President Obama, contrary to many rumors, has designated today as The National Day of Prayer (you can read the proclamation here). His requests for prayer are numerous – for wisdom and compassion, justice and mercy. He asks that we pray for those in our Armed Forces and for their families. He asks that we pray for those in other countries who have experienced recent tragedies like Haiti, Chile, and Poland. The proclamation, written last month, doesn’t include new tragedies like the floods in Nashville or the oil spill in the Gulf. Certainly, we should add these to our list. Beyond these things I offer this simple prayer:
Gracious Lord, Maker of the heaven and earth,
the whole world belongs to you.
I thank you for the corner of that world in which I live,
the country in which I make my home.
I thank you for the beauty of her lands,
the diversity of her people, and
the hopes of her ideals.
Forgive us not only when we fall short of our own standards
of justice and freedom for all, but even more so,
Lord, forgive us when we fall short of your standards
of righteousness and mercy.
Forgive us when we criticize our leaders
more often than we genuinely pray for them.
Forgive us when we treat our neighbors
as if they were our enemies.
Forgive us when we chase after wealth and power and our fifteen minutes of fame
as if they were things that could ever truly satisfy.
More than making us mighty, Lord, teach us to be righteous.
More than making us wealthy, Lord, teach us to be generous.
More than making us first in all things, Lord, teach us about the prestige of serving others.
Help us to care for the least of these,
to love those with whom we disagree, and
to seek not simply our own well being, but the well being of others.
Remind us that if we are blessed it is that we might be a blessing,
For we are but one people, among many peoples,
all the works of your hand.
Lord, in your grace, do these things,
for us, the people of this country,
. . . and start with me.
I urge, then first of all , that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made fore everyone – for kings and for all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness – 1 Timothy 2:1-2.