bringing all people into healthy relationship with Jesus and one another
October 15, 2017
By Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 23

Heavenly Father, we are so grateful You are our Shepherd. Thank You for protecting us, providing for our needs, guiding our steps, and carrying us when we’re hurting. We know that the places You long to lead us to are good, that You desire to restore our souls, comfort us, and cause our lives to overflow with Your grace and love.

And yet, Father, we acknowledge how prone we are to wander off, to resist Your direction. Although You give us all we need, we still most often find our hearts wanting more. Although we know You are our Protector, we find ourselves living in fear of evil. Forgive our doubting hearts, Good Shepherd, and help us to follow You faithfully.

Lord, I pray for those of us right now who are not currently experiencing green pastures and still waters, but the valley of the shadow of death. Whether it be physical, relational, emotional, financial, or spiritual shadows that cover us—or more than one—I pray that we feel the comfort of Your presence and that it chases away the fear. I ask that You give us a vision of the place You are leading us to, and that You lead us in paths of righteousness to green pastures. Give us rest, Father, and restore our souls, for Your name’s sake.

We pray also for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, California, and Las Vegas as they try to recover from tragedy that we can hardly imagine. We pray that Your church rises up to support, rebuild, and offer hope that only You give. We ask You to be the Healer and Restorer, because that is who You are.

Today we celebrate the hope and the grace You have poured into our lives although we’ve done nothing to deserve it. Your grace causes our cups to overflow. Because of the cross, goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, and in the end we will dwell in Your house forever. Thank you, Father.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

One of the key elements of our worship is what we call the pastoral prayer. This is the time in our gathered worship when a church leader intercedes on behalf of God’s people in the public worship of the church. The weekly pastoral prayer is based on by the Psalm reading for the day.  There is an ancient mantra from church history, “As the church prays, so she believes.” Our congregation develops her view of God, the world, themselves, suffering, injustice, and many other things from hearing how we pray about these things. In other words, public prayer is not just reactionary, it is formative.  We share the prayer of the week for your meditation and reflection.

 

Previous Prayers

October 8, 2017
By Katie Jensen
Psalm 19

O Glorious One, the heavens declare your glory, the skies proclaim the work of your hands.  Grant us time and give us the willpower to step back from our busy lives and look at the sky.  Help us to really stop once this week, step outside, look up and around us and let the skies pour forth their speech to us though no sound may be heard.  Would you reveal to us your majesty in your creation as you did before David?  God, we know that you make beautiful things – clouds, rainbows, birds, towering trees, sparkling lakes, green grass, to name a few – but we seldom take the time to just be in the midst of your beauty.  Give us the desire and discipline to carve out time to take in your beauty that you have set all around us.

Father, awaken our hearts to take pleasure in your law.  We want to be able to say with David that your law refreshes our soul, gives us joy, that it is more precious to us than gold and sweeter than honey.  Almighty God, we confess that we often lack this enthusiasm in our faith, especially when it comes to obeying your law.  Many times, we obey outwardly but lack a pure heart, and often we just outright disobey your law.  Father, we ask, alongside the psalmist, that you would keep us from willful sins; may they not rule over us.  Bring our hidden faults into the light, forgive us, and transform us.  God we pray that you would satisfy us and that the joy you bring us would radiate outward.

Jesus, we pray that the church would be a light in our hurting world.  We pray for the congregations who are in close proximity to victims from the Las Vegas shooting.  We pray that you would give these churches a burden to reach out, a vision for what to do, and compassion as they follow through.  Holy Spirit, would you move to make the body of Christ act as an agent of healing, helping unbelievers to taste the sweetness of your law, even in times of great despair?  Would you transform the Church of North America from a political platform to a radical movement of agape love?  Father, give us open hearts and hands to be used by you to the glory of our Savior and King, Jesus Christ.

Lord, may the words of Psalm 19 become our words and the meditation we read become our hearts’ desire.  Please cleanse us and make us pleasing in your sight, Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. All glory and honor we give to you, O Glorious One.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

October 1, 2017
By John Chamberlain
Psalm 25:1-9

Our Father, we come before you today thanking you for allowing us the ability to be able to place our complete trust in you.  You have been faithful and true, a solid rock when the world around us continues to unravel at an alarming rate.  We are grateful that even though the world often scoffs at our belief, ultimately we will not be the ones put to shame.  Please help the truth of this promise give us more encouragement to share our faith with friends who may not know you.

Father, help us to realize we will always be learning what it means to follow you more deeply. Keep us from the arrogance of thinking we have “arrived” in our Christian faith. Show us, teach us, and guide us in your ways.  We have so many things to learn when it comes to becoming a true Christ follower. Help us to be eager and willing to be taught by you.

We are thankful for your great mercy Father and that fact you accept us as we are. No matter how messy our lives may seem, you are willing to instruct us in how to follow you.   Help us Father to be able to demonstrate that same love to those around us.  May we be quick to show compassion, realizing that everyone’s story matters to you.

With this in mind, we think of our upcoming opportunity to minister to those in our communities through the Angel Tree program just around the corner.  We pray now for the families that we will have the chance to interact with.  Help them to be receptive to the people of our church who are trying to demonstrate your love in a tangible way. Give us a genuine concern for their situation, and help us to have a better understanding of how we can be used by you in constructive ways.

Father we also pray for the leaders of country this morning.  We ask that you would humble those who do not believe they need you.  We pray that they would lean on your understanding and not their own.  We pray that you would guide them in making right decisions. Bless the leaders who are totally devoted to you. Help them to influence those around them for your kingdom and your glory.  ­­

We also pray for the relief efforts taking place in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas.  We ask that your hand would be guiding the logistics of all of the work that needs to be done. Please bless the efforts of all those who are volunteering. May the people of these hard hit areas see clear examples of Christ followers ministering in your name.

For it’s in Christ’s name we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

September 24, 2017
By John Stromberg
Psalm 145:1-8

Father, as we hear this psalm today we are reminded once again of your abundant goodness. We thank you that your mighty works which were displayed in the Exodus from Egypt were only a shadow of a greater deliverance that would come through your Son. We praise and extol you for your creativity, your goodness, and your compassion. And Lord, we see this psalm speaking of your abundant goodness, and we confess that we struggle to make sense of this in light of what we see in the world around us. We see tropical storms devastating huge areas of land, making the places people call home utterly uninhabitable. We see earthquakes in Mexico killing hundreds and disrupting the lives of thousands more.

And on a personal level, we carry with us many different kinds of pain, many of which remain unspoken. We confess that we don’t understand how it all fits together, but we rest in the words of the psalmist: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

As we listen to this psalm, we hear the overwhelming language of speech—words like exalt, praise, extol, commend, tell, speak, proclaim, celebrate, and sing. We pray that the words of this psalm would be characteristic of this local church: “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” In a world that increasingly views children as a burned—as an impediment to freedom—we pray that you would help us to love and shepherd our children and students well. Lord, we know that we cannot give spiritual sight or a new heart to our children, but we pray that you would help us point them towards the One who can.

Help us know how we can point our kids to Jesus. Help us creatively engage our children in gospel communities instead of pushing them aside so that we can have real conversation. We pray for the structured times like Explorers and the unstructured times, when we’re around the dinner table, in the car, or playing on the floor in the living room. Teach us to take advantage of those moments and to live like out Lord, Jesus, who gladly welcomed children.

And for those of us who don’t have children or want to have children but can’t, give us all a larger vision of what it means to be the family of God, living in community and on mission together. Remind us that our identity is not tied to having kids, and give us a glimpse of the significant contribution we can have in the lives of children and students who do not belong to us biologically. Teach us what it means to love children and students, and help us continue to become the kind of church where young people are not just tolerated but welcomed.

And finally, Lord, we pray for those ladies who are at the women’s retreat today. We ask that you would encourage and refresh them with time away. We as that you would nourish them spiritually through your Word and through relationships. We pray that you would remind them of their identity in Christ, and that you would use this weekend to equip them for gospel ministry—in the workplace, in the home, in the church, and wherever else they go.

We ask all these things for the advancement of your Kingdom,

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

September 17, 2017
By David Linde
Psalm 114

Heavenly Father, we stand amazed, and we ask you to deepen our amazement, at the unparalleled things you have done for your people. Your simple presence and rule, in behalf of your Old Covenant people, delivering them and providing for them, was enough to make your created order do unheard-of things.

How awesome your presence and rule must be! Teach us, Lord, to tremble—to tremble this good trembling, for these awesome wonders  freed  your people from bondage, made them your dwelling place, established your good rule over them, and quenched their thirst in more ways than one.

And in Jesus Christ, have you not done even greater things for us, your New Covenant people? The earth quaked when Jesus died and freed us from sin and Satan. When you raised him from the dead it was as though you parted the waters of death.  And we who trust in Jesus treasure the happy picture of that in our baptism. Truly in Jesus you have brought us the water of life to quench the deepest thirst of our hearts. Teach us to tremble at these wonders. Teach us to live in your presence and under your rule. Forgive our lack of trembling; forgive our treating your presence matter-of-factly; forgive our reliance on our own rule of our lives instead of trusting your better way.

Father, may this good news of your wonders through Jesus Christ spread to all the ends of the earth. May our global partners like Nathan and Carey have your strength, protection, wisdom, and power to carry on their work with fruitfulness. May the news spread closer to home as well, through our own lives and words among the people with whom we live day by day.

We continue to pray for the people of Florida and Texas in the aftermath of the hurricanes. Give help in manifold ways, Lord. May your church powerfully exhibit the practical love of Jesus.

We pray today for the young ones in our church fellowship. In our Explorers ministry and at home may they come to know Jesus deeply and personally. And we pray for family relationships among all the generations represented in our church; we pray for our singles; we pray for our circles of friendship. In these intimate spheres of daily life, keep forming Christ in us, give us his wisdom at every hand, and reflect him to others through us.

We ask all these things in His name.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

September 10, 2017
(the Sunday Hurricane Irma was hitting Florida)
By Larry Stromberg
Psalm 148

“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come. Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.”

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, our Psalm today, calls for all of creation to praise you.  From the sun, moon, and stars high above us, which we see but cannot comprehend, to the sea creatures far below us that no human eye will ever behold, all are made by you and all are designed to praise you.  Wild animals, small creatures, and flying birds that live their lives in the mountains and deserts you have created where no human footprint will ever travel, these live to bring glory to you.

And like them, we, too, are called to praise you; men and women, young and old; our lives are designed to be a song that makes you beautiful to everyone we know.  We confess to you that our lives are often out of tune, dissonant, discordant, inharmonious.  Forgive us our self-centeredness, our impatience, and our pride.

Lord, in this Psalm we stumble on how it is that weather itself praises you.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
    stormy winds that do his bidding,

We admit that we do not fully understand how this works to your glory, but Father, we know that even the winds and seas and every storm obeys your voice.  How do hurricanes and tsunamis and floods and tornadoes and blizzards glorify you?  Lord, we do not understand this fully, but we know that in any time of distress you want us to pray, to help, and to reassess our lives.

And so as Hurricane Irma makes her path through Florida even in this very moment, we pray.  For those already devastated in the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Tortola and the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those even now, who are displaced in Florida and those who are hunkering down.  For the long road of rebuilding after the storm passes.  For those who will grieve the loss of life which has already taken place and is happening now.  For the rescuers who will face dangers of their own after the storm has passed.  For police who will be protecting the peace.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

And Lord, we reassess our lives.  Father, what is your voice saying to us in the storm?  Lord, are you sending a grim reminder to us and to our nation that security is not found in material things?  Are you trying to show us where all of our stuff is going to end up someday so that we will release our grip on it now?  God, are you showing us that people matter and things don’t?  Are you telling us that we have all filled our lives with stuff that will only, someday, be washed away from us?

Remind us, Lord, that in whatever storm we face; for this, we have Jesus.  He is our rock and He is our fortress and He is our safe harbor and it is in his name we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

August 27, 2017
By Larry Stromberg
Psalm 124

O Lord, our Savior and King.  This psalm encourages us and gives us reason to say with your ancient people Israel, praise be to the Lord.  As we listen in on this song from Israel’s hymnal, we see your people reflecting on the many occasions of your protection, rescue, and deliverance.  In the exodus from their slavery, you rescued them from the flood that would have engulfed them.  When backed up against the red sea with all seeming to be lost, they escaped like a bird from the hunter’s snare.  How confidently we hear your people sing, our help is in the Lord.

We confess, God, the weakness of our memory.  How often do we pause to reflect on your acts of deliverance in history?  How often do we reflect on your protection in our own lives?  How often have you rescued us from ourselves or from others and we do not even see your hand in our lives, but instead misplace the credit for that which you deserve to be praised.  Forgive us heavenly father for our blindness.  Open our eyes that we might see how involved in our lives you truly are.  Give us eyes to look for you in all things, big and small, good and bad, loud and quiet.  May we see you more clearly this week in everything.

As you were the help of your people in the past, be your people’s help today.  We want to pray specifically for everyone who has been affected by the hurricane in Texas this week.  We pray that peace and safety would reign.  We pray that people of different lifestyles and political viewpoints, would set that aside and that the best possible humanity would be evident.  We pray that in the loss of physical possessions people would re-gain a better sense of what really matters.  Use this event to remind us all of the transitory nature of all the stuff with which we have surrounded ourselves.  And we pray for your church in Texas.  May those who follow King Jesus, love their neighbors as themselves.  In the midst of this crisis, may the Gospel be seen more clearly in the words and deeds of your people.

And Father, we continue to pray that you would bring peace to our land.  Please heal the hatred, prejudice, and bigotry that is so widespread among so many.  But first show us our own hearts.  Show us our own sinful attitudes.  Show us those areas where we are poor listeners and too impatient to hear the other person.  Show us the relationships in our lives where we have not forgiven.  Show us our areas of hardness.  Remind us of the cross, dear Savior, so we can share the kind of gracious forgiveness that you have shown us.

May your Son be more beautiful to us because we have worshiped together this morning

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

August 20, 2017
By Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 67

God, our Father, we echo all the words of this psalm. This plea that was written thousands of years ago still stirs our hearts today. You, God, are our gracious Ruler, the Savior of the world, and a generous Father. We know that You rule with equity and mercy, that You cause the land to yield its bounty, and that You are the source of blessing. We ask, O God, that Your face would shine on us, that Your blessing to us would continue, so that all the peoples of the earth will see, and will bring the praise due to You.

We wish that all the blessings in this psalm were our reality, but we look around us and see so much hatred, so much pain, so much fear. All too often those who claim Your name demonstrate a lack of grace and justice and cause the nations to disdain Your name rather than to honor it. Forgive us for the part we have played in that, Lord, for all the times that we have failed to love our neighbors, let alone our enemies, and so failed to bring about joy and praise to You from all nations.

Father, would you help us to love all peoples, especially those different from us and those who disagree with us. May those who do not know You see in us the joy that comes from living under Your rule and be drawn to the blessings of Your Kingdom. And oh Lord, may Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. And may it start in us, Your Church.

We pray for our children and students who will be heading back to school over the next couple weeks. We pray that as they learn about Your world and begin to see the opportunities they have to make it better, that You would give them joy in their education and cause them to love You with their minds as well as their hearts. For those headed into public schools, we thank You for the opportunities they will have to demonstrate Your love and to celebrate Your truth in the midst of a culture that does not acknowledge You or give You praise. We pray that they would demonstrate Your love and grace to their friends and those who do not act as their friends, just as You did. For those studying at home or in a Christian school environment, we pray that You use this time to give them a firm foundation, and that their secure identity in You would prepare them to bring their contributions to Your world. Help us to encourage, support, and mentor these students as they wrestle with tough questions and turbulent relationships and as they try to identify Your specific calling on their lives.

Thank You for the blessing of living under Your rule, King Jesus. May we rejoice in Your reign so that all nations will see and bring praise to You.

We pray all this in the name of Jesus.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

August 13, 2017
By Katie Jensen
Psalm 85

Oh Lord, what a wonderful picture you give us here – Love and faithfulness meeting, righteousness and peace kissing one another, faithfulness springing forth.  You give what is good and provide all that we need.  Father, we rejoice in your ever-gracious gifts to us, open our eyes to see the beauty of your creation, the wonderful works of your hands, the grace you pour upon us each breath that we take.  May our praise to you be sung for all to hear.  Very few here will actually walk down our sidewalks loudly singing a hymn, rather, we pray that our everyday talk would be saturated with grace and point to Christ. As we talk with our neighbors, coworkers and friends, may our conversations bring you glory.  As you set our hearts upon you, speak through our words and actions, that others around us would see you shining through.  We ask for you to prepare the hearts of those around us and that this land would yield a harvest.

Lord, we pray for your reign to take hold not only in our communities, but across the world.  We ask that you would be faithful to lead those who earnestly seek you to good, solid, Biblical teaching.  Thank you for the progress Training Leaders International has made to bring theological training to leaders who otherwise did not have access to proper education for their roles.  We pray that as your church grows, so would the number of Biblically trained leaders to shepherd your flock.

Father, we thank you for the work that you did and are continuing to do in Liberia.  We pray that the students who attended the most recent trainings there would be strengthened in their Biblical knowledge, in their teaching abilities, and in their personal relationship with you.  Thank you that we get to participate in the work you are doing there through the sending of Pastor Larry and through continued prayers for the leaders he taught.

We are privileged to hear from Alex Kirk today, an International Trainer with TLI.  Thank you for the vision you have given him and his wife, Meagan, to resource underprivileged pastors and reach all nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ.   We lift them up to you and ask that through the power of the Holy Spirit, you would advance their mission, your mission. We pray that you would protect them from the enemy, who loves having your Word distorted and misrepresented.  Break down the barriers that TLI faces; we pray that you would give the staff of TLI favor with international communities and government agencies.  May you open the doors for them to teach in many hostile regions and make your Word go forth in truth and power.

Father, we pray for open ears and hearts as we hear your Word preached today.  May we be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives, for our church, and our communities.

We pray all this in the name of Jesus.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

August 6, 2017
By Dave Linde
Psalm 17:1-19

Heavenly Father, we are so glad that you chose a king for your old-covenant people who had this kind of integrity. We thank you for King David, who was honest in heart and true in words and wise in leadership. We thank you for his trust in you and his passionate life of prayer and praise.

Father, when we put our o

wn lives up against this psalm, we fall very short. Our prayers to you often spring from mixed motives. Our words are often tainted with evil. Our steps do not always hold to your paths and our feet often stumble. We love your king but we are unlike your king. Where can we turn? We praise you this morning that we can turn to the son of David, the perfect King, Jesus the Messiah, who was the fulfillment of this psalm in a greater way than David, indeed, the perfect fulfillment.

We praise you, Lord Jesus, for your perfect life. You lived the life that we could never live. And you willingly gave yourself up to those who were out to destroy you, to your mortal enemies who surrounded you, so that you could be the atoning sacrifice for our many sins. Now we see, even more clearly than the psalm writers of old, the wonders of your great love and how marvelously you save by your right hand those who take refuge in you. Because you were raised from the dead by your Father, and because we are now in union with you, we are the apple of your eye and we can hide in the shadow of your wings. May these stunning realities be the greatest treasure of our lives and may we share this good news with others in ways that are loving, helpful, sensible, and courageous.

