Prayers of the People

Lutheran worship typically includes a time after the sermon during which the congregation shares the Prayers of the People.  In some churches, the Prayers of the People are written by a lay leader or the pastor and are read as a list of petitions, each ending with something like "Lord, in your mercy,"  to which the people respond, "Hear our prayer."

In our church in Milwaukee, we have had a long-standing tradition in which the prayer "leader" carries the microphone from one person to another, watching for raised hands from those who wish to pray.  Sometimes these prayers are very heavy and the congregation weeps together.  Sometimes the prayer concerns of one person bring out concerns or testimony from another. Sometimes the praying person bursts into song.  We go with the flow.

In our church in El Salvador, the pastor gathers the prayers of the people in a way which is similar to what he has experienced in our church in Milwaukee.  No one has ever burst into song, but over time, the congregation members have become comfortable sharing their reports of healing and prayers for the many concerns in their lives. 

It is very common to hear prayers for Salvadoran families shared in Milwaukee and prayers for Milwaukee families shared in El Salvador.  Email prayer chains and social media help to make this possible.

In the past two weeks, the prayers in El Salvador have been difficult.  I guess that isn't new.  Struggling families continue to struggle, and through it all the families remain so faithful.  It's the same in Milwaukee.  The struggle is real.  We say that. A lot.  La lucha continua.  And at the same time, God is good.  Dios es bueno.  We say that too.

Lord, in your mercy.

She's only in first grade, but her eyesight is failing.  She wants to be a doctor when she grows up.  She has always been our little doctor.  She might lose her sight, but she will always be our little doctor.  God has a plan, but what is it?

Hear our prayer.

He's in a wheelchair.  Renal insufficiency.  There is no cure.  Just dialysis.  May God give relief.

Hear our prayer.

She needs surgery and her mother is frantically trying to locate blood donors.  Without donors they can't operate.  She has missed a lot of 7th grade already this year.  She struggles to walk and has had a new trauma.  She is suffering.  She is one of our youth.  May God provide donors so she can have the surgery.

Hear our prayer.

She was in a coma.  First it was a cold, then an infection that became pneumonia.  She had tubes.  She is waking up, but it is still serious.  She is my only sister who is close to me.  The others are in the US.  May she feel us praying for her.

Lord, in your mercy.

We share the Prayers of the People. Some of us lighten our loads a little bit and some of us grab a little bit more load to carry.  Our Milwaukee pastor texted me on Sunday night.  The prayers in Milwaukee were difficult.  A son who  is dying.  A daughter who is still missing.   The impact of drugs on families.  And then, a testimony of God's intervention and overcoming addiction.  God is good.

We listen to one another in prayer.  We walk beside one another.  We hold each other up.   We learn about each other's good stuff and tough stuff.  We build up our community, in faith, and in hope. 

Every weekday at 2 PM, the Bishop, staff, and guests at the Salvadoran Lutheran Church offices gather for prayer, because, says the Bishop, we are a church that prays.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

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