Elements to Incorporate into a Time of Reflection and Prayer for America

December 30, 2018 - January 27, 2019

Below are some suggestions of prayers, Scripture verses and responsive readings you can add to a worship service as a way of responding to the "National Call for Reflection, Prayer and Reconciliation."  You can use all of these together or select some that fit effectively into your worship service.  You should feel free to adjust or edit this language in any way you see fit.

Introductory Comments

We are told in the Scriptures to pray for our nation and those in authority. This applies to all people in authority--not just those of a particular party or belief, but all men and women who lead our nation. 

Our congregation is joining with many other congregations around the country this month in offering special prayers for our country's leaders and for the healing of our nation. It is a good time to do this since it is the beginning of a new year and also a time of new beginnings in government.  In all fifty states and in our nation's Capital, newly elected leaders are beginning their work this month along with those who were already in power. 

It is also a good time to do this since our country is so painfully and bitterly divided.  Everywhere we look we see mistrust and suspicion between our fellow citizens and a growing feeling that those who have different views are not just wrong, but dangerous or evil.  Our great country is more divided than it has been in a long time and this leaves us feeling concerned about our future.

We are told in the Bible that "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  Because we yearn for our land to be healed, we take time today to reflect and pray so that we might find ways to move forward together.

Scripture reading

Some or all of these can be read by a worship leader or in unison.

  • Matthew 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
  • James 1:19 Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
  • Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • 1 Peter 3:8-11 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. For those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.

Time of Reflection

Let us begin a time of reflection by thinking about the current divisions we face in our country, and the need that exists for healing and reconciliation.

  • Take a few moments now to reflect silently on the bitterness, anger and hostility we see between people of different political views and think about how these divisions make you feel as an American and as a Christian.

           15 seconds of silent reflection

  • Reflect also on your own actions and thoughts and ask yourself if there are ways you may contribute to these divisions.  For example, are there ways you demonize or dehumanize those you see to be on "the other side?"

           15 seconds of silent reflection

  • Reflect on whether there are things that, with God's help, you would like to change about how you treat those of different views.

           15 seconds of silent reflection

  • Finally, take a moment and reflect on how you feel in those moments when empathy and compassion enable you to connect with others who are different than you.          

           15 seconds of silent reflection

Guided Prayer

These guided prayers can be lead by a worship leader or read as a responsive reading.

Let us pray now for our country, for our leaders and for ourselves.  We will have times of spoken prayer alternating with times for silent prayer.

  • Almighty God, we come to you with concern about our country and ask your help in brining healing to our land.  Help us to remember that our differences in politics, gender, race and age are far less important than the fact that we are all your children

                                   Response: "Hear our prayer oh Lord" Brief silence

  • We pray for the leaders of our country and ask that you grant them wisdom, humility, courage and compassion.  We pray that you will help them govern from a place of wisdom and to see the importance of finding ways to work together for the good of our country and for the world.

                                   Response: "Hear our prayer, oh Lord" Brief silence

  • We pray for forgiveness for those times when we have failed to show respect for others and have been too quick to dismiss those we disagree with.  Help us to not judge others so harshly that we fail to see the person behind the views that are being expressed

                                    Response: "Hear our prayer, oh Lord" Brief silence

  • We pray for the humility to admit the limits of what we know and to acknowledge when we are wrong.   Help us to keep our own shortcomings in perspective so we can work more effectively with others

                                    Response: "Hear our prayer, oh Lord" Brief silence

  • We pray for the patience to listen to others even when we disagree with what they are saying.

                                    Response: "Hear our prayer, oh Lord" Brief silence

  • We pray for wisdom needed to understand those who have different views and the courage to find ways to work together for the common good.

                                    Response: "Hear our prayer, oh Lord" Brief silence

Responsive Reading on Call to Action

This can be read responsively by a worship leader and the congregation.

Leader: We have taken some time to reflect on the situation in our country and look at how our own thoughts and actions contribute to the divisions we face.  We have also prayed for the forgiveness, humility and wisdom we need to move forward together.  We want to close by sharing our intention to take actions which help bridge our divides.  We will do that in the form of a responsive reading:

We acknowledge that God call us to show respect to everyone--regardless of their political views. 

All: In response to God's commandment, we will strive to treat those who have different views, as we want to be treated by them

Leader: We acknowledge that the Bible tells us to be "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry."

All: In response, we will seek to do more listening and less talking so that we might learn from others

Leader: We remember that Jesus said we should forgive the sins against us not just seven times, but "seventy times seven"

All: In response, we will remember to forgive those who say harsh things about us and resist the temptation to respond in kind when we are attacked

Leader: We know that, as Christians, we are told to work for increased understanding and peace between all people

All: In response, we will do what we can to stay mindful of the sacredness of each person and promote civility and respect in our personal lives, in our community and in our country.

Congregational Prayer

Almighty God, our hearts are heavy with concern for our country and the enmity and bitterness we see between our fellow citizens makes us fearful for our future.

Bless us, the people of this community that we, in times of conflict, engage one another without hatred or bitterness, that we listen for your voice amid competing claims, and that we work together with mutual forbearance for the common good.

Forgive us when we have failed to show respect for those who have different views and for when we have been too quick to judge and dismiss those we disagree with.

Grant us the courage we need to speak your truth and also the humility we need to work effectively with others.

Bless the public servants in our government that they may do their work in a spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice. Help them to look for ways to bring us together and not divide us. Help us all in this land to seek ways to faithfully serve each other and promote our common life together. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.