What I've Been Praying for New City
This is the prayer I prayed in worship on Sunday. It's fairly reflective of what I have been praying for New City generally, and for all of you in particular. Perhaps you could join me in praying this for our church? It's based on Galatians 5:22-23.
Father, as we continue in your presence this morning, we are thankful for the Holy Spirit in our lives. As Marc will talk about in a few moments, when Jesus left earth, he did not leave the church alone, but he left a Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to come guide and lead us. And it’s even better than that. The Spirit comes to live in us. That means that you are more present to us now God than even you were to the disciples when Jesus walked among them. The disciples stood next to Jesus, but by the Spirit you live in us. That’s an extraordinary thing, and we don’t quite understand it. But even in our ignorance, we want to live out of the power of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. So even this morning, begin to work mightily to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our church and in us as individuals.
Make us a people known for our love. You have loved us first. And out of that love, cause us to love one another in such a way that the world takes notice. Help us to bear one another’s burdens, to sacrifice time and energy (and maybe even money) to bless others. If our church could be known for anything, would you make us known for being a people who love well.
Cause us to be a people of joy. The Westminster Catechism says the chief end of man is tto glorify God and enjoy him forever. That’s astounding - joy is part of our fundamental calling as a people. Melt our cynicism and apathy. Cause us to throw off the shackles off sophistication, disinterestedness and stoicism. Let us laugh hard and often. Help us to enjoy the world you’ve made - holiday weekends and sunshine and good food and the company of others. Make us known for joy and lightheartedness and the ability to not take ourselves too seriously.
Make us a people of peace. We have peace with you through the blood of Christ. Help us to live as peacemakers. The news cycle lives on controversy and strife. And we learn at an early age to be invigorated by antagonism and anger. But make us people who reconcile relationships rather than drive a wedge in them. May we repent of our gossip, our bitterness, our lack of charity toward others. Cause us to want to win people, not arguments. And position us to bring people together rather than drive them apart.
May we be people of patience. If there ever was a miraculous quality of the Spirit, this is it. We can’t muster this one on our own. Help us to be patient with ourselves as we struggle for incremental change in our lives. May we remember it is direction not perfection that matters in growth. And give us patience and forbearance with one another. Never let us expect perfection from other people in this church (that will crush a body, if people think they need to have it all together to be here), and give us patience with the church as a whole, as we bumble and stumble around trying to figure out what it means to celebrate Christ and serve Cincinnati.
Make us people who are kind. Show us what it means to extend practical kindness in our daily lives. A smile, a phone call, a note, a dinner invitation, a "check in" with a hurting friend. Make us a kind church, a winsome community. We pray there would be some, even this summer, who may not know much about Jesus, but would be attracted to the kindness of this body, and would get to know Jesus as a result. For as Paul says, the kindness of God leads to repentance.
We pray for goodness - not just in our deeds, but in our thoughts and attitudes. Help us to think of noble things, truthful things, beautiful things. And may that then affect the way we love and care for others. Spirit, we pray for faithfulness. As a community, we want to stay committed to helping people connect to God, to a community, and to mission. There’s always a temptation to do more, to justify our existence by having a ton of things on the calendar. But help us to stay on mission and faithful to the things we believe are our calling as a church. And in the lean months, where we don’t see a lot of fruit, give us faithfulness to keep plugging away at the right things. And turn those lean months in rich harvests.
May we be gentle. Churches care for people’s souls. That’s a delicate thing. It requires the knowledge and expression of truth, like a surgeon’s training. But it also requires precision and tact, like a surgeon’s gentle and steady hand. May we value both and truth and gentleness, and not one or the other. Help us to counsel one another well, and follow Jesus, that Great Physician of the Soul, who always spoke the truth, but was known for his gentleness and compassion.
Lastly, we pray for self control. Without it, we’ll only do what we desire in the moment. We want more than that. We want to live for bigger things than what we feel in a given moment. So give us self control so that we might posture ourselves for growth (practicing spiritual disciplines like Bible reading and prayer, and regular repentance for sin). Help us to control our tongues, which so often get us in trouble when we say things we shouldn’t.
Come Holy Spirit. Change us, renew us. Make us different. We pray these things at the Father’s invitation, by the power of the Spirit, and in the name of Jesus. Amen.