Prayers of the People – Unity and kingship

The following prayers were used at the Wine Before Breakfast service on January 24. They are adapted from the Prayers of Intercession in the resources from Ecumenical week of prayer. The opening section is adapted from The Abingdon Worship Annual 2012 (by Mary Scifres) and the closing section from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers.

O God, our King and Creator,
forgive us when we try to make you in our image;
forgive us when we turn to earthly rulers
for the wisdom and strength
you have already shown us.
Fulfill your purpose in us,
that we may be your people,
your temples upon this earth,
your partners in love and mercy.

Creator God,
today we live with the consequences of actions
that have made life unsustainable for some
and overabundant for others.
Teach us how to responsibly use
the resources you have given to us,
that they would be used for the benefit of all
and with respect for your creation.
Creation cries out to you.
Teach us and show us the way.
[Silent and spoken prayers for creation and those affected by climate change and food insecurity]

Compassionate God, help us repair the harm
that we have inflicted upon each other
and the divisions we have created among your people.
Just as Christ Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit onto the disciples
to birth the community of the new creation,
send your grace to heal our divisions
and gift us with the unity for which Jesus prayed.
Teach us and show us the way.
[Silent and spoken prayers for the church and the university]

Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life,
you embodied justice in your ministry on earth
by the good that you did,
breaking down the walls that divide
and the prejudices that imprison.
Open our hearts and minds to recognize
that though we are many, we are one in you.
Teach us and show us the way.
[Prayers for justice and reconciliation]

Holy Spirit, you create anew the face of the earth.
The summit of the mountains,
the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the lakes speak to us –
Because we are connected.

The faintness of the stars,
the freshness of the morning,
the dewdrops on the flower speak to us –
Because we are connected.

The voices of the poor,
the oppressed and the marginalized speak to us –
Because we are connected.

Unlike earthly kings,
you, O Lord, are ever steadfast and faithful.
You sent us your Son, Jesus the Christ,
to rule over us, not as a tyrant,
but as a gentle shepherd.
Keep us united and strong in faith,
May we know your presence in our lives
and see you in the lives of those around us.
Amen.

Prayers for God as king

Prayers written by Deb for the January 24 Wine Before Breakfast service focused on 1 Samuel and the image of God as king.

Creator God,
We come before you in heartache and frustration
Because the system just isn’t working.

We long for the ease and confidence
of a society that is just, fair and noble
But the world in which we live
is anything but just, fair and noble.
The system just isn’t working.

In our attempts to right the ship
we have forgotten you
and put our faith in the latest and greatest idea.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent...

We confess that we don’t know
how to meet the suffering in the world
But, trusting that you do,
we quiet our hearts and await
what you are ready to teach us.
Amen.

Prayers of the People – God as darkness

The following prayers were written by Robert Revington for the WBB service on 29 November 2022. Some text derived from “Darkness Goodness” by Jacqueline Daley and “Cloth for the Cradle: Worship Resources and Readings for Advent, Christmas, & Epiphany.

Lord, who created the universe
and humankind out of darkness;
“light for the day; dark for the night,”
be with us.
We came from the darkness of the womb
and to darkness we will go.

Through darkness
you helped the Hebrews escape Egypt;
Through darkness
you summoned Moses;
Through darkness
the Holy Family escaped Herod;

Through darkness
you allowed the slaves to escape on the Underground Railway.
Our saviour was laid in a dark grave
to bring salvation from our sins.
Darkness brings liberty to the captives.

(Prayers for those who are oppressed in body, spirit, heart and mind.)

Darkness is not evil.
Your people sin in daylight,
as in the stories of Adam, Eve, Cain, David in the afternoon light.
As Jesus was crucified in the morning light.

The greatest sins are not always on the streets at night
but in an office in the daylight,
where the poor are neglected.

We remember your servants
Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr.,
Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks,
and others whose Black lives shone light on White sin,
enlightening the world to let freedom win
and that black is not the twin of evil.

