Monday, September 11
Bishop David W. Graves
Imagine: By Faith It Can Happen
As the storms of hurricanes rage in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico this day, we turn in faith to you Jesus, and place our faith that in the midst of the storms you are ever present. In this crucial time of discernment for the United Methodist Church, we imagine by faith that your assuring grace would unify our purpose for building Your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
We, in the United Methodist Church, tend to create storms of fear and disunity. Hear our prayers! May we find ourselves empowered by your Holy Spirit focused on the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We seek to imagine by faith, it can happen.
In the words of St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.”
As we seek your way forward for us called United Methodists, we lift before you the members of the Commission on the Way Forward. Pour out your Holy Spirit as they seek to give guidance that by faith, they can begin to imagine your way. We pray for the Council of Bishops that will soon discern efforts that have been completed and work yet to be done.
It may seem to be an overwhelming task, but help us to be a people that imagine by faith. A people unified on mission, led by scripture, so that your will be done!
Tuesday, September 12
Dr. Darren McClellan, Baypines District Superintendent
O God our help in ages past, who has brought light out of darkness and caused the morning to appear, we bless your Holy Name. For you are the God who made something out of nothing, order out of chaos, people from no people. As both Creator and Sustainer, you are the breath of our being.
We remember, Lord, your divine action in human history and give thanks for the gifts of provision and prohibition. From Eden to Gethsemane, you have planted, pruned, and positioned us from the good of your garden. And when our selfishness led us into the wilderness of our own choosing, you raised up reluctant leaders among us who would call us to repent of our sin. Your constant initiative was toward covenant renewal, yet we remained unfaithful. Nevertheless, you responded to our fracture with the fragrance of hesed. Through the law and the prophets, you held us accountable while simultaneously declaring the hope of a new day. Whether we were wandering in the desert or weeping in the cruelty of exile, you were always with us—Emmanuel—holding us together and pointing the way.
In Jesus, you revealed to us again your will for reconciliation; the very embodiment of your directive to the world. “I come to fulfill the law” you said. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” you said. “Blessed are the meek,” you said. “Come to terms quickly with your accuser” you said. “It is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell” you said. “Be perfect” you said, “as your heavenly Father is perfect,” but also “beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them.”
This way is a mystery to us. May it also be a means of grace.
In Jesus, said your servant Paul, are all the riches of assured understanding, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Even so, Lord, we struggle mightily to practice your teaching in this age and within our larger community of the United Methodist Church. What makes perfect sense to some has not made sense to others. We see in the mirror, dimly, knowing only in part. Complicated by our own designs and desires, by our fear and our obstinacy, we confess that your deepest treasures have eluded us. Confounded by the distraction of public opinion, we listen to what you said, but have rarely made peace with what you meant. In result, the insistence of our ways (which are legion) has brought considerable pain and confusion to an already fragmented world.
In Jesus, you asked that we “may all be one.” We are not—and we know it. Forgive us, we pray. Bind our wounds. Heal our witness. Establish your justice. Strengthen and clarify our sense of mission for the glory of your Kingdom.
In this season of disorientation and fatigue, renew our minds to such degree that we actually hear what your Spirit is saying to your Church…and respond accordingly.
Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore.
Let the search for Thy salvation,
Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving Thee Whom we adore,
Serving Thee Whom we adore.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Rev. Allen Newton, Demopolis District Superintendent
The Waymaker Prayer
You have always made a way for your people when there seemed to be none.
Through your hand you made a way when the armies of Pharaoh were bearing down on your people at the Red Sea.
Through fire and cloud you made a way through the wilderness and across the Jordan river to a new land.
Through your law you made a way to live as peculiar people who were set apart to follow you.
Through your priests you made a way for us to worship and know your presence.
Through your prophets you made a way when your people forgot your faithfulness and turned from you.
Through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ, when we were slaves to sin and death, you made a way so that we might be made new and overcome the darkness of this world.
Through the power of your Holy Spirit you have made a way for barriers to be broken and all people to be made one in your love and grace.
Lord you are the Way maker. We have no other to turn to but you.
So today we come with the confidence of children, asking that you would make a way for your people called United Methodists.
We wait upon you and ask that you would guide our leadership and that your will would be done through them.
Give us the courage to follow where you make a way that the world might know that you are the way, the truth and the life.
May your will be done, your kingdom come in us even as it is in heaven.
Wednesday, September 13
Rev. Sara Shaver, Dothan District Superintendent
God of wonder and mystery we give you thanks for your love and mercy. We come before you with hearts filled with anxiety and hope. Anxiety for the news of our nation and the direction for our denomination and hope knowing and trusting in your goodness and faithfulness. We must confess to you, Oh God, that there are times we are more concerned with ourselves and the way in which we have interpreted your Word than in what you are trying to teach us and the way you are seeking to lead us.
We pray for those who have committed to meeting together and seeking an answer for the Way Forward. Open their minds and hearts to the diversity that sits around their table and enable them to hear, with ears to hear, your Holy Spirit speaking through each of them. Enable them to feel the prayers that we lift up surrounding them that they might be strengthened in their work, that they might know that we place our trust in you and their ability to hear your still small voice guiding them.
We give you thanks for the people called United Methodist, for the ways in which we reach out to those who are in need, the ways in which we seek to alleviate the pain of hunger, homelessness, and disease that so many feel in our world, the ways we are seeking to find new and creative ways to share your love that more of our children might know the Good News of Jesus Christ and the ways that together we worship and grow in our love and understanding of you.
