Sample Prayer of Petition
Wijnand Nuyen: Shipwreck on a Rocky Coast
(This image is projected onto a screen as the speaker delivers the accompanying text)
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Speaker: "Sure, the sea can be dangerous," he said, "She’ll kill you if you’re not careful. But we’ve a trustworthy ship – strong and agile. And you’ll not find a better crew on the face of the earth. It’s not like in the old days, when a sailor was entirely at the mercy of the elements."
As they set out, they were men taking life by the horns; fully in control of their own destinies. And now, after the shipwreck, they try to gather their wits and can scarcely comprehend the betrayal that destiny has dealt them, as they face vulnerability and despair.
Can you sympathize with the disillusionment? The gut-wrenching fear? The tragic longing for reunion with loved ones? If you can’t, take a moment to recognize how much we each have in common with these unfortunate sailors. How often do we, too, walk out the door fully in control, fully trusting our own abilities to take us where we want to go? And have we not seen our own dreams broken upon the rocks of life? Do we not sometimes set out even to do God’s will, but find ourselves caught in sin’s grasp and battered by the consequences? Are we not castaways, too, stranded here in the imperfect, stormy, broken world where even our best efforts sometimes end in disaster?
On the left, huddled in darkness, some of the crew have lit a fire that will become a beacon. Others have already begun to salvage useful items that have washed ashore. As desperate as they are, they are not without hope of rescue. And neither are we.
We mourn our helpless plight on this distant rocky shore, and we passionately yearn for that distant, green and pleasant land that is our true home. Will we be rescued? We can trust in our own efforts, or we can place our hope in Him who calms the storms and walks on water to bring us safely home.
(At this point the worship leader may offer a petition tailored to the specific circumstances, or may lead the congregation in the following prayer. Congregational responses may be printed in the order of worship or may be projected on the screen with the art.)
Speaker: O Lord our Savior – we never thought we’d end up here. We thought we were in control – we thought we knew the way. How did we lose sight of You?
Congregation: Forgive us for our presumption, Lord. Help us to follow You as faithfully as night follows the day. Persuade us that our rebellion is as foolish as sailing into the storm.
Speaker: And Lord, our Savior – how we cherish calling You that. How we hope and trust in Your power to save us, and how passionately we call upon You now to come to where we’ve landed and bring us home. We light the fire of penitence as a beacon, though we know You know the way, and we set our hearts upon a reunion with You that will never be overcome by any of the storms we face.
Speaker/Congregation: (specific petitions. At this point the worship leader may insert a litany offering the congregation an opportunity to corporately respond with specific petitions, or may offer an opportunity for silent, personal petitions.)