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Praying on 9/11

With churches gathering for worship on the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I pass along the litany we’ll be praying at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville.

Eugene Peterson once said that the primary task of the pastor is to teach people how to pray, and our gatherings are prime territory for helping to inform and shape the prayers of our people. It’s our hope that a prayer like this one can teach people to express genuine angst, intercede for the world, and return to confidence and hope in the coming Savior.

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Lord as we gather,
celebrating your glory and goodness,
we acknowledge the shadow of today’s anniversary.

Together, we remember September 11, 2001.
We mourn for the lives lost in New York City,
Washington D. C., and on Flight 93.

We lament death’s reign,
the visible and invisible forces of evil,
the principalities and powers of this dark world,
and the evil that lurks in the hearts of all men . . . including our own.

With the Psalmist, we cry:

“How long, Oh Lord?
How long will your enemies scoff?
How long will you withhold your justice
from a world that is desparate to see it?”

We lament a world at war, and we ask you for peace

In Afghanistan
in Iraq
in Libya
in Israel and Palestine
in Egypt and Syria, and all of the nations of the earth that long for freedom from oppression.

We ask for protection over our loved ones and families who serve overseas,
we pray for the fatherless and the widow,
for the poor and oppressed.

We lift up our global leaders
that by your grace they might lead with wisdom and justice
and work for peace.

And we acknowledge that all such hopes and longings point us to one who will soon return and bring an everlasting peace and justice.

Together we proclaim:

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 146:2-10)

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Mike Cosper is pastor of worship and arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He writes on the gospel and the arts for The Gospel Coalition.

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