We are mindful, Lord, that there are so many people in this world who do not yet know Jesus. We think of the people groups of Liberia, Africa, where pastor Larry has gone to teach pastors this week. May the teaching that they receive from Scripture be very nourishing and equipping to them. May those whom they teach be nourished and shaped like Christ. May they pass along this good news to others near and far in Liberia and beyond. Protect and strengthen Larry and give him wisdom and the fullness of your Spirit.

We also pray this morning for the family of Minnehaha Academy in the aftermath of the building explosion this week. Comfort the bereaved, heal the injured, protect the traumatized. As only you can, bring beauty out of ashes.

Heavenly Father, as we navigate the coming week, may we rejoice in the righteousness of King Jesus that belongs to us as a free gift. May we repent of our frequent self-righteousness. And may we reflect to those around us the unique value of Jesus in all of his wonder and beauty and importance.

We offer this prayer in his name,

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 30, 2017
By John Stromberg
Psalm 105:1-9

Lord, this morning we give you thanks for the opportunity to gather for worship in this place. Thank you for the beauty and diversity of your creation, for the trees, the water, the grass, the sticks, the dirt, and even the bugs. Thank you for deepening friendships, for conversations around the campfire, for activities we can share together, and for memories we can make with family and friends. With the psalmist today, we praise you for your good gifts.

Father, we come here today from various stations and stages of life, all of which carry a variety of challenges. Some of your people come here today lost in their search for identity, always striving after the next things to give them rest of the soul. Some come here today discouraged by their battle with sin, by relationships that have taken a turn for the worst, or by what seems to be the unraveling of our world. Some feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenting; some feel trapped by the pace of their life and they simply don’t know how to make the necessary changes to have healthy boundaries; some feel nervous about the future because of health concerns or financial uncertainty. For those who are struggling this morning, would you bring comfort. The psalmist assures us that you do remember your covenant, and that you will not abandon your people. So, help us to remember. Direct our attention to the Cross which demonstrates your love for us, and bring comfort to those who need encouragement and hope today.

Lord, we pray now for our gospel communities who live in a continual process of learning what it means to follow Jesus together. We are grateful that the work of Jesus places us into a new family and that each of us—through our personality and through our unique giftedness—can contribute to the work of your Kingdom. Lord, teach us how we can approach community as contributors rather than consumers. Show us ways that we can invest ourselves in other people, and show us how to pattern our lives after Jesus, who did not come to be served, but came to lay down his life for the flourishing of others. And as we continue to grow as other-oriented people, give us opportunities to share the good news about Jesus with friends, neighbors, and co-workers who do not yet follow him. In ways that are helpful and winsome, would you help us deconstruct the caricatures of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and would you help us to communicate in a way that helps people to be captivated by him.

Finally, Lord, we thank you for those who are choosing to be baptized today. We recognize that the work of heart regeneration is not something we can manipulate or conjure up, and so we praise you for doing what only you can do. By your Spirit we pray that you would guard, encourage, and strengthen them, and that those of us who observe their baptism would come to cherish our relationship with you in a deeper way.

We pray this asking that Jesus would be made much of in our church family, in our homes, and in our city.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 23, 2017
By Cody Wilde
Psalm 139:1-12

Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Your words tell us that you are good. You demonstrate your goodness through your faithfulness in history. You love us and demonstrate your love for us by being love to us and in us. God you are Other, and you identify with us as one of us. In Jesus the mysteries of the cosmos come to their conclusion. It’s in Jesus that all things hold together. God you are big. You are mighty. You are great. You know what it is to be a baby. You know what it is to be broken and forsaken. You know what it is to lose a loved one and experience unimaginable heartache. God you are beyond us and are the God who is with us and for us.

LORD as the Psalmist says, you know us better than we know ourselves. In your infinity you know us in our finitude. You weep with us and rejoice over us. How marvelous. How mysterious. How wonderful.

LORD you know our thoughts. You discern our hearts. You know the secrets and lies that we believe. Bring them to light. Show us our sin. Lead us to repentance. Empower us to turn away. Draw us to yourself, and lead us in your life.

God we have placed many things on the thrones of our hearts. Destroy these idols. Take up your rightful place as LORD and king of the deepest recesses of our being. You are good and only desire good for us. LORD we remember that our highest good is to be conformed into the image of Jesus.

God help us to remember those for whom our society has turned away from; that we have turned away from. Help us to remember the poor, the refugees, the persecuted, the imprisoned, the widows, the orphans, the sick, and the destitute. Help us to care about the plight of those in our cities. Help us to remember the brokenness experienced, perhaps quietly, by our neighbors. LORD you know us. Help us to know ourselves and lead us to become the kind of people whose hearts break for the things that grieve yours. Help us to become the kind of people whose hearts rejoice over the things that you rejoice in.

LORD we remember our brothers and sisters around the world. We pray for steadfast hearts. We pray for strength and faithfulness unto the end. And LORD we receive the prayers of our brothers and sisters around the globe who are praying for us. Strengthen our hearts and keep us from the idols of our day.

Thank you Father. Thank you Son. Thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you for your mercy and compassion. Thank you for life, from now into eternity.

And it’s in the name of the Father, through the blood of the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit that we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 16, 2017
By Katie Jensen
Psalm 119:105-112

Father God, you are righteous, holy and good; please accept the willing praise from our lips.  You are our light and you lead us to good things, even when we don’t understand the route.  Help us to trust you even when we don’t like the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Father, we confess that we often know your commands and desires for us and we walk away.  Forgive us for our lack of obedience and for choosing to serve ourselves instead of you, our Majestic Creator.  Lord, we ask that you would change our hearts; Holy Spirit, change our desires that we can echo Psalm 119, verse 112, “Our hearts are set on keeping your decrees to the very end.”  Lead us, like the psalmist, to desire for you to teach us your laws; may your statutes be the joy of our hearts. We anticipate that this work in us will result not in a burdensome, boring life, but in great joy and excitement.

Jesus, we pray that as our culture turns away from Christianity and fewer people label themselves as Christians, that you would make your elect shine.  May we become known as people who are genuine, who love deeply; who are flawed but forgiven.  We pray for the advancement of Your Kingdom.  Move in our hearts to give us a deep desire to see your salvation spread among all people.  Will you please give us a vision for your Word taking hold in the lives of this congregation, in our families, communities, work places, and beyond?  God, we pray that the anticipation of a movement of your extended grace would excite and motivate us.  Drive out fear, take away our anxieties about sharing our faith and replace it with joy.  May it be our honor to labor for our King Jesus in the spread of the gospel.

Help us to trust in Jesus Christ alone, who lived a perfect life, died the death we should have died and rose from the dead, conquering sin and death.  Risen Lord, we trust in you alone for the work of salvation and we ask that you would use us, your humble servants to spread your love near and far.

Lord, we pray that in this moment, right now, you would speak to each person here and begin revealing personally how you would like to use us in the advancement of your Kingdom.  Help us to listen to you now, in this moment of silence.

-Pause-

Father, help us to place our lives and desires in your hands; use us as you may to bring glory to your name.

It is in the all-powerful name of Jesus, we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 9, 2017
By John Chamberlain
Psalm 145:8-16

Heavenly Father, for those of us who need a shot in the arm and a word of encouragement, we thank you for these words from Psalm 145 today. We praise you for being slow to anger with us when time after time we find ourselves messing up.  Even though our desire is to serve you, we can be so easily influenced by the call of this world to remove you from the center role of importance in our lives. Father we thank you for having compassion on us when this happens. We are grateful that you are full of love and are always willing to receive us with open arms.

We are also taught through this psalm that your kingdom will last forever and that you rule throughout all generations. In our day of rapid change and disposable products, it is hard to grasp that anything will last forever. Yet we can be encouraged that you are far above anything of this world. We are also comforted by the fact that you have always been, and will always be the ultimate ruler over this entire world.

Father we are reminded that your timing is always perfect.  Even though things may not make sense to us at a given point, we can rest in the fact that you see the entire picture. You know what our needs are, while at the same time knowing the best time to provide for those needs. Thank you Lord for being so great that you can keep all of this in order.

Thank you Lord also for the relationship we can share with our Global Partners in the advancement of your gospel message.  We are grateful that they all happen to be on home assignment right now. We ask that you would grant David and Katrina wisdom and energy as they schedule their upcoming meetings. We look forward to getting a first-hand update when they will be with us in two weeks.

Thank you for the good progress Nathan has been able to make since his heart surgery. We ask that you would continue the healing process as Nathan and the family are due to go back to Asia next month.

We also ask that you would intervene physically in Catherine’s body. Please help her to gain rest for the retreat she will be attending in Colorado, while at the same we ask that you would give her extra strength to handle the strain of travel.

Thank you for the illustration Ben shared recently of how he is making discipleship work for him over in Asia. May we learn from each other how to best disciple those who want to become followers of Jesus.

For it’s in his name we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 2, 2017
By Larry Stromberg
Psalm 13

Loving and Gracious Father, we thank you today for gathering your church together here in this place at this time.  These people, the sheep of your pasture, are not here today by chance or accident or coincidence, but because you have collected us together at this time for a grand purpose, waiting to be revealed to us.  When we feel forgotten, when it seems you are in hiding, when sorrow overcomes us, just like your anointed king we can still trust in your unfailing love and rejoice in your salvation.  We praise you, Father, for your goodness shown to us in more ways than we can count.

We confess, dear Lord, that we are often slow to bring our loneliness, our grief, and our doubts to you.  And we are quick to go to other sources to find temporary comfort and escape.  We attempt to gratify our pain with food, or drink, or entertainment, or shopping, or screen-binging, instead of turning to you and turning to our community of faith for true comfort and encouragement.  Forgive us for accusing you of hiding when we are often the ones doing the hiding.  Forgive us for accusing you of forgetting us when we are often the ones who have forgotten you.

Thank you, gracious God, for being patient with us and thank you for your regular reminders to us of your grace and compassion.  Thank you for this weekly gathering that regularly re-calibrates our hearts to the gospel.  Thank you for your table that give us a regular, tangible reminder that you call us to come and take of your suffering so we can go and follow you.

Father, we do ask for an extra measure of your grace for those in this congregation who are feeling what your king felt in this Psalm.  Some of your children do feel forgotten.  They have carried their prayers to you for a long time and still experience no resolution.  Some of your children wrestle with their thoughts.  Some struggle almost daily with anxiety and depression.  Their fears and sadness control them while they feel they must hide it from those who don’t understand.  Some of your children carry a daily sorrow in their heart, often hidden behind a smile.  Some of your children feel a great enemy has triumphed over them and that they will never recover.

Reveal yourself as the good shepherd to your people today.  Show those who are lost that you are the shepherd who goes out to find the one who is lost.  Show those who cannot walk that you are the shepherd who carries us to green pasture when we are too weak to carry ourselves.  Show those who are in even the deepest of sorrow that you are with us in the darkest valleys.

Finally, Lord, remind us of your Son today and warm our hearts to love him.  He is the one who, on the cross, went into the valley of death for us.  And He is the one who now lives, and reigns, and will bring us to a place of abundance and flourishing.  May His name be praised today.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

June 25, 2017
By Katie Jensen
Psalm 86

Almighty God, we echo King David’s adoration of you – you are forgiving and good, abounding in love, you are great and do marvelous deeds, you alone are God.  We also ask you will hear us and give us a listening spirit, that you will guard our lives and bring us joy.

Father God, protect us from unholy guilt over our lack of happiness and joy.  Show us that you meet us in our darkest experiences; you walk us through our loneliest valleys and use them to increase our dependence on you and develop in us the fruit of your Spirit.  We ask for hope for those walking through hard times of loss, sickness, addiction, and instability.  May we allow you to lead us through these painful experiences and mold us into joyful, passionate, loving people, who truly find joy in serving you.   Tony Rienke, a writer for Desiring God, sums up our prayer as follows, “I lift up to you my dry, languishing soul. I turn to you because I believe you can restore its joy. I want you alone. I want you to fill me, to fill my soul — to fill my whole being — with joy. Where else can I turn, if not to you? To you alone I lift up my soul, for in you alone will I find the true gladness my soul longs for.”

Father God, along with the psalmist, David, we ask that you would guard our lives and the lives of your servants, near and far.  We pray for our global partners, all currently serving from the US, that you would grant them joy in their work here as they surely have left part of their hearts behind in the world and culture for which you have given them a passion.  May you protect and multiply the work progressing in their absence. We pray that your disciples in these nations would be salt and light, and that through them you would continue to make disciples who make disciples.

Lord, remind us to pray for our leaders, both near and far.  God, we lift up our leaders who are nearest to us.  We thank you for the shepherds of your flock, whom you have given us at Centennial, Pastor Larry and Pastor John.  We pray that as they continue to faithfully serve and lead us, that you would give them direction, wisdom, and encouragement.  Lord, we pray for our supervisors at work, our managers, and CEOs, give them guidance as they work for human flourishing, and may your Holy Spirit guide them into relationship with you.  We ask you to instill a sense of Godly justice into our city officials, creating a place of respect and safety, where we can connect with our neighbors regardless of race, class, or ethnicity.  Lastly, we pray for President Trump and our national leaders, we ask that your Spirit would be more alluring to them than power and riches.  We ask that you would guide them to work for the good of all people, guide and direct them in this temporary roll you have granted these leaders.

In all things, near and far, we pray that Jesus Christ would be magnified, for our good and for your glory.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

June 18, 2017
By Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 100

Oh Lord, You are good, and Your love and faithfulness are unending. It’s our trust in this truth that gives us joy as we come before You to worship. Thank You for giving us reason for joyful songs and shouts of gladness. We praise You today because You are our Creator and our Shepherd, and we are the flock under Your care. We are so grateful to belong to You and experience Your provision and guidance.

Forgive us, Lord, for allowing our joy in You to be choked by the cares of this world. Forgive us for how frequently our minds experience stress rather than gratitude, worry rather than joy. Our hearts lose sight of Your goodness and our eyes turn to other things, dimming the light we present to the world around us. Would you cause our hearts to be so gripped by Your goodness and presence that our lives are marked by joy and peace?

Father, we lift up our Mission: St Louis team that is at this moment en route to Missouri. Thank You for the desire each of these students and leaders have to serve You by showing love to those in need and their willingness to step out of their comfort zones to experience You at work in a different cultural setting, even right in our own nation. We ask that over the course of the trip, the relationships among the team would be deepened and enriched. We pray that their hearts and minds would be stretched, that their views of You and of the world would be challenged and deepened, and that You would give them lifelong hearts for the mission of taking Your gospel to all peoples of the earth. We ask for protection on their drive and fruitfulness in their ministry, that those they come into contact with there would see You in them and be drawn to You.

And Father, for those of us here at home, would You remind us that this community in which You’ve placed us is our missionfield? Please remind us to pray for our neighbors, coworkers, relatives, and friends who do not know You. Give us opportunities to listen to their stories and hear their hearts, to share meals, bonfires, and playdates together, to serve them, and to embrace the opportunities You give to share Your story. We know that summer offers us a specific opportunity to connect with our neighbors when everyone is outside more, and we pray that You help us to take advantage of this season to build those relationships.

We pray also for our nation, which is full of so many who feel confused, hurt, scared, and angry. We pray against violence, injustice, and disunity which seem to mark our country in increasing measure, and we ask that Your church may be a conduit of peace, justice, and love to all people.

We pray all of this because of Jesus and in His name,

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

June 11, 2017
By John Chamberlain
Psalm 8

Heavenly Father, it is right that we pause today in awe of just how majestic you are.  The creativity and imagination you have displayed on this Earth and in the heavens is truly amazing.  Whether it be the vibrant colors you use to make things pleasing to the eye, or the unbelievably complex nature of how you constructed the human body.  We are thankful that in this vast array of your creation, David reminds us that you have entrusted us to care for and manage your creation.  Help us to manage well the works of your hands.

With this in mind, we pray that you would help us to be intentional about putting into practice some if the principles we have learned in how to bless our neighbors this summer. When we realize that people are your best creation, may this help us to find joy in spending time with them and listening well to where they are at.  We ask that through your Holy Spirit they may catch a glimpse of the great love you have for them, through our interacting with them.

Father, we thank you for our new North Central District Superintendent, Brian Farone.  We pray you would meet the needs of Brian and his family as he has already started to work here and his family is still in California.  Please help the logistics of their move to Minnesota go smoothly.  Please bless the relationships Brian will form with other members of the District leadership team, including our own Dave Linde.  Help them to discern the areas of importance on where you want to lead the churches of our district.

We also ask that you would working in the lives of our own St. Louis Mission trip team as they come into the final preparations for their trip in another week. We pray for their safety as they travel and also while they working throughout the week. We ask that the team would remain flexible as their schedule will be very fluid from day to day. And lastly father we ask that the people of St. Louis would be able to see a clear demonstration of your love through the lives of our team.

Finally as we look at the chaos in the world around us, it is a clear reminder that we live in a lost world that desperately needs you.  We pray for our leaders to have wisdom that comes from you.  We pray that you would work through us individually to draw people closer to you. We pray that you would show our Gospel Communities how to be involved as a team in the world around us.  And we pray as a church that you would give direction on how to further the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For it’s in his name we pray

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

June 4, 2017
By Katie Jensen
Psalm 104:24-35

God Almighty, we can look around and see your majesty in creation.  What great things you have made; what creativity.  From busy ants scurrying around collecting food to giant sea creatures playing in the ocean.  We see your beauty sparkling on Minnesotan lakes, we tremble at the thought of mountains bursting into flame at your touch, and we know that all creation is praising your holy name.

You take pleasure in your creation as it radiates your glory.  What a wonderful thought that you have created beauty that people will never even see, for your own pleasure.  There are gems too deep in the ocean for us to discover, blooming flowers on mountains no human will ever walk past.  They belong to you, flower for you alone and you delight in them.  Praise the Lord, my soul.

Father, we think of the passage in Matthew 6, that says if you care “so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, (you) will certainly care for (us).”  Yet, we doubt you as Provider.  We struggle to even recognize our dependence on you in the world we live in.  We depend on our paychecks, the grocery store, our medical system and our routine.  But you provide ALL of that.  Help us to look beyond the physical to see your generous, giving hand opening to give us with all we have.

As we begin to see you as our Provider, it can only lead to increase our satisfaction in you.  Forgive us, Lord, for so often seeking our satisfaction in worldly pleasures.  We so easily delight in our food, our toys, our homes, our vacations, and so many other things.  Lord, these things are good, but you are so much better.  Lead us to find our ultimate worth and joy in you, the Living Water who brings true, eternal satisfaction even in our here and now.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for the seasons that we get to experience in the Midwest.  As we move towards summer, move our hearts to be committed to your mission of reaching the lost and making disciples.  The nice weather increases our opportunity to talk with our neighbors, please capture this time for us that we could go beyond the surface to deeper relationships that point to you.

