Over the last 2 weeks, youth workers from across the U.S. have been battling both storms in the south and southeast, and fires in the west. The YS Staff has been checking in with youth workers one at a time, but we’ve also been praying without ceasing as a team. One of my favorite authors of prayers is Steve Case, a veteran youth worker in Florida who is currently feeling the effects of Hurricane Irma right now. I spent time reading a few of Steve’s prayers this morning, and I wanted to share them in case you’re looking for some words that resonate with your heart right now.
A prayer during hard times
God, we love you and we praise you and we celebrate you. We are in a bad time, God, but we know this doesn’t mean you don’t love us anymore. Even though our current situation is difficult, we know that doesn’t mean you have left us on our own. You are always here. This life you gave us is made up of the good and the bad. We must take both as they come and never fail to give you the thanks. This hard time, this down time, is an opportunity to grow and become stronger. Open our eyes and minds to whatever it is you want us to learn. Show us the light at the end of this darkness; help us begin walking. Walk with us, God. Let us know you are here, even in the hard times. Amen.
A Prayer for Crisis in Our World
God, have you looked down here lately? Can you see us through all the smoke? We are taking your world and tearing it up into little pieces. We are taking the people you gave us to cherish and are killing them. Something is wrong, God. So many lines have been drawn in the sand that the planet looks like a spider web. Somewhere along the line, we forgot how to listen to one another, and we stopped listening to you, God. You may have to talk a little louder over all the noise, but we really need to hear your voice. We really need to feel your presence in the midst of all this. It’s dark. There’s lots of smoke. Be a light. Be a voice. Help us find our way out of this mess. Amen.
A prayer in the midst of tragedy and loss
God, we don’t get to know everything. We don’t understand all the “whys” of this universe. But we believe you know what’s going on. We believe you’re doing something. Forgive us when we see every horrible thing as a sign you don’t care or even don’t exist. _______(event) was a horrible event, God. But we know you were there in that moment. We know you are still there, and you are with us now. We know your those we’ve lost are still in your arms and are no longer concerned with the petty distractions of this world. Hold them close, God. Show them to the comfortable chairs and the good food. Let them rest. It won’t be long till we are all together. In the meantime, be with us, God. We are left to carry on. It’s hard. We need your help. Amen.
A prayer in response to a sudden death
God, we didn’t see this coming. Did you? Did you know this was going to happen? We have faith, God. We have faith that __(deceased’s name)__ saw only your face. We believe (she, he) went immediately into your arms. We believe your love surrounded (her, him). Now, surround us with your love. We need help down here, God. It’s like having the rug pulled out from underneath our feet. Let us know your peace, God. Let us know your comfort. Help us catch our balance and be there for __(deceased’s name)’s__ family and loved ones. Let us ache, and then let us heal. Let us find a way to make some sense of this. Give us the strength to do what we have to do. Amen.
A prayer for the environment
Creating God, you gave us this planet as a playground. Forgive us for what we’ve done to it. We haven’t been responsible stewards of your creation. The planet gives us so much. That was what you intended, but we have to give back, God. We have to give the planet a rest. We have to give the planet a Sabbath. Forgive us for messing it up. Forgive us for turning your sky into mud. This planet will be here long after we are gone. Help us give it a reason to be. Amen.
A prayer for healing
God of love, we need to be made well. There is so much wrong in this world that we are starting to feel it deep inside. We feel it in our hearts. We feel it in our souls. Your Son didn’t just heal the bodies of the sick. He healed their souls. We need to feel the healing hands of the Savior, God. We need to feel your love pouring through us and making us whole again. We haven’t felt whole in a long time. We take our sickness and our sadness and hold them up for you. Take them from us, God. Take them far away and let us grow from here. Let us feel the beginning of becoming whole. We will become yours. Amen.
A prayer for compassion
God of empathy, help us care for one another. This is a cold world sometimes, and there are always so many who are in need. There are those who need food, showers, clothing, and shelter. There are also those who just need a good night’s sleep, a kind word, a hug, a phone call, or a moment to themselves. You have shown your love to this hurting world. Help us follow that example. Help us open up instead of closing off. Help us understand we must reach out, or there may not be anyone to grab our hands when it’s our turn down in the hold. Open us, God. Open us–emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally. Guide us to where you need us to be. Help us live out your compassion through our words, our deeds, our lives. Amen.
Here’s a little more about Steve:
Steve Case has been active in youth ministry for 18 years, currently at Windermere Union United Church of Christ near Orlando, Florida. He’s also a popular speaker and the author of several books, including EVERYTHING COUNTS and THE BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER. Find more of his books HERE and visit his website HERE.
JACOB ECKEBERGER is the Director of Resource Development at Youth Specialties, an itinerant worship leader, and a long time volunteer youth worker. You can find him blogging about social media and digital strategy ideas at JACOBECKEBERGER.COM.