Pray for churches
As we enter into this Christmas season, we praise you, God, that you give us the opportunity to proclaim "Joy to the City of London - the Lord has come " by all that we do and say. May your will be done in our celebrations of your birth just as it is in Heaven .... and may hint of Your coming Kingdom be evident in us, your church, and through us to our city.
Luke 2 tells us "...the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
1 Corinthians 1:10 says ”I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."
- Thank you, God for the many freedoms we have to speak your name each and every day. At this time of year, when we hear or see the word Christmas, let us pause, rejoice in the power of your name and give thanks for the privilege to share your name as Christians, people invited to be members of your family.
- Thank you for Jesus, Emmanuel, who in His birth humbled himself to become like us so that we could know you, be known by you, and be reconciled to you through His death and resurrection. Reconciliation is a word used often these days in many sectors and issues. It means an ending of conflict, a renewing of the relationship between divided groups and a making right of past wrongs. Jesus offered himself out of love for us to make that happen and we are grateful.
- Thank you for your church, your body - communities of dissimilar, unique people throughout London who place their trust in you - churches of all sizes and structures, languages and traditions, histories, practices, and forms of worship - bound together by the common hope and faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour. May we just love one another deeply, to bring honour to your Great Name. Every time we drive past a church, Father, remind us to give thanks for them as we would for a family member, asking your blessing on them and on their Christmas services - give us such wide open, generous spirits to each other.
- We pray for pastors, leaders, and volunteers as they plan ways to communicate the good news effectively. May leaders seek to live exemplary lives that reflect your holiness, love and grace, putting you first. It can be a difficult challenge.
At this time of year, many come who do not enter a church at any other time. May each sense your sweet presence in words spoken, in the light spread, in songs sung, in love shared.
- We pray for small group bible studies, Alpha groups, electives, youth groups, children's programs or community groups as they welcome new people, develop biblical community and dig deeper into Scripture to nurture their souls and glorify your name.
- We thank you for the deep beauty and truth proclaimed in Christmas music heard everywhere - in malls, in elevators, at parties, in concerts, in movies. Bless those who are musically gifted and who share their skills so freely - may the words they sing seep into hearts and minds throughout the year. "O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord" " Joy to the World, the Lord has come" "Go tell it on the mountain" ring out in this city.
- We pray God that you will heal any divisions that exist between pastors and their congregations, and between leaders in different churches and/or denominations. Let us learn to speak well of our common family rooted in Christ. May our pastors, ministers, priests and church leaders demonstrate a united concern for the spiritual welfare of London.
- We pray that evil will be pushed back and found out - it lurks around our city in many ways - in hate, in envy, in deceit, in anger, in greed, and in self-centredness, even in our churches. We pray for your protection especially of those who are vulnerable, always cautious to remember that we too are vulnerable to temptation.
- We know that the Christmas season is especially difficult for those families who have experienced brokenness or loss, for those who are alone, for those where conflicts are unresolved and past hurts and wounds are opened. Give us such sensitive hearts to see this with your eyes and ears and not get so caught up in our own good times that we fail to show compassion, inclusivity, and care to those you love. We pray that we as your church will exhibit the same kind of generous hospitality that you have extended to us with an invitation for all to join you "at the table". Especially at Christmas time when many are alone or brokenness of families seems more painful.
- We openly confess that churches are not perfect because we who are the church are not perfect. We pray for reconciliation, healing, honesty, and forgiveness for all the wrong expectations or criticisms, miscommunications, hurtful attitudes or actions, flawed thinking, grief, hurts, and abuses that were caused by the Church that keep people from knowing you fully.
- And for all the good done in Your Name in this city of London at Christmas especially, we give you thanks - hampers of food given, monies to support critical programs, meals shared, shelter provided, gifts are given, assistance offered, love demonstrated. May all the glory go to You so that people catch a glimpse of who You are and of what the future Kingdom will be like.
May the words of Casting Crowns, " I heard the bells on Christmas Day" ( can we put in the music link instead????) be our prayer " for wrong to fail and right prevail" in London Ontario.
Justice to reign
This month, we pray for God's justice to prevail in this world, as part of bringing His Kingdom here on earth, just as in heaven. Our God has a compassionate heart for all who are suffering and vulnerable.
While we recognize that there is so much suffering and injustice globally (and we do urge you to likewise pray and act on their behalf), the focus of these prayer prompts is to encourage us to see injustice in our own city, to pray and act for justice in our local community of London.
Scripture tells us both challenging and hopeful things in this area:
Luke 4:18-19: "Jesus said “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Isaiah 58: 6-7: “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
Micah 6:8 says: " O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
Justice concerns in London could fill every day of a whole month of praying. We will address a few justice issues this month, and others again in January, and then in March.
Our overarching prayer is this, God, that as people who are called by your Name as Christians, help us daily to treat all those around us with such great dignity and respect for all. May we see you in each human being, created in your image. May we also offer generous forgiveness to others daily who have done injustice to us as you have offered great mercy to us so frequently.
First for our legal system:
- We pray for those who are in jail - for those who are guilty and for those who are not guilty and for all the continuum in between. Protect them, God. Speak to them of your truth and of your love. As we hear stories of those who commit crimes, so often family histories, abuses, poverty, broken relationships, mental health challenges, greed, addictions - all play a part in choices that are made. We live in a broken world. We know you love them as much as you love us because that is who you are. We pray for the inmates - protection from predators, weapons and drugs, emotional safety, good support systems and repentant hearts that turn and cry out to you God.
