Prayers for the Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost (C) – Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Scriptures:
2 Timothy 1:1-14 (p. 842)
Luke 17:5-10* (p. 741)
 

Call to Worship:
Leader:         Lord, give us faith that we might live as servants in honor of the risen One.
People:        All glory and honor and strength and power belong to our God forever.
Leader:         For the King of Glory came not to be served, but humbled himself in service to others.
All:                 Lord, give us faith to live for the honor of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Servant King.
-Prepared by Michael Howard

Opening Prayer:
Almighty God,
unto whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hid;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy Name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
-From Word and Table I, UM Hymnal p. 6.
 
 

Prayer for Illumination
Living God,
Your Word is alive and powerful.
For it calls us to be more than we are,
to humble ourselves in service and love.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
open our hearts and minds,
that, as the Scriptures are read and your Word proclaimed,
we may hear with joy what you say to us today.
Amen.
- Adapted by Michael Howard from Word and Table I, UM Hymnal p. 6.

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Prayers for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (C) – Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Scriptures:
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Luke 16:1-13*

Call to Worship:
Leader:         Come, let us offer our lives in thanksgiving!
People:        Let us come with clean hands and hearts eager to serve.
Leader:         Let us be faithful with all we have been given.
People:        Let us be faithful with the small things, and show that we are trustworthy.
Leader:         For the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
All:                 Let us offer our lives in thanksgiving to God!
- Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard.

Opening Prayer:
Almighty God,
by your Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
you have given your people many excellent gifts.
Give your grace to us,
your people whom you have called into service,
that we may with diligence and faithfulness
live worthy of the calling to which you have called us.
Grant that we, your people, may follow where you lead,
perfect our ministries,
and live in joyful obedience to your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Adapted by Michael Anthony Howard from the “The Order for Ordination of Deacons,” UMBOW 663.

Prayer of Confession
O holy and merciful God,
we confess that we have not been faithful
with what we have been given;
Yet, we continually ask for more.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us we pray.
Restore to us the joy of our salvation,
that we may live as your people of light;
seeking your face and not just your hand.
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Adapted by Michael Howard, based on Luke 16 and UMBOW 33, “Service of Word and Table 1”.

Words of Assurance
Leader: Hear the good news of the gospel of life: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
People: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
All:         Glory to God in the highest! Amen!
- Prepared by Michael Howard.

Prayer for Illumination
Eternal God,
we thank you that Christ your living Word
speaks to us through the words of Holy Scripture,
written of old by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit.
Today, as your Word is read and preached,
purify the lives and lips of those who speak here,
that your Word alone may be proclaimed
and your Word alone may be heard and obeyed,
that we, your people, may live faithfully with all we have been given.
May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to you, our Rock and our Redeemer,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Adapted by Michael Anthony Howard from “Consecration of the Pulpit,” UMBOW 639.

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Prayers for the Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost (C) – Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Scriptures:
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-10*

Call to Worship:
Leader:         Sing to the Lord a new song. Today is the day of our salvation!
People:        For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised!
Leader:         Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad!
People:        What was lost has been found! The dead has come to life!
All:                 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised!
- Prepared by Michael Howard. From Psalm 96 and Luke 15.

Opening Prayer:
O God who is greater than our hearts,
our hearts are ever restless until we find rest in you.
Without you we are lost and unable to please you.
When we are lost and wander alone in the world,
your mercy beckons us and your grace always finds us;
For heaven and earth rejoice when one of your lost is found.
Mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit
may in all things direct and rule our hearts.
Through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
one God, now and forever.
-Prepared by Michael Howard from 1 John 3:20, Luke 15, and St. Augustine’s Confessions.

Prayer of Confession
O holy and merciful God,
we confess that we have turned our eyes off of you.
We have drifted from your guidance,
and we are no longer living in pursuit of your Kingdom.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us we pray.
Rescue us, your beloved ones, from this lonely place of wandering
and free us for joyful obedience,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Adapted by Michael Howard, based on Luke 15 and UMBOW 33, “Service of Word and Table 1”.

Words of Assurance
Leader: Behold the depth of the love of our God! Hear the good news of the gospel of life: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
People: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
All:         Glory to God in the highest! Amen!
- Prepared by Michael Howard.

Prayer for Illumination
Gracious God, you are always more willing to give than we are to receive.
As the scripture is read and your message is proclaimed,
by the power of your pursuing grace,
open our hearts and our minds to your love,
that regardless of the distances our hearts have drifted,
we may be recipients of your love
and transformed by your word.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
-Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard.