We lift up our students to you as they finish out their school year.  Help them to finish strong and then boldly enter summer as a time to grow in their faith and bring their friends along with them.  We pray that you would give them a hunger and thirst for your Word and to do your work, whether they are in Kindergarten or college.  Within Centennial and your church at large, we pray that you would increase multi-generational relationships that we may mutually lift one another up and grow in Christ-likeness.

Together may we sing to the Lord all our lives,

Sing praises to our God as long as we live.

We are nothing without you.  Praise the Lord, oh my soul.  Praise the Lord.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

May 28, 2017
By Peter Rieke
Psalm 68:1-8, 34-35

Our Father in heaven, as we gather today, we marvel along with King David at your strength and power. In this psalm we see your righteous anger and ultimate justice completely defeating evil. God, as we look at the world we live in, we see evil advancing and prospering everywhere. We think specifically of the terrorist attack in Manchester, England this past Monday and pray for the comfort of your Holy Spirit upon those who were injured and those who today are mourning the loss of loved ones. We pray that those responsible will be brought to justice, and we trust in your promise that wickedness will not go unpunished. Protect us, God, from fear, and deepen our trust in Jesus as our source of protection and hope.

God, you are the protector of the fatherless and the widow. When we were abandoned and powerless in our sin, you sent your Son Jesus to rescue us. Make us grateful, God, for the work of your grace in our lives. Help us to see the needs of the people around us, in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our city, and even the far reaches of the world. Give us strength and wisdom to know how we can contribute to human flourishing wherever you have placed us. Give us your heart for the last, the least, and the lost.

We pray this morning for Pastor Larry as he serves with Training Leaders International in the Philippines by providing theological training to local pastors there. We are grateful for your protection as Larry and the rest of the team traveled from the U.S. over the weekend. We pray that you would also give safety to the Filipino pastors who are traveling to the training site, some from areas of the country where violence is frequent. Work through Larry and the rest of the TLI team to raise up leaders who are gospel-centered, rooted in your Word, and skilled at ministering to the needs of their local context. We pray for the end of political unrest and violence in the Philippines, and for the powerful advance of your kingdom there.

Father, we are thankful for all the ways we see your faithfulness at work in our lives. You have called us together in this local church community, and you send us out to be witnesses to your saving power and grace wherever we are. As the academic year comes to an end, cause us to view the summer months through gospel lenses. As we seek the leading of your Holy Spirit through prayer, grant us opportunities to listen to the stories of those around us, to share meals and engage in relationship with those who are far from you. Give us insight into how we can best serve the needs we see around us, and direct us to those with whom we can share the joy of the gospel.

We pray these things in the mighty name of Jesus.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

May 21, 2017
By John Stromberg
Psalm 66:8-12, 16-20

Father this morning once again we offer our praise to you because, as the psalmist reminds us, you have not rejected our prayer or withheld your love from us. This psalm, following the pattern of many others, tells the story of your deliverance and grace; that though we walk through trials and afflictions, you have not abandoned your people and you are walking with them through every circumstance. Thank you, Lord, for the rich history that’s been recorded in your Word, which is not a legacy of our good works but of your relentless grace. Thank you, Jesus, that because of your grace, our stories are being re-written. Thank you that we can experience transformation and renewal now as we await the time when you will once and for all vanquish death, sin, and evil.

Lord, this morning we pray specifically for [name withheld] as he prepares for heart surgery on the 25th of this month. We are grateful for the advances in medical technology that make diagnosing a leaky heart valve possible in the first place, and we thank you that [name withheld] has access to doctors and treatments that most people in our world simply don’t have access to. We ask that you would cause this surgery to be successful, that you would sustain him through the eight-week recovery, and that you would give an extra measure of grace and energy to [name withheld] as she cares for him and their two little ones. Thank you for their gospel ministry in a difficult and unreached place, and we pray that this surgery would afford them many more years of fruitful ministry in South East Asia.

And Lord, as we press forward into multiplying disciples, we pray for the guidance and power of your Spirit. We confess that we cannot in our own strength cause a person to be alive to Jesus, and so we pray to you, Lord of the harvest. Would you send more workers into the harvest field? Would you cause us to be aware of the people and opportunities around us? Would you help us to live with gospel intentionality in the everyday, nitty-gritty stuff of life? Would you continue to show us what it means to live as a community of faith that is sold out for the good and flourishing of our city?

Jesus, your gospel is beautiful; it costs us nothing, and at the very same time it costs us everything. We confess that while we give mental assent to the importance and beauty of the gospel, we struggle to bring our lives in alignment with this. Living as a follower of Jesus is costly; it’s inconvenient; and it can be downright messy. It confronts our idolization of material possessions, privacy, and a comfortable life. Holy Spirit, we pray that you would cause us to believe the gospel more deeply. We ask that you would help us to see the beauty and value of Jesus in such a way that we’re willing to let everything else to go have him. Teach our hearts to believe that Jesus us better—than our stuff, comfort, agenda, money, or anything else.

Lord Jesus, we believe that true joy and flourishing come where your gospel is believed. Help us to believe your gospel, and teach us how to live in such a way that we bring the joy of the gospel to our neighborhoods, our city, and to our world.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

May 14, 2017
By Larry Stromberg
Psalm 31:1-5, 9-14

Our gracious God and heavenly Father, as we hear the words King David uses to describe his circumstances—distress, sorrow, grief, anguish, groaning, affliction—we just praise and worship you for being the One who sees, understands, and cares when your people find their strength failing and their bones growing weak.  In a broken world, often filled with conflict and confusion, we just praise you and adore you for being our loving God and we praise you that we can say, with David, “I trust in you, Lord.  You are my God.”

We pray for the church in the majority world which faces the confrontation of their enemies regularly.  Many of our brothers and sisters around the world say, like David, “terror on every side!”  We pray for your church in parts of the world where the civil government opposes the gospel.  Give courage and wisdom to your people and bring them relief from government opposition.

We praise you for good news we hear out of Cuba, only 90 miles from our shore, but worlds away.  Thank you for the partnership that our denomination, the EFCA, has been able to create with our brothers and sisters there.  Thank you for the growth of the church under decades of opposition and for the many house churches and training centers that are being established even today.

For our brothers and sisters, it is easy to see who their enemies are.  But help us to be able to see our invisible enemies.  Help us fight the battle against busyness, against consumerism and materialism, against the false gods of security, comfort, and acceptance.  May we see Jesus as enough to satisfy our hearts.

And Father, for the mixed emotions of your people on Mother’s Day.  For those here who long for their mother but are without her, by reason of death or estrangement or abandonment, comfort each hurting heart.  For those who long for children or for more children and do not find their desire satisfied, bring comfort and the sense of your loving arms.

And God, ultimately, help us hear the words of this Psalm not as our words, but as the words of Jesus, great King David’s greater Son.  It was our Lord Jesus who faced the greatest enemies, but he found his refuge in you and trusted you all the way to the cross.  Warm our hearts with this gospel today.

For it is in the name of our Savior and Lord, Jesus, that we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

May 7, 2017
By David Linde
Psalm 23

Heavenly Father, what a Shepherd and host you were to King David and to David’s greater Son, our King Jesus: providing, nourishing, refreshing, guiding, protecting, feeding, serving, satisfying, welcoming, loving, pursuing.  What comprehensive goodness and trustworthiness you showed to them!

Lord Jesus, we praise you for trusting your heavenly Father as your Shepherd.  You trusted his provision and direction and protection day by day, moment by moment, when you walked this earth.  Even when you walked the path of deepest darkness, the path to the cross, you trusted your Shepherd.

And so you yourself were the Good Shepherd, who laid down your life for your sheep.  How blessed we are that we now get to enter into the fullness of this psalm, trusting you and following you day by day as our Shepherd.

The stunning realities of this familiar psalm, Lord, should prompt our patient trust and sturdy courage, but we admit that we often worry and complain and are fearful.  Your shepherding and generous feast should deepen our contentment, but we often look restlessly for happiness and satisfaction elsewhere than in you.  How we need you to guide us in right paths for your name’s sake!

So, Lord, we lean into you and your cross and your resurrection and we ask you to protect us amid the spiritual darkness and vulnerable places of our lives.  May we experience the satisfaction of your table, even with spiritual enemies surrounding us.  May we revel in your bounty, and trust your unfailing love to pursue us this day, tomorrow, and every day.  May we seek, above all other things, to simply be with you, in your presence, all the days of our lives.  And this treasure of knowing you as our Shepherd, a treasure too valuable to horde—may we share this treasure with others.

With graduation season upon us, we pray for those among us who will be graduating in the next several weeks.  May they praise your shepherding care.  Guide them in right paths for your name’s sake.  May they reflect you brightly.

We pray for the teachers, administrators, and staff persons of the schools in our communities.   Give them wisdom.  Protect the schools and students in our communities.  May those teachers and students who follow Shepherd Jesus bless others and attract them to him.

It is because of our Shepherd Jesus that we pray all these things.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

April 30, 2017
By John Chamberlain
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19

Dear Father, we praise you for caring enough to listen when we cry out to you. When we feel like the pressures of life are just too much to handle, you are there for us to find refuge.  How good it is for us to be reminded of the grace you have shown to us.  We know it would be impossible to repay you for the gift of salvation you have given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. At the same time, the psalmist teaches us that you are pleased when we pursue a relationship with you throughout our lives. Help us Father to not be distracted by the fleeting joy of things that will not last.  Instead, as we worship you together and are challenged by the truth in your word, help us to be molded more into the image of Christ.

Father we thank you for the successful year we have had through the Explorers ministry at Centennial Church.  Thank you for the time and dedication the leadership has poured into preparing lessons for our youth.  Our children have been blessed by the creative ways the truth of your word has been taught to them.  We pray you will give them strength to finish the year strong without growing weary.

Father, we also pray for the leaders at our state and national levels.  As they address concerns from so many different perspectives, we ask that you would grant them wisdom in the decisions they make.  Please help these decisions to not get in the way of the gospel moving forward in our land.  At the same time, we pray you would continue to intervene in areas of our world where our brothers and sisters are under great persecution. Please protect them from harm and continue to draw people to yourself, even in these difficult circumstances.

Thank you for the safe delivery of Daniel to the home of David and Katrina, our Global partners in Spain.  We are encouraged to hear Katrina is healing well. We ask that you would allow both David and Katrina to get the rest they need.  We also pray the documentation would process quickly, so there will be no hold up as they return on home assignment this summer.

Heavenly Father, as we think about this summer and all of the opportunity it will bring, we pray that you would help us to see your work flourish.  Through our Gospel Communities or personal relationships, help direct us where to spend our energy. Please multiply time in our schedules for building relationships.  Help us to be intentional in praying for and getting to know those around us.

For it’s in Jesus name we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

April 23, 2017
By Peter Rieke
Psalm 16

Our Father in heaven, as we gather today in your presence, we give you praise for your providence and faithfulness. We praise you for the vastness and beauty of your creation, for the way that the rhythms of sunrise and sunset, of autumn, winter, spring, and summer, speak to your constant presence and sustaining power. God, not a single creature on the land, in the air, or under the sea is unknown to you. Every grain of sand and every star in the night sky is your creation. When we look at the world you have made, we are filled with awe.

When we look to your word, we see your faithfulness to your people acted out across the centuries. You called the wandering nomad Abraham to be the father of your people. You delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. You set David, your chosen king, upon the throne, to be but a faint shadow of the glory of his greater Son, our Lord Jesus. You patiently endured even when, time after time, your people turned away from you. Through famine, war, exile, and hostile occupation, you preserved your people and worked out your plan for our ultimate salvation.

And finally, you sent your only Son into your fallen and broken creation, to live a life of perfect obedience to your law and your will on our behalf. Jesus died that we might live, and, resurrected, he lives that we might have hope for eternal communion with you. Jesus, the promised Messiah, is the living embodiment of your faithfulness to us. He is the reason we can say with the Psalmist David,

“In you we take refuge.”

“You are our portion and our cup.”

“Surely we have a delightful inheritance.”

God, we confess that we often ignore the evidence of your faithfulness that is right in front of us. How easily the inevitable trials of life cause us to doubt you and your promises. We live under the illusion that we are in control, and when that illusion is broken, we are often driven to bitterness and despair. Father, this morning, we ask for your Holy Spirit to apply the truth of the Gospel to our hearts, and to help us see Jesus as the definitive proof that you love us, and you will never abandon us.

Some in this room today are facing trials that, from our vantage point, look insurmountable. We pray that you would comfort, encourage, and sustain those who suffer from health problems, and cause them to look to the resurrection of Jesus as a source of hope that our imperfect bodies will one day be fully healed and restored in your presence. We pray for those with relationships that are broken as the result of sinful words and actions. Encourage them that nothing they have said or done to another person is too much for the blood of Christ to cover, and nothing that has been said or done to them is beyond the power of His healing. God, make us a people who pursue reconciliation and extend grace to others, as you have extended your grace to us.

We pray also for those who struggle with addictions and habitual sin – it is so easy for us to become discouraged by our repeated failures, and to rely on our own strength to change. Help us to see that Jesus has already won the final victory over our sin, and help us to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, and to see Jesus as more desirable than the things of this world.

We pray for our students and leaders from The Edge who are at the district youth conference in Duluth this weekend. We thank you for this opportunity for them to get away, out of their normal context, and to spend extended time meditating on your word and in community with one another. God, use this weekend in a powerful way in the lives of our students. Draw them to yourself, give them faith, and send them on mission for your kingdom to their schools, neighborhoods, jobs, and families.

We pray all these things trusting in the name of Jesus.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

Easter, April 16, 2017
By John Stromberg
Psalm 118:14-24

Lord God,
early in the morning,
when the world was young,
you made life in all its beauty;
you gave birth to all that we know.

Early in the morning,
when the world least expected it,
a newborn child crying in a manger
announced that you had come among us
that you were one of us.

Early in the morning,
surrounded by respectable liars,
religious leaders,
anxious statesmen,
and silent friends,
you accepted the penalty for doing good,
for being God:
You shouldered and suffered the cross.

Early in the morning,
a voice in a guarded graveyard
and footsteps in the dew
proved that you had risen,
that you had come back
to those and for those
who had forgotten, denied, and executed you.

This morning,
in the multi-national company
of your church on earth and in heaven,
we celebrate your creation, your life,
your death and resurrection,
your interest in us,
and your redemption of all creation!

God, this morning we praise you for the gift of your Son.  We praise you for your compassion, grace, and long-suffering, but also for your justice and your rightful anger against the sin and idolatry that reside in every one of us. We confess that we have acted selfishly with our time, our money, and our other resources. We have remained isolated from the needs of those around us, and have been slow to give to the poor and needy. We confess that we have not treated others as we would like to be treated, and that even according to our own standards we have failed to live up.

And yet, this Easter morning we celebrate what the Psalmist says, that you are our salvation. That your right hand has done mighty things and has worked deliverance for us. We thank you that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus we are no longer enslaved to or defined by what we do, but by what your Son, Jesus, has done. He is the Stone the builders rejected, and he is now the cornerstone of our faith. This is indeed marvelous in our eyes, and today we rejoice in Jesus.

And Lord, some come here today finding it exceedingly difficult to rejoice. Some come here today finding little hope, little encouragement, little joy, and little to live for. They are discouraged by circumstances that have come about as the result of their sin, or by no fault of their own. They are weighed down by heavy burdens, some of which are plain to see, and some of which remain known only to you. Lord, would you encourage those who feel cast down? Would you minister your comfort to those who feel defeated? And would you, by your Spirit, gently remind us that your resurrection proves our pain will not have the last word.

And Father, we ask that you would make us the kind of people who live with resurrection hope and resurrection joy throughout the year. Make us, like this psalmist, people who speak freely of what you have done. As this academic school year draws to a close, help us to be good stewards of our summer. Teach us how the stuff we are already doing can be used to advance your Kingdom, and make us the kind of people who are willing to disadvantage ourselves for the flourishing of our neighborhoods and city. As we look to Jesus who willing disadvantaged himself for us, work in us the kind of love for others that compels us to pour ourselves out so that we can bring the joy of the gospel to our neighborhoods, our city, and to our world.

Father, we praise you for sending your Son. Jesus, we praise you for laying down your life. Spirit, we praise you for raising our Lord, Jesus, from the dead and for bearing witness to him.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

April 9, 2017
By Larry Stromberg

As we enter Holy Week, our Psalm reading today comes from Psalm 31:9-16.  This is a Psalm of David.  David was Israel’s greatest king but his reign was also a disappointment in many ways.  In so many ways, David’s life foreshadowed the coming of a greater King in the coming of Christ.  We especially hear that today in the words of David’s suffering.

Psalm 31:9-16

Our gracious God and heavenly Father, like David before us, we give praise and thanks this morning that we can come to this place and say, “I trust in you, Lord… You are my God… my times are in your hands.”  Like David our faith may grow weak at times, but nonetheless you have taught us we can trust you with everything and you are God above all gods.  Thank you for guiding our lives in such a way that these things were revealed to us by your grace.

Lord, we confess that our trust in you often falls short because we put our trust in the false gods of self-achievement, self-help, self-intelligence, and self-agendas.  Forgive us we pray and show us today how trustworthy King Jesus truly is.  Make his reign beautiful in our eyes.

Many here and many around the world resonate with David’s expression of suffering.  Some of your sheep in this pasture are in distress, weak with sorrow, body aching with grief, feeling forgotten, and surrounded by enemies on all sides.  Remind us today that you, our God, see our sufferings, you care, and that our suffering is never meaningless and you will never desert us in it.  Encourage your people today.

And Lord, we must pray for the suffering in our world.  How angered and saddened we are by the gassing of innocent people by their own government in Syria.  How saddened we are by migrant men, women, and children from places of terror and danger who have no place to go to escape their suffering.  Like David, they too cry out “I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am forgotten as though I were dead.”

We pray for these ones, gracious Lord, that they would find safety and a home.  We pray that Christians would think and act like Christians and minister both to the physical and spiritual needs of these people.  May we think through gospel-lenses on issues as this and we pray you would make us people who truly love our neighbors.

When we were foreigners and strangers, you sent your Son to die for us.  And it is because of his suffering that we can know our suffering is only temporary.

It is in the name of our suffering Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, that we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

April 2, 2017
By John Stromberg
Psalm 130

Father, we are grateful that we can call out to you and that you are attentive to our cries for mercy. We’re thankful that in Jesus Christ you do not keep a record of our sin; you have removed from us the stain of our sin by giving us a new life and identity in Jesus. In you is full redemption, and we pray that your Spirit would make that reality clear to us, that we would find that to be beautiful, and that we might find our hope in you.

Lord, there are some here today who are struggling with every fiber of their being to put their hope in you. The pains and the frustrations of life in a broken world have left them downcast, discouraged, and disillusioned—the chronic or returning illness, the undiagnosed diseases, the difficult family situations, the loneliness and discouragement, the fear of what’s in the future. God, some of your people feel daily like the wind has been knocked out of them. Be near to your people and speak sweet words of affirmation through Jesus and through your Church.

