Regular readers will know this as the part of The Banner that serves as a platform for leaders of our denomination to share their thoughts and views. Can I, instead, allow you as CRC members and Banner readers to speak? Here is what I have been hearing from across the denomination as a hopeful prayer.
Our Father and God of the Christian church; God of its branch, the Christian Reformed Church, who lives and reigns with a perfect vantage to see all of our decisionmaking and efforts; who had our future in your hands long before we chose to author the strategic plans of our local, regional, or denominational entities . . .
. . . hallowed be your name. May your renown be made more complete in the eyes of the witnesses within and without the CRC. Thank you for the myriad ways in which we see that happening in our churches and communities. May our plans, initiatives, ministries, and conduct so direct our mission in the world that your name is not blasphemed because of us but is honored and praised in the mouths of all those who find themselves connected to us.
May your kingdom come through our tangled missional relationships. May your wisdom and love be woven into the messiness of our culture, social issues, and among your diverse people. In so doing, may we reflect less and less the patterns of the secular “me-first” world and more and more the patterns of selfless Jesus. So rule us by your Word and Spirit that we courageously submit our confused, worldly intelligence to you. May your kingdom shine through the slivers of our engagement so that the world understands true wisdom, authentic love, and real change that will both preserve and flourish.
So that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, open the ears of church leaders at every level to hear the voice of the body of Christ. Open our eyes to see the places where our efforts match the joy of your will. Remove from us the habit of operating independently and replace it with a spirit-led sensitivity toward all levels of leadership. Grant that our collective charge may be carried out willingly and faithfully.
We need not only long-term care, Lord, but immediate care. Give us today our daily bread. While some churches flourish, some are near to closing. Some are being planted while others struggle to find money to pay their leaders. We wonder if the ministry shares system we participate in will endure. But God, help us not to get lost in our concern for money. Rather, by your Spirit, fill us with courage that comes from spiritual growth fueled by the generous spending of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.
Forgive us our debts that stem from our ignorance or intentionality. Where we have trampled on other cultures or peoples, we seek wholehearted reconciliation. Where we have caused hurt to those of orientations other than our own, we ask forgiveness and godly correction, even while we desire to create places of healing so as to realize forgiveness from our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation. Keep our laity and leadership from the sugary impurities offered so readily by our world: wealth, sexuality and pride. Give every leader a proper dose of self-awareness, and create in them humility strong enough to laugh at themselves while being flexible enough to change. Keep us from the temptation of believing that there is room within Christian love to water down your Word, thereby crafting new ideologies that seem gentler and kinder to the broken world around us; a world that needs truth, not permissiveness, from the church. Deliver us from evil.
In our attempt to control the confusion we live in, help us to promptly and sincerely recognize we are second to your will, ways, and desires. For thine is the power.
And may any “success” that is achieved in our church be evidence of healthy models to follow as we collectively give glory to God.