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Prayers for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Scriptures:
James 5:13-20*
Mark 9:38-50

Call to Worship:
Leader:  May this place be a house of prayer and praise. To those who have come bearing heavy loads, let us offer our hand to help you carry them along. To those who have come with joy and happiness, let us offer to God songs of praise and thanksgiving.
People: For when we have troubles, we pray together; when we are happy, we sing praises together.
All: Amen! Amen! The joy of the Lord is our strength, and our praises reach higher than the heavens. Christ is our righteousness, and our prayers are powerful and effective.
-Prepared by Michael Howard

Opening Prayer:
Strong covenant God, save us from being self-centered in our prayers, and teach us to remember to pray for others. May we be so bound up in love with those for whom we pray that we may feel their needs as acutely as our own, and intercede for them with sensitiveness, with understanding and with imagination. This we ask in Christ’s name. Amen.
-From UM Book of Worship, #518

Prayer of Confession
We your people confess O God, that we need your Word to be lively, active, and powerful. May the power of your Word enable us to look beyond the faults of others long enough to recognize our own faults. Nothing is hidden from you O God. Yet, we come confidently to your throne of grace because Jesus Christ, our great high priest has gone before us. We ask that you forgive us, cleanse us, and heal us in the name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.
-Adapted by Efrain Zavala, based on “We need your Word,” The Africana Worship Book for year B, p. 162.

Words of Assurance
Know that God pays attention to the prayers of a broken heart and is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Live now as people restored by the Lord, ready and willing to serve.
-Prepared by Efrain Zavala

Prayer for Illumination
Living God,
Form us to be a community that hears your Word,
that in hearing, we may truly understand;
Enable us to be a community of sincere understanding,
that in our understanding, we may truly believe;
Empower us to be a community of believers,
that in believing, we may live together in faithfulness,
seeking to be your people in all that we do.
Amen.
- Prepared by Michael Howard

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Prayers for the Seventeenth Sunday of Pentecost – Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Scriptures:
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37*

Call to Worship:
Leader: God of Compassion, allow us to experience today the abundance of your Love.

People: We are in awe of your presence; our whole being longs for your peace.

Leader: What a great mystery you have revealed to us: that whoever wants to be first must become a servant; and whoever wants to lead, must follow.

People: We follow You God. Wherever you are, we want to be; whoever you love, we want to love also.

Leader: You have made of children an example, granting them entrance to your Kingdom.

All: You have taught children and infants to testify of your strength, shouting the songs that drown out enemy babble.
-Prepared by Efrain Zavala (with additions inspired by Psalm 8, from The Message).

Opening Prayer:
Almighty God,
unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hid:
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may welcome children in your name,
and in doing so, that we may perfectly love you;
for you have said, “Whoever welcomes a child in my name welcomes me.”
In Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen.
-Adapted by Michael Howard, based on Mark 9:37,  from “Service of Word and Table IV”, UMBOW, p. 42.

Prayer of Confession
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
We acknowledge that we often seek to be first,
Rather than following your example that we should be servants of all.
Yet, in your great mercy you have promised forgiveness of sins
to all who heartily repent, have true faith, and turn to you.
Have mercy upon us;
pardon and deliver us from our need to be first;
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness;
and bring us to everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Adapted by Michael Howard, based on Mark 9:35 and UMBOW 45, “Service of Word and Table IV”.

Words of Assurance
Leader: Hear the Good News! As Christ has welcomed the child, we, too, may approach God’s throne if we come as children.
All: Behold, what love the Father has for us, that we should be called the children of God.
-Prepared by Michael Howard, based on Mark 9 and 1 John 3:1.

Prayer for Illumination
Gracious God, give us humble, teachable, and docile hearts,
so that as Scriptures are read and your Word proclaimed in this place
we may receive what you have revealed, and do what you have commanded. Amen.
- Prepared by Efrain Zavala.

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Prayers for the Sixteenth Sunday of Pentecost – Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Scriptures:
James 3:1-12
Mark 8:27-38*

Call to Worship:
Leader: In moments of struggle and pain, when our enemies spread and our strengths decline-
when sickness and darkness abide, give us the strength to declare that which we hold to be true.
People: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
Leader: When things go on as we planned; when our needs are met and our tears wiped away from our eyes-
in moments of wellness and light, we’ll continue declaring as one.
All: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
- Prepared by Efrain Zavala

Opening Prayer:
God of glory and mercy,
before his death in shame your Son went to the mountain top,
and you revealed his life in glory.
Where prophets witnessed to him, you proclaimed him your Son,
But he returned to die among us.
And now, as we call on him as our Messiah,
help us face evil with courage,
knowing that all things, even death,
are subject to your transforming power.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Adapted by Michael Howard from James F. White, in the United Methodist Book of Worship, 319.

Prayer of Confession
O holy and merciful God,
we confess that we have turned our eyes off of you.
Our minds have been set on human things,
rather than on your Kingdom.
Thus, we have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Let us not gain the world and forfeit our life,
but rest all that we are upon you.
Forgive us we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Adapted by Michael Howard, based on Mark 8:27-38 and UMBOW 33, “Service of Word and Table 1”.