Lord, continue to make us the kind of local church family where no one has to hide. Continue to make us a safe community for people who are hurting and feel weighed down by the difficulties of life. Teach us to listen well instead of offering advice, to ask questions instead of offering religious platitudes, and to be a people who continually point to Jesus, our suffering Lord. Although we don’t always understand what you are up to, drive us to be people of prayer, and drive us to the cross of Jesus which declares with power that our circumstances will not have the last word. Help us, Lord, to hope in you.

And God, we pray that you would lead us forward in your mission to bring the joy and renewal of the gospel to every part of our city and world. We confess how easy it is to talk about being on your mission, but how difficult it is to practice in everyday life. By your Spirit, help us to see the ways that our vocation, our home, our neighborhood, our recreation, and the meals we eat provide a context in which we can live as disciples who make disciples.

For our gospel communities, please continue to help them process and pray through ways in which they can make a tangible difference in the community. Thank you for the ways in which this is already happening, and lead forward into faithful and fruitful service of our community. Lord, protect us from being a church that has right belief, but lacks love for our city. Reveal to us the idols of comfort, security, and approval that keep us enslaved to an introspective, disconnected, and self-focused life.

We ask you, God, to make Jesus more beautiful and more compelling to us than the stuff that consumes our time and schedules. Help us to believe that Jesus is better than comfort and entertainment. Help us to teach our children by our life that Jesus is better than lots of activities. Grant us wisdom to know how to steward our time and other resources for the advancement of your gospel. Use us, we pray, to bring the joy of the gospel to our neighborhoods, our city, and to our world.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

March 26, 2017
By Katie Jensen
Psalm 23

Holy God, how is it that you are clothed in majesty, King of Kings, all glorious and yet you personally love and care for us, your wandering sheep?  It is no mistake that David compares us to such helpless animals.  You see us wandering away from you towards such useless desires.  Good Shepherd, forgive us for being allured by the things of this world, for chasing after temporary gain.  We pray that you would lead us back once again to follow you.  God, we ask that you would remind us daily, even hourly, that we lack nothing.  If we believe that Jesus came to this earth as the Son of God, died on our behalf and rose again, then we lack nothing!  We can walk through the darkest valley because you are with us and you are all we need.  Help us to truly believe that and live in light of it.

Lord, for all those here and in our lives that are walking through those dark valleys, we pray that you would give them rest.  As a sheep lies down in green pastures after eating his fill, give your peace and rest to us, that we may lay down trusting in you.  We long for eternity, where this beautiful picture of green pastures, quiet waters, and ultimate peace all for your glory will be our reality.  Until then, give us glimpses of this future and refresh our souls.

Father, we cry out for you to refresh the souls of your saints who live in places of extreme persecution, such as North Korea, Somalia, and Afghanistan.  God, we don’t even have a context with which to comprehend their dark valleys.  Good Shepherd, though evil surround them, may your rod and staff comfort them.  May your supernatural peace be so evident that many more come to faith in you.  We pray not only for your protection over individuals, but also for radical changes at the government level that will lead to the protection of all people.

God, we ask for your blessing on the North Central Evangelical Free Church District Conference this week.  As we will be voting on a new District Superintendent, we pray for your wisdom and guidance in the process and outcome.  We pray that the discussion surrounding the nomination would always be respectful and full of grace, even when hard questions are asked and issues raised.  May your Holy Spirit lead and guide all who are present and use the conference to draw the leaders of all the churches present into alignment with your mission and work here in the North Central District.

God, we are so thankful that your goodness and love will follow us always and that we will dwell in your house forever.  All praise and honor be given to you, our Good Shepherd.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

March 19, 2017
By Peter Rieke
Psalm 95

Our Father in heaven, what a privilege it is to gather today as your people. What a joy it is to express our worship and praise by singing. We are grateful for the way that melody, harmony, and rhythm combine with text and stir our affections toward you. We are grateful for the unique ways that you minister to your people when we gather. As we join our singing with the saints who have come before us, and our sisters and brothers around the world, may the reality of your gospel be made known to each of us.

We praise you today because you alone are the Rock of our salvation. We see that just as you delivered your people from captivity in Egypt, so too have you delivered us from our blindness and rebellion. When trials come into our lives, we can look to the cross as the ultimate evidence of your grace, mercy, and love.

We worship you, God, as our great King. When we see the condition of our world, full of injustice and conflict, we are tempted to despair. Help us to see that today’s Psalm tells a different story. Help us to see that nothing exists in our world which does not belong to you. From the depths of the earth to the highest mountain peaks, the expanses of land, air, and sea – it is all yours, and under your control.

Lord Jesus, we are grateful that you are our shepherd, and that we are the flock under your care. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to distinguish your voice from the false gods that call out to us all day long. Make us a people who are sensitive to your leading, and open our eyes to see the ways that you are at work around us, so that we can join you on mission in our city, and throughout the world.

We pray today for those in our community who are suffering. Many face an uncertain future because of their physical health – whether chronic illness, cancer, or other problems that frustratingly escape diagnosis. We trust in your power to heal and restore, and in your good purposes in our suffering, even though we often cannot understand. For these we pray earnestly for healing to come now, and for hope in our ultimate healing in the resurrection.

We pray also for those who live under the constant pain of broken relationships. God, we want to be a community characterized by extending grace, even to those who have wronged us, just as you extended your grace to us when we were lost in our sin. We confess that this is easy to pay lip service to and often difficult to practice. Make us quick to listen and slow to speak. Help us to choose our words for the encouragement and building up of others. Increase our belief in the Gospel, through which nothing that is broken is beyond restoration.

We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – one God, in whose joy we share today.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

March 12, 2017
By John Chamberlain
Psalm 121

Heavenly Father, what an awesome reminder we have read today about your power and protection over us.  Help us to have a clear understanding that our help comes from You.  So often we go through life thinking we are alone.  Help us to turn to you in those times.  May we be mindful of the fact that you created the heavens and the earth, so it is well within your capabilities to handle the things we find difficult.  Praise be to you father for being the coolness of shade when the sun is beating down on us.  Help us to find the refreshment you offer when we slow down and rest in you. Further, help us to remember that often times you make yourself known to us in many ways.  Sometimes, it may be through the spoken words and prayers from those in our local congregation or gospel community.  Other times it may be through a podcast or a book we are reading.  In any case, help us to be open to your teaching.

We thank you for the new North Central District Superintendent nominee Brian Farone who will be voted on later this month.  Thank you for his servant leadership approach.  May you bless the relationships he will have with others on our North Central District leadership team, including Dave, Dan, and Tom. Please help our district to continue the work of expanding your church in the years to come.

Father, we lift up our Global Partner Catherine Rivard.  Please grant the doctors wisdom as they review the current results and decide on what direction to take for further testing.  Help Catherine to rest in you as this process continues to drag on.  Thank you for the opportunity she has had to spend time studying your word regularly with her friend.  May your love be clearly conveyed so that Catherine’s friend will understand the message of the gospel.  In a similar way, help each of us to think of a friend who needs to know of the great love you have for us.  Remind us to pray for them often, and be sensitive to times we can share as Catherine has.

Father as we walk through this Lenten season, thank you for the many suggested ideas we have been given to make this a meaningful time.  Shine the light of your grace into those areas of our lives that we would like to remain hidden.  Keep us mindful of our tremendous need for your grace every single day of our lives.

And finally, help us to be encouraged by the words of the Psalmist when he says that you will never fall asleep on the job.  You are watching over us and protecting us both now and forevermore.  Thank you so much for this assurance and for your great love for us.

For it’s in Jesus name we pray

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

March 5, 2017
By Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 32

Oh Father, You are our Hiding place, our Refuge. You protect us and surround us with songs of deliverance. You instruct us and teach us in the way we should go. You counsel us with Your loving eye on us, for You see all our ways and know our hearts. We are so grateful for Your unfailing love and Your abundant grace, that You freely forgive all our sins when we confess them to You.

Lord, like the psalmist today, we want to be among those who are blessed because our sins are covered and our guilt removed. We don’t want to hide or deny our sin, even though we know that’s our natural tendency. We admit it’s hard to confess we’ve been wrong, even though we know You already know. So this morning we confess that in our spirits there has been deceit. We have tried to hide our faults to make ourselves look better. We have not turned to You in prayer even though You always make Yourself available. We have sought out other hiding places and sources of refuge besides You and found our souls floundering. We have at times been like the horse or mule, not understanding Your character or Your ways but needing You to keep pulling us back. Forgive us, Lord, as You promise to do. Let us know the joy of Your unfailing love and rejoice in You always.

We pray today for our nation, which continues to be divided and hurting, with people on multiple sides grabbing for power at the expense of others. We know, Father, that You are the only source of real healing, real justice, real freedom. And we pray for You to use Your church to bring this freedom, justice, and healing to those around us, starting right here in our own neighborhoods, communities, and workplaces, and spreading out around our country and then beyond it to a world that knows more hurt than most of us can imagine.

We pray also for our global partners, those who represent us and, more importantly, You, to nations around the world. We know that there is a strong spiritual battle against them because of the work they are doing, so we ask for Your protection on them—spiritually, physically, emotionally, and vocationally. Bring healing for those fighting chronic health issues, provision for those in financial need, friendship and community for those dealing with loneliness and isolation, and fruitful multiplication to their kingdom work.

Thank You, God, for being our Father. May You direct all of our steps this week so that we may walk with You for the glory of Your name and the good of Your world.

We pray all of this in Jesus’ name.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

February 26, 2017
By David Linde
Psalm 99

Lord our God, our hearts echo the three-fold praise of this psalm: holy, holy, holy are you.  You are utterly unique, so uniquely supreme, exalted, and awesome in your reign as King that we ought to tremble, and the earth ought to shake.  We praise your great and awesome name, holy God.  We exalt you, we bow, we worship you at your footstool.

We confess our unholiness, our lack of trembling, our undependability in trusting your instructions and living by them.

Teach us to know you and worship you as holy—as unique in your justice, unique in your commitments and instructions to your people, unique in answering the calls of your priests and prophets, unique in your wonderful forgiveness and uncompromising punishment, unique in dwelling in the midst of your people in your holy mountain, inviting them to be your worshipers, living close to you.

And how much more clearly we can see your holiness on this side of the life of Jesus Christ, your great high priest and prophet, who called on you, the culmination and completion of Moses and Aaron and Samuel.  You answered him spectacularly, raising him from the dead.  Your holiness in punishing sin we see in the cross; your holiness in forgiving sin we see in the resurrection.  And now we get to worship you in a new holy mountain, a new temple, the fellowship of your church, your disciples, Lord Jesus, in whom your Spirit dwells.  So together we say from our hearts this morning, holy, holy, holy is the Lord our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Lead us forward in the path of learning and reflecting your holiness, that we might bless those around us.  Teach us to share this treasure of your holiness with those who don’t yet know you—that they too might treasure you.

In the holy name of Jesus Christ we pray,

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

February 19, 2017
By Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 119:33-40

Lord, we praise You today for being the good Lawgiver. You are all-knowing, perfectly wise, and extravagantly loving, and the instructions that You give us, both in Your Word and as we follow Your Spirit, are always good. Thank You that we can rest in the knowledge that if we follow You, the directions in which You lead us are for the best.

We confess, Lord, that sometimes we do fear disgrace from following You. We’re not sure how we’ll be viewed by others or if our choices will hinder the future we’ve painted for ourselves. We admit that Your laws do not always seem delightful to us, and we do not always obey You with all of our hearts. Our eyes are frequently distracted by worthless things, or even by good things that we elevate on too high a throne.

We ask, Lord, that You continue to give each of us a greater delight in walking with You. May our times in Your Word and listening to Your Spirit be times of joyfully pursuing Your best and trusting Your leading. We pray that you turn our hearts toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn our eyes away from worthless things and keep them centered on Your promises and Your guidance. May we not be pulled off course by pursuing money or relationships or success or anything else at the expense of our love of You, but only as an overflow from it.

We pray specifically this morning for those who may be seeking Your leading at this particular moment in time, who may feel unsure of the future and wrestling with major decisions. We pray that You enable them to hear Your voice clearly amidst the clamor of life around them, and that You give them the confidence and calm that come from fully trusting You as they move forward into the future You have for them.

And for those facing such deep pain and uncertainty that the find it hard to imagine the future being good and perhaps harder still to find delight in trusting You… would You give them the grace to keep the faith? Give them the confident assurance that You are good even when life is not, and that regardless of the shape of their future here, You hold eternity in Your hands and are preparing something wonderful for us and worthy of our deepest faith and joy even in times of pain.

We praise You, Lord, for being our trustworthy Shepherd, and we ask all this because of our Savior Jesus Christ.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

February 5, 2017
By Peter Rieke
Psalm 112

Our Father in heaven, it is our privilege today to join our praises with your church in this place, and all around the world. We praise you for the world you have created, which reflects your beauty and reveals to us daily your glory and power. We praise you for your glorious grace, which did not abandon us in our sin, but compelled you to send your only Son to this world, to rescue us from our sin. We praise you for the power of your Holy Spirit at work among us, revealing the glories of the Gospel to our hearts and transforming us in the image of Christ.

Today’s Psalm instructs us to fear you, God. To delight in your commands. To live upright, compassionate lives, and to be bringers of justice for the poor. We confess that we are unable to do any of these things by our own strength, and so we pray for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Teach us, God, to love your word, and to live each day in humble obedience to it. Fill us with compassion for our neighbors, so that we might love and serve them as an overflowing of the presence of your love in our lives. Help us act wisely to bring justice for the vulnerable people in our world, and to show generosity, giving freely, and demonstrating that everything we have belongs to you.

The psalmist says the righteous will have no fear of bad news. God, when we look around the world, it is impossible not to see evil everywhere. We see nations in conflict, senseless violence, and people displaced from their homes. In our own country, we feel deep divisions of many kinds – between races, between economic classes, between native and immigrant. We confess that at times we have contributed to the injustice and division we see. Help us, O God, to reject trite, easy answers to these concerns. Make us bringers of peace, compassion, and understanding in our world. May your church be a counter-cultural example of people brought together in community, across the divisions of race, income, culture, and political viewpoint.

We pray for those in this room who feel far from you today. For those who struggle with addictions of every kind, and those who fight a constant, daily battle against repeating sin. Give them your strength, Father, and remind them of the final victory that Jesus won for them on the cross. We ask you to provide for those who struggle financially, and comfort and heal those with health concerns.

We pray these things in the name of Jesus our Lord, by whose death on the cross we are saved, by who resurrection we are given hope, and who sends us into the world, for the glory of your name.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

January 29, 2017
By John Chamberlain
Psalm 15

Heavenly Father, thank you for the words that have been penned here by David.  A man who knew what it meant to be fully devoted to you to the very innermost part of himself.  David points out to us all of the attributes that should be part of who we are, when we are walking in step with you.  Help us to grow in these areas as we turn over the control of lives to you.

May we be people that speak the truth from our hearts to those around us.  May the words we use be inspired by you and shared in a way that would be pleasing to you.  You sent Jesus to save us out of your great love for us.  Help us to find ways to reflect that same love to those around us who need to hear the story of Jesus.   We ask that your name would be highly exalted as we share because you are the one most worthy of praise.

Father, help us to realize the important role our integrity can play when interacting with others.  When we keep our word in both the little things and big things of life, we are demonstrating an important aspect of your character.  We ask that you would be growing our roots deep in you.  Help us to remember that our value comes from being created by you, and not by the misguided messages our world tries to get us to believe.  May we be thankful for the blessing we have to freely worship you in our country.  We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe who are unable to have this freedom.  Please give them strength, both physically and spiritually to continue to take a stand for you.

We thank you for the work Ben Linde is involved with in Asia.  Please give him strength the handle his hectic schedule.  We pray for the students he has the opportunity to teach.  May they see Jesus clearly through Ben’s life and how he interacts with them.  We pray specifically for Ryan, Bobby and Byron as Ben continues to disciple them.  Help them to be obedient to your word and continue to learn what it means to follow you.  We also pray that Steven would be drawn to you through his ongoing interest and questions he has been asking.  Thanks for the time Ben and Tiffany were able to be together at Christmas.  May their relationship be centered on you as their friendship continues to grow.

Finally Father, we ask that you would help us to be a blessing to those around us in the everyday routine of life.  May they flourish in their homes, at their work place, or in their schools.  Please allow us the opportunity to someday share about the good news of Jesus with them.  For it’s in His name we pray

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

January 22, 2017
By David Linde
Psalm 27

Heavenly Father, we rejoice at how King David of old, in the midst of serious threats from formidable enemies, found you unchangeably beautiful and fully trustworthy, and the fulfillment of your promises worth waiting for.

And we praise you, Lord Jesus, King David’s greater Son, that you fulfilled this psalm.  You, too, faced formidable enemies, human and demonic.  You lived a life of worship, finding refuge in gazing on the beauty of God, confident even on the road to the cross that you would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  And on the cross you bore the punishment for our sins, so that we would not fear that God has abandoned us.  Praise be to you, now risen from the dead, your head now exalted over all your enemies.

Heavenly Father, we confess our cowardice in the spiritual warfare; our gazing on inferior beauty; our impatience with your promises.  Be our light and our salvation.  May we seek your face amidst warfare.  Teach us your way and lead us in a straight path.  And may the treasure of this psalm spread through our lives and gospel communities to persons near to us and to the unreached peoples of the globe.

We pray today for President Trump and his cabinet and the new congress that will begin soon.  Give our leaders great wisdom.  We pray for the women of our nation, many of whom have been mistreated so sorely and for so long.  Grant protection, healing, honoring, restoration.  On today’s calendar date we pray for the unborn in our land, for protection and honoring of them as well.  Minister grace and hope and healing to abandoned mothers who have sought refuge in abortion.  We praise you for the words of today’s psalm, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”

In our land so torn by strife, may your church be renewed in displaying life in the kingdom of Jesus, King of justice and peace, that others might see and discover his light and life.

We pray in Christ’s name,

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

January 15, 2017
By Katie Jensen
Psalm 40:1-11

Father God, thank you for these words of David that are a testament to your saving power and everlasting faithfulness.  We praise you  alongside King David for lifting him from the pit to standing him upon a rock.  Lord, we want to praise you for this in our own lives as well, but some among us are still feeling the sticky mud and mire move from their feet, to their knees, up to their thighs as they continue to sink deeper into despair.  There are people here today that are in constant battle with their health, some who have unbearable financial stress, and some who are struggling relationally.  We ask for your healing and reconciliation.  We admit that we want you to rescue us now; we confess that we seldom trust in your timing.  Give us grace in the here and now to endure and eventually say with David that we waited patiently for the Lord.

We thank you that even if we have not or never do experience relief in this life, that you offer us so much more.  You lift us out of the slimy pit, of the mud and mire of our sin.  When we trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, you set our feet on a firm foundation.  You are so worthy of all our praise.

God, together we proclaim that you are good and faithful.  You are the Almighty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Let us sing of your faithfulness in providing for our physical needs, but even more so for our spiritual needs.

