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For what shall we pray?

“For what shall we pray?” is a weekly post inviting individuals, groups, and congregations to lift up our world in prayer. This resource is prepared by a variety of leaders in the ELCA and includes prayer prompts, upcoming events and observances, and prayer suggestions from existing denominational worship materials. You are encouraged to use these resources as a starting point, and to adapt and add other concerns from your local context. More information about this resource can be found here.

 

Prayer prompts:

For justice and peace among nations where war and violence rage, especially Palestine and Israel, Iran, Myanmar, Iraq, Haiti, Russia and Ukraine, and South Sudan…
For a ceasefire in Gaza, for hostages to be freed, and for all who are engaging in diplomacy to bring this about…
For all people who must leave their homes to preserve their safety, especially in Rafah…
For safety and sensitivity in the midst of campus protests…
For the people, plants, and animals harmed by flooding in South Texas and Kenya…
For those affected by tornadoes in Oklahoma and Michigan…
For victims of an apartment building collapse in southern South Africa, and for continued recovery efforts…
For synods of the ELCA as they gather in their assemblies, that the Spirit would enliven and guide them…
For the United Methodist Church as they step into a future that embraces the gifts and leadership of LGBTQ+ clergy…
For those in our country without access to healthcare, and for those who must travel to get the care they need…

Events and observances:

May Observances: Mental Health Awareness Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May)

Julian of Norwich, renewer of the church, died c. 1416, May 8
Victor the Moor, martyr, died c. 303, May 8
Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, renewer of the church, hymnwriter, died 1760, May 9
Matthais, apostle, May 14

Prayers from ELCA resources:

A prayer of Julian of Norwich (ELW, p.87)
In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss. In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and savior. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace. You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us. You are our maker, our lover, our keeper. Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Amen.

A prayer for refugees, migrants, immigrants (ACS p.51)
O God, as you guided the Israelites to a new land by pillars of cloud and fire, now travel alongside all people who seek safety from persecution and a better life. (Especially we pray for _______.) Provide them with what they need as they travel, and guide them to places of welcome and sanctuary. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Resources regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the May 5 Awareness Day are available on ELCA.org.

A set of worship resources for the crisis in the Holy Land is available on ELCA.org. Several prayers are provided that could be used during the prayers of intercession or at other times, in public worship or for devotional use at home or in other settings. PDF DOC

A set of worship resources for national elections is available on ELCA.org. Scripture readings, prayers, and assembly song suggestions are offered, to be used in settings such as prayer vigils, Morning or Evening Prayer, regular weekly worship or personal devotion in the weeks preceding or following an election. PDF DOC

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship
ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at sundaysandseasons.com.

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress. Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.

For what shall we pray?

“For what shall we pray?” is a weekly post inviting individuals, groups, and congregations to lift up our world in prayer. This resource is prepared by a variety of leaders in the ELCA and includes prayer prompts, upcoming events and observances, and prayer suggestions from existing denominational worship materials. You are encouraged to use these resources as a starting point, and to adapt and add other concerns from your local context. More information about this resource can be found here.

 

Prayer prompts:

For justice and peace among nations where war and violence rage, especially Palestine and Israel, Iran, Myanmar, Iraq, Haiti, Russia and Ukraine, and South Sudan…
For a ceasefire in Gaza, for hostages to be freed, and for strength and persistence among all who are engaging in diplomacy…
For compassion, safety, and productive discourse amidst campus protests…
For rescue and relief efforts amidst flooding in Kenya…
For casualties of a highway collapse in southern China and for continued recovery efforts…
For evacuees and all who are continue to be affected by the eruption of Mount Ruang in Indonesia…
For synods of the ELCA as they gather in their assemblies, that the Spirit would enliven and guide them…
For the community of Charlotte, North Carolina after the killing of 3 law enforcement officers and the shooting of 5 others…
For fair labor practices and economic justice for all workers…
For an end to interreligious hatred and strife, and for deepened interfaith friendships…
For scientists, activists, and policymakers as they study, build momentum, and craft regulation to slow climate change…
For farmers as they respond to bird flu, and for all sick animals…

Events and observances:

May Observances: Mental Health Awareness Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May)

Philip and James, Apostles, May 1
Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, May 2
Good/Holy Friday (Orthodox Christianity), May 3
Monica, mother of Augustine, May 4
Missing Murdered and Indigenous Women Awareness Day, May 5 – additional resources here
Easter Sunday/Pascha (Orthodox Christianity), May 5
Yom HaShoah (Judaism), May 5–6

Prayers from ELCA resources:

A prayer for the mission of the church (ELW, p.75)
Draw your church together, O God, into one great company of disciples, together following our teacher Jesus Christ into every walk of life, together serving in Christ’s mission to the world, and together witnessing to your love wherever you will send us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

A prayer for interreligious cooperation and understanding (ACS p.51)
God of creation, we give you thanks for our wonderfully diverse human family. We pray for the well-being of all people, including our neighbors of other religions and worldviews. Grant that, together with them, we will find ways to cooperate for the common good of all, as you desire. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

A prayer for living with mental illness (ACS p.52)
Mighty God, in Jesus Christ you know the spirits that cloud our minds and set us against ourselves. Comfort those who are torn by conflict, cast down, or lost in worlds of illusion. By your power, drive from us the powers that shake confidence and shatter love. Tame unruly forces within us, and bring us to your truth, so that we may know peace and accept ourselves as your beloved children in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Resources regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the May 5 Awareness Day are available on ELCA.org.

A set of worship resources for the crisis in the Holy Land is available on ELCA.org. Several prayers are provided that could be used during the prayers of intercession or at other times, in public worship or for devotional use at home or in other settings. PDF DOC

A set of worship resources for national elections is available on ELCA.org. Scripture readings, prayers, and assembly song suggestions are offered, to be used in settings such as prayer vigils, Morning or Evening Prayer, regular weekly worship or personal devotion in the weeks preceding or following an election. PDF DOC

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship
ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at sundaysandseasons.com.

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress. Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.

For what shall we pray?

“For what shall we pray?” is a weekly post inviting individuals, groups, and congregations to lift up our world in prayer. This resource is prepared by a variety of leaders in the ELCA and includes prayer prompts, upcoming events and observances, and prayer suggestions from existing denominational worship materials. You are encouraged to use these resources as a starting point, and to adapt and add other concerns from your local context. More information about this resource can be found here.

 

Prayer prompts:

For justice and peace among nations where war and violence rage, especially Palestine and Israel, Iran, Myanmar, Iraq, Haiti, Russia and Ukraine, and South Sudan…
For safety, understanding, and productive resolution to student war protests at Columbia, Yale, and other institutions…
For evacuees and all who are affected by the eruption of Mount Ruang in Indonesia…
For a fair judicial system in our nation, and for all people serving in the court system…
For people to be provided for, for animals and plants to endure, and for rain to come amidst the drought in southern Africa…
For all who grieve and work for recovery after flooding in UAE and Oman…
For those who seek justice in the workplace…
For all who take risks and incur costs when taking a stand for the sake of their conscience…

Events and observances:

April Observances: Autism Awareness Month, National Poetry Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Pesach/Passover (Judaism), Apr 22-30
Ridvan (Baha’i), Apr 19-30
Toyohiko Kagawa, renewer of society, died 1960, Apr 23
Mark, Evangelist, Apr 25
Catherine of Siena, theologian, died 1380, Apr 29

Prayers from ELCA resources:

A prayer for the commemoration of Mark, evangelist (ELW, p.55)
Almighty God, you have enriched your church with Mark’s proclamation of the gospel. Give us grace to believe firmly in the good news of salvation and to walk daily in accord with it, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

A prayer for those who suffer for the sake of conscience (ELW p.80)
God of faithfulness, you bless those who are persecuted. Strengthen those who suffer for the sake of conscience. When they are accused, save them from speaking in hate; when they are rejected, save them from bitterness; when they are imprisoned, save them from despair. Give us grace to respect their witness and to discern the truth, that our society may be cleansed and strengthened; for the sake of our merciful and righteous judge, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer for caregivers (ACS p.54)
O Lord, we are at the limits of our power to help. We place into your hands ourselves and all that we have left undone. For what you have helped us to do, we thank you. We ask you to lend your strength to what must be done by others. Now shelter us in your peace, which surpasses our understanding. Amen.

A set of worship resources for the crisis in the Holy Land is available on ELCA.org. Several prayers are provided that could be used during the prayers of intercession or at other times, in public worship or for devotional use at home or in other settings. PDF DOC

A set of worship resources for national elections is available on ELCA.org. Scripture readings, prayers, and assembly song suggestions are offered, to be used in settings such as prayer vigils, Morning or Evening Prayer, regular weekly worship or personal devotion in the weeks preceding or following an election. PDF DOC

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship
ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at sundaysandseasons.com.

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress. Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.

For what shall we pray?

“For what shall we pray?” is a weekly post inviting individuals, groups, and congregations to lift up our world in prayer. This resource is prepared by a variety of leaders in the ELCA and includes prayer prompts, upcoming events and observances, and prayer suggestions from existing denominational worship materials. You are encouraged to use these resources as a starting point, and to adapt and add other concerns from your local context. More information about this resource can be found here.

