[Prayer Ventures for February 2019]
1Black History Month Give thanks for our sisters and brothers of African descent, who have both suffered much and contributed much to our nation and the ongoing work of building a multicultural church and restoring and reconciling communities in the name of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
2 Give thanks for children and youth in our lives and congregations, for the gifts they bring to the body of Christ and for the leaders, teachers and members who nurture and encourage them.
3The good news of Jesus Christ, God’s love and the promise of eternal life bring us joy, but we sometimes find ourselves troubled and irritated by God’s desire for us to exercise justice and peace and immerse ourselves in serving our neighbors in need – without hesitation or prejudice. Pray the Holy Spirit will work in our hearts to change our attitudes, bias and self-centeredness, setting us free to be willing, committed disciples and servants in the world.
4Remember in prayer regions of the world embroiled in conflict and turmoil, that leaders of nations and people involved and impacted will work together for peaceful, just and lasting resolution and reconciliation; pray especially for the safety and well-being of people who have and continue to suffer loss, disrupted lives and displacement from their homes, communities or nations as a result of violence, persecution or economic collapse in these areas.
5 Remember in prayer ELCA missionaries serving in collaboration with the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church, especially in ministries of evangelism and education. Give thanks and pray for the 18 international leaders who have received ELCA educational scholarships to further develop their skills for service in the church in Japan.
6 What is love? Where is it scarce or misguided in our relationships and how we live out our faith? Ask God to deepen and mature our understanding of love and center us in the love we, as baptized children of God, are called to share generously with others.
7 Thank God for the special relationship we have with the Episcopal Church, a full communion partner with the ELCA since 1999; pray for the church, its members and leaders, and that together we find strength and new resources for the work of sharing the gospel and serving our neighbor.
8 The Lord is our refuge, rock, protection, hope and trust throughout life. Give thanks and praise!
9 Give thanks for the work and impact of ELCA World Hunger. Pray we all seek ways of being working, generous partners in breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty, providing immediate and long-term assistance, and bringing hope to individuals, communities and regions of the world that suffer from hunger and poverty.
10Consider what stirred you to follow Jesus and grow in faith. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you with courage and confidence to invite others to believe and follow.
11 Pray for our seven ELCA seminaries, that their faculty and staff are strengthened, inspired and sustained in their work of preparing men and women for public ministry in a multitude of contexts and communities here and around the world.
12 Give thanks for entrepreneurs of all ages in our congregations, and pray we value their energy, ideas, skills, curiosity and creative perspectives as assets that can be used for ministry and serving our neighbor.
13 Called by God to serve as a prophet, Isaiah felt ill-equipped, reluctant and that he was a poor choice for the task – until God’s spirit moved him to reply, “Here I am; send me!” Pray we are open to the work God is calling us to do in our congregations, communities and the world, and, in spite of our hesitations and insecurities, are able to trust God’s forgiveness and empowering love by responding, “Here I am; send me!”
14ELCA gifts and offerings support leadership development, education and collaboration in China. We partner with the local church and organizations to respond to health, hunger and leadership development needs; 10 international leaders have received scholarships to further develop their skills for service in the church in China. Give thanks to God for what we are able to accomplish through working together.
15 Give thanks for the good news of Jesus Christ that we have received through faith, and pray we eagerly and unashamedly work to proclaim the gospel in the world with all who will listen – with friends and strangers alike.
16 Continue to pray for and support parents, families, friends and communities that have suffered the tragic loss of loved ones as a result of gun violence. Pray we are filled with empathy and care for the long and difficult healing they may go through, and that the Holy Spirit will help us be bold, wise agents and advocates of change to prevent and end the violence across our nation.
17Jesus compels us to serve our neighbor and be a blessing to others – friends, strangers, enemies, outcasts, hungry and poor alike. Thank God for inviting us to join in God’s work in the world and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and help with the service and challenges to which we have been called.
18Martin Luther, died 1546 Give thanks for the life, faith and teachings of Martin Luther, who worked with tenacity and courage to serve Christ while also confessing his personal struggles, questions and human weaknesses; pray we, too, are faithful in our baptismal journeys and not easily discouraged by the complexities of life, risks and our self-doubts.
19 Lift up thanks and praise for our life with God, a life filled with promise, hope and blessings that nourish us each and every day; a life and relationship that God desires for all people.
20 Pray members and leaders of our congregations are bold yet humble servants of Christ who embrace ongoing self-reflection, study of Scripture, evaluation, prayerful conversation and creative planning for the purpose of doing God’s work in the world and growing the church.
21 Pray we find joy, wisdom and nourishment in following the word and paths of God in the midst of everything else competing for attention and influence in our lives.
22 Praise God for revealing to the world the risen Christ who is not bound by the consequences of human sin and death, but instead gifts us – through faith – with the truth and certainty of God’s love, forgiveness and eternal life.
23 Give thanks for the energetic participation in “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday each fall and for the resulting partnerships and community service that stretch throughout the year.
24Ask God to help us listen to and wrap our lives around the straightforward teachings of Jesus that implore us to be merciful, generous, love our enemies, do good to those who hate us and not judge others – attitudes and actions that may not come easily to us.
25 Give thanks for the Deaconess Community, a Christ-centered community of women who devote their lives to proclaiming the gospel through ministries of mercy and servant leadership in diverse community and ministry contexts.
26 Remember God’s love and forgiveness, and pray we are moved to demonstrate the same grace and forgiveness – as Joseph did with his brothers who sold him into slavery – with people with whom we have experienced offense, conflict or broken relationships.
27 Give thanks for the Research and Evaluation services of our church, which assist congregations and synods in exploring their communities, demographics and trends, ministry opportunities and challenges, and provide resources and insights for planning and renewing ministries.
