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Christian worship, sermons, prayer and Bible study from
St. Mark's Church and Putnoe Heights Church, Bedford, England - The world is our parish

(Click here to see our intercessions for the whole year)  


Prayer for Advent 4

We thank you Lord for the promise of your presence when we are gathered in your name. Help us to be mindful that you are with us as we meet to pray and bring our requests to you.

In our uncertain world we bring before you today our concerns. We are sometimes fearful of the condition of the world with the evidence of so much cruelty and greed. Have mercy on our world and all humankind. We pray for leaders of the nations, that they would gain vision to understand the important issues of our time. May they have courage to uphold what they believe to be just and right. This morning we pray for countries were there is war and hunger and poverty. We pray for Zimbabwe where there is so much suffering and hardship for the people, with cholera and poor medicine. We also remember the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and pray that you would watch over our soldiers as they serve. We pray also for their families from whom they are separated this Christmas.

Father God, you sent your Son into the world to be the saviour of all who believe. You promised that he will come again to be our judge. At this Advent time, increase in us the attitude of watchfulness and prayer, that we might always be ready to meet him. may our lives be active in service and a witness to your living presence in our lives.  

We pray for the church throughout the world, the great family of which we are a part. Give strength and wisdom to church leaders, that they may seek your will in all situations. Support Christians ministers at this Christmas time as they welcome new people to church and share your good news in different types of Christmas services.

We pray for families. Lord Jesus you came into the world and lived in a human family, so you know the ups and downs of normal family life. We pray for our own families and especially children as they grow up, that they might learn how to face the difficulties and celebrate the joys of everyday life. We remember those families this year who are caught in financial difficulties, those who face unemployment and hardship. may they have the constant comfort of the knowledge of your love and care for them. We also remember those families where lives have been shattered by the family being broken up, whether by desertion, cruelty or death. heal the deep wounds that have been made and give them such a sense of your fatherly love that they may be able to form new and loving relationships.

We remember those suffering in mind, body or spirit. In a moment of silence we name them before the Lord......   We remember those who are hurting and we ask that your tender mercy would reach them and fill their lives with your peace and healing grace.

We pray for all of those bereaved, that they would find comfort in their sorrow.


What is Prayer ?

When people close their eyes and pray. What are they actually doing? When people light candles and offer a thought to God what is taking place?

Christians do not believe that God needs to be alerted to the needs of people, or begged, coaxed and pleaded with if he is to do something about their problems. What sort of God would only make people better if and when enough other people asked hard enough? And what would it say about the infinite value of each and every person?

Prayer is not a shopping list, neither is prayer about grovelling before a God who is like a fearful tyrant.

In our prayers we bring our deepest feelings to God and share them. To pray is to express our most profound longings. To be continually awe-struck by the world is to pray, in that it helps our souls to fly. To be aware of our failings is to pray, in that it helps our souls to grow. To be thankful is to pray, in that it helps our souls to shine. None of these attempt to change the world, all of them reflect the fact that we have spiritual needs which only prayer can satisfy.

Prayer is the means by which Christians communicate with their God. The New Testament records that Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and that he encouraged them to address God as Father. Christians believe that they continue this tradition. Sometimes the prayers are formal and part of a ritual laid down for hundreds of years. Others are personal and spontaneous, and come from personal or group need.

Whilst prayer is often directed to God as Father, as taught by Jesus, some traditions encourage prayer to God through intermediaries such as saints and martyrs. Prayers through Mary, as the mother of God are central to some churches and form a traditional part of their worship. It has been said that there are as many different ideas about prayer as there are people to pray. But what is certain is that prayer is nothing less than the foundation of the spiritual life, and we need therefore to ‘pray without ceasing’, as St Paul put it, with such reflection being as natural as breathing - and almost as important!