Monday, March 19, 2012

A Litany for Church Leadership

I wrote this litany prayer for our Session last week; Steve said it was pretty good, so I thought I would post it here. I think it applies for any church's leadership.


Praise & Glory to God
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

~ Psalm 111

We acknowledge that You, the Lord, are the only true God, and that You are the sovereign, just, merciful, and gracious God who knows and attends to all things; nothing occurs that escapes Your notice, and no one nor anything can limit the extent of Your power before all challenges or obstacles to the accomplishment of Your will.

Lord, we praise you.

We give praise for Your boundless blessings in gathering Your people as a church; and for giving us the privilege of community and fellowship through a local congregation.

Lord, we praise you.

We glorify You, O God, for Your enduring faithfulness in caring for Your children, for meeting our needs, and for lavishing great bounty and gifts on us.

Lord, we praise you.

We thank You, Lord, that You will good and gracious things for Your people, that You promise to meet all of our needs, and that Your redemption is without limit.

Lord, we praise you.

We offer praise and thanksgiving that, while we are finite in our knowledge, weak and limited in our power, and dim in our understanding, You O Lord, our Heavenly Father, are none of those; that, while we cannot truly fathom the means or ways by which our circumstances may be overcome, Your are neither confused nor confounded by them; and that, while we struggle and doubt in our faithlessness, You are always faithful.

Lord, we praise you.

O gracious heavenly Father, we give You all thanks, honor, glory, and praise for how You have sustained and kept us; how You have brought our congregation through a season of difficulty and trial and preserved us; how You have grown our community closer and deeper in fellowship; and how You have built up and used us, the leaders of Your congregation, for its beauty and glory.

O Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we praise and thank You.

Confession & Prayers for Forgiveness
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

~ Matthew 7:7-11
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

~ James 4:1-3
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

~ Jeremiah 29:11-13

We acknowledge our sinfulness individually, our sinfulness corporately, and our inability to remain faithful and obedience to Christ and to His commands.

Lord Jesus, have mercy.

We confess the particular sins that have troubled this congregation, and particularly our direct and indirect participation in them:
For our doubt, fear, and unbelief: doubt in Your care and provision for Your people; fear that the future of our congregation’s life is not firmly within Your control; and unbelief in the promises and assurance that we are invited to believe in through the Gospel.

Lord Jesus, have mercy.
For pride, arrogance, and self-idolatry: for our pride in believing that we have done all that is needed and/or beneficial in leading our congregation; for arrogance that the solutions and answers to the problems before us are within our power or wisdom to discern or enact, and even that we would believe that our understanding is infinite enough to grasp them; self-idolatry, that we have put our needs, our fears, and our comfort as the most important and valuable piece of the entire equation.

Lord Jesus, have mercy.

For our failure in shepherding: failure to give attentive care to those who are hurting, struggling, or wrestling with unbelief; failure to act in the care of the sinner and the protection of the church through timely and pastoral discipline; failure to visit those to whom we have been assigned; failure to pray more faithfully for the requests asked of us; failure to demonstrate before our congregation a model of honesty about our own sin, grief over it, and dependence upon the grace of Christ.

Lord Jesus, have mercy.
For our failure in administration of the church’s resources: failure to pastorally discern the gifts and abilities of our members and shepherd them toward faithful service with them; failure to communicate more effectively with the congregation about matters related to the church; failure to demonstrate greater transparency in our leadership, and especially with regard to the budget and handling of money (thereby denying our congregation the opportunity to more thoughtfully and prayerfully participate in Your provision for our financial needs).

Lord Jesus, have mercy.
For our failure in leadership: failure to properly understand our role as shepherds as the primary and singularly most important role that we hold as Elders; failure by, from time to time, being slow to look to Scripture for answers to difficult matters; failure to fully and faithfully keep our word to our avowed submission to the brethren; failure to more effectively attend to our partnership with and oversight of the Diaconate in their labors.

Lord Jesus, have mercy.

We profess our dependence upon You, gracious Christ, and our corporate dependence upon You and Your goodness, for ALL things, seen or unseen, known or unknown.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon us.

Petition & Prayers of Faith
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

~ Psalm 73:25-26
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

~ Psalm 130:5-6

We ask, O Lord, for Your mercy and grace to be poured out on us individually, on the Session, on all of the officers, and on the congregation as a whole— in new and refreshing measure, and with abundance.

Father, hear our prayer.

We pray for increased faith and trust in You, God, even in the face of greater difficulty than we have seen yet, and that we would cast our eyes on You rather than on our circumstances, our worries, or our fears.

Father, hear our prayer.

Holy Spirit, we ask that you would direct and guide us, grant us wisdom and discernment, and enable us to lead Your people in the path that you would have us to go, for the sake of Your Kingdom and the spread of the Gospel.

Father, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, we long to be one as You and the Father are one; draw us together into deeper unity and mutual love and submission, cause us to deny ourselves and put others’ needs and desires before our own, and bring us together in harmony and one accord in our leadership and service to Your body.

Father, hear our prayer.

Grant, dear God, that the Deacons of our congregation would also be increased in faith and trust in You, brought into unity of mind and purpose with us, and freed from fear and doubt to serve You and Your church more faithfully.

Father, hear our prayer.

We pray, dear Lord, that you would provide for the financial needs of our congregation in abundance, through common ways and through surprising and uncommon means.

Father, hear our prayer.

God, we ask that You would open opportunities before us for our movement forward and show us the direction You would have us to take for the most effective use of our resources and the greatest service to Your Kingdom.

Father, hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, we pray that You would refine and perfect our worship, and open our eyes to how we can worship You better and more closely in accordance with how You have instructed us.

Father, hear our prayer.

O Lord, we know you long to see the Gospel go forth through Your church; we pray that You would strengthen and empower us to be instruments for the Gospel, and give us courage and boldness to give answers to those who inquire about our faith, invite our neighbors and friends to worship, and demonstrate care and hospitality to those who visit with us.

Father, hear our prayer.

Dear God, we ask that You would strengthen and shape us into those who would love and care for one another; that we as leaders would be enabled to tend and shepherd our congregation well; and that those who are hurting or struggling, caught in sin or wrestling with unbelief, in need of support or in need of accountability, would be brought closer to the cross for healing and encouragement through our ministry to them.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hear our prayers and grant us Your grace.

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