28 What have you been worrying about lately? Share your concerns with God; trust in the Lord, be still, don’t fret and go about doing good in the world.
[Prayer Ventures for March 2019]
1 Continue to remember, pray for and care for people who need warmth, shelter and nourishment, not just during the worst of the winter but throughout the year.
2 Pray that we lift our eyes to, recognize and respond to our neighbors in need, and follow with faith Jesus’ teachings and admonitions to be attentive to others, compassionate, loving and just.
3 Lent is approaching, and our attention is being turned to Jesus’ suffering, sacrifice, death and resurrection. Lift up humble, grateful prayers for God’s mercy, love and forgiveness, which were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, son of God – our hope and salvation.
4 Lutheran Schools Week Give thanks for the life-changing impact of Lutheran schools, early-childhood programs, teachers, staff, administrators and sponsoring congregations committed to faith-based education across our church and communities. Pray for the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association’s work of supporting educators, schools and congregations as well as advocating for exceptional faith-based education.
5 Remember in prayer those college and university students who are participating in service, learning and mission experiences during spring break, especially through ELCA campus ministries.
6 Ash Wednesday Speak to God about the personal significance of the smudge of ash on your forehead, remembering our frailty and mortality and, at the same time, the gift of forgiveness and new life we have through Jesus Christ.
7 Pray for mercy, trusting in God’ssteadfast love and ability to cleanse us thoroughly – inside and out – from our sin, immorality and human failings.
8 International Women’s Day Today the world celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history, across nations and throughout the church. Give thanks for the bold witness, service and leadership of women and girls in our church, and for the ministries of Women of the ELCA, the ELCA Women and Justice program and the International Women Leadership initiative.
9 Our God is great and awesome, and a lover of justice. Pray that our gratitude and what we learn from the word and ways of God are reflected with clarity and brightness in our lives, endeavors and relationships.
10 Forty days of Lent can seem like a long time to ponder our human weaknesses and the things we’d rather forget or deny. Ask God for strength to face daily temptations, the strength that Jesus demonstrated while being tempted and tormented in the wilderness; pray for faith that is confident in the power of the Spirit and God’s mercy.
11 Continue to pray for people and communities recovering from disasters here and elsewhere in the world, and remember that rebuilding, economic recovery, and the healing of trauma and grief often take many years.
12 We believe God calls the church – corporately and individually – to care for God’s creation, pursue justice, care for people in need and seek peace. Pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire, embolden and guide us in doing God’s work in the world.
13 Give thanks for our weekly opportunities to gather together for Lenten meals, worship and reflection, and for how these experiences and disciplines help nourish our faith and strengthen the body of Christ.
14 Thank God for our special relationship with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a full communion partner with the ELCA since 1997; pray for the church, its members and leaders, and pray that together we find strength and new resources for the work of sharing the gospel and serving our neighbor.
15 Give thanks and praise toGod for offering us refuge and protection, especially those of us who feel weak, vulnerable, fearful or alone.
16 We ask God to work among leaders, nations and factions in conflict throughout the Middle East region, that they will find sure paths to peace, reconciliation, healing and justice for all people. We pray that the Holy Spirit will stir within us empathy, understanding and compassion for those who are caught in the middle of, or have simply fled, the violence, chaos, persecution and uncertainty.
17 Remember throughout Lentthe suffering, trials and sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation. Give thanks to God for this profound, boundless, undeserved work of love and mercy for our sake.
18 Praise God for the long-standing companion relationships that 20 ELCA synods maintain with 20 dioceses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania; pray that these communities nurture and strengthen one another for life and ministry through prayer, study, communication, exchange of visitors and sharing of resources.
19 Call on the Holy Spirit to tune our senses to the promises and reassurances of God, especially when we are uncertain, experiencing darkness or feeling ill-equipped for the challenges of life.
20 Give thanks for the beginning of spring, with its newness, hope and increasing light, and reflect with wonder and awe on God’s creation.
21 Pray for all who suffer, grieve or lose hope; ask God to grant them relief, comfort and lasting hope through the indwelling of God’s spirit; and pledge them our concern, assistance, encouragement and care.
22 Pray for rostered ministers and lay leaders servingethnic-specific and culturally diverse congregations and ministries throughout the ELCA; ask God to equip, sustain and enthuse them for serving where God is at work in the world.
23 Give thanks and praise to God, who is our light and salvation, the stronghold of our lives and the source of our courage and confidence.
24 Remember in prayer Stephen Deal (ELCA regional representative in Central America), the Lutheran World Federation’s Central America program and our companion churches in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica as they strive to share God’s love and participate in God’s mission together.
25 Pray that the Holy Spirit will teach us anew what it means to be humble, loving, hopeful and engaged with the world for the well-being of our neighbor.
26Pray that, during Lent, our traditions, rituals and practices will be grounded in Scripture and Lutheran theology but also dynamic, connecting thoughtfully across the past, present and future.
27 What does your soul thirst for? Call on the Lord to satisfy your soul and sustain you with unwavering love.
28 Pray for farmers and ranchers, whose work follows the seasons, as spring beckons them to prepare the soil, plant and harvest crops, and tend to herds and orchards. Give recognition and thanks for all who have a hand in bringing food from field to table; pray that our abundant food resources reach those who are hungry and live in poverty; and pray that our agricultural technologies continue to evolve so we can feed the world while also stewarding creation.
29Reflect on God’s words: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Pray that, as attentive believers and disciples, we listen to and learn from God, the Spirit working to shape and reshape us throughout our baptismal journey.
30 Pray that, throughout Lent, we stay focused on the cross and Easter for the light, truth and good news of Jesus Christ that propel us forward in our baptismal journey with hope and joy.
31 Recall and give thanks for the experiences and people in daily life that shake us up, leading us to grow in faith and recenter our lives in God’s grace.
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