Our people come to the altar to pray during our Sunday morning worship services. They come because we invite them to come.
Yesterday (May 29, 2022) we invited them to come to lament and repent over the state of our world today. Just this past week we suffered the reality of another mass shooting event at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. We also suffered the exposure of 20 years of cover-ups and mishandling of sexual abuse in the SBC (the world's largest protestant denomination and the one we at Thompson Station Church are affiliated with). The war in the Ukraine continues to rage as does the craziness in Washington DC, and the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial. Our newest supreme court judge in waiting can't (or won't) define what it means to be a woman. (Something I did on Mother's Day--click here if you want to see how; and listen to our podcast this summer as we launch a series called "The Truth about Women" beginning next week.)
We are living in a season of increasing darkness and sometimes the reality of our depravity brings us to our knees. That is why we invited our people to come to the altar and pray on Sunday morning.
We are living in a season of unparalleled darkness. War, corruption, mass shooting, scandal—If ever there was a time for God’s people to be on their knees crying out to Him—NOW IS THAT TIME!
We gather to worship every week in this place. We focus on the beauty and holiness of God. We will do that again today because His is worthy.
But this morning, we want you to participate in worship by coming to the altar and crying out to God.
Lamenting is a common theme in the Bible. In fact, there is an Old Testament book named Lamentations. To lament is to express deep regret, grief, or sorrow.
We lament when we grieve over the loss of something or someone close to us.
We lament when our hearts are broken.
We lament when we feel helpless in situations out of our control.
We lament over our sins.
This morning, we want to invite you to join us in lamenting on behalf of our world today. Come to the altar. Let God know how sorry we are for senseless loss of innocent lives, for people whose lives have been wrecked by corruption and abuse, for war, for confusion and chaos happening in the world around us.
Pray! Declare our utter dependence on God and invite Him to heal our land.
While you are at the altar praying, pick up a card that has a camper or a camp staffers name on it. Commit to pray for this person this week. Scan the QR code and register your card to receive daily email updates as we provide the prayer covering over our high school’s Beach Week this coming week.
Throughout the worship this morning, please come to the altar and pray.
(We always print the names of our campers and staff on bookmarks and invite our congregants to take one to pray over throughout the week of camp. During our camps the people praying receive daily on site video updates to encourage them as they pray. We host a "celebration service" after our camps are ended where our middle schoolers and children who made professions of faith are baptized. The high schoolers who make professions of faith are baptized in the ocean while they are at beach week. I'm actually at the beach with our high schoolers as I post this blog.)
Lord, we come to You this morning with heavy hearts. They are heavy with grief over what we’ve become. Our spirits are broken—we are crushed with the weight of sin expressed in corruption, scandal, war and people who kill innocent people in public places, most recently in Uvalde, TX.
This past week and these past few years we’ve come face to face with our depravity as people who are prone to wander far from You squandering the extravagant gift of life You’ve given us. Like the psalmist David we cry out:
I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Psalm 51:3
We don’t have any excuses, and we aren’t gathered here today to analyze, criticize or pass the blame. We are gathered together in this place to agree with You that what is happening in our world, in our nation, even in our homes is the fruit of selfishness, greed, corruption, fear, and everything else that self-worship produces.
We cry out to You with the prophet Isaiah, “Woe is me, for I am lost. I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5)
Have mercy on us, O God.
Jesus, you said “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” We praise Your Name and are grateful that when You died on the cross You paid for our sins and made the way for us to be comforted by Your Spirit—the Spirit of the living God.
We are so grateful that You are a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6-7) You forgive us time and time again. You are fully aware of our dust-like nature, and of the pride that causes us to think more of ourselves than we ought to think. We confess our pride to You now. Please LORD forgive us of our sins and cleanse us of all our unrighteousness.
Thank you for your promise in I John 1:9 that assures us that You are eager to do just that…
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Thank You LORD for being our ever-present help in time of trouble and for giving us just what we need to shine the light of Your love in this increasingly dark world we live in today. We acknowledge that You pre-ordained that we be Your “boots on the ground” at such a time as this.
We accept Your call on our lives and rededicate ourselves right now to living as the peculiar people You’ve called us to be so that the Name of Jesus is made known until You return to take us home.
Comfort those who have lost their loved ones this week. Bring healing and redemption in the lives of those who are struggling to overcome. And LORD might we also ask that if there is anyone hearing this prayer who is distracted by their own overwhelming pain, please touch them so that their eyes and ears are open today to the power You have to be to them all that they need.
It’s in the powerful and precious Name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST that we pray. Amen.
Church: We need to be lamenting and repenting. Feel free to use this prayer in any way you like. Let's call our people to pray. It's so much more effective than wringing our hands in despair.
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