Prayer for Ascension Sunday (and Mother’s Day): Trust Jesus Rather Than Tradition (Mark 7:1-13)

Liturgist:    Teach me, O Lord, the way of your law; and I will keep it to the end.
All:               Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.   (Psalm 119:33-34)

Father, we give thanks today for mothers, both our biological mothers and our spiritual mothers in the faith, for the special ways they reveal to us your glory and goodness. Thank you for all the ways they have shown us Christ-like love, selfless sacrifice, protection and comfort and wisdom. Father, please help us honor your law that teaches us to honor our mothers and cherish all the ways they have taught us and loved us well. We pray for those who struggle with hurt and disappointment on Mother’s Day: for those who have longed to be mothers but have not been able to enjoy that blessing, for those with a difficult relationship with their mother, and for those harmed by abortion. Enable them to lament and bring that pain to you to find their identity in you as your beloved daughter, to find the freedom of your forgiveness, and to know comfort and encouragement that only you can give.

Liturgist: Teach me, O Lord, the way of your law; and I will keep it to the end. . .

Our risen King, you ascended into heaven to reign at the right hand of the Father, so help us to submit every thought we think and every tradition we practice to the authority of your word. Please set us free from sinful traditions and habits that we do not even see because we are comfortable with them, traditions and habits in our work, in our spending, in our friendships, in our entertainment, and in our ways of “doing church.”

Liturgist: Teach me, O Lord, the way of your law; and I will keep it to the end. . .

Please open our eyes and our heart to see and to savor the riches of your law. Your word is bread from heaven that nourishes us with communion with you, so fill us with hunger and thirst to take it in and savor it, to study it, to memorize it and meditate upon it. We pray that we would have your word on our hearts and lips when we rise and when we go to bed, when we work and when we play. May we sing it daily so that your word may dwell in us richly. Your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, so please help us to see clearly by it, to walk through life boldly in its light and to flee from every path that leads us away from you and your mission.

Liturgist: Teach me, O Lord, the way of your law; and I will keep it to the end. . .

Our risen King, you ascended into heaven to reign and to give us power by your Spirit for serving you. Please help us tell and show our neighbors with excitement that trusting you and submitting to the rule of your law and your authority is not irrational bondage but rather the way of truth and wisdom and love that truly sets us free. We pray especially for leaders in our city & our state, our nation & our world who will honor your authority over all others, respect and protect the dignity of human life, promote equality and justice, and lead as humble servants for the common good.

Liturgist: Teach me, O Lord, the way of your law; and I will keep it to the end. . .

Our risen King, you ascended into heaven to reign, so we ask you to complete the salvation that began in your resurrection. We long for the day when your glory will fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea and there will no more crying, or pain, or death but only mourning turned to dancing and the deepest joy forever. We pray for this in the words that you taught us, saying: Our Father. . .

Prayer: Beyond Good Intentions (Matt. 25:1-13)

Lord of love, we thank you for grace unmeasured, vast and free. We pray for your resurrection life in us that awakens hearts that have grown cold, and minds that have grown dull, and hope that has grown distracted and weak.

God of truth, we do thank you for a legacy of faithfulness in our church in proclaiming and teaching the truth of the good news that you have entrusted to you in your word. We pray that you would not allow us to lose our first love, but to show our commitment to the gospel in word and deed. We pray that Central would be known in our city for showing the truth in love as much as teaching the truth in words, for our giving as much as our resources, for reaching out to share the gospel with others as much as we delight to lift up our hearts together in worship.

And so we pray that you would enable us to love in the way that you have first loved us. Please help us move beyond good intentions to love you, to remember you are present with us every moment of every day, to choose to live a praying life and an obeying life in every situation.

We ask that you would help us beyond our good intentions in loving the people in our lives. We lift up to you now the people in our lives that we want to love and need to love, but find it very hard to love, the people that we need to forgive, people that we have avoided or insulted or pushed away in fear or anger. Please make us faithful to bless and to pray for your richest blessing these people that you have brought to mind. Help us forgive as you have forgiven us in Christ.

Sovereign Lord, we ask that you would help us move beyond good intentions in loving our city and the people in your world who are in great need. We pray for

– for partnership and unity with other Christians and other churches

– for friendships in our neighborhoods and work places and schools

– for new avenues to serve others in

We pray for your help through your church for refugees and those oppressed by the horrors of war in Syria and Iraq, for sisters and brothers suffering threats and pressure but still walking with courage and integrity in China, India, the Philippines, Nigeria, and elsewhere.

Father, in all these things we pray for the power of Christ to make us faithful ambassadors of your glorious gospel, so we pray in the words that you taught us: Our Father…”

Holy Week

Holy Week is the final week of the season of Lent that commemorates the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry iHoly Week 4n his first coming.  By the fourth century, it had become the high point of the entire annual liturgical calendar of Christian festivals and seasons with the greatest concentration of special services during the entire year.  Such services recounted the spiritual meaning and implications of such events as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm/Passion Sunday), his establishing the Lord’s Supper at a Passover meal with his disciples (Maundy Thursday), his death on the cross (Good Friday), and his resurrection from the dead (Easter Vigil on Saturday night, and Easter Sunday, which initiate the season of Easter).

2016 Holy Week services at Central Presbyterian Church

For more resources on the history of Holy Week as well as devotional materials for worship, see the Holy Week page under the Liturgical Calendar tab at the top of the page.

Observing the Season of Lent

‘Tis the season when St. Louis is filled with annual celebrations related to the season of Lent: Ash Wednesday, Lenten lunches, fish frys, and Holy Week. Where did this season come from? Can we observe it in a way that is spiritually helpful? At Central, we observe the season of Lent corporately in worship services on Sundays and in Holy Week, so we will benefit most if we understand why we do so and what it can and should mean in our lives.

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Why We Confess Corporate (Not Just Individual) Sins

In the liturgy, the church often confesses the sins of the whole body of Christ and not merely our own individual, personal sins.  But this seems odd to many people raised in the highly individualistic culture of the United States.  If you have ever wondered whether or not it is right for you to confess the sins of other Christians, see this excellent essay by pastor Ed Eubanks for a thoroughly biblical answer:  The Confession of Corporate Sins: Collective Ownership of Others’ Sins.