When you call us out of darkness into relationship with Christ, we are forever changed.  May we live changed lives in community with one another, being a light to this broken world.  As David proclaimed, “many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him,” we pray that our Gospel Communities would experience this.  Teach us to share our lives and stories with our friends and neighbors, singing your praises.  Give us boldness to befriend the friendless and love the unlovely.  Lord, there is so much hate and divisiveness in this world, but may your people love without boundaries and begin with us.  We want to see multitudes of people putting their trust in you, for your glory and their good.

God, as we will witness the inauguration of President Trump this week, we pray for him and our national leaders.  We pray that you would move in mighty ways to draw the President Elect’s heart to surrender to you.  Help those who fear the upcoming administration to put their hope in you, and grant humility to those who gloat over this change.  Whether you have times of prosperity or hardship planned for our nation, our ultimate prayer is for the advancement of your Kingdom.  May your love and faithfulness be what protects and comforts us.

In the powerful name of Jesus we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

January 8, 2017
By Larry Stromberg
Psalm 29

Gracious Heavenly Father, it is Sunday once again and once again we turn our hearts toward you in prayer as a congregation. We come to you today, not as a crowd of individuals but as your people, as your congregation, as the sheep of your pasture.  Even in our prayers today may we be reminded that we sit in the midst of this congregation, filled with a variety of people, filled with a variety of life experiences, and filled with a variety of struggles, doubts, disappointments, and fears.  We pray that you would bind our hearts not only to you, our God, but to one another, our brothers and sisters in the faith.  As you revealed yourself to the wise men so many years ago, reveal yourself to us today.

This Psalm calls us to ascribe to you the praise that you deserve and so we do that.  You are faithful when we are unfaithful.  You are loving when we are petty.  You are generous when we hold tightly to earthly things.  You are gracious when we keep score and expect payback.  You are forgiving when we are bitter.  You are compassionate toward us when we are only thinking of ourselves.  We worship you this day and every day not only for who you are in this world, but also for who you are in our personal lives and in our church.

In this Psalm, David has reminded us that you give strength to your people and that you bless your people with peace.  There are some here who really need that strength and peace today, Lord.  Some here are very tired in their physical bodies, but they need to go on with life.  Give them the strength they need.  Some here are much drained emotionally and are weary.  Some have had a hard week with unexpected twists and turns to life and it has taken the wind out of their sails.  Give strength to your people.  Some here are either unemployed or under-employed.  They are doing the best they can to find work and to work hard, but it doesn’t seem to ever be enough.  The bills mount and the future is uncertain.  They are discouraged.  Give peace to your people.

Some here question the significance of the work they do have.  The will march off again tomorrow to a job that they hate or to a job that seems meaningless and insignificant.  Show these ones a larger picture of the value of their work.  Give them the ability to see their work as a good endeavor that not only serves you, their Maker, but also serves the larger good and the ordering of society.

As we open to the gospel of Mark today, may we do so in the spirit of meeting Jesus himself.  Protect your people from cloudiness of thought if they are tired.  Protect your people from the seduction of their buzzing smart phones forever whispering to be looked at.  Protect our hearts from resistance and rebellion to what your word may poke us with today.  Engage both our minds and hearts.

We come asking for all this because you have invited our prayers.  And we ask not on our own merits, but on behalf of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

January 1, 2017
By John Stromberg
Psalm 8

Lord, as we stand at the beginning of a new year, we look back over 2016 with thankfulness. We remember the new individuals and families who have become a part of our church family. We remember the generosity of your people and how you have provided for this local church financially. We remember our Gospel Communities and how you have grown and challenged them in the messy process of disciple-making. Thank you, Father, that as followers of Christ, we get to bear your majestic name and be a part of your family.

We are foolish if we don’t pause to look back and remember your faithfulness, and we are naïve if we look back at 2016 with rose-colored glasses. Many of us look back and see one more year filled with the same struggles, the same idolatry, the same sinful patterns, and the same personal failures. Some have carried the heavy weight of discouragement and depression; the loss of friends or family members; financial instability; difficult life decisions about vocation or education; some have been plagued with doubt, fear, anxiety, and inner turmoil; some are learning how to thrive as they get older, and some are learning how to care for others in their old age. We have lived daily under the pressure to fit in, anxiety about the future, a craving to succeed, and a longing for happiness.

But in the midst of all of the brokenness and messiness of life, the psalmist reminds us that you are mindful of us and that you care for us. With your mighty power, you hold the world in orbit; with tenderness and a gentle touch you hand craft every flower; with grace and wisdom you guide nations and peoples; you form every droplet of dew, and every creature—both on land or at sea—is an expression of your inexhaustible creativity and beauty.

What good news it is that you have established a stronghold against your enemies, and that you have silenced the foe. We thank you that your care for us goes deeper than just circumstances, that in Christ you have given us a new identity, changed the fundamental structures of our heart, and turned us from enemies into family. Thank you, Lord, that you are mindful of us.

As we reflect on this message, and as your Spirit drives it deep into our heart, we pray that we would grow in our identity as stewards. In the words of the psalmist, “You have made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet.” What a great privilege and responsibility to be stewards of the resources you have given to us. Forgive us, God, for the ways in which we have followed suit with our culture in pursuit of stuff. Forgive us for filling our homes and our minds with clutter; forgive us for the ways in which our hearts have rested in material possessions; and forgive us for the ways in which our pursuit of stuff—and the maintenance of our stuff—gets in the way of being fully present with people.

Father, as we meditate on the good news about Jesus, would you make him more compelling than a home full of nice things? Help us to be more present with people this year. We pray that you would give us the gospel-motivated strength to get rid of the stuff in our life that keeps us inward focused and ignorant of the stories of people you have placed in our spheres of influence.

We long for your gospel to bear fruit in our neighborhoods, our city, and our world; and we would be glad for you to use us to that end.

We ask this in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

December 25, 2016
By Larry Stromberg
Psalm 96

Our gracious God, and heavenly Father, on this day of acknowledging the birth of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we echo the words of the carol, “O come, let us adore Him.”  Father, we love our blessings—family, friends, faith community—and we love the traditions of Christmas—the food, the decorations, and the gifts.  We love these things, but we only adore Your Son.  We save our worship for you our God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We adore you for without Christmas, there would have been no child in the temple impressing the rabbis, there would have been no man miraculously feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and raising the dead; there would have been no perfectly lived life of complete obedience to you His father, from the heart; there would have been no conversion of the Passover to The Table, no betrayal, no arrest, no condemnation in innocence, no death on a Roman cross, and no victorious resurrection.  We adore you on Christmas because without Christmas there would be no gospel and we would be without God and without hope in this world.  And so with the Psalm writer we say to one another, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.”

But Father, who are we that you should consider us?  Who are we that you should confound the laws of nature in this way and come into this broken world to rescue us?  Why should you have to be carried in a peasant woman that you made?  Why should you spend your first hours with smelly animals that you created?  Why should you walk on the same dirt of this earth as us?  And why should you die on a tree that you yourself planted, watered, and made to grow?

We must confess that we have not heeded the psalmist when he says, “For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”  Forgive us for turning this upside down.  Forgive us for making idols out of the things that you have made and with which you have blessed us.  We confess we have made our vocation into an idol of security, we have made relationships an idol of admiration, we have made food and drink into an idol of comfort, and we have even made gathered worship into an idol of good feelings or impressing others.  Forgive us for what we have done and what we have left undone.

Father, we hear such a global tone in this Psalm—
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”

And we thank you for this congregation and their heart for the spread of the Gospel around the globe.  Thank you for the prayers and generosity of your people that have caused the advance of the gospel this year in places like Papua New Guinea, China, Spain, Myanmar, Ethiopia, and The Philippines.  But Father, continue to grow a passion in this congregation for multiplying disciples of Jesus both locally and globally.  Impress upon is in 2017, more than ever before, that this is not optional, but the very reason for our existence as a church.

We are glad today that we can pray in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

December 18, 2016
By John Stromberg
Psalm 80:1-7

Heavenly Father, today we give you thanks for your abundant provision. Although we may complain about the cold, thank you that we have warm places to live, warm clothes to wear, food to eat, and a space where we can gather to worship you as a church family. There are many, even in the Twin Cities, for whom this is not true. We pray that the grace and generosity you’ve lavished on us would cause us not to become comfortable or complacent, but that as a response to your grace we would be people of unreasonable generosity. Please show us ways we can give to others this Christmas season, and help us as a church with a lot of children both to teach and demonstrate compassion towards the poor and the vulnerable in our society and world.  We pray, O God, that you would protect us from having a theology of compassion with no practice of it.

Merciful God, we are grieved to hear continuing stories of carnage in the city of Aleppo, Syria. Our hearts are heavy with what we see: civil war, targeted attacks of women, children, and the most vulnerable, over 4 million refugees. How Long, O Lord, will this sort of thing continue? Forgive us for the ways in which we have been calloused towards the suffering of these people. Forgive us for letting fear and national policy get in the way of showing compassion. Forgive the selfishness that has led us to be so consumed with ourselves that we are hardly moved by images of small children being pulled from the rubble of a crumbling city. And above all, forgive us for our lack of prayer. In so many ways we have believed a gospel of comfort, yet have forgotten that our Lord, Jesus Christ was a refugee. He was marginalized, brutalized, and eventually murdered unjustly by an angry crowd. God, do not let us forget that these most vulnerable people are the ones for whom Christ suffered. And do not let us forget that though our circumstances look different, we are not less vulnerable than they.

You, the Shepherd of Israel, the One enthroned between the cherubim, did indeed awaken your might and come to save us. You sent us your Son, the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for the sheep. Your hand of judgment did indeed rest on him, and through his life, death, and resurrection we have been brought out of darkness and idolatry into newness of life. We pray, Lord, that this message would continue to shape us into a transformational community. We confess that living in biblical community with others is hard—it’s painful, it’s messy, it’s inconvenient—so we pray for the work of your Spirit to convince us of its value. We want not to fill a roster for a program, and we want more than just biblical knowledge; we want to see the gospel take root and be awakened in the life of real people. By your Spirit, make us into a community where people of every age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, or life history can experience the transformation that can only come through the good news about Jesus.

We are desperate to see a movement of your gospel, and we would be delighted for you to use us to that end. Keep our eyes and our attention focused on Jesus now as we hear your Word preached. Give us attentiveness and a desire to take the Word with us throughout our week so that we might be changed to be like Christ. It’s in his name we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

December 11, 2016
By Larry Stromberg
Psalm 146

Our heavenly Father, on this third Sunday of Advent we turn to you—the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.  We praise you for your forever faithfulness.  We seek to praise you with our whole life.  We praise you for your loving faithfulness in the past, we praise you for how you are sustaining our lives in the very moment.  And we praise you for all you will do—providing, protecting, and sustaining us—even to our dying hour.

In this season of Advent, forgive us for desiring the event of Christmas over the meaning of Christmas.  Forgive us for not spending more time contemplating the gift of your Son which brings us the best news we have ever heard.  Forgiving us for not noticing the needs of others around us who may be discouraged and depressed during the season of the year.  Forgive us what we do too much during the Christmas season and forgive us what we do not do enough.  While Advent is a time to celebrate and be shaped by your generosity towards us, we confess that we are quick to forget the needs of those around us.

In your mercy, open our eyes to the ways in which we can serve those in our sphere of influence who are needy.  Help us to see the wide range of needs that exist around us.  Help us notice when someone hurts financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, or relationally.  May we be your agents to bring justice to the oppressed, to bring food to the hungry, to bring deliverance to the imprisoned, and sight to the blind.

Forgive us the times we are more concerned about our own comfort, security, and reputation than the needs of our friends, family, and neighborhood. Holy Spirit, we ask for open eyes, perceptive hearts, and willing hands to serve others in whatever ways they may need. Make us a community characterized by generosity.

And Lord, today we ask that you would bless to work of our church council.  Thank you for these men and women who represent us and manage the affairs of this church on our behalf.  Thank you for their diligence in balancing the books, paying the bills, addressing special needs, stewarding the property that we own, and keeping the work of this church managed well and kept in order.  Thank you for their generous gift of their time and skills to do this.

Finally, Lord, give us spiritual alertness as we hear the Word of God today.  Keep our eyes open, keep our ears up, and keep our hearts warm as you yourself speak to us today through your servant.

We ask this in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

December 4, 2016
By John Stromberg
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Heavenly Father, we are grateful this morning for this season of Advent. We thank you for sending your Son into our world to live among us, and we are thankful for his work on the cross. As we move into this season that’s full of family gatherings, presents, trees, and lights, we pray that you would continue to make us a generous people as we fix our eyes on Jesus, who stepped into poverty so that we could become rich. Protect us from consumerism and protect us from placing our hope in possessions.

Lord, there are some here today who are journeying through this holiday season carrying deep feelings of loneliness. For some it’s because they have lost someone dear to them. Others are reminded of their singleness, their infertility, or the hostility that has torn their family apart. We ask, God, that you would bring comfort to those who feel lonely and discouraged. And for those of us whose hearts are full this season, would you teach us how we can live out our core identity of family. As we look to Jesus, whose death unites us into one new family, please give us eyes to see the hurt of those around us, and please give us hearts of compassion and generosity as we practice living as a grace-centered community.

As we hear the words of king Solomon in this psalm, we are once again reminded of the kind of leader our hearts desire. We long to be led by a person of integrity, someone who defends the afflicted and marginalized, someone who cares for the poor and the needy, who loves the widow, and rules with justice and righteousness. Merciful God, too often we have looked for this kind of leader in our political system. We confess that it has led us to place too much confidence in elected officials, and has led us to have feelings of resentment towards those who do not hold our political views. Forgive us, God, for our misplaced hope, and by your Spirit would you help us to see King Jesus as the One for whom our hearts long.

He is the One who came not with fanfare or political power, but in utter humility, and even now, his Kingdom is not spread through force or coercion, but through grace. As we look to the cross of our crucified Lord, cause us to respond with lives of compassion and justice. Help us to know how we might feed the poor and clothe the naked without enabling or creating unhealthy patterns of dependence. We pray that you would give us opportunities to speak up for the vulnerable and marginalized in our society, and we pray for opportunities to engage in mutually beneficial relationships with those who our society has dismissed or whose lives have been impacted by systemic racism and social prejudice.

We long to be people of justice, and we believe that your gospel is good news and healing power for all people. By your Spirit, cause your gospel to bear fruit. Our hearts long for the day when all people will say with the Psalmist,

“Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel;

who alone does marvelous deeds.

Praise be to his glorious name forever

may the whole earth be filled with his glory.”

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

November 27, 2016
By Larry Stromberg
Psalm 122

Our gracious heavenly Father-

As we begin a new liturgical year and as we begin this season of Advent, we praise you for the hope we have because of the birth of your Son.  After centuries and centuries of anticipation, in the fullness of time you sent your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born of Mary, into this fallen world that you love and that you are determined to redeem.  In a world so void of hope, remind us on this day that putting our hope in you is not wishful thinking or just throwing the dice, but it is a hope that is firmly established on centuries of you being our promise-making and promise-keeping God.

We hear the words of the Psalmist—

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

We confess, merciful God, that it is way too infrequent that we can honestly speak these words.  Sometimes it feels like we arrive barely arrive in this place physically, but mentally and emotionally we are somewhere else.  Gentle Shepherd, you know your sheep and you see them struggling to get here.  Some of them stayed up too late last night.  Some of them hit the snooze button too many times.  Some of them have already had an argument with someone in the family today.  Some of them have been dragged here by someone else.  Some are only here to protect their image.  God forgive us for our misplaced affections and our inverted values.

Like the people of God of long ago found delight in the tangible and physical city of Jerusalem, help us, as your New Testament people, to find delight in the invisible and spiritual city of God, of which we are citizens by faith and which is growing subversively in the world in which we live.  May we delight in your rule over us, may we delight in gathering to worship you, may we delight in the community of faith where you have embedded us, and may our delight in this Jerusalem be apparent to our friends, family, and neighbors.

Make Sunday gathered worship a joy and something we long for, rather than a chore where we are only going through the motions.  Warm our hearts to worshipping you to that point that we come into this place with prepared hearts.  Move our hearts and minds on Saturday night in anticipation.  Rouse us early from our slumber on Sunday morning.  Bring us here in proper frame of mind in spite of all the obstacles and distractions our Adversary will through at us to run our morning off the tracks.  Protect Pastor John even now from any distractions or worries that would impede his ability to communicate your grace by means of your Word to us your people who so desperately need what you have to say to us today.

And, Lord, like the psalmist says, may there be peace within our walls.  Protect the peace among us in our families, in our place of vocation, in our church family, and in our gospel communities.  May we be quick to listen and slow to speak.  May we seek first to understand and then to be understood.  May we offer grace quickly to one another because this is what the gospel teaches us and this is what you do for us.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

November 20, 2016
By John Chamberlain
Psalm 46

Heavenly Father,

We praise you this morning for your constant help in our times of trouble.  We thank you for the peace that we can have knowing you are in ultimate control over everything on this earth.  The Psalmist teaches us that even though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea, you are still in control.   Father continue to impress upon us that we can have confidence in you because of your great strength.

We ask that you continue to give wisdom to Dave, Tom and Dan in our North Central District.  May you help them determine the best use of resources and personnel to further your kingdom in our district.  We also pray for the leaders of our cities, states, and at the national level.   Help them to make decisions that would be in line with your will and at the same time advance the message of the gospel.  Also, we ask that you would help us as individuals to humble ourselves and realize our need for your saving grace in our lives every day.  May we be still and take time to reflect on how great you are.  Because of your great mercy and Christ taking our sin on to himself, we can have tremendous hope in the future.  Help us to live lives that reflect this hope to those we come in contact with.  Help us also to be quick to share the reason for the hope that we have.

Father, we want to pray for David and Katrina in Spain at this time.  Thank you for the good word we have received that their baby boy is healthy. Help Katrina to have an extra measure of strength as her pregnancy moves forward.  We ask that you would help them both to get over the recent colds they have had for a while.  Thank you for allowing David to be able to start training to receive his Spanish driver’s license.  May this tool be used to help make their ministry more effective.  We also ask that you would help them to raise the additional 530 in monthly support that they need as well as additional funds for their car.

Finally father, as we anticipate the coming of Thanksgiving this week, may we be truly grateful for all you have provided.  For the bounty of food we will enjoy; for the deepening of relationships with family members and those in our Gospel communities; for the freedom we enjoy to worship and praise you; in all of these blessings, we give you thanks.  For it’s in Jesus name we pray.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

November 13, 2016
By Larry Stromberg
Isaiah 65:17-25

Father, in the wake of this week’s election, we come before you and ask for mercy. As the dust from the election settles, we pray that you would fill us with both compassion and justice. We beg of you, God, that you would raise up your Church to be an instrument of reconciliation in our fractured society. The protests, the anger, and the backlash of this election have shown just how deeply divided our country is, how poorly we seek to understand one another, and how desperate we are to see the healing power of the gospel at work in our nation.