Words of Assurance
Leader: Behold the depth of the love of our God. Hear the good news: In the name of Jesus who is our Messiah, you are forgiven!
People: In the name of Jesus, our Messiah, you are forgiven!
All: Glory to God in the highest! Amen!
- Prepared by Michael Howard.

Prayer for Illumination
Gracious God, you are always more willing to give than we are to receive.
As the scripture is read and your message is proclaimed in this place,
open our hearts and our minds to your will
so that we may be doers of your word, and not only listeners.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
- Prepared by Efrain Zavala.

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Prayers for the Fifteenth Sunday of Pentecost – Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Scriptures:
James 2:1-10
*Mark 7:24-37

Call to Worship:
Leader:         With all our heart, we take refuge in God most high, who created all things and is the source of all goodness.
People:       With all our heart, we take refuge in Christ, who redeems us from sin and restores our true nature.
Leader:         With all our heart, we take refuge in the One who embraces the universe, who at all times and in all places responds to our needs.
People:        With all our heart, we rejoice in our God, our very present help in times of need.
- Adapted by Michael Anthony Howard from Karl Ludvig Reichelt, Christian Mission to Buddhists, Hong Kong (United Methodist Book of Worship 457).

Opening Prayer:
O God, whose touch we desperately need,
as we come into your holy presence today,
make us sensitive to all the evidences of your goodness.
May we have the faith to pray as we should,
knowing you hear our prayers,
trusting that your love is always with us
and being always aware of your Spirit that is present to comfort us.
May we, trusting in you,
be free from terror of death,
free to live intensely and happily
the life you have given us.
Amen.
-Adapted by Michael Howard from Rubem Alves, Brazil from I believe in the resurrection of the body, quoted in the United Methodist Hymnal 360.

Prayer for Illumination
Almighty God who hears our prayers, in you we find hope; in you we find peace. Open our eyes that we may see the depths of your love, the abundance of your mercy, the boundlessness of your grace. As the scripture is read and your Word proclaimed, may we come to trust that you are leading us, that we may freely choose the path to which you have called us, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard.

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Prayers for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (B) – Sunday, September 2, 2012

Scriptures:
*James 1:17-27 (p. 854)
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 (p. 712)

Call to Worship:
Leader:         Every good and perfect gift comes from the Lord of all creation.
People:        Yes, the Lord is good, his love is never fails, he is faithful through all generations.
Leader:         God’s love is our light; his Word of our life; he does not change like shifting shadows.
People:        Let us, then, remember all he has done, being not hearers only, but doers who follow.
- Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard from James 1:17-27 and Psalm 100.

Opening Prayer:
Faithful and ever loving God,
as we gather in worship, shine your heavenly light upon us,
that through your Word of truth we would be given life once more.
By the power of your Spirit,
draw us closer to you, that we might be enamored with your love,
and found faithful to you, living not only as hearers of the Word,
but as those whose faith is made perfect in our actions.
Grant that in all our words and deeds
we may become all we were created to be and begin to live as a kind of first fruits of your creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
-Adapted by Michael Howard for James 1:17-27.
 

Prayer of Confession
O holy and merciful God,
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have been unwilling to listen, eager to speak, and easily angered,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not cared for widows and orphans in their distress.
Thus, we have been stained by the world, and we find ourselves distant from you.
Forgive us we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Adapted by Michael Howard, from UMBOW 33, “Service of Word and Table 1”.
Words of Assurance
Leader:           Children of the light and receivers of the promises of God, hear the Good News: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
People:          Oh, what love the Father has for us, that we should be called the Children of God.
All:                   Glory to God! Amen!
- Adapted by Michael Howard, from James 1:17-27.
Prayer for Illumination
O Giver of Heavenly Lights,
by you the meek are guided in judgment,
and light  rises up in darkness for the godly.
As the scripture is read and your Word proclaimed,
let us be reminded of the freedom you have offered to us.
Grant us, in all doubts and uncertainties,
the grace to ask what you would have us do,
that we may be saved from all false choices,
and that in your light we may see light,
and in your straight path may not stumble;
through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Amen
- Adapted by Michael Howard, from UMBOW 525 “For Wisdom”.

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Prayers for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (B) – Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Scriptures:
* Ephesians 6:10-20 (p. 830)
John 6:56-69 (p. 756)

Call to Worship:
Leader:  The grace of God reigns in this place. Let us stand firm on the promises of God.
People:  The grace of God reigns in this place. We stand firm on the gospel of peace.
Leader:  Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! For He is our strength and our shield, our very help in times of need.
People:  The Lord is our light and our salvation—whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid?
Leader:  The joy of the Lord is our strength, our song. Our armor is the truth of God’s Word.
People:  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of evil that threaten our peace.
All:          Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! His delight is our strength! Hallelujah! His joy is our song!
– Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard from Ephesians 6:10-20, Ps 28:7, Nehemiah 8:10.

