As Baptists, we are not known for our written prayers. As a young pastor, I actually frowned upon such things. I am certain I was somewhat critical of those who thoughtfully prepared, in written form, prayers for Sundays and other worship occasions. That was my problem and not theirs. I assumed that spontaneity and extemporaneous prayers were more spiritual than those written in advance.
One time for sure, I was at least critical in my own mind of a fellow minister who offered a prayer from a prayer book, although I am grateful I never voiced my feelings to him or anyone else.
It was at a community Thanksgiving service. Ministers from various denominations were together for a time of worship on the Sunday night before Thanksgiving. Theoretically, all of the churches represented by their ministers were to be in attendance at the joint service. Actually, more than 80 percent present came from my church, no matter where the service was held. I suppose that made me a bit smug in my attitude for which I am ashamed.
During this Christmas season, I have felt an inclination to word a prayer for us all as we celebrate our Lord’s birth.
As you can tell from reading this prayer, I am an amateur at this practice. However, my petitions in this prayer are heartfelt, and I want to share them with you. As you read the prayer, focus on Jesus, our Lord. Also, remember you are a part of a family of faith who has Christ in common with you. With these introductory words, here is my Christmas Prayer for God’s People:
Our Heavenly Father, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, your Son and our Lord, help us not to sentimentalize the occasion or fall prey to the seduction to commercialize it. Give us a renewed sense of wonder which surrounds His birth. May we not worship a baby but a King! May we not remain at a manger scene but ascend to the Cross and then look to His resurrection. Cause us to know the conviction of your Spirit working in our lives. Create within us a passion for sharing our faith in Christ. Guide us to a new understanding of your Kingdom’s work in our world. May the riches of your grace occupy the preeminent place in our lives, rather than the riches of this present world. May your kingdom come and your will be done in our lives as we celebrate the Christ of Christmas during this holy season.