God, today we suffer and today our nation suffers because we have placed too much importance on human rulers.  We have expected human government to do what it was never meant to do and what it is impotent to do—

To create a city where the sound of weeping and of crying are heard in it no more.

To create a place where God’s chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.

To create a community where people do not labor in vain, and they do not bear children doomed to misfortune;

We confess that we have sinned in our gloating and we confess that we have sinned in our despair and disappointment for both reveal the idolatry of human solutions.  What we know we must do now is the same as a week ago—have hearts of compassion, an eagerness to listen, and the courage to stand against injustice, racism, sexism, and hatred in every place. In your mercy, guide us to know how to stand up for the vulnerable, whether they are women, children, elderly, minorities, or disabled. As we look to Christ, the One who made himself vulnerable for us, shape us into a people who are willing to disadvantage ourselves for the flourishing of others.

God, there is much to lament in our world, and yet we are also encouraged by the work you are doing. We give you thanks for this new GC, for these people who are eager to step into disciple making relationships with one another.

As this group of people build relationships together, we ask that you would help them to keep grace, community, and mission at the center of everything they do. We pray for fruitful gospel conversation, whether in an official gathering, or in the rhythms of everyday life. We pray for deep community and relationships to be formed and for these families to catch a vision for opening up their homes and lives to others. And we pray for their gospel witness—as individuals and as a community—to bear much fruit.

As they grow together, we pray that you would keep their hearts eager to bring others into community. Protect them from becoming inward focused, and from the idolatry of comfort that would keep them from bringing others into relationships. Give them an eagerness to see new people brought into their GC, and we pray this would continue to become the kind of community where all people—regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or marital status—can find a home.

Lord, help them learn how to best navigate the complexity of schedules, family life, and vocation. Grant them wisdom to know when their priorities may have become unhealthy, and continue to form them into a group of people whose involvement in community is not an addition to their already busy life, but the rhythm into which everything else fits.

We thank you for your faithfulness, and we are excited to hear about how you will use this GC in the months and years to come. We pray that through them, and through all of our GCs, your gospel would go forth into the Twin Cities and beyond.

We ask this in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

November 6, 2016
By Peter Rieke
Psalm 98

Our Father in heaven, we give you praise today for the marvelous things you have done. We praise you because in your son Jesus, you have made your salvation known, and revealed your righteousness to the nations. We praise you for your faithfulness and love.

We pray this morning for our neighbors in the city of Waseca, Minnesota, who are still recovering from September’s severe flood. Many people do not have flood insurance, and the needs there are great. We ask you to provide the material and human resources necessary to rebuild and restore the city. We pray specifically for Pastor Chris Johnson and our sisters and brothers at Christ Community Church in Waseca, who have been giving shelter and aid to those affected by the flood. May their faithfulness in loving and serving those around them bear Gospel fruit in the months and years to come. We thank you for the sister EFCA churches, including Centennial Church, who are supporting them financially, or by sending manpower to help repair damaged homes and businesses. Continue to provide for their needs, and encourage them by your Holy Spirit.

We lift up the Jeff and Jen <name withheld> family today. Thank you, God, for protecting little Evelyn during her cranial surgery this past week. This is the outcome that so many of us prayed for, and we praise you for your faithfulness and providence. Please continue to provide for this family as they wait for Evelyn to fully recover in the hospital for the next few days. Strengthen and encourage them, and cause Evelyn’s body to fully and quickly heal.

Today’s Psalm says you judge the world in righteousness, and the people with equity. O Lord, as we near the end of election season, how we long for the fulfillment of this promise. We long for a ruler who is wise and just, who defends the poor and vulnerable, who opposes evil and does what is right. God, we confess that like ancient Israel, we often place our trust in the wrong kind of authority. Just as Israel demanded a human king, we look to presidents, senators, congressmen, and other human authorities to provide for our protection, comfort, and power. We confess that we have prioritized political influence over Gospel witness, and in so doing have harmed the cause of your kingdom in our nation. We confess that we have allowed the daily noise of politics online, on the radio, and on television to stoke our anger toward our neighbors whose race or culture is different from ours, or who think differently than we do. As we enter the voting booth this week, cause us to see our vote as a tool to use for the good of our cities, our state, and our country. May we vote not for our own power or comfort, but for the flourishing of our neighbors. Help us to see that the outcome of this and every election is in your hands, and help us to trust that your plans are good.

We thank you, Father, for opportunity to gather as your body in this place today. As we sing songs of worship and praise, as we study your word, as we meditate on the work of Christ at the table, be at work in our hearts by the power of your Holy Spirit.

In all these things we give you thanks and praise, and we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus our Lord.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

October 30,2016
By Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 32

Father, we praise You that Your unfailing love surrounds us. You teach and counsel us. You are our hiding place; you protect us from trouble and surround us with songs of deliverance. You hear our prayers and allow Yourself to be found by us. And you forgive the guilt of our sins, covering it with the blood of Jesus. Thank you, Lord.

As we approach our nation’s elections next week, we ask You, Father, to forgive us for our tendency to trust in our own wisdom rather than looking to You for counsel. We are prone to look for other people to rescue us, to put our trust and hope in elected officials or economic and political policies, rather than resting them solely on You. In that way we are like the Israelites of long ago who wanted a king like all the other nations, who turned to Egypt for help, and who forgot to honor their Lord as King. Forgive us, Father.

We pray that as we, Your church, prepare to vote, that we would be guided by Your Spirit to make decisions that honor You, both in the presidential election and in the many local decisions that affect the communities in which You’ve placed us. May we extend grace and friendship to those who see things differently and learn from their perspectives. Keep us from pride, contempt, slander, fear, a trust in lesser things, and anything else that threatens to harm our hearts or our witness to the world, which is of greater importance in Your sight than who is sworn in as president of this nation. May we remember to pray regularly for those in leadership over us, whoever they may be. And Father, we trust You to be King over all, the sovereign Lord who does what He pleases with the powers of Heaven and the people of the earth. May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

We thank You for Pastor Larry’s trip to Ethiopia this past week. We pray for his safe return today, for much fruit from his work there, and for Your church to spread and be strengthened both in Ethiopia and right here.

We also want to lift up to you today little Evelyn Burmeister and her upcoming surgery this week. We pray for You to protect her, to give wisdom and skill to her doctors and surgeons, and to surround her whole family with peace in this time. We pray for a successful surgery and quick recovery, and we thank You for the medical technology and professionals that make this possible.

For anyone else among us this week who is hurting or in need, may You show us ways to be Your church, to support and care for each other, and may You help us all to grow in faith, in hope, and in love, and to be people who rejoice in You and sing, whatever comes our way, for You are worthy.

In the name of Jesus we pray,

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

 October 23, 2016
By Dave Linde

Heavenly Father, we revel in the joy of this psalm for we, too, your New Covenant people, share in the same kind of blessings as the Old, and even better.  We too were overwhelmed by our sins and you forgave us—through the life and death and resurrection of your son, Jesus.  Your gift of him to us was your most awesome act of righteousness.  Not only were you mighty in creating the mountains and stilling the seas and subduing enemy nations; you are mighty in your new creation, the renovation of our lives—and heaven and earth—through the gospel.  You are mighty in subduing, through Christ’s victory, the tumult of the demonic enemies arrayed against you and us.  And as you blessed your ancient people with the agricultural bounty you had promised, you have blessed us even more: with every spiritual blessing in Christ—even as we have been learning from the Apostle Peter’s first letter: we have been chosen by you, sanctified by your Spirit, sprinkled by the blood of Christ, given new birth into an everlasting inheritance, protected by your power, built up as a spiritual house on the cornerstone of Christ, our most precious possession.  Truly we are blessed to have been brought near to you in him!  We are indeed filled with the good things of your house!

Truly, Father, all nations will come to you because of glory like this.  You are indeed the hope of the ends of the earth.  Continue your righteous deeds of gospel victory among Buddhist peoples, Chinese peoples, Hindu peoples, Muslim peoples, and tribal peoples so that from morning to evening around the globe joyful song will rise to Christ.  Bring this same awesome victory of the gospel to the persons in our networks of relationships who do not yet know you.

Father, you who answer prayer, thank you for Clara Jensen’s safe arrival on Friday.  Bless little Evelyn Burmeister as she and her family prepare for her important surgery.  Protect and empower Pastor Larry in Ethiopia.  Use his teaching to equip your pastors to teach your word carefully that they might equip your people to live and spread your word.   This morning, as we receive your instruction from Scripture about marriage, grant us keen wisdom.  May we who are married follow Jesus more fully in the challenges of suffering, submission, and love.  May we who are single also follow in your footsteps, Lord—you who know firsthand the challenges, joys, and honor of living a single life.

Finally, Father, we bring to you the upcoming political election.  Do your will, putting in office the elected leaders of your choice.  Give us discernment in our voting, healthy unity amid our differing opinions, and grace to honor those who are elected.  Especially give us progress in living out the very things we have been learning from Peter’s first letter.  May our lives be so full of well-doing that, even though society may accuse us of harm, they will see our good deeds and glorify you in the day that Jesus Christ returns as the only one truly qualified to rule and lead this world.

We pray through him and for his glory,

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

October 16, 2016
by Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 119:97-104

Our Father, we praise You this morning for Your Word and for what it reminds us about who You are: that you are all wise, that You have understanding on every subject, even those we struggle to get our minds around. You know them all. You know the end from the beginning, You know every word before it is on our tongues, and You know what is best for us. For those of us this morning wrestling with pain and questions we do not know how to understand, may we find comfort in the fact that You know.

And Father, we thank You that You are a God who speaks. You have chosen to share Your wisdom with us through the gift of Your Word.

Forgive us, Father, for we do not meditate on Your Word all day long as the psalmist says. We confess that we are more prone to meditate on approaching deadlines, difficult conversations, the upcoming election, and the busyness of our days, rather than on Your Word. But oh, how all of those things would be better off if we would carry Your Word with us every moment, if we allowed it to make us wiser, give us understanding, and keep our feet from every evil path.

We ask, Lord, that as we learn Your Word here among Your church or as we study it in our homes and talk about it with our friends and families, that You would cause it to more and more invade our hearts, shape our minds, and direct our steps.

May it invade our hearts by reordering our desires. May we grow a craving for Your Word because it is sweeter than honey to our mouths. May our love and longing for You grow to push out all those desires that are not of you, that as we love Your Word more, we begin to put to death the sinful desires that cling so tightly to our hearts.

May it shape our minds as we allow You to teach us. May Your Word crowd out of our mind the preconceived ideas we have carried around that are not of You but are simply from our culture or upbringing or opinion. May You help us to think rightly about the issues we face, the conversations we have with friends and neighbors and coworkers, the way we vote—and perhaps more importantly, the way we talk about our beliefs and desires with those around us or on social media. May the truth of Your Word keep our minds free from worry and fear, which are at odds with the faith that You call us to and which You fully deserve.

And God, may Your word direct our steps. Keep us from every evil path. May we develop a loathing for those things which tug on us but which we know pull us away from You, hinder our prayers and our clear thinking, and cause those around us to stumble. Oh Father, keep our ways pure, for the glory of Your holy name, by which we make this prayer.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

October 9, 2016
by John Chamberlain
Psalm 66:1-12

Heavenly Father,

We come before you today to praise you…even to shout our praise to you for you are most worthy.  Why is it that we find it easy to get excited and shout at sporting events or concerts, but yet we are so reserved when it comes to expressing our joy in You.  May we truly get excited today knowing you are in our midst!

The psalmist teaches us that your power is so great that enemies cringe before you and the whole earth bows down to you.  May we have confidence in your strength knowing that this is true. In your goodness, you have preserved our lives and continue to keep us from slipping.  Help us to be drawn close to you and rest in the assurance that you know what is best for us.

We also learn that you test us to refine us. These tests are burdens that are not fun to go through.  Remind us in these times that you are in total control and never caught off guard. If you have us walking through a particular trial, keep us from becoming overwhelmed by it. Rather, help us to be able to embrace the truth that you are still there and care deeply for our well being.

Father, we thank you for the time Catherine has been able to be at home these last months. She has been able to share with people firsthand about the work you are having her do in  Papua New Guinea.  Thanks for the encouraging response she has been receiving when she has gone out to meet with supporters. Please continue to strengthen Catherine physically and provide wisdom to her doctors as they try to discern how to help her.

Please be with Jennifer and the Youth as they finish up their weekend at fall blitz. May they put in practice the teachings they have heard.

Father we have also seen the incredible power on display this last week through Hurricane Mathew.  In the aftermath of this hurricane, may people see love in action through your people.  Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and hundreds of people have lost their lives in Haiti alone.  May this be an opportunity for Christ followers to show your love in a tangible way.  Please give us wisdom in knowing how you would like us to respond.

Lord as we head into the final stretch of this election cycle, I ask that you would be merciful to our country.  Please allow men and women that honor you to be elected to leadership.  We ask this so that the good news of your gospel will be allowed to flourish and not be thwarted.  Begin in our own lives the work of purifying our hearts. May the work you start in us flow to those around us so that your name will be praised!    For it’s in Jesus name we pray.

 

October 2, 2016
by Katie Jensen
Lamentations 3:19-26

Heavenly Father,

You are good, even when our circumstances are not.  In the book of Lamentations, a book filled with despair and utter darkness, we find this passage, a shimmer of light.  Lord, even when we are wandering, filled with bitterness; when we are empty, you offer hope.  Father God, your compassions never fail, great is your faithfulness!  You are so good and we long for the day that we dwell in your presence, basking in your glory, and fully satisfied by you.

Father, forgive us for our forgetfulness.  In hard times, we forget to reflect on your faithfulness as the author of Lamentations does here.  We forget that it is because of your great love that we are not consumed.  When we wander and are lost, when we have no hope, remind us of your goodness.  Lord, even when we cannot feel your love, let us know your love never fails.  Let not our feelings and emotions lead us astray from your sustaining hand.  Your compassions are new every morning and great is your faithfulness.

Lord God, forgive us for also forgetting our past afflictions in times of happiness and prosperity.  The author of Lamentations says that he will remember his affliction and wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  May we reflect upon our past and remember how you have provided for us in good times and in bad.

Lord, we lift up those in our congregation who are facing trials that seem insurmountable.  We pray that you would increase their dependence on you and recognition that you are the one who can overcome.  We pray that you would give us, their church family, tangible ways that we can show your love and faithfulness to them.  Mobilize us to be a family, showing Christ’s love to one another and letting that shine to all those around us.

We lift up our Gospel Communities to you.  We desire to follow your call for us to be a family, guide us as we work out what that looks like.  Teach us to open up and allow others into our messy lives and hearts; may we learn to serve and how to be served.   Grow our love for one another as we seek to be more like you.  Jesus, we pray that your light would shine out from our Gospel Communities and draw our friends and neighbors into relationship with you.  We pray that your gospel would advance and many more would know the eternal joy of your salvation.

And Father, once again we come to you with heavy hearts hearing tragedy after tragedy in our world.  Lord, we pray that you would embrace the family and friends of the South Carolina six year old, who died after being shot in the school playground.  How much longer will we have to hear of such horrors?  O God, this is not our home, but while you have us here, please help us to make this world a better place for your glory.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

September 25, 2016
by John Stromberg

Psalm 91:1-8

Heavenly Father, this morning we are grateful for what this psalm teaches us, that you are our refuge, that you are our fortress, and that anyone can find refuge in you. We are thankful that your grace makes a way for all people to be in relationship with you irrespective of age, gender, background, marital status, or life accomplishments. We pray that as we gather today, your Holy Spirit would drive the reality of your grace deeper into our hearts so that we can worship you rightly and be shaped into the kind of community for which you have designed us.

Merciful God, we confess that often times we find our refuge and our fortress in something or someone else. When things in the economy are uncertain, we look to money or investments as the source of our security. When culture around us is changing and our country is afraid of the future, we look to political figures as our source of stability and protection. When we struggle to believe we have dignity and value, we look to our possessions, our appearance, and our achievements as our security, as proof that we’re somebody. Forgive us, God, for the many ways we find our refuge in things like reputation, accomplishment, education, money, family, and power.

Lord, we pray for the women who were in attendance at the women’s retreat this year in Canon Falls, many of whom are traveling home even now. We give you thanks that these women, who are so important to us as a church, could have time away together to build relationships, learn together, and spend focused, undistracted time with you. We are grateful that the women in attendance are from varied backgrounds and stages of life—some married, some single, some with children of their own, some with children on the way, some older, some younger. It is a gift to have such a diversity of experiences among these ladies, and we look forward to hearing reports of how you have been at work among them over this last weekend.

Help us, Lord, to know how we can best serve these women throughout the year. Teach us how we as a church can make this a place where women from all backgrounds and in all stages of life can find relationship and encouragement. We pray specifically for the ladies in our church who are single. Some are single because of life stage, some as a vocation and calling from you, and some because of other life circumstances.

As a church, protect us from ever communicating that the essence of being a godly woman is tied to circumstantial factors like having a husband, having children, or having certain interests. Forgive us for how we treat having a spouse as a mark of maturity, for explicitly or implicitly communicating that a person has reached adulthood once they have a spouse. Help us, God, to clearly, boldly, and regularly communicate that human dignity is derived from being made in your image, and that the source of our identity is found in Jesus and his work on our behalf.

We ask this not only for our ladies, but for every person in our congregation who finds themselves in a season or vocation of singleness. Draw our attention to Jesus, our Savior who never married, and help us to cherish him as the One who laid down his life in order to make us his Bride. We pray this so that Jesus would be made much of in our city.

 

September 18, 2016
by Peter Rieke

Psalm 113

Our Father in heaven, it is good to praise your name together today. This local body is joined with your church around the world as we together say, “Let the name of the Lord be praised.”  We praise you for the beauty of your creation, which surrounds us and reminds us of your creativity and power. We praise you for your gospel of salvation, and we pray that this morning our hearts would be awakened to Jesus, that we might see him as more beautiful and desirable than anything our earthly lives can offer.

We praise you this morning because you are on your throne, and we can trust in your sovereignty and strength. God, there is so much chaos in our world, so many things that make us discouraged and afraid. We think specifically of our sisters and brothers in Christ who face persecution for their faith in places like Syria, the Philippines, Sudan, and many others. We confess that we are often neglectful of them in prayer, and slow to act when they need our practical help. Forgive us, Father, and strengthen your church around the globe. Cause all of us to follow the example of your Son, Jesus, who suffered in our place to deliver us from our sin.

Lord, you are exalted above all nations. In this election season, we pray for wisdom and humility as we choose new leaders to serve in our government. God, help us to see that your kingdom does not depend on our political influence. May your church in the United States prioritize gospel witness and human flourishing over partisan arguments. Lead us by your Holy Spirit away from the idol of power, and into deeper worship of Jesus, who surrendered his throne.

Lord, you raise the poor from the dust, and lift the needy from the ash heap. God, give us eyes to see those in our midst who are suffering. As we see your mercy for us in the gospel, make us compassionate toward the poor around the world, and even in our local community. We pray for those in this room today who are discouraged, for those facing difficult financial situations, difficult health problems, or relationships that seem broken beyond repair. Encourage us with the restorative power of the gospel, help us see how the power of the cross repairs broken people, and help us to wait patiently for your return, when all things will be made new and we will worship in your presence forever.

