illumination: stale minds & slowly-beating hearts




fill our lungs and lives with your energizing presence;

refresh our stale minds;

and stir our slowly-beating hearts;

so that we may humbly and courageously

be your breathing, gusting, good presence in the world.



Submitted by Scott Cervas, pastor at Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY)


call to worship and prayer of approach – why have you come?

submitted by Gord Waldie, St. Paul’s United Church, Grande Prairie, Alberta

Call to Worship

People of God! Why have you come?
We have come to celebrate God’s healing presence among us.
Servants of God! Why have you come?
We have come to be refreshed, to be renewed, to be sent out.
Children of God! Why have you come?
We have come to worship together.
Then let us do so with joy and gladness.

Prayer of Approach

Gracious God, once again you have called us together in this place.
Here we open our hearts and lives before you, here we seek to hear Your life-giving Word.
God in this time of song and prayer and speech,
open our very souls to receive your challenge, open our wills to accept your instruction. Turn our mourning into dancing, replace our sackcloths with garments of joy.
And when our time of worship is ended,
lead us back out into the world to share the Good News with the world around us.
We pray in the name of the One who brought Your healing love, Jesus of Nazareth.

a short pastoral prayer

submitted by Rev. Sarah Wiles, Bethany Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, Washington

Author’s note: This prayer is especially appropriate for weeks with communion. It follows a time of sharing joys and concerns. It needs to be spoken slowly.

. . . All this and much more we bring you, O bright Morning Star.

Our gratitude and praise for this new day, for each new day,

Our joys, our hopes, our fears, our pain, we bring it all to you, because we cannot carry it alone.

We bring you our darkness and ask that you would shine anew.

We bring you our long night and ask that you would be the dawn.

We bring you prayers for which we scarce have words and trust that you will pray for us.

We pray as you taught us, saying…

Echoes of the Lord’s Prayer by Laura Viau

Submitted by Laura Viau, Orlando, FL, MDiv student at Dubuque Theological Seminary

As we come before you, Lord, there is a part of me that can’t help but feel the eagerness of a child, running and leaping into the arms of a loving parent to talk. And yet that nagging question remains – who am I that the Creator of the Universe and Lord of all Lords would know me? And care about me? About each and every one of us?
You placed the Sun, moon and stars in the sky
You created every form of life on earth and everywhere there is life
You are were before time, in time and will remain beyond time…
and that is only the beginning of the mysteries that surround you.
And yet…

By sending Jesus, your Son, you have invited us into a loving, intimate and real relationship. And through his teachings, you encourage us to bring our needs before you.

We are invited to ask for daily bread.
For ourselves and the people around us. For the people in places where droughts, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis have kept farmers from producing enough food.
Lord, in your mercy, feed those who are hungry, whether they are within walking distance of us or half-way around the globe. May we who have more than enough be more than aware, may we be generous and compassionate as you are with us. Lead us into the lives of the hungry, lost and left behind, that we might offer them a meal and the Bread of Life.

We are invited to pray for deliverance from the times of trial, those times that reveal the evil and brokenness that seeks to rule this world.
Lord, in your mercy, show us the ways that we buy into evil too easily. Search our hearts and reveal to us the hatred, fear, jealousy, selfishness and self-righteousness that lead us to behave in ways that glorify ourselves or the world instead of you and your Kingdom. In the name of the true Light of the World, may we shine the light of love into the darkest places.

We are invited to pray for forgiveness of debts, for the year of jubilee that brings relief not only to ourselves but those who owe debts to us.
Lord, in your mercy, reveal to us our true indebtedness. The myriad ways you have paid our way in this world. Not so that we can attempt to buy our way out through good works and kind words, but so that we can give our whole-hearted thanks to you in word and deed. May we be as generous with others as you have been with us, offering forgiveness, love, hope and grace where anger, resentment and rejection are expected.

