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Praying our Way Forward - Day One

Posted: December 3 2017 at 12:00 AM

The Council of Bishops has called The United Methodist Church to be in a posture of prayer, praying for God’s leadership to guide us as we discern our Way Forward. This week, the Northern Illinois Conference will be praying for the denomination, the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, for the leaders that will help determine the path we take. Each day, we will post a prayer on the NIC General and Jurisdictional Facebook page, and we encourage you to continue to pray throughout the day.Our first prayer comes from Bishop Sally Dyck.

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Bishop Sally Dyck

In Psalm 119:1-7, we read of God's law or way. In Eugene Peterson's translation, The Message, he refers to God's law as a road with signposts and markers that are set before us. Using these verses as we reflect upon the call for a way forward in The United Methodist Church, I offer this prayer:

You’re blessed when you stay on course,
walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow (God's) directions,
doing your best to find (God).

O God, you have been with us in our past, in its glorious and inglorious moments and actions as a church and people. You are with us now as we walk by faith and not by sight, uncertain where we are going. Help us to trust you in order to stay on course. Reveal the road before us, step by step even without the full vision to see all the way to what has not yet been revealed to us. Help us to follow your directions, seeking guidance from your word, others' insight and wisdom, the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops, the delegates to General Conference, and our own inner prompting. Help us all do our best to seek you and your way forward for us.

That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
you walk straight along the road (God) set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
now you expect us to live it.

As Jesus prayed for unity, we pray for unity now in this hour. Help us not to go off on our own, but to be companions with each other in our full diversity; all of us created in your image and of sacred worth. Unite us, however, not in agreement because we will never agree about all things, but unite us in your spirit and mission, learning what that truly means in our diversity and acceptance of all. You have created us as a diverse people, including our LGBTQI brothers and sisters. Help us to learn better how to use our diversity as a gift to be a witness to others in love and justice.

Oh, that my steps might be steady,
keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
in comparing my life with your counsel.

It's easy to stumble when we don't know exactly where we're going. It's like running an unfamiliar path in the dark. So shine the light of your Holy Spirit on our path so that we will not stumble but proceed to the course that you have set for us in your almighty and sometimes surprising way. May it be your way and not just our way.

We pray for The United Methodist Church. Forgive us for the ways in which we have failed to be your church and faithful to your command to love one another and our neighbors, especially when we have used your holy scriptures to reject your beloved children.

We pray for the UMC's witness to the world through the scope and scale of its history and capacity to reach out to those who are in need through years of mission and outreach.

We pray for the Council of Bishops and the 2019 General Conference and its delegates.

We pray for the faithful and fruitful ways that God is working through our laity and clergy in our local communities; may they be strengthened and not diverted as we make our way forward.

We pray that Christ will be born in our world anew and through each one of us this Advent/Christmas season.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

~Bishop Sally Dyck

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