treat the gift of creation with deeper respect.)
For the aged and infirm, for the widowed and orphans, and for the sick and the suffering, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. (For my friends at La Casa de Mi Padre in El Salvador, for Hager, the child I support through Children’s Hope Chest, and for my friends and family in the process of adopting. For the men and women I know who are elderly and have no family to care for them, including Grace and Guyda. For those in my life who are sick and living with chronic pain, especially RS and KK.)
For the poor and oppressed, for the unemployed and the destitute, for prisoners and for all who love and care for them, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. (For children, women, and even men who are living in abusive situations. For victims of human slavery and trafficking, and all working to free them, especially those at International Justice Mission.)
For the absolution and remission of our sins and offenses, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. (That I would live in a way that is worthy of the gospel. That I would be the fragrance of Christ wherever I go. That the words of my mouth and the meditations and attitudes of my heart would be pleasing to God. That no sin would be willfully tolerated in my life.)
In the communion of saints, let us commend ourselves, and one another, and all our life, to Christ our God. To Thee, O Lord our God. (That there would be unity in the Body of Christ throughout the earth. That the Church would be known for her love, grace and truth. That all who are seeking the truth would find it in Jesus Christ.)
The peace of the Lord be always with you. (Lord, let this be the fragrance I leave wherever I go – the peace of the Lord. Let me be a peacemaker, the light of the world and the salt of the earth.)
As I move toward a new year, I am re-evaluating my spiritual life, as I do every year at this time. The spiritual area I hope to cultivate more in 2011 is my prayer life. While I’m sure that this will not be the only guide I follow, it will certainly be one of them. The bullet points serve as a great starting point, but depending on how much time I have, I could probably spend hours applying the people in my spheres of life into these areas.