Opening Prayer:
God of grace and God of power,
shield us with your goodness and grace from all that threatens to do us harm,
that we might be ready with all of our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strength
to love you and joyfully do all you have commanded;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen
- Prepared by Michael Howard, based on “For Safety” (UMBOW 523) and Deuteronomy 6:5.
Prayer of Confession:
We are reluctant, O Author of Love,
to set aside our hurt, our anger, our disappointment, our pain.
We have treated our neighbors as our enemies,
rather than as those you have called us to love, to bless, to encourage, to serve.
Heal us with your tender touch,
that we might be cleansed of all unclean thoughts,
all schemes of revenge, all hope of vindictive retribution.
Teach us again that our battle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the powers of evil that bring hatred and anger, sin and shame.
Open our eyes to the power of love,
shown to us in the unselfish sacrifice
of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
-Prepared by Michael Howard based on Michael J. O’Donnel (UMBOW 491) and Ephesians 6:12.

Words of Assurance
Leader:      Hear, now, the message of the gospel of peace! Christ loved us and offered up his life for us, that we might offer up our lives for each other! In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
People:      In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
All:              Glory to God. Amen
– Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard, from 1 John 3:16.

Prayer for Illumination
Lord, as the Scriptures are read
and your Word proclaimed,
open our eyes that we might see you leading us;
our ears that we might hear your voice calling us;
our minds that we might understand your will for us;
and our hearts that we might be moved to service;
by the power of your Holy Spirit
that is at work in us, that we might live to the praise of your glorious grace. Amen.
– Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard, from Ephesians 1:6.

Hymn suggestions:
UMH 374 – Standing on the Promises
UMH 514 – Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus
*UMH 154 – All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
*UMH 402 – Lord I want to be a Christian
*UMH 310 – He Lives

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Prayers for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (B) – August 5, 2012

Scriptures:
*Ephesians 4:1-13 (p. 828)
John 6:24-35 (p. 755)

Call to Worship:
Leader: With one hope and one faith, united we come to worship the Lord who saves us.
People: Give us that hope Lord, for which were called, one voice to sing forth Your praises.
Leader: God has called us to be the Body of Christ and equipped us with gifts for service,
People: To speak the truth in love, to be built up in love, to be joined together in worship.
Leader: In Christ we are one, for the Lord our God is one, united we harken to his call.
All: For the Lord is our God, the Lord is King, who is above all and through all and in all.
– Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard from Ephesians 4:1-16.

Opening Prayer:
O God, the Giver of life, we pray for the Church throughout the world.
Sanctify its life, renew its worship, empower its witness, restore its unity.
Remove from your people all pride
and every prejudice that dulls their will for unity.
Strengthen the work of all those who strive to seek
that common obedience that will bind us together.
Heal the divisions which separate your children from one another,
that they may keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Amen.
- Prayer used in the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, on the occasion of the visit of Pope John Paul II, United Methodist Book of Worship, 505.

Prayer of Confession:
God of all nations, who is above all and in all,
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole hearts
and we have failed to be an obedient church.
We have been slow to listen and quick to do things our own way;
we have sought to be gifted only to make ourselves comfortable
rather than seeking to be built up for service.
Thus, we have turned from your calling for us to be built up in love.
Forgive us, we pray. Restore us, revive us, and transform us.
Free us for joyful obedience so that we might truly be the Body of Christ, built up in love
and living worthy of the calling we have received.
Through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
-Prepared by Michael Howard from Ephesians 4:1-16

Words of Assurance
Leader: Hear O People of God! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one. He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us so that we might live worthy of our calling. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
People: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
All: Glory to God. Amen
– Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard, from Deuteronomy 6:4, Psalm 145:8 and Ephesians 4:1; 5:1.

Prayer for Illumination
Lord, as the Scriptures are read
and your Word proclaimed,
open our eyes that we might see you leading us;
our ears that we might hear your voice calling us;
our minds that we might understand your will for us;
and our hearts that we might be moved to service;
by the power of your Holy Spirit
that is at work in us, that we might live to the praise of your glorious grace. Amen.
– Prepared by Michael Anthony Howard, from Ephesians 1:6.

Hymn suggestions:
UMH 546 – The Church’s One Foundation
UMH 537 – Filled with the Spirit’s Power
UMH 539 – Here I Am, Lord
UMH 419 – I Am Thine, O Lord
UMH 433 – All Who Love and Serve Your City
UMH 436 – The Voice of God is Calling
UMH 338 – Where He Leads Me

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