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Prayer Stations for the Election Season

“Being a Christian is not essentially about joining a church or being a nice person, but about following in the footsteps of Jesus, taking his teachings seriously, letting his Spirit take the lead in our lives, and in so doing helping to change the world from our nightmare into God’s dream.” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

During this contentious election season, it is particularly difficult for us to remember to pause and reflect and listen for the Spirit in the midst of our daily lives. This prayer walk is an invitation to do just that. To pause, center ourselves, and remember that faith and life are not separate. To pray for ourselves, our nation, our leaders, and our world.

The prayer walk begins on Grace Church’s Sanctuary Plaza at the corner of Washington St. and Boulevard. At each station you will find a laminated sheet of reflections and prayers to explore. Stay at each station for a while, then return the prayer sheet and move on to the next station. Or you can access the reflections and prayers below. We hope you will join us!

1: Thanksgivings for National Life

As you begin your prayer walk today, take a moment to center yourself. Have a seat, and for a few moments, just breathe. Notice your surroundings with all of your senses: What do you see? Hear? Touch? Smell? Maybe even taste? Give thanks that you are here and able to participate today.

Begin by slowly praying this litany of thanksgiving for our national life. Feel free to linger with any offers of thanks that particularly resonate with you today.

Almighty God, giver of all good things:
We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land.
They restore us though we often destroy them
Heal us.

We thank you for the great resources of this nation.
They make us rich, though we often exploit them.
Forgive us.

We thank you for the men and women who have made this country strong.
They are models for us, though we often fall short of them.
Inspire us.

We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in this land.
It has drawn people from every nation, though we have often hidden from its light.
Enlighten us.

We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all of its rich variety.
It sustains our life, though we have been faithless again and again.
Renew us.

Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun. Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when all our people, with many voices and in one united chorus, will glorify your holy Name. Amen.
BCP 838

proceed to station 2 on the chapel porch

2: Prayers For Sound Government

In the flood of public election-season rhetoric, it is easy to lose sight of our common need and longing for what the Book of Common Prayer calls ‘sound government.’ What does that phrase mean for you? What do you long to see? What’s your wish for your fellow citizens?

Try offering the prayer below. If any of the petitions are particularly meaningful, or particularly difficult, spend some time prayerfully considering why. There are notebooks in the box below. Take one if you haven’t brought your own journal, and use it to journal about any response you may have.

O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.
Lord, keep this nation under your care.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.
For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
Amen.
BCP 821

proceed to station 3 under the bell tower

3: Prayers for a Just Election

The right to vote is both a privilege and a responsibility. The same can be said of our faith. Though Grace is a gift, in our baptismal covenant we commit to:

•  continuing in the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers;
•  resisting evil and regular repentance;
•  proclaiming the Good News by word and example;
•  seeking and serving Christ in all persons;
•  loving our neighbors as ourselves;
•  striving for justice and peace for all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being.
BCP 304

How do these promises influence the ways you engage in civic life? Do you see the exercise of the right to vote as an act of faith? If voting is an act of faith, do you seek candidates who will work to create communities that reflect the values Christ taught us?

Take one of the small crosses from the box below. Keep it in your pocket or purse during this election season as a reminder of our baptismal covenant and to seek God’s guidance in the exercise of our civic responsibilities.

As you prepare to move to the next station, offer this prayer for an election:

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 822

Or this for the nation:

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, forever and ever. Amen.
BCP 258

proceed to station 4 under the bell tower

4: Pray for Guidance

Election seasons invite us to think about the ideals we hold for our communities and our nation. Jesus tells us that those ideals should include protecting the poor, standing up for the vulnerable, doing justice for all people, promoting peace, and using our natural resources wisely. But what does living those ideals look like in our community, today? Which leaders can best help us achieve them? What roles can we play?

These are important questions. They deserve our prayerful attention, and discerning hearts.

The Book of Common prayer offers several prayers (below and in the box at station 4) for guidance and direction. Keep them close as a reminder to continually pause and seek God’s guidance. Consider writing your favorite one on a sticky note, and post it somewhere you’ll see it regularly as you go about your day.

For direction from God
Direct us, O Lord, in all our Doings with thy most gracious favor, any further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP 832

For Guidance
O God, by whom the meek are guided in Judgment, and light rises up in the darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties , the grace to ask what thou would have us to do, that in the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path, may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP 832

For Discernment
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. BCP 231

A Prayer of Self-Dedication
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to thee, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills that we may be wholly thine, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as thou wilt, and always to thy glory and the welfare of thy people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. BCP 833

proceed to station 5 in the porte-cochere

5: Pray for These Times of Conflict

The writer of the Gospel of Luke reminds us:
‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. . . . . Do to others as you would have them do to you. ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. . . .. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

The command to love our enemies may (or may not be) easy to say, but it’s really hard to do. Particularly when popular rhetoric seeks to divide us into affinity groups based on who we agree to dislike. (Brene Brown calls this ‘common enemy intimacy’). Who have you come to consider “the other” whom you find difficult to love?