(Prayers for leaders and people of influence to move the world toward God’s justice.)

In darkness, love ignites, passion soars, and lovers unite.
Prayer and meditation happen in closed-eyed darkness;
the friendly darkness,
where sleep also rescues us from tiredness.
We bless you, Lord of light and dark;
teach us to be still in your deep darkness.

(A moment of stillness and silence.)

Two thousand years ago,
in the town of Bethlehem,
when the world was dark,
and the city was quiet, you came.

And no one knew,
except the few who believed.
As the old song says,
“It came upon a midnight clear”
—a child born, a message of peace to all.

Show us how hope rises in darkness
as it did in Bethlehem,
whisper to us gently in the dark,
and remind us that you are there
even when we do not see you.
Amen.

Prayers of the people – God as friend

The following prayers were written by Amy for the Wine Before Breakfast service on 22 November 2022.

Lord we come to you as your creatures,
your servants, your beloved children, your subjects, and collectively as your “bride.”

And today we are reminded
that you also call us your friends!
In an age of social media platforms,
where a person can have hundreds
or even thousands of Facebook “friends”
even some we have never met,
it’s hard to know what ‘friendship’ even means.
Has the term lost its meaning?

Lord do we even have a sense of what it means
for YOU to call US friends?
You said that there is no greater love than when someone lays down their life for their friends.
That is just EXACTLY what you did for us,
each and all!
This shows your friendship toward us.

How do we show OUR friendship for You?
Through how we demonstrate love for one another. In the way that we endeavour to follow your commandments, the greatest of which IS to love one another as you have loved us!
By how we get to know what you are all about,
and use that as our model for interacting
with the people around us.

Help us create spaces where we can gather
to care for one another;
Spaces where we can share refreshment
of body and soul;
Spaces where we see You in each other,
You, who are the original, Source, purest,
and most perfect Love.
And in creating these spaces,
may we learn from our failures
and pursue healing for things that have gone wrong.

Help us create space to bring our cares;
laying it all out to you in prayer.
And oh, we DO have cares on our mind, Lord.
Overwhelmed hospitals, an ongoing pandemic, and the new flu season that is already claiming lives.
Grief, sorrows, regrets, debts, wounds, and worries.
A city that treats our vulnerable and homeless citizens as if they were disposable.

The ongoing travesty of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and of Native communities without safe drinking water.
Violence against those who are different,
fears for the very climate we live in,
and guilty concern about the impact of the everyday choices we make.

The prospect of “Women, Life, Freedom” protesters in Iran being sentenced to death.
Worries about the outcomes of the political representatives we choose,
and the choices they make “for” us.
It can feel overwhelming Lord,
when there’s so much troubling news!

Help us to bring it all to you in prayer.
When we turn our cares over to you,
may we find solace and courage there.

In the expansiveness of your love, comfort, and care. In the streets, in our homes, and wherever we meet with others.
May we meet, see, and greet each other
In your love, your word, your example;
Joining hands with friends and strangers alike.

Treating those strangers as if they are Your own dear friends,
and therefore to be valued by us, and cherished.
Beloved, where we are, you are there.
And you can brighten the darkest night,
when we call on you and you meet us.

Thank-you, Lord.
Amen.

Prayers of the People – God as bread

The following prayers were written by Alicia for the WBB service held on 15 November 2022. The theme was God as bread.

God who gives, we pray to you for bread each day.
You taught us to pray like your people in the desert, receiving what they needed each day and no more, learning to depend on you.

Jesus, bread of life,
you turn our eyes from daily bread to living bread.
Give us this bread always.

God who came down from heaven,
we thank you that you care about life in this world, 
that you are our staff of life.

God who promises to raise us up at the last day,
we praise you for the hope of resurrected life.
Give us this bread always.

(Pause for silent meditation and praise.)

Jesus, living bread,
we are hungry.

Provide for those who have little to eat,
whose budget is tight,
who must often go without.

