Prayers of the People

(Photo by Kathleen K. Parker)

This prayer was written and shared by the Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott - pastor of historic St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. (Full bio below)


O God,

Let’s be honest in this moment
So that we aren’t wasting anybody’s time
Let’s be honest about the worst of who we are

Honest with ourselves
Honest with each other
Honest with you

Let’s be honest about our apathy, our shame
Our obsessions and addictions
Our self-harm, self-numbing, self-neglect

These ways surround us
cling to us
hover over us like a cloud not yet burned off by the morning sun

And so we own up to these ways
we hold them out in the light before you
before each other
before ourselves.
This is who we are.

And so now let’s again be honest in this moment
so that we aren’t wasting anybody’s time
Let’s be honest about the best of who we are

Honest with ourselves
Honest with each other
Honest with you

Before we dare to claim these words about ourselves
we need you to remind us that we were lovingly made in your image
we need you to remind us that your wild and daring Spirit is in our breath
we need you to remind us that Jesus came to us as flesh and blood,
taking on the name GOD-WITH-US because these lives and these bodies matter so very much.

Let us be honest about our capacity to create and imagine
Let us be honest about our depth of empathy and compassion
Let’s be honest about our deep love, burning passion, hearts for justice,
care for our neighbors, abiding hope in a better day
Let’s be honest about our eye for beauty as we notice a bloom, a dew drop on a leaf,
the smile of our love
Let’s be honest about our ear for goodness as we hear the streetcars rumble by, as we cozy up on a quiet afternoon and listen to the rain falling around, as we delight in the laughter of children, as we weep at the beauty of a favorite song and dance barefoot in the kitchen, overcome by the rightness of a moment.

O God, let’s be honest
We are all these things
We are sinners and saints
We are surrounded by clouds of both
We are harsh and beautiful
We are cruel and kind
We are apathetic and passionate

We can barely stand it! The complexity of this life!

Be gracious with us, O God.

And remind us, every day, to be gracious with each other and with ourselves, as we set out once again for the level paths to you. Amen.

(Please credit Rev. Lott if using in print or in worship.)


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Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott pastors the historic St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. She shares life in the Crescent City with her husband, Nathan, and their two children, Turner and Julia.