We pray all these things in the name of Jesus.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

September 11, 2016
by Larry Stromberg

Psalm 14

Our gracious God,

We praise you and worship you today because we know that you are with us and that you love us through every season of life.  We praise you today for your church—that community of faith where we learn of you together, where we serve you by serving one another, and where we find encouragement and comfort in all the ups and downs of life.  Thank you, God, for your church as it gathers together around the globe on every continent of this earth.  And thank you, God, for this assembly of your church gathered in this room this morning.  May each person in this room feel valued and accepted.  May Centennial Church be a safe harbor amidst life’s storms.

Father, this Psalm speaks frankly about the foolish person who says in his heart, “there is no God.”  This Psalm laments how people have turned away from God.  This Psalm rebukes those who take advantage of the power and powerless.  We confess to you that we, at times, are this person.

When spiritual disciplines like prayer and meditation slip out of our lives because of the drowning wave of lesser things, we have said “there is no God.”  When we treat Sunday like a second Saturday in our week, we have said “there is no God.”  When it becomes more important that our children understand how to spell and how to multiply than that they understand the gospel, we have said “there is no God.”  Show us all those places in our own lives where we have become functional atheists.  We humbly confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and what we have left undone.

And Lord, today we pause for a moment to mourn.  We mourn for the people who lost loved ones in the attack of September 11, fifteen years ago now.  We mourn all the lives that have been lost since then in the violence of continuing attacks as well as in the violence of war.  Lord we mourn for lives lost, but we also mourn for your world.  You did not create this place this way and we long for its restoration.

But we also mourn for our brother and member, <name withheld> who lost his brother this week after lengthy illness.  We have hope because of the resurrection, but still we grieve.  Bring comfort by your Spirit to Bruce and his family.

Finally, give us hearts to hear your word today.  God, we are so easily distracted and our attention spans are so short that we cannot do this without your help.  May we hear your word this morning with an engaged heart and mind.  Begin showing us how to thrive, not just survive.  Show us the joy and opportunity of being exiles in a land that needs the influence of your good Gospel.

We ask this in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

September 4, 2016
by Larry Stromberg

Psalm 139:1-7

Our gracious, loving, Heavenly Father,

We are overwhelmed with the vast depth of your knowledge of us.  You look down on this day upon this group of people sitting in this room at this time and you know each and every one of them entirely.  When you see these people- your people- you see it all.  You see where they have come from, you see all of the sins and mistakes and betrayals of their past.  You see each and every hurtful experience they have ever had along the road of life.  You see every one they have hurt.  You see everyone who has hurt them.  And you love them through it.

You see each and every package they carry with them into this room today.  You see their fears.  You see their anger.  You see their disappointment.  You see their loneliness.  You see their grief.  You see their stress.  You see each tear that falls.  You see each tear that is stubbornly held inside.

This knowledge is too much for us, but what overwhelms us is your grace.  That you- our all-knowing God- would know us more deeply than anyone has ever known us and yet love us more profoundly than anyone has ever loved us. We cannot find human words to describe this.  We can only sit in silence.  It is for this we praise you, God.

We know you are present with us now and always, but we confess that we often assume and live as if you were not.  We rely too much on our own intelligence instead of seeking your guidance.  We think and act as if our thoughts and actions are hidden from you.  Show us today how to love you above all else and how to be satisfied in following you.

This week give us opportunities to sacrifice for the best of another person, because we know this is the way that we love you.  Slow us down.  Let us be open to interruptions.  Remove our lenses of prejudice.  May the people we encounter feel important in our presence and may we treat them in the same way Jesus would and in the same way he has treated us: with mercy, compassion, and grace.  Make Jesus the first love of our lives.

And we ask this in his name, for his sake.

And all God’s people said,

Amen

 

August 28, 2016
by John Stromberg

Psalm 81

Heavenly Father, with the psalmist this morning, we lift our voices to praise you. We are thankful for how we have seen you work in history as well as our own lives, and we pray now that you’re Spirit would awaken our hearts to the beauty of your gospel. In this psalm we see the relentless love you have for your people, how you are constantly giving opportunity for us to turn from our idols and redirect our worship towards you. Thank you that your love is patient, long-suffering, and stubborn.

We think specifically of the Circle Pines GC today and we lift them to you in prayer. We are encouraged by the inter-generational relationships we see forming among them. We are encouraged by their regular rhythm of sermon discussion and prayer. We are encouraged by the ways this group of people cares for one another and is present during times of joy as well as times of difficulty. We give you thanks for the ways in which you are at work among them.

We pray, God, that you would continue to teach them not only how to care for one another, but how to invite those who are not yet disciples of Jesus into the context of community to see your Spirit at work. Would you grant them creativity to know how to create a space where those who are not yet followers of Jesus can experience the community of the Church. Would you help them to see everything they do—planned or spur of the moment, structured or unstructured—as an opportunity to live as disciples with gospel intentionality. Our desire, Lord, is to see fruit. We long for stories of lives changed, marriages restored, families reunited, addicts set free, self-righteous understanding grace. We long to see friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers engaged with and transformed by the good news about Jesus, so we pray for the fruit that can only come through the work of your Spirit.

Merciful God, we confess how easy it is to view living as disciple makers as an extra curricular activity. For all of us here, our default is to view living in community and living on mission as something for the extra committed and the extra gifted. Forgive us, O God, for loving our comfort and our privacy more than our friends who don’t yet know Jesus. Forgive us for choosing to have a life so cluttered with stuff that it chokes out any chance of living in gospel community. Help us to see those areas of idolatry, and teach us to repent by believing the gospel.

As we look to Jesus, who gave up his comfort, who gave up his wealth, and who ultimately gave up his life for us, would you, by your Spirit, motivate us to a robust life of serving and following our risen Lord. Teach us what it looks like to set aside our preferences, to lay down our comfort, and to live a life poured out for others. We pray this so that the name of Jesus would be made much of in our communities and in our city.

And all God’s people said

Amen

 

August 21, 2016
by Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 71:1-8

O Lord, You are our Rock of refuge, our Fortress, to which we may continually come. We are so thankful. Thank You for being a constant source of security in a world that can feel so uncertain and unjust. We praise You for being our righteous Deliverer, for reaching down to us when we were far from You and unable to save ourselves. And we thank You for being our hope, the One we lean on.

This week, Father, many of us will need to lean on You. As we face financial challenges, let us trust You to provide. As we face broken relationships, shattered dreams, our own frailty, let us always go to You as our Refuge. When we are unjustly treated, wrongly blamed, and suffering under cruelty or criticism, may You be the Rock on which we can stand firm.

And Lord, we need Your hope. In a world where innocent people are shot and killed, in a world where we are constantly reading new studies of things we are doing wrong that will probably hurt us or our kids in the future, in a nation where our political choices seem to get further from what we know You desire with every election.  Please free us from fear. Free us from the desire to control all the outcomes. Free us from feelings of discouragement and defeat, because we know that our only hope is in You. And You are our Fortress, strong and steady, ever-present and everlasting, unbreakable and undefeatable. Forgive us for failing to run to You and seeking out other places of refuge, which always crumble. Thank You for being the Rock to which we can always return.

We pray this morning for our global partners who are seeking to fulfill Your commission to make disciples of all nations. We thank You that as we seek to do Your work here, we can partner with these brothers and sisters who continue that work on the other side of the world. But we know that they face much difficulty and that Satan is against the work they are trying to do. We pray for Your strength in the midst of attack through difficult relationships, chronic health problems, anxiety and trauma, stress and fatigue, struggles with language and cultural barriers, resistance to Your gospel, financial lack, and of course the need to fit many different needs into their schedule. Lord, would You give them greater faith, hope, and joy as they toil for Your Kingdom? We pray for solid relationships and supportive churches so that they can work out of true community. We pray that many would come to know You through their work, that disciplemakers would multiply and churches would be planted, and whole nations would come to know You as Savior and Lord.

We pray all this in the name of Jesus, who by His death on the cross makes all of this possible.

And all God’s people said

Amen

 

August 14, 2016
by David Linde
Psalm 80

Lord Jesus, we pause and reflect on how you prayed this psalm when you walked on earth.  Surely as you observed the life of your people Israel at that time, you saw their oppression, their spiritual disarray and vulnerability, their disciplinary misery at the hand of pagan rulers, the outright wickedness of many of their spiritual leaders.  You saw the righteous anger of your Father against their long history of distrust, rebellion, and sin.  Indeed, you yourself at times were angry with them.  In the midst of those seemingly despairing circumstances, you yourself prayed this very psalm, calling out to the Father to restore his covenant people in his faithfulness to his promises.

Lord Jesus, today, on this side of your life and death and resurrection and ascension to the right hand of your Father, we see how you yourself became the answer to the cry of this psalm.  Your sacrificial death became the basis for your people being restored.  You endured the turning away of God’s face as you took our sins on yourself, and so now God’s face shines on us in favor, and we see the glory of God in your face.  You bore in full measure all divine wrath against our sin, and so now our relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one of peace, free of all divine anger, a priceless blessing to us.

Jesus, in you this psalm is fulfilled: we have been restored; God’s face does shine on us; we have been comprehensively saved!  Praise be to you!  May the desperate longings and cries of this psalm be matched by our earnest praise and thanksgiving as we consider you and what you have done.

Yet the heart-cry of the psalm still finds a place in our own hearts, Lord.  While celebrating fulfillment of the psalm in the New Covenant, in our day-to-day following of you, with our New Covenant struggles, we still cry out with the psalmist, “restore us, God!”  Where the world has influenced our thinking more than your word, restore us!  Where our unbelief and self-reliance has us straying out of your path, restore us!  Where the glory of you and your kingdom is obscured in our lives and our life together, restore us!  And may we eagerly receive this restoration because of the ultimate saving restoration you have already effected.

And so, Lord, amid our society’s individualism, consumerism, busyness, self-centeredness, and relational poverty, restore us to robust Biblical community and fellowship as a church.  Guide us and advance us in our gospel communities.  Lead us in this rhythm of life such that we will display you more fully and not-yet-believers will see you and receive you.

We pray in particular today for the Forest Lake gospel community, for Jeff and Sonja as facilitators as well as for all the members.  Enrich them as they meet together, as they worship together, as they serve one another, as they reach out to outsiders together.  Form Christ in them.  Shine Christ through them.  Help them with challenges of calendar and geography.  Help them in leveraging the remaining summer season for connecting in fruitful relationships.  Through their gospel community, and through all our church’s gospel communities, may the reality of your restoring your people be cherished, be displayed, and be shared.

This our prayer, Father, we make through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And all God’s people said

Amen

 

August 7, 2016
by Katie Jensen
Psalm 50

O God Most High,

We are in awe of your power and majesty; you are King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Ruler over all.  Maker of Heaven and Earth, you have created all things and you are due all glory and honor.  We praise you for your fine craftsmanship, from raging seas to delicate eyelashes.  You created each of us and we thank you for the great care and compassion you have demonstrated in creating each unique being.  You are Creator and Ruler, and this psalm reminds us that you are a God of justice.  You created a perfect world, displaying your glory, and we have marred it with sin.  We long for the day when your justice will prevail over all and those of us covered by the blood of Jesus will walk with the light of your glory illuminating our every step.

Give us grace, now, as we live in this broken world, as imperfect image bearers of you.  Forgive us, Father, for elevating ourselves above you.  How often we idolize our own person, our accomplishments, our possessions and even our offerings.  Psalm 50 reminds us that you have no need for us and our sacrifices, for every animal of the forest is yours, and the cattle on a thousand hills; the world is yours and all that is in it.  All that we are, all that we have, is from your hand.  Grant us a right view of who we are and continue to remind us that all we have is yours.

God, as you increase in us our recognition that all we have is yours, may you cause us to have generous hearts and open hands.  Help us to be intentional with the time you have given us.  We know that you value work and pray that you would help each of us to work for you in our vocations.  Inside and outside our vocations, we pray that you would increase our disciple-making relationships.  Help us to go deeper with one another and to bring others along who do not yet know you.  We ask that as we learn to freely give of our time, that we would see our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors come to Christ, for your glory.

As everything is yours, Father, make us joyful givers of our money and resources.  Increase our intentionality of how we spend your money; may our giving be what we think of first, not after what we see is leftover.  As our lives display your abundant goodness, let your love and grace so completely satisfy us that as you challenge us to give sacrificially, we would answer the call with joy.  Speak to each of us, challenge us to be a people marked by generosity, and help us to have the courage to respond to you in obedience, with praise and gratitude.

All we have is yours.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 31, 2016
by John Chamberlain
Psalm 107:1-9, 43

Dear Heavenly Father,

We pause today to consider the great love you have for us.  We give you thanks that this love will never fail because it flows from you and therefore does not depend on how we perform.  Continue to remind us that all of the people of the world are valued because of the fact that we are all created in your likeness.

Father, we learn from the psalmist today that when the people cried out to you in their trouble, you delivered them from their distress.  We cannot help but see the continued increase in violence in our communities, our country and our world.  Help us to humbly come before you and cry out for peace.  Remind us often that you are good and that your love endures forever.

Lord, we are also reminded in this psalm that you are the one who brings true satisfaction to the things that we thirst and hunger for.  You created each one of us and know what our innermost thoughts and desires are.  May you continue to be molding us into people who bring glory to you by how we live our lives.  May the people we know see that we do not despair because we have confidence in you.  Help them to see that our hope doesn’t come from our achievements, bank accounts, or the number of friends we have.  Our hope comes from our relationship with you.  Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be called your children.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the work you have been accomplishing through David and Katrina in Spain.  We ask that your Spirit would be granting wisdom to Katrina as she continues to meet with Helen.  Thanks for the positive progress David was able to make in all of his editing projects.  As the fall approaches, we ask that you will help them to prioritize some of the projects they were not able to get to this summer when they had limited energy.  Continue to bless their marriage as they learn more about each other along with continuing your work in Spain.

Father we come before you this morning and ask that you would be especially near to Katelyn, Lori and Greg (name witheld).  Please bring healing to Katelyn’s nose and other injuries.  Help their family to experience your unfailing love and rest in the fact that you care deeply for them.

Help us to continue to demonstrate your love to those around us in our church, in our neighborhoods, and in our places or work.

We ask all this in Jesus’ name.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 24, 2016
by Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 85

Our Father, we praise You because You have shown favor to Your people. You have set aside Your wrath and forgiven us all of our sins through the blood of Your Son, Jesus. Your love is unfailing and Your salvation is unending. You are faithful and righteous, a God who keeps Your promises. And Your word says You promised peace to Your people.

Lord, we know peace comes from You, but we do not see it in our world, and too often we do not feel it in our hearts. Forgive us for allowing distrust—or perhaps, misplaced trust in other things—to rob our hearts of the steadfast joy, faith, and hope that You want to give us.

It seems every week there is a new reason to mourn, a new tragedy to remind us just how fallen our world is and just how deeply humanity is broken. We pray that Your salvation is near, that Your glory may dwell in our land. We ask You to redeem what the enemy has stolen, revive what has been destroyed, and return Your lost children to Yourself.

We trust You to indeed give what is good, to bring forth the harvest, and we humbly offer ourselves for Your work. This week in our jobs, in our families and neighborhoods and Gospel Communities, would You use us in Your work of redeeming what is broken? We want to see love, faithfulness, and righteousness once more mark our land. And we know that You want it to start first in our hearts.

We thank You this morning for our family members who are choosing to be baptized. For Tami, Eli, Zach, Sydney, Natalie, and Lauren, who today are making public their desire to follow You wholeheartedly. May this be a day of celebration they can always look back on, a monument to what You have done in their lives thus far. We pray that You continue to grow their faith, their hope, and their love for You and for others. Keep their hearts faithful to You and cause their lives to bear much fruit to Your glory. As all of us witness again the picture of being buried with You in Your death and raised to new life in Christ, may we celebrate with them and rejoice in the new life You have given to us. And God, we ask that you continue to add to our number those who are being saved.

We pray this in the mighty name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 17, 2016
by Katie Jensen
Psalm 52

Lord God,

We see so much evil in our world, both nearby and far away.  Not a day goes by that we don’t hear of more people, people made in your image, dying because of their skin color, ethnicity, or just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  As the psalmist laments the mass murder of the priests by Doeg the Edomite, we lament for the many wrongful deaths of blacks, the police officers killed in wicked revenge, and the many who have died at the hands of terrorists.  Lord, we are disgusted, with David, at those who plot destruction and call themselves a hero.  We cry out to you, shocked by evil surrounding us, and unable to fathom how we can even begin to respond.

Father, may our response begin with trust in you.  God, you promise to bring justice; you will “strike down once and for all (NLT).”  David tells us that the “righteous will see it and be amazed (NLT).”  While we live in a world filled with injustice, we know the end of the story.  We know God, that you, win!  Lord, we trust that in your good timing, you will conquer all evil.  We look forward to the day with no more newscasts of death and destruction.  We earnestly await living under your reign with no more fear and no more tears.

Our hope in the future and our trust in you enables us to live confidently here and now in our world.  Lord Jesus, we lift up those facing persecution and discrimination because of their appearance.  We pray that you would reveal deep, hidden prejudices that we each harbor within us.  Deliver us from wrongful misconceptions about others and instead fill our hearts with your holy love and compassion.  Teach us to respond to all this tragedy in prayer and lead us to action from our knees.  God, we earnestly want to see change, please start in our hearts.

Lord, please use us, Centennial Church and the North Central District of the Evangelical Free Church of America to be agents of peace and compassion to a hurting world.  Mobilize your church globally and our denomination specifically to respond to the hurt in our neighborhoods, towns, cities, states, country and world.  Give us a vision of reaching the generations together, with all races, ethnicities, and walks of life, coming together to make disciples of Jesus.  Lord God, we pray for wisdom as the North Central District searches for a new district superintendent.  We pray that you would raise up an individual for this unique time and grant peace and good discussions to the search committee and all those working to find our new district superintendent.

Father, be with us here this morning as we gather to worship you together and then send us out to trust and follow you in this fallen world.  Make us agents of peace, filled with compassion, spreading the hope of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

July 10, 2016
by Larry Stromberg
Psalm 82

Our gracious God and Heavenly Father, at the end of a week filled with death, anger, confusion, prejudice, fear, and longing, we praise you in confidence that you alone possess supreme authority in this world.  We are glad that you are the ultimate judge of the earth and not any human leader.

We grieve and lament today with those in Baton Rouge, Dallas, and right here in the Twin Cities who have lost people they loved to confusing violence.  We grieve with those who grieve, whatever their race and whatever their occupation, because we believe all of these dear ones are valuable human beings created in the image of their Creator.

God, we have looked to presidents, governors, members of congress, mayors, judges, and police to bring justice to our society and they have frequently disappointed us.  We have looked to community leaders, religious leaders, and business leaders to unify us and encourage peace, but they have often disappointed us as well by only inciting further division and distrust.  We find ourselves longing today for the one, true, perfect leader who can bring compassion and justice together in our world.

