We offer ourselves…

A prayer offered by Jay McKell

There are days, O God, when I’ve wondered, actually there are days when I have worried … worried about you.  Is it strange to have such thoughts?  Perhaps it is, after all, throughout our lives we’ve been taught that you are almighty, that you are a miracle worker, that you are the source of wisdom and truth and strength and justice and beauty and goodness.  We could go on and on with such attributes, after all, you are God!  But if you are all those things… precisely because you are truth and beauty and goodness and peace and justice… well, aren’t there days when your heart just breaks?  The world you created and called good … there are parts of it, many parts of it that are a mess.  The people you have loved and made in your image… there are so many of us who are hurting or, for that matter, the hurters… the ones who inflict pain and suffering on others.  Don’t those realities bring tears to your eyes, O God?  They certainly do to ours.  Aren’t you ever tempted to call it quits, call in sick one day, stop caring, give up restoring, stop giving us yet another glimpse of your grace?  Don’t you ever want to throw in the towel, give in to the cynicism and despair that are so commonplace among us?  Who could blame you?  Yours is the hardest job in all of creation.  Holding up the weight of the world, loving the un-lovable, offering joy in the morning and comfort in the evening and never, ever getting a break!  Whew… we ask a lot of you.

Maybe instead of praying to you… maybe we should pray for you.  Oh, I suppose that sounds a bit crazy, after all, if you are almighty and all knowing, then it’s probably true that you have no need for any of us.  After all, you made us of dirt.  But then there is that thread that runs throughout scripture, that thread with which you tie yourself to us.  It was your idea that we be created in your image.  So, if we’ve got hearts that ache on occasion, chances are you do too.  If we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, if the cries of the hungry, the silence of the lonely, the anger of the oppressed, and the indifference of the powerful get to us, then surely the same can be said of you.  And so, it is that on this day when there are wars that go on and on and on, when there are millions of your people who are malnourished, when there is someone (probably way more than one) who stands at the doorway into despair, when people whom you have called and we have entrusted to resolve our country’s common problems can’t seem to have a civil conversation with one another… it is precisely at such a time as this that we should pause and pray not just for them but for you, O God.  If “there is no place where earth’s sorrows are more felt than up in heaven,” then we would lift up an encouraging word to you and we would offer ourselves, strange as that seems, yes, we would offer ourselves as your supporters, your helpers in the ongoing, ever-challenging work of bringing to completion the good work which you began.  We want you to know joy on your worst day just as you want us to know joy on our worst day and we would now pledge ourselves to ministry not just among those in need around us but also to you, the one whose giving knows no ending, whose love is without limits, the one who never, ever tires of trying to transform us and all creation so as to conform to him who taught us to pray together saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.”

Jay McKell is Interim Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care at Village Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Covenant Network.

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