- We pray for all our law enforcement officers. We commend them to your watchful care in our neighborhoods, cities, and on our highways. Defend and protect them daily with your grace; guard their families; strengthen them and give them the strength, courage, and integrity to face dangerous violent situations, angry and hostile people, and the many desperate painful domestic disputes that they must see every day. Challenge us to find ways to encourage them and express gratitude those who work to make this city safer.
- We pray for prisons, specifically our local facility, the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre. We pray for the decisions that are being made by those in government regarding upgrades that are needed.
- We pray for workers there and ask that you give them special grace and patience to be peacemakers, equipped in heart and mind to act justly and love mercy when they are called daily into situations of conflict, violence, or distress. We pray for all those who minister in those places - as guards, chaplains, and advocates - that they may speak truth into confusion and turmoil. Thank you for ministries like New Life Prison Ministries locally, and across the country that seek to reach out with the Gospel to those who are incarcerated.
- Let all judges, lawyers and those who work in our court system seek to preserve justice in a fair and impartial way according to God’s statutes. May you give them supernatural wisdom; insight and intelligence to uncover truth; to balance mercy and accountability; and shrewdness to discern people and organizations that are sources of wickedness, criminal activity and fostering of evil in our city. Protect them from trauma, cynicism, and loss of hope.
For affordable housing for those without a home
- God, we all need homes, a place to live in safety. The recent statistics in the London Free Press are daunting to us as we pray for homes for people who have no place to live:
- 4,800 people are on waiting lists for rent-geared to income housing. Currently one bedroom apartments in the open market begin at $850-900 per month, well above what people can afford, those living on Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, minimum wage workers, families with children and no job, or the elderly who on limited pensions.
- There are 400 shelter beds in London, all of which are typically filled each night
- 150-200 are "sleeping rough" on the streets, under bridges, in alleys, wherever they can find
- Likely, though very tough to find accurate stats, there are 1000-2000+ individuals who are "couch-surfing" - staying on friends basements or garages, or literally on their couches temporarily, until they can find any kind of affordable place to live
- 2000 times last year, shelters had to turn people away because they were full to capacity
- The average wait time is 7-10 years that people have to wait to get into rent-geared- to- income housing.
- There is a zero vacancy rate for one bedroom apartments
- We pray for new solutions to be found quickly, for decision makers at the municipal, provincial and federal level of government to wrestle more with this. May they find ways and new thinking to provide necessary sustainable funding and greater compassion for the impact it has on people in our society, especially supported housing, for those who struggle to live independently.
- We pray for the many organizations and churches in this city who advocating for and/or provide care for those in need of housing in various ways....Mission Services of London, Salvation Army, London Housing Coalition, London Middlesex Community Housing, Indwell, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, The Unity Project, Gateway Church, Habitat for Humanity, Sanctuary and Talbot St. Church, plus many, many more churches and organizations who are addressing this issue..... we commit to pray for them regularly and cheer them on
- and most of all we pray for those who have no safe place to call home. Protect them from harm, from loss of hope, from those who would take advantage of them. Give them a good night's sleep, perseverance, dignity, self-worth, value in your eyes and ours, despite the many circumstances that steal all these things from them. Open our hearts, our homes when appropriate, our minds, our finances to meet this challenge.
For Immigrants; New Canadians
- God, many of us as 'established' Canadians, and as people who are defined by our Christian faith in you as a primary part of our core identity, sometimes honestly feel like strangers or aliens in a foreign land here on earth, when we think of also belonging to the Kingdom of God. Help us to remember that discordance or tension when we engage with those who are new to Canadian culture. You Jesus, truly understand what it is like to leave your home in heaven and come here, humble yourself, and willingly become like us.....and to be rejected and scorned by many.
- Thanks for the many churches who have sponsored and hosted refugees in recent years, God. Thank you for the generosity of individuals, organizations and governments that have stepped in the complexities of red tape, planning, and persistence to ensure that some of those needed a country to call home could come to Canada.
- In reality, the Canada we know is a young country with a relatively short history. May we appreciate deeply the history of our indigenous people and their relationship with "foreigners" like all of us. It has never been easy for them.
Since the early 1800s, succeeding generations of English, Scottish, Irish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Colombian, East Indian, Asian, African, Iranian, Syrian immigrants came here plus many others ...London has such a wonderful mix from various countries at different times in our history. Remind us, Lord of that reality, often that all of our ancestors all left their countries and came to Canada - seeking freedom of rights and religion, weary of wars, desiring new lives and fresh starts, and a place to call home.
- We are so grateful that you have given a country that is welcoming to those from other countries, religious beliefs, and cultures. We have much to share with those who need safety, opportunities for their families, education, employment... new beginnings. Thank you for the rich cultural heritage newcomers bring, for their diverse perspectives and great skills, for fresh eyes and ears that they in turn share with us.
- Be with these sojourners, God, as they must miss their homelands. Protect them from loneliness and despair. Many are waiting anxiously for family members left behind. Often communication is not easy. We pray for those in various ESL classes as they seek to learn not only grammatical English but the language of daily communication, our Canadian habits and ever so interesting colloquialisms. Give us Lord open hearts and ears as we engage with those for whom English is not their first language. May we invest ourselves holistically and use your energy to take on new ways of engagement and let our hearts will be formed toward people that you God love.
- Protect these new Canadians, from any and all prejudice, hateful language, and biased limitations because of cultural differences. May friendships, trust and understanding grow among differing cultures. Let us be generous people who welcome the stranger in your Name.