All wise and loving Heavenly Father, we come before You this day on behalf of our churches. We thank You that in Your wisdom You provided a safe shelter in which we can grow in our faith and be prepared to face the challenges of this world.
We ask, first of all, that You would keep us faithful to Your design for the local church. That it would be a place in which Your saints would offer worship to you, that they would learn Your Word, and that they would support one another through prayer and fellowship.
In our worship, show us that we have no right to worship You according to any other pattern other than that which You have ordained. Keep us from the idolatry of thinking that we can somehow come into Your presence in a flippant or careless manner. Keep us from the temptation of thinking that we can improve on the ordinary means of grace that You have provided. Allow our prayers, our singing, and our proclamation to be Christ centered and pleasing instead of trying to please ourselves by making it about us.
As we teach Your Word, let us be skilled in bringing our Your meaning in exegesis instead of imposing our own meaning through eisegesis. Give us the courage to wrestle with the entirety of Scripture, and make sure that we interpret Your Word within the context of the Bible as a whole. Bless your church with Godly preachers and teachers who desire to honor You as they exercise the gifts that Your Spirit has given them. Allow us to listen humbly, being ever ready to accept the instruction and correction that You provide through their work.
Let us constantly and without fail lift one another up in prayer that we might withstand the onslaughts of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Allow us to see that we are our brother’s keeper, and that we are responsible one for another. Compel us to put feet to our prayers, offering assistance and aid for those in our midst who are hurting. Break down the barriers of class, race, background, or wealth that keep us from communing together as brothers and sisters with Christ.
Give us patience and forgiveness as we labor together. Show us that unity demands that while we must insist on the essentials of the faith that we must also be charitable when it comes to secondary or tertiary issues. Do not let us place a stumbling block in front of our brother in the matter of non essentials.
Allow the message and witness of Your churches to spread beyond our walls into the world at large. Let us recognize that the good news of the Gospel should be on our lips at all times. Allow each of us to be missionaries in the places in which You have planted us. Remove from us the fear of men, and replace it with a healthy fear of You as the beginning of wisdom. Allow us to give generously to the work of world-wide proclamation of the Gospel, even as we pray for those who have gone out into the field.
Teach us the importance of working together with other like-minded congregations as we fulfill Your mandate for the local church. Allow us to see that we are part of Your universal Church of all the ages. Let the world see unity among Your children instead of the division that is far too often the case.
We pray that local churches will stand firm in the face of persecution and opposition. We lift up to You our brothers and sisters who labor under the oppression of persecution. Give us the courage to be faithful unto death, just as You have provided this courage in times past. Keep us from falling prey to the spirit of the age, and do not let us dishonor You by changing Your message for one that is more palatable to this wicked world. Give us the strength of conviction that calls that which You have condemned sin, wherever it is found. Remove from us any desire to compromise with wickedness, even if that would allow us to live peaceful lives.
We thank You for our Elder Brother, Christ Jesus. We know that apart from His work, we would be cast off forever. It is only by His perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection that we have peace with You, forgiveness of our sin, and life eternal. We thank you that He, as the head of His church, deserves to be honored and obeyed over all. We pray that when He returns that He will find us faithful in our churches. We pray all of this in His holy name. Amen.