But Lord, in our disappointment, we pray for these in authority.  It is by your appointment that they have been invested with divine authority to execute justice in your name.  They exercise their authority and power as your stewards.  Most of them do not see it this way, God.  They do not understand that you are the source of their authority; they think it is their own authority and they can use it however they want.  Would you please advance your gospel across this land so that more and more people can see themselves as the object of your compassion and grace?  We long for this Lord.

We long for this, but we also confess that we have been too much of the problem.  We have seen the world only through the lenses of our own personal experience.  We have too much talked and too little listened.  We have sought to be understood before trying to understand.  We have seen the world through the lenses of our political leanings and we have listened more to our party than to your word.  Forgive and correct our blind spots.  Help us to learn how to listen to one another so we can even begin to see what our blind spots may be.

And Lord, show us where we possess power, authority, and influence that we can leverage for the betterment of our community, our country, and our world.  In our vocations, in our families, in our social networks, make us to be agents of your grace, compassion, and justice.  And bring opportunities into our lives to interact with those who are not from our neighborhood, race, or social strata.  Show us how to listen and learn.

Finally, Lord, bring your reign to this world soon.  We pray thy kingdom come.

And all God’s people said.

Amen

 

July 3, 2016
by Jennifer Kvamme
Psalm 30

Lord, we come to You today in praise because You did lift us up from the realm of death, spiritually, and brought us into Your life. You are our Healer, our Rock, our Help, and we are so grateful that we can come to You in prayer. Thank You for the favor You have shown us in giving us Your Son so that we could draw near to You.

We pray for those this morning who identify more with the weeping and mourning the psalmist speaks of than the dancing and rejoicing. We pray for the joy of the Lord to be their strength. We pray for faith to grow in times of hurt and uncertainty, for Your goodness to be made known, and for faithful endurance when the light of morning is not visible in the long night.

Thank You, Father, for the Gospel Communities You have been raising up in our church and the opportunities they give us to practice grace, community, and mission, and to invite our friends and neighbors to experience the church as family. This morning we’d like to specifically pray for our Columbia Heights Gospel Community. Thank You, Lord, for the way You have brought together a diverse group of people, for the way they are seeking to know and follow You and to learn to do so in the context of intentional community. Thank You for their friends and neighbors who have said yes to hanging out and been able to get a taste of Your church even though right now they may not be open to a formal church gathering. Thank You for the disciplemaking relationships that are deepening through DNA groups, through time in each others’ homes or at local hangouts, and through being on mission together.

We pray that those friendships might continue to deepen, that those in this gospel community would be able to get to know each others’ hearts, to trust each other, to love the time they spend together, and to spur each other on toward love and good deeds. We pray that Your gospel would be at the root of all of these friendships. And we ask that these friendships would cause each of them to press more deeply into Your Word and into Your world, toward those around them who do not know You.

We pray that Your Spirit gives them wisdom and creativity to know how to engage the neighborhoods and communities in which you’ve placed them. We pray that their very presence in Columbia Heights and New Brighton would contribute to the good of those cities as they are at work in their jobs and homes and neighborhoods and as they show those they encounter Your love and grace. We pray that this summer You would help them to increase new connections with their neighbors, and that these connections would lead to disciplemaking friendships. We ask for Your Kingdom to grow in Columbia Heights because of this Gospel Community.

Father, this weekend, as our nation celebrates the anniversary of its independence, we are grateful to You for the freedoms we enjoy, the ability to worship without fear, to work and own property and speak freely. We ask for Your continued favor here in our nation, for wisdom for our leaders in making decisions that contribute to human flourishing, for wisdom for all of us to know what roles You are calling us to.

Forgive us for the times we’ve forgotten to be grateful for the good we’ve been given, the times we’ve put our political interests above Your Kingdom, and the fear, worry, or pride toward our nation which we’ve allowed to rob us of Your joy. May we celebrate our nation with joy this weekend, but find greater joy in being citizens of Your Kingdom. Most of all we pray that those in our nation would know the true freedom that comes only through Jesus.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

June 26, 2016
by Katie Jensen

Psalm 77

Father God,

We cry out to you with this psalmist.  We cry out and ask you to hear us.  God, we cry to you in distress over broken relationships, unstable medical conditions, fear of the future, unmet expectations.  We cry out to tell you that we don’t have the strength to go on; each step is as though our legs are knee deep in thick, consuming, unmovable mud.  God, hear us in our distress.  We call out to you in sleepless nights, again and again, with outstretched hands we plead for your intervention in our lives.  Often, we don’t feel you near, it’s hard to believe, hard to hope.

Lord, we grieve the deaths of many.  All too often we hear of another mass tragedy in our country, and all too often mass tragedies happen abroad that we hear nothing about.  The weight of evil in this world is more than we can bear, because we were not created for this.

But Father, in these distressing times, we can remember.  We remember the works you have done in our lives.  You have saved some here from overpowering addictions, some from near death experiences, but the greatest gift of salvation that you offer us all is from our own, self-destructive depravity. We can look back over our own story and the stories of those in community with us and see your faithfulness.  Praise God, that we live in an even bigger story of all creation that you have been writing and we can remember your deeds and the miracles of long ago.

Lord, mobilize us to share of your past faithfulness and our future hope to those around us, to the hurting, the helpless, and the mistreated.  We pray for the family, friends, and community of those attacked in Orlando two weeks ago.  May your church be Jesus to them, let not our political leanings or even our theology get in the way of loving others deeply and pursuing relationship like Jesus did when he walked this earth 2,000 years ago.  We pray for peace, healing, and the presence of your Spirit in the LGBT community as they were especially affected and targeted by this act of extreme violence.  We pray that your church would demonstrate unconditional, abounding, unabashed love with uncompromising theology.  Make us a light in this dark world and bring your story of redemption and hope to many in these distressing times.

Majestic Father, even when we hurt, even when we doubt your presence, we praise your name, for we remember your faithfulness.  We praise you with the psalmist for our collective history that reminds us of your power.  For the Red Sea, which trembled at your sight, where you made the thunder roll and crack, the earth shake with lightening lighting up the world!  We can trust you, O Powerful God, our God.

For it is in your Awesome Name that we all pray and together say,

Amen.

 

June 19, 2016
by David Linde

Psalm 43

God, our God, our souls are often downcast, often disturbed within us.  We often go about mourning, oppressed by the world, the flesh, and the devil.  We sometimes feel like you have rejected us.  And this may be the way that some of us feel this very moment.  We are here in church, we are praying, and we find ourselves mourning deep down inside.  We find ourselves oppressed as we follow Jesus.  We are downcast, deeply disturbed inside.

We are honest with you about this, Lord.  We don’t try to hide our distress.  We join in with the writer of the psalm and we pour out our heart to you in all its distress.  We remember that our Lord Jesus, the ultimate subject of the psalms, lived amid distress and knew what it was to experience deep soul distress.  He entered into this psalm and made it his prayer.  In union with him we make it our prayer as well.

We praise you for inviting us to be honest with you—for beckoning us to voice our anguish as well as our praise.  We praise you for beckoning us to ask you for deliverance.  We praise you for answering your Son’s cries for deliverance.  You sustained him all the way to the cross, and you raised him from the dead.  You will deliver us, too, in a complete way, when you raise us from the dead and bring us to the new heavens and the new earth in the age to come.

Till then, Heavenly Father, we ask you to send your light and your faithful care to lead us on this day, and through this week to come.  Plead our cause and vindicate us.  Lead us to the place of inward praise and worship.  Forgive our persistent unbelief and teach us to talk to ourselves, like this psalmist—to say to our own hearts, “Put you hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  In the midst of distress may we follow Jesus in a life of hope this week.

We lift up to you in prayer today a variety of distresses.  We pray for our persecuted fellow-believers around the world—sustain their hope in you.  We pray for Muslims around the world during Ramadan, that many would discover Jesus Christ, the true God.  We pray for Orlando, Florida, in the aftermath of the shootings—for the bereaved, for the investigators, for local leaders. We pray for our nation in an age of great change and confusion and uncertainty—lead where you will; give our leaders wisdom; give safety to all peoples despite our differences; give your church renewed praise-filled loyalty to you and a renewed witness to true Christ-based hope.

And on this Father’s Day we pray about fathering issues and our congregation—give wisdom to fathers raising children at home; wisdom to those caring for aging fathers; comfort in the memory of fathers no longer living; faith in the face of fatherhood denied.  And Heavenly Father, perfect Father, send your light and your faithful care to those struggling with fatherhood gone sour in their lives—the deep wounds of father-influence absent or misused.

You are worthy of our hope today and this week, God.  You are our Savior and our God.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

June 12, 2016
by John Chamberlain

Psalm 5

Our Heavenly Father,

How good it is to know when we come to you at the end of our rope, you are there.  David reminds us that when we cry out, we can have the confidence that you care enough to listen.  Even when we wait in expectation, we can be sure that you are in full control.

Father we also know that you take no pleasure in evil and that someday each one of us will have to stand before you.  The psalmist is very clear that You are the one who will bring ultimate judgment on the wicked.  Help us to be concerned about examining our own heart and realizing it is only by your mercy and grace that we can have a relationship with you.  Please soften our hearts and open our eyes to the needs of those around us who do not know you yet.

Father, in the same way you bless those who seek after you, help us to be a blessing to those with whom we come in contact.  May our actions point people to you.  May you also help us to be bold when we are given the opportunity to share our story about how you have saved us, and how you continue to draw us closer to you.

We pray that you would deepen the relationships of many of those in our congregation that were out camping this weekend.  Please help them to be safe while having fun and as they return home this afternoon.  Father, please also use this summer as an opportunity to make new connections and help current friendships grow.

Thank you for the work you are doing in Asia via our Global Partner Ben.  We ask that you would continue to help Ben and a couple of his colleagues grow in their disciple making relationships, just as you are helping us to grow in this way through our DNA groups locally.  We are also thankful for the relationship you are starting to form between Ben and Tiffany.  Please help them to grow closer to one another as they center this relationship on you.  We are also thankful for the ways in which you are moving in Ben’s heart.  Continue to encourage him by the ways he can see you at work in Asia.

We also ask that you would be at work in the Evangelical Free Church of America.  May you grant our president Kevin Kompelien wisdom as he leads us.  Continue to help him model servant leadership to his staff, and in a broader sense to all of the churches in our denomination.

Please help us to appreciate the opportunity we have to be here today with our brothers and sisters in order to give you the praise that you deserve.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

May 29, 2016
by Peter Rieke

Psalm 96

Our Father in heaven,

As we gather this morning, we are awed by the splendor of your holiness.  We see around us the world that you have made, full of life, power, and beauty. In your Word we encounter the riches of your salvation, acted out over the centuries for our good and for the glory of your name. Most of all we see your Son, Jesus our Lord, through whom you have revealed your love for us. O God, as we ponder these things, how can we keep from singing? You are great, and most worthy of our praise.

On this Memorial Day weekend, we honor and remember the the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to secure our freedom. We pray that you would comfort those who mourn on this day. We long for peace in our world, and for the return of Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

We are thankful for our country – for its natural beauty, its opportunities for human flourishing, and its founding on the central ideal that all people are created equal, with unalienable rights, because all people bear the image of you, our Creator God. And yet in so many ways we have failed, and continue to fail, to live up to this ideal. The psalmist says the gods of the nations are idols. Forgive us, God, for worshipping personal autonomy at the expense of community, and the common good. Forgive us for our participation in systems that perpetuate injustice. We are grieved by the violence and racial tension in our cities – forgive us, God, for watching this from a distance, and for thinking that the answers are easy. Please make your church an agent of reconciliation and healing. Forgive us for all of the ways that we fail to see your image in our neighbors, whether they are poor, homeless, physically or mentally challenged, or unborn. Forgive your church for too often placing our hope in making a new Washington, D.C., instead of in the New Jerusalem. Give us wisdom, God, that we might seek the peace and prosperity of our earthly kingdom, while remembering that it is only temporary. It will pass away, and be replaced by your eternal kingdom where our Lord Jesus will reign with justice and peace forever.

Thank you God for the safe return of Pastor Larry last night from his trip to the Philippines with Training Leaders International. Thank you for protecting him as he traveled, for a productive week of teaching hermeneutics to Filipino church leaders, and for the new friendships he formed while he was there. We pray that this week of training would bear fruit in the ministry of each church leader who participated, and that by your Spirit their churches would flourish. This morning we lift up our sisters and brothers in the Philippines. Help them to raise up faithful and wise leaders. Deliver them, God, from physical danger and persecution. Please provide for their physical needs – buildings to gather in, electricity, a good harvest of food to eat. Be at work in the local government, that they would come to value religious freedom and protect those who are being persecuted for their faith. Show us how we can partner with and support your church in the Philippines, for the advancement of your kingdom.

We thank you, Father, for the local expression of your body here at Centennial Church. We thank you for the new people you are bringing into our community, for the growth and multiplication of Gospel Communities, for the many ways that we see the power of the Gospel at work amidst the ordinary stuff of life. Over the coming summer months, help us by your Holy Spirit to orient our lives toward those you are sending us on mission to – neighbors, co-workers, friends, and others in our relational networks. Help us to live as a family of worshipping, witnessing, stewarding servants so that those we encounter can experience a taste of your kingdom.

We lift up those in our community who are suffering and discouraged today. Bring healing to those who face difficult health challenges. Provide for those who struggle without employment, or without enough employment. Comfort those dealing with the pain of broken relationships. Strengthen and encourage those who fight what seems like a losing battle against sin each day. We thank you, God, that you are a loving Father, who promises to never abandon us, no matter how far from you we feel. We thank you for your risen Son, Jesus, who suffered in our place on the cross and defeated Satan, sin, and death. We thank you for your Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts and reminds us of the truth of your Word, so that we can live by your strength and power each day.

All of these things we pray in Jesus name.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

May 22. 2016
by Jennifer Kvamme

Psalm 8

O Lord, our Lord, Your name is majestic—in all the earth!

We praise You that You are more magnificent than we can grasp, and that the borders of Your Kingdom are bigger than we can see. All over the world, this very moment, people are gathered to bring praise to Your name, and we are humbled to be a very small part of that.

We thank you for the opportunity Larry has to serve Your global church by training pastors in the Philippines this week, and for his safe travels there. We ask for much fruit from the 9 days he is gone. For the pastors he has the privilege of training: would You give them open hearts and eager minds to learn how to study Your Word, and tools that they can take back home to further their ministry? For all the churches represented: would You give them a hunger for Your Word and a desire to learn to study it and to share it with others? For Larry as he teaches these conferences: would You help his words to be clear, focused, practical, and helpful? Would you give him good relationships with those he is instructing? And we also ask that You use this trip to shape his heart. Show Him more of the beauty of Your bigger church and the people You have all around the world who are furthering Your Kingdom. Give him joy and fresh perspective and rich times of fellowship, and bring him back even better equipped to serve right here.

Father, thank You for the children and infants from whom You have ordained praise, especially the little ones who are a part of our own congregation. We pray that all of them would grow up continuing to praise You with their words and their lives. We thank You for all of the parents who love, care for, and instruct these children in what it means to love You, day in and day out, on days when it feels joyous and on days when it feels mundane or incredibly difficult or just plain exhausting. We thank You also for those who serve in Explorers, Children’s Sermon Time, or the nursery here at Centennial, and for grandparents and babysitters and teachers and others who love and care for our kids. Would you give to all of them Your strength and wisdom and perseverance and joy as they shape these little ones’ hearts and minds toward You.

Lord, when we consider the vast expanses of outer space, or the beauty of the sunshine glittering off a lake, the twinkling of the stars overhear, or the way You designed our planet to spin and seasons to change in perfect order… we are amazed at Your wisdom, Your creativity, Your power, and Your glory. It’s easy sometimes to feel so small and to wonder how You care so much about each one of us. But we are grateful You are our Father. You love us so much more than we can comprehend. Forgive us for the times we have not trusted Your love and have not loved You in response. I pray that each person here would have strength, together with all Your people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all of Your fullness.

We need to be filled with You if we are going to be good stewards as You have designed us to be. You gave us dominion over all of Your creation! You tasked us with the job of caring for the earth, of bringing forth abundance, of creating with You things that are good and that contribute to the flourishing of the communities in which You’ve placed us. As each of us go back to our jobs and homes and neighborhoods this week, would You help us to steward all of our talents and possessions and skills as You would. We pray extra grace on those who go back to difficult job situations or who face unemployment or underemployment. We ask for Your strength to persevere and Your wisdom to help bring good from even the most difficult circumstances. We trust You to be bigger and we thank You for entrusting us with Your work.

Thank You for being Lord over all.

We pray this in Your name, which is majestic in all the earth.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

 

May 15, 2016
by Katie Jensen

Psalm 104:24-35

God Almighty,

We can look around and see your majesty in creation.  What great things you have made; what creativity.  From busy ants scurrying around collecting food to giant sea creatures playing in the ocean.  We see your beauty sparkling on Minnesotan lakes, we tremble at the thought of mountains bursting into flame at your touch, and we know that all creation is praising your holy name.

You take pleasure in your creation as it radiates your glory.  What a wonderful thought that you have created beauty that people will never even see, for your own pleasure.  There are gems too deep in the ocean for us to discover, blooming flowers on mountains no human will ever walk past.  They belong to you, flower for you alone and you delight in them.  Praise the Lord, my soul.

Father, we think of the passage in Matthew 6, that says if you care “so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, (you) will certainly care for (us).”  Yet, we doubt you as Provider.  We struggle to even recognize our dependence on you in the world we live in.  We depend on our paychecks, the grocery store, our medical system and our routine.  But you provide ALL of that.  Help us to look beyond the physical to see your generous, giving hand opening to give us with all we have.

As we begin to see you as our Provider, it can only lead to increase our satisfaction in you.  Forgive us, Lord, for so often seeking our satisfaction in worldly pleasures.  We so easily delight in our food, our toys, our homes, our vacations, and so many other things.  Lord, these things are good, but you are so much better.  Lead us to find our ultimate worth and joy in you, the Living Water who brings true, eternal satisfaction even in our here and now.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for the seasons that we get to experience in the Midwest.  As we move towards summer, move our hearts to be committed to your mission of reaching the lost and making disciples.  The nice weather increases our opportunity to talk with our neighbors, please capture this time for us that we could go beyond the surface to deeper relationships that point to you.

We lift up our students to you as they finish out their school year.  Help them to finish strong and then boldly enter summer as a time to grow in their faith and bring their friends along with them.  We pray that you would give them a hunger and thirst for your Word and to do your work, whether they are in Kindergarten or college.  Within Centennial and your church at large, we pray that you would Increase multi-generational relationships that we may mutually lift one another up and grow in Christ-likeness.

Together may we sing to the Lord all our lives,

Sing praises to our God as long as we live.

We are nothing without you.  Praise the Lord, oh my soul.  Praise the Lord.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.