Prayer is the simplest form of speech, which infant lips can try; / Prayer the sublimest strains that reach the Majesty on High.
As part of the service I wrote a prayer on intercession based on two of the Beatitudes. The reason for this approach was my feeling that prayers of intercession can be dominated by whatever is most urgent in our own lives, or in the headline news of the day as it saturates our awareness with images and sound bytes about the awfulness of the world. By using the words of Jesus there is some attempt at content control that is more than the loudest daily sound byte and less than a comprehensive listing of all that's wrong in the world. In other words if the Beatitudes articulate the values and goals of the Kingdom of God, then they have the capacity to carry the freight of our prayers as children of that Kingdom.
Did it work? Who knows what in our prayers ever "works"? And who knows what "works" would look like in any case as we engage in conversation and heart work with God? But as a way of praying Scripture, of allowing the words of the Bible to inform and direct our praying, it did gather our attentiveness to the experience of people in other parts of this God-loved world. This God of love and reconciliation, of justice and righteousness, revealed in the redeeming vulnerability of Jesus crucified and in the risen life of the crucified, this God whose eternal purpose is the reconciliation and renewal of all things, is the one to whom we pray. What happens to our prayers, and to those for whom we pray, is best left to the loving wisdom of our God.
The two Beatitudes used were about peacemakers and the persecuted. Here is the prayer that was in two sections, intersected by singing the Taize 'Kyrie Eleison' as the congregational response.
The Beatitudes and Our Prayers of Intercession
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.
Peacemaking God, in Christ you were reconciling the world to yourself.
We pray for a world unreconciled in itself, the countries and peoples of
Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Pakistan, Israel and Gaza, Nigeria and Libya:
where for generations fear and anger has blinded and divided communities;
where grievances suffered and suffering inflicted leaves legacies of hate and suspicion;
where history overshadows the present, and violence silences voices for peace.
Help us to trust the subversive wisdom of your Spirit,
teach us to speak the language of hope;
as your Spirit brooded upon the waters of chaos,
enshadow the countries and communities in chronic conflict, with mercy and justice, and peace.
Prince of Peace and Living Lord – Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy
Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake and the Gospel’s:
O Lord of life and peace, who reconciles through the blood of the cross,
We pray for Christians throughout the world who are persecuted for your sake.
In India and Pakistan, where fundamentalist violence breaks out against small churches;
For Christians in Gaza, in Iraq and in Syria, caught up in the violence and hatred of war, persecuted because of their faith in you, targeted by militant and violent groups:
In all their suffering strengthen their faith, and give assurance of your presence, your help and your deliverance.
Keep us faithful in our prayers, grateful for every opportunity to witness as ministers of reconciliation in our place and time – at work, in our neighbourhood, in our families.
Restore our saltness, brighten our light, renew our lives in the love and peace and joy of Christ - Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy