Prayer for 11th Sunday after Pentecost

O Eternal One, the beauty of the summer season at my peaceful home battles in my mind with the harsh realities of life in our broken world. I feel like E.B. White when he said, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

The 24/7 news cycle bombards us with news of desperate migrants from Africa overwhelming a Greek and European economy teetering on the brink. The next news story describes nursing homes in Japan exclusively for survivors of atomic bombs dropped on them as children 70 years ago this week. Wildfires destroy homes and force evacuations in draught stricken California while typhoon Soudelor ravages Taiwan and China. I turn the page of my newspaper, hoping for some good news, and read that 2000 Iraqis have reportedly been executed by ISIS.

My God, have you forsaken us? The scope and number of world crises is overwhelming, and that doesn’t even begin to count our individual concerns about illness, grief, employment, relationships, and our failures to be the kinds of caring people we want to be. We know we are supposed to respond to the needs of others, God, but the needs are more than we can cope with; and sometimes it all seems so hopeless we don’t even know how to pray.

Help us not to despair and lose faith. We are not the first to feel overburdened and lost, nor will be the last. Even Jesus on the cross drew on the lament of Psalm 22 when he felt forsaken. St. Paul, who is always so strong and certain in his faith, acknowledges times of doubt in Romans 8 and assures us “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Yes, God’s Holy Spirit intercedes for us. When we are at the end of our ropes, God prays for us!

But we have to be open to that intercession to receive it. Draw us close in our times of fear and uncertainty, God, like a loving mother comforting a child shivering in terror from a nightmare. Do not let doubt and fear drive us from you, Holy One, for it is exactly in such times that we need you more than ever.

We believe, Lord, help our unbelief. Let our weakness and helplessness in the face of everything happening in our lives and world be the motivation that brings us humbly back to you, admitting we can neither save nor savor the world without your divine guidance and eternal strength.

Pray with us and for us, O God, our hope and salvation. Amen.

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