As Episcopalians, we subscribe to the doctrine of “lex orandi, lex crednedi’ or ‘As we pray, we live.’ Step one in taking a difficult action is often finding the space in our hearts to pray about it. In these deeply divided times, take a moment to pray for those you find difficult to love. You might start with one of these:

For our Enemies
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 816

In Times of Conflict
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 824

proceed to station 6 in the St. Francis Garden

6: Pray about Illness and COVID19

“But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” Luke 10:29-37

Our nation is divided about how we should conduct ourselves in the face of a virus that has infected millions of Americans and killed more than two hundred thousand of our citizens. It has dramatically affected not only those who have become ill, but their families, friends, and communities. The illness threatens our healthcare workers and healthcare systems. It threatens those “essential” workers who must show up every day at work and risk exposure. It pains those who must watch people suffer.

The parable of the good Samaritan invites us to consider who our neighbors are, and what ‘neighborly’ behavior looks like. Consider that story. In our context today, who are our neighbors? What does neighborly conduct look like for you? What role should our elected officials play in supporting neighborly conduct?

Spend some time with the prayer below, and consider who you know or see in the community who might be in need of this prayer. Find some small action you can take as a kindness toward that person—your own way of offering a neighborly “paying it forward” – and do it this week.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
BCP 134

proceed to station 7 in the St. Francis Garden

7: Pray for Our Nation’s
Recovery from this Pandemic

Remember the Good Samaritan Story from Station 6. We often overlook the innkeeper. Wonder for a minute what that story would be like if there had been no innkeeper. Consider if there had been no inn for the good Samaritan to have taken the wounded traveler, and no one to provide the needed services. What would being a neighbor have looked like then?

The pandemic has not only been a health crisis. It has been an economic crisis as well. Millions of Americans have lost jobs and businesses. Many more live in constant fear of losing them. Ask yourself the same questions from the last station: Who is your neighbor now? What does neighborly conduct look like? What do we need from our elected officials to help support neighborliness?

What is it like to sit in the tension between stopping the spread of the virus, and keeping our economy going? Do you think one objective is more important than the other? Why or why not? How do you try to balance the competing objectives in your life?

This week, consider having a conversation with someone who balances these priorities differently than you do. If you think keeping the economy functioning is most important, talk to a health care worker or a teacher. If you think stopping the spread of the virus should be our primary concern, talk to a small business owner, a waitress, or a performer. What is it like to stay in that tension and try to understand it from someone else’s perspective?

This week, keep this prayer close:

O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
BCP 134

proceed to station 8 in the center island of the corner/preschool parking lot

8: Pray for Social Justice

Grant O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 823

The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and others have shined a spotlight on many divisions in our communities in need of healing. Racial injustice. Economic injustice. Disagreements about law enforcement procedures. Disagreements about gun ownership, and so many more. Healing is a multi-faceted and often long, messy, and sometimes frustrating process. But it begins with naming our losses.

Take a moment to name the losses you lament, and the divisions you long to see healed. Take a stone, and mark it with words or images that represent those losses and longings.

Leave them at the foot of the cross, and offer a prayer for the healing. You might consider one of those:

Thanksgivings for Social Order
O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
BCP 840

For the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 815

For Peace
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
BCP 815

For Social Service
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be served but to serve: Bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom, patience, and courage, they may minister in his Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the love of him who laid down his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
BCP 260

proceed to station 9 on Brenau Avenue near the playground

9: Pray for Hope

“For in hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise, the Sprit Helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:24-27

Our common culture often urges us to make decisions and choices to avoid things we fear. And it shows us all the things we should be afraid of! Yet scripture invites us to step into new ways of being, with the common call to “be not afraid!” Paul tells us that we can do that by staying focused on those things we hope for.

Spend a moment giving thanks for people and things that make you hopeful today. What are the “things unseen” that you hope for? For yourself? For our community? For our nation? For our world?

Write your hopes on one of the fabric strips provided. Tie it to the clothesline, and offer it as a prayer.

O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray the, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 832

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 815

proceed to station 10 in the Grace Center parking lot

10: Walking Our Particular Path

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

These days have many of us wondering, “what’s mine to do?” The answer is different for each of us.

As you walk the labyrinth, consider what path you might be invited to walk, or what your next right step might be. Listen for any guidance you might be offered.

This prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi might help you get started:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
BCP 833

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