We pray especially for your blessing on the work of the Common Table among the homeless and vulnerably housed in Toronto.
Help us to be your hands to the hungry,
baking and sharing daily bread.

(Prayers for those struggling in the city, the country, and the world in a time of economic difficulty.)

Jesus, living bread,
we are hungry.

Provide for those who lack
wholesome spiritual food,
who long for strength and meaning,
who seek life that lasts.

We pray for this ministry
and others in the university,
that you would use us to bring words of hope
and life to those who need them.

Help us to come to you and feed on you,
and hold out that food to others.

(Prayers for the university and the wider culture it feeds, for those lost and needing spiritual food.)

Living God,
those who feed on you will live because of you.
We ask you today and every day:
give us this bread always.
Amen.

Opening prayers – God as bread

The following were the opening prayers for the WBB service held on 15 November 2022. The prayers build on the service’s theme of God as bread, as well as the opening song: “Falling at your feet” by Daniel Lanois.

Gracious God, we come to you
stumbling and falling down,
bringing with us our needs and imperfections.
You invite us to surrender ourselves to you,
to trust in your good and holy will.

We come hungry for renewal and justice,
thirsty for joy and restoration.
Give us the bread of life.
May we taste and see that you are good.
Amen.

Prayers of the People – Matthew 20:1-16

The following are the prayers of the people written by Deb Whalen-Blaize for the WBB service held on 8 November 2022.

Oh God, who is all-knowing
Who forms us in the wom
And is still placing stars in the sky
We approach with confusion and yearning
We ask: are you powerful and mighty
Or humble and gentle?
And we hear you answer:
Yes.

This morning we bring you all our assumptions,
Our preconceived ideas
The worldviews and narratives in which we find identity
We offer them to you in trade for humility

In your presence
May we practice the art of listening,
Mull over your morsels of wisdom,
And learn to ask the right questions.

(Moment of Silence and listening)

O God, the journey to wisdom is long
Thank you for your love along the way

We pray for Your Church
We have built so many walls
Based on so many presumptions
We have forgotten that sometimes
It’s just more important to love
Than to always have it right

Will you foster in us not only humility,
But curiosity?
To delight in discovery, and marvel in mystery
To remember that you have taught us
To love the Lord our God
With all our heart, soul, mind and strength
And to love one another as we love ourselves.

(Prayers for forgiveness for our faults and failings, for the strength to make amends, and to be who God wants us to be)

O God, the journey to wisdom is long
Thank you for your love along the way

We pray, too, for your Spirit
To guide all of us here
At the University of Toronto

For the students and faculty
In pursuit of knowledge
We pray that they will continue to experience
The joy and excitement of learning

We know that in every realm of society and community
Your desire is for justice and equity
We pray today for educators and support staff
In institutions across the province
Be with them in this time of outrage and protest

Console and sustain those with stress or anxiety
Free all from presumption and pride
And from the temptation to abuse power and privilege
May we see you at work
Here on campus, and on the picket lines, O God.

(Continued prayers for U of T students and faculty and for equitable working conditions in education in Ontario)

O God, the journey to wisdom is long
Thank you for your love along the way

As Remembrance Day approaches, God,
We thank you for your nearness
As we continue to grieve loved ones
And rage against history repeating itself

(A moment of silence to remember those we have lost to war and violence, and to resonate with God’s desire for peace)

We offer you these prayers
Knowing you accept each and every one

As we carry on along this journey towards
wisdom, justice and peace.
Thank you for your love along the way

We know that, as we seek you, God
You hide behind a tree, and laugh
Beckoning us to come and play
To walk beside you
To consider and reconsider
And to savour the richness of the journey
Long before we reach the destination.
Amen.

Prayers of the People – God as hiding place

The following prayers were used at the WBB service on November 1, which focused on Psalm 32 and God as hiding place. Some of the prayers is an adaptation of prayers written by Carrie Bare from “On Prayer: At the Start of New Year.”

