Prayers of Approach
Vibrant God, call us afresh today to a new vision of your kingdom, to a new understanding of your purposes, to a new knowing of how best to serve you, to a new appreciation of your presence with us, to a new awareness of all that you would have us do, as your people in this place and time. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Speak to us, Lord: help us to hear. Show us your glory, Lord: help us to see. May we taste and sense your presence, Lord: help us to feel. In our time, and in your time, Lord, lead us where you want us to go, and show us what you want us to know. Amen.
God of all knowing and all loving, you fashioned us and know us through and through: we rejoice at your love and care for us. Lord Jesus, you know the cries of the world and call us to reach out to those in need: we rejoice at your love and care for us. Holy Spirit, you call us deep within, and empower us to trust the gifts you have equipped us with: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we rejoice at your love and care for us. Amen.
Hymn O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder (How great thou art) R&S 117
Readings: Psalm 139:1-9
God calls in many ways, so we need to be alert in order to recognise the call. Our readings today look at ways in which we might be called by our God, who is caring and understanding. The famous and popular psalm 139 is a reminder that God knows us. It is a celebration of this knowledge as the poet is at pains to show that God’s knowledge of us is not only wonderful, it liberates us to live our lives certain that God is with us through the all ups and downs.
In our Gospel reading we hear about two friends who have an unexpected encounter with Jesus and initially react in very different ways. Together, Philip and Nathanael help each other to understand who Jesus is and they begin a journey that will redefine who they are.
Nathanael is surprised that Jesus knows not only his name, but much about him too. Jesus knows each of us as individuals but sometimes, like Nathanael, we can wonder ‘Why would God be interested in me?’ Some of us will be, like Philip, keen to follow straight away. Some of us will be more like Nathanael – full of questions and concerns. This story shows that wherever we are, Jesus finds us and knows us. Are we looking and listening out for him – and helping others to do so?
Hymn From heaven you came helpless babe (R&S 522)
Does it seem like Christmas is a long time ago now? In church terms we are now in the rather confusing season of Epiphany as the suggested Bible readings jump backward and forward in time on the Sundays up to the beginning of Lent as they reveal to us Jesus’ nature and his identity as the Messiah, the son of God. Today we here about the calling of Nathanael (one of the twelve disciples, probably the one who in the other gospels is called Bartholomew).
Hymn Jesus calls us o’er the tumult (R&S 355)
Prayers of Intercession
We praise you, God of grace, for bringing into our lives those who draw us closer to you, those who speak your words of encouragement, those who believe in your calling for our lives, those whose testimonies inspire, excite and move us, and those who reflect your love, faithfulness and compassion, day by day.
And we pray for the people of the world waiting to hear good news.
Loving God, we pray for the states of America to be united in the days and weeks ahead. We pray for wisdom for all who are running for nomination as their party candidates for president and all who will subsequently run for office. We pray for those threatening to disrupt the process, and for the police force and those entrusted with keeping the law and peace. Lord, hear our prayer and draw us all closer to you.
We pray for those around the world at the mercy of extreme weather conditions. We pray for the people of Japan in the aftermath of the earthquakes, especially for rescue workers trying to save others, for those bereaved or still searching for loved ones, for those in our own country affected by devastating floods, and those without power and heat. We pray for those tackling the climate change challenges of our time and for our own response in our day to day lives. Lord, hear our prayer and draw us all closer to you.
We pray for the people of Israel and Palestine, Gaza and the West Bank, for those still held hostage by Hamas, and their families hoping and praying for their safe return, and for the citizens of Gaza left homeless by Israel’s response, the injured and bereaved, and those without the basic necessities of food, water and medicines. Lord, hear our prayer and draw us all closer to you.
We pray for all who are pushed to their limits at work and at home, for junior doctors and those suffering as a result of their strike action, for Intensive Care Staff, for all in the emergency services, for GP’s, teachers and school staff, for parents and students, for all whose mental health is at breaking point. We pray for our Government and all whose decisions affect millions of lives. And we pray for one another as we respond to problems locally and nationally. Lord, hear our prayer and draw us all closer to you.
We pray for your church, entrusted with the good news of Jesus, and charged with serving all those in need. We pray for hospital chaplains, for those ministering to the bereaved, and for one another as we seek to share our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ. Lord, hear our prayer and draw us all closer to you. Amen.
Hymn Will you come and follow me if I but call your name (R&S 558)
So now we go out with confidence in you, our loving God who leads us; you know our weaknesses and our strengths. Lord, call us, guide us, and strengthen us in your service. Amen.
Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.