Bless our churches, bless our leaders and especially today bless those who sit at the table seeking to prepare a plan that we might move forward as The United Methodist Church.
Amen and amen.
Dr. Doug Pennington, Marianna-Panama City District
Dear God our creator and father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
We come to you in need of direction and discernment. We come confidently, knowing your love for your church, your perfect wisdom, and your willingness to answer us when we come with a genuine desire to know your will. We pray for the future of our church, the United Methodist Church. This is YOUR church, bought with your blood and empowered by your Holy Spirit. During this season we pray specifically for the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops, and the upcoming General Conference in 2019. Anoint every member of these bodies with your Holy Spirit. Use their individual gifts, graces, wisdom, and experiences for your purpose in their deliberation. May they function according to your Lordship, not according to their personal preferences. Guide them collectively to see a way through our human impasse to a future that will honor you, will be true to your scriptures, and will extend your love and grace to all.
Through the ages we see how you have led your church through multiple crises that threatened the very future of the body of Christ. Yet you have been true to your word. Your church has endured and will endure. Free us from fear. Free us all from the myopia of our own agendas. Enable us to put our confidence in the person of your son Jesus Christ and not in any human institution. Fill us with a passion for your kingdom, which cannot fail and will not end. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our savior and the Lord of the church.
Thursday, September 14
Dr. Debora Bishop, Mobile District Superintendent
Good morning God. We are grateful we can talk to you today. We have committed to pray this week for your church, our church, The United Methodist Church. We have a history with you – a history that spans centuries and the globe. It is a good history. We began because a servant of yours wanted to reach people who were not welcome or could not get dressed up enough or were not able to get off work to attend worship. So, our founder went into the community. Our name was meant to be an insult but we have claimed it as an opportunity. This week we come together as a connected people – The Alabama-West Florida Conference and we lift up our efforts to be your church in our community and the world today. We pray for the Commission on the Way Forward. We add to that prayer our desire to respond to any decisions made in a way that will glorify you. There is so much division. So much name calling. So much anger. So much extremism. We know you left your Holy Spirit with us to guide and sustain us and we ask now for your guidance and your peace for our way forward. Help us to see each other as you see us and to love each other as you love us. We are not always good at that. We look for differences instead of looking for your image. On our knees, either physically or in our hearts, we ask forgiveness. And knowing your forgiveness we pray we will truly repent – turn to you – and genuinely focus on you, our great God who sent your only Son so we might know you now and for eternity. Thank you for loving us. We love you. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Dr. Jeff Wilson, Montgomery-Opelika District Superintendent
Holy God, King of kings, and Lord of lords we pause this day to pray for the ministry and the people of The United Methodist Church. You have called us to be light and love in this world, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, and to make disciples of all people. While we claim the power of the call, we also acknowledge that we are broken people. We do not know the way to move forward. We do not know what is next for our beloved church. At times, we are afraid of what might lie ahead. May your Holy Spirit be at work among us. Give us wisdom; give us power; give us humility; give us vision. Open our hearts, our souls, and our spirits to your leading. Teach us to disagree in holy ways, that in all that we do and say, your name would be honored. Fulfill, again, the words of your prophet Isaiah:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Friday, September 15
Rev. John Brooks, Montgomery-Prattville District Superintendent
God of grace, power and love you are awesome. As we pray we give you thanks for your love, grace and mercy. Because we know how important it is to have you invited into all that we are and do, we continue the cycle of prayers already prayed for your guidance of the Holy Spirit for the Council of Bishops, the conferences episcopal leaders and district leaders of the denomination as we move forward. Please grant the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the work that is being done to glorify the presence of your love for all of your children. It is in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, I pray that your will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Rev. Tim Trent, Pensacola District Superintendent
O God, you have promised that if with all our hearts we truly seek you, we shall ever surely find you. With all our hearts, we seek you now even as we know you are seeking us. We thank you for your goodness to us. May we try more consistently to deserve it. We thank you for treating us better than we deserve. Help us to treat each other in the same way.
Father, we need your forgiveness. We have done things that we should not have done. We can’t even plead ignorance. We knew what was right and did what we knew was wrong. We need your cleansing.
Deeds unkind, words untrue, thoughts unclean: the stain of these is on us all. When we contrast our moral shabbiness with your holiness, Father, we are ashamed. Create in us a clean heart and mind. What in us is dark, illumine; what is low, raise and support.
Father, we need your peace; that peace that passes all understanding. In a troubled, strife-torn world we need that peace that the world cannot bestow. We know that all peace comes from you. We also know that there can be no peace in the world or the church until there is first peace in each of us. May your peace enfold us, calm, compose, and quiet us as we continually seek your presence.
O God, grant that in our hearts there may be no bitterness toward anyone, and help us remember that we cannot be at one with you, if we are not one with our fellowman. Take from us the critical and fault-finding spirit, so that we may really be your church. Give to us the spirit of love, forgiveness, acceptance, welcoming and encouragement, so that your great church will be a true representation of your spirit.
O God, open our eyes that we may see. Open our minds that we may think. Open our ears that we may hear. Open our mouths that we may speak of your great love, peace and forgiveness. Open our hearts that we my love. Open our hands that we may serve and embrace one another in acceptance and thanksgiving.
We ask these and all things in the strong and mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen