I prepared the following pastoral prayer for worship this morning. The biblical texts for the pastor’s sermon were James 3:3-5 and Ephesians 4:29. I have removed some petitions pertaining to particular persons and situations within the life of the congregation.
You are truly a loquacious God! Your servant John tells us as much when he begins his Gospel by writing: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We thank you that you did not keep this eternal conversation to yourself, but that through the Word you called the worlds into being. You spoke and it was so and you saw that it was good. It is fitting then that the heavens declare your glory, for they are the product of your speech.
However, we must pause and, with horror and regret, acknowledge that your good creation has been marred by false speech. We, whom you have created to be your partners in conversation, have fallen for the lie. Like our ancestors in the Garden, we have allowed the serpent’s propaganda to lead us into doubt and despair – entertaining the deception that you are distant, uncaring, or uncommunicative. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Lord have mercy upon us!
We thank you that not even our attempts to close off the conversation could overcome your relentless desire to communicate the riches of your love to us. In the past, you spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days you have spoken to us by your Son.
In the midst of a world where talk seems to be becoming cheaper by the day and words seemingly mislead and confuse more often than they clarify, we pray that you would open the ears of our hearts that we may attend to the true Word which does not falter or deceive, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Although physically slight in stature, we recognize that the tongue has the capacity to build up and to burn down. The same tongue that is used to sing your praises can be used to curse others who have been made in your image. So we pray that through your Holy Spirit you would allow us to attend to your Word and bring our speech into conformity with Him. Teach us to speak aright, so that our words may be transparent to the Word, instruments of the Spirit in the work of blessing and healing, reconciling and restoring. Give your people in all places the courage to name idolatry for what it is and the conviction to speak truthfully in the face of habits of speech and patterns of life that deal death. In short, help us to be witnesses.
We thank you, Father, that through your Son, you have taught us the true end of words by teaching us how to pray. So we continue now, saying together the words that Jesus has taught us to pray . . .