We are invited to ask for shelter and protection in those moments we are afraid of life.
And those moments we are afraid of death.
Lord, in your mercy, send your Spirit to comfort us and remind us that in life and in death we belong to you. On this day in particular we ask you to be with…
(insert specific names, details, as appropriate)
We entrust their lives to you, believing your promise to hear us when we gather and agree in prayer together.

We are challenged to let go of our will and trust in your will.
For our lives and livelihoods, for our families and friends, for our country and for this world.
Lord, in your mercy, help our unbelief. Help us truly let go of the desires we have that are tinged by our residence in this world. Help us to embrace your desires for this world and live as though we are already in the Kingdom to come.

We lift our hearts to you, giving you glory, honor and praise. And we give you every need, every desire, every dream in the name of Jesus the Christ.

AMEN (or lead into Lord’s Prayer)

Prayers of the People – submitted by Carol Howard Merritt

Submitted by Carol Howard Merritt, Pastor, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., author, blogger, speaker

We praise you, Creator God,
In whom we live and move and have our being,
We join all of creation in worship,
As the trees lift their bare branches,
The sky reveals your changing glory, and
The birds find warmth.
As we gather today,
Help us to remember the rhythm of winter,
That often calls us to rest as our internal work is done.

We praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ,
Who proclaimed the message of your love.
Who brought healing to the brokenhearted,
Relief to the fevered,
Peace to the haunted, and
Wholeness to wounded
As we gather today,
Help us to remember the hope we have in our Savior,
That invites us to pray for one another.

[Specific requests may be entered here]

We praise you for your Holy Spirit,
Who draws us to this common place.
Your Spirit moves in and among your gathered people,
Opening bleary eyes,
Comforting the grieving hearts, and
Challenging us to be partners in God’s saving work.
As we gather today,
Help us to be strengthened and renewed,
So that we might serve you, Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer – Based on Psalm 111

Submitted by Laura Viau, Orlando, FL (MDiv student at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary)

With our whole hearts, we praise you, Lord.
We lift up our alleluias as people who gather to sing and proclaim,
As people who gather to confess and to remember Your redeeming work
As people who gather read and tell of your mighty works,
of your faithfulness and
of your grace.

All glory belongs to you, God.
You are gracious and compassionate.
You provide for us all that we need,
Remembering your promise to hear when we call,
To answer when we knock, and
To reveal yourself when we seek you.

You have revealed your power to us in so many ways:
You heal the sick
You calm the frightened
You bring peace to the grieving
You change the course of our lives

We ask that you reveal you power again today for those on our hearts and minds….

We lift these names to you. To you they are much more than names-
They are your precious children
They are parents, sisters, brothers, children, bosses, employees, aunts, uncles…
They are yours. You know every detail of their lives, far better than we do.
You know their needs.

We can trust you with our prayers,
not only because we know you have the power to answer,
but because we have seen that you are faithful and just.
The promises we claim today are the same as those your
people have claimed across the generations

Through your Son, you have redeemed your people.
You bring beauty and good from what we -in our brokenness and ignorance –
have intended for evil.
And in time, you will redeem the world,
Bringing an end to death
And the beginning of an eternity of worship
When every tribe, tongue and nation will sing songs of praise

Until then, we wait.

Help us not to spend our days looking up at the sky.
Send your Spirit that we might see the world as you do,
Fill us with your compassion for those in need
Of shelter, of a friend, or of an advocate
Send us to the brokenhearted, the discarded
and those who are hungry for the transformation only you can bring.

While our hearts cry Come Lord Jesus,
let our hands reveal your presence in the world we inhabit.

We ask these things in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray saying
Our Father, who art in heaven….

prayer of illumination for Christmastide

submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York

God of light,
you have revealed your very self to us in your son Jesus Christ,
your one Word made flesh, who lived among us, full of grace and truth.
Open us to your revelation once again,
that in the words of your holy scripture
we might know your presence and follow in your light always.


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