 

Prayer prompts:

For justice and peace among nations where war and violence rage, especially Palestine and Israel, Iran, Myanmar, Iraq, Haiti, Russia and Ukraine, and South Sudan…
For people in Central and South America affected by the dengue fever outbreak…
For farmers and farm laborers as spring arrives…
For peaceful and fair elections in India beginning this week…
For corals that will die and ecosystems that will suffer as ocean temperatures rise…
For communities grieving gun violence, especially New Orleans, Louisiana; Salisbury, North Carolina; and Chicago, Illinois…
For areas of the nation experiencing storms and severe weather…
For safety, understanding, and earnest dialogue amidst protests in Illinois, California, New York, and Oregon…

Events and observances:

April Observances: Autism Awareness Month, National Poetry Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Pesach/Passover (Judaism), Apr 22-30
Ram Navami (Hinduism), Apr 16
Ridvan (Baha’i), Apr 19-30
Olavus Petri, priest, died 1552; Laurentius Petri, Bishop of Uppsala, died 1573; renewers of the church, Apr 19
Anselm, bishop of Canterbury, died 1109, Apr 21

Prayers from ELCA resources:

A set of worship resources for the crisis in the Holy Land is available on ELCA.org. Several prayers are provided that could be used during the prayers of intercession or at other times, in public worship or for devotional use at home or in other settings. PDF DOC

A set of worship resources for national elections is available on ELCA.org. Scripture readings, prayers, and assembly song suggestions are offered, to be used in settings such as prayer vigils, Morning or Evening Prayer, regular weekly worship or personal devotion in the weeks preceding or following an election. PDF DOC

A prayer for the gifts of agriculture (ELW, p.78)
God, our creator, you have ordered seedtime and harvest, sunshine and rain. Give to all who work the land fair compensation for the work of their hands. Grant that the people of this and every nation may give thanks to you for food, drink, and all that sustains life; may use with care the land and water from which these good things come; and may honor the laborers who produce them; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer for commerce and labor (ELW p.78)
Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ dignified our labor by sharing our toil. Guide us with your justice in the workplace, so that we may never value things above people, or surrender honor to love of gain or lust for power. Prosper all efforts to put an end to work that brings no joy, and teach us how to govern the ways of business to the harm of none and for the sake of the common good; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship
ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at sundaysandseasons.com.

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress. Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.

For What Shall We Pray? A Weekly Prayer Resource

In the fall of 2021, the ELCA Worship Blog began a weekly series entitled, “Prompts for Prayers of Intercession.” Each post included a listing of prayer prompts based on current news and events, as well as a listing of upcoming commemorations and observations and additional prayer and hymn suggestions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW)/All Creation Sings (ACS) and ELCA resources. 

The goal of the project was to give church leaders a resource for crafting, updating, and contextualizing the weekly prayers of intercession for their worshiping communities. The prompts were intended to be a simple way to remain mindful of world events, in order to add relevant information to the “especially…” and the “Here other intercessions may be offered” invitations in the prayers of intercession published in Sundays and Seasons. 

As we continue to evaluate and evolve this weekly resource, know that we grateful for your ongoing feedback. We are especially grateful for all who responded to our survey this past November. We have learned that many of you are using the prompts to update and supplement the prayers of intercession in worship. Many of you, however, are using the prompts for a wider variety of purposes, whether praying through the list as part of your personal prayer practice, incorporating requests into prayer times at Bible studies or church meetings, or as a resource for prayer teams in your congregation. 

Beginning this Lent, the blog series will be retitled, “For What Shall We Pray?” This new title honors a more expansive understanding of the purpose of this resource. It is not merely a worship planning tool; it is a weekly invitation for individuals, groups, and congregations to remain mindful of the needs of our world, and to lift one another up in prayer. 

Photo credit: Sundays and Seasons

Each week we will offer a list of prayer prompts, a listing of upcoming observances – inside the church and beyond – and additional prayer resources from denominational worship materials. “For What Shall We Pray?” will be posted by noon each Tuesday on the ELCA Worship Blog (blogs.elca.org/worship) and linked on the ELCA Worship Facebook page.  

 We encourage you to find creative ways to use “For What Shall We Pray?” for yourself and for your communities of faith. You might: 

  • “Pray the news” as part of your personal prayer practice 
  • Incorporate the week’s requests in your opening or closing prayers at church council or committee meetings, or during Bible and small group studies 
  • Use the post as a teaching resource or tool for reflection for confirmation class or adult forum 
  • Choose items from the post as journaling prompts or focus items for meditation 
  • Commit to an act of service, advocacy, or financial support based on the week’s needs 
  • Celebrate a new-to-you observance with family or friends 
  • Double-check the blog before leading worship (if you are a pastor or assisting minister) for last-minute additions to your congregation’s prayers 

Whether you have been using this resource or are new to it, we hope that you will find it helpful in your spiritual disciplines and your community’s worship life, as together we faithfully ponder the question, “for what shall we pray?” 

Hepatha Lutheran Church Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

Pastor Melissa Bills
Melissa Bills currently serves as the Director of College Ministries and College Pastor at Luther College (Decorah, Iowa). She is a native of the Chicago suburbs, a graduate of St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota) and Princeton Theological Seminary (Princeton, New Jersey), and has served congregations in the Metropolitan Chicago and Northeastern Iowa Synods.