God of comfort, you are our hiding place.
You know who we are
in our inmost parts,
You see what is beautiful
and what we are ashamed of.

You know this world in which we live,
from the CN Tower to research labs,
from city hall to grocery stores.
You know what has wasted away
in ourselves
and in the world around us,
and you do not hide.

[Silent and spoken prayers of confession and lament]

God of comfort, you are our hiding place.
You grant forgiveness and healing,
reviving our strength,
restoring creation.

You provide a safe resting place,
may we create places of safety for others.
Help us to listen.
Help us to notice.
May we see your presence.

God of comfort,
we pray especially for the university.
May professors and students be full of grace
so that classrooms are conducive to learning,
to discovering together what is possible,
to being places of joy and hope.

You provide a safe resting place,
Where there is anything toxic going on in any of the departments, bring wholeness.
Bring peace and good will.
Help us honour one another as your image bearers.

[Silent and spoken prayers for the university]

God of comfort, you are our resting place,
and we are so often in turmoil.
Provide wisdom to those who are struggling,
bring peace to those who are anxious,
help those who are lonely to find friendships.

You are our resting place,
and too often our strength is dried up.
Refill us with the energy we need to live well.
Renew us, restore us,
and set us back on good paths,
so that we can use our gifts to your glory,
to help the university, the church,
and our workplaces.

[Silent and spoken prayers for wisdom and restoration]

God of comfort,
Please help us discern
what is actually ours to do, and what is not.
What you are calling us to do,
and what you are not calling us to do.
Help us be attentive to your Holy Spirit
so that we receive guidance and help and insight,
and the courage to do what lies before us.
Help us not to over-commit,
over-extend and fail to finish well.

When we fail, may we know your grace,
may we find in you a resting place.
May we be surrounded by your steadfast love
and find joy in you.
Amen.

Opening and Closing Prayers on Mark 4 and Creation as God’s Body

The following opening and closing prayers written by Sarah MH were used at the WBB service held on October 25 which focused on Mark 4:26-41 and Creation as God’s Body.

Opening Prayers

God, we are full of hope and desire for goodness
in this city this morning,
For the Kingdom of God is here, and coming.

It is like someone scattering seed on the ground.
By itself, seed cannot grow,
But with water, darkness, soil, warmth and light
The seed grows into itself with stalk, leaves and fruit.

God, we are ready for goodness and healing in this university, this city, this province, this country.
For the Kingdom of God is here, and coming.

It is like a mustard seed, small and fragile at first,
But full of promise as it grows big enough to shelter all the birds of the air.

Give us patience as we wait,
Let us be strengthened
for the harvest that is coming.
Amen.


Closing Prayers

Creator God,
You scatter seed on every kind of ground,
And give what is needed to grow that seed into
deep roots, strong branches and bountiful fruit.

Remind us that for all the gifts you bestow on us,
You do so thoughtfully and with joy.
Give us patience to see those gifts through to fruitfulness
to hold on to the promise that we will be a shelter to many.

So we boldly proclaim, 
filled with hope, courage and perseverance:
Glory to God, whose power working in us,
can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
forever and ever. Amen.

Prayers of the People connected to Mark 4 and Creation as God’s Body

The following prayers of the people written by Deb Whalen-Blaize were used at the WBB service held on October 25 which focused on Mark 4:26-41 and Creation as God’s Body.

Creator, Sculptor, Breath of Life
You brought life into being in the darkness and quiet
Where you were priming, preparing,
nurturing, and growing.
Bring us to stillness and slow breathing
Pause to our anxiety and make space for hope
May we trust that you are with us.

(Silence in which to breathe and be still before Creator God)

We praise you, for you show yourself in Creation:
Your strength and your beauty
Your endurance and resilience.
And you have created us in your likeness

Though we sometimes forget.
When the storm clouds gather, our brows furrow
When the leaves begin to wither,
we wring our hands
Sometimes the spirits of deception
Convince us the end is near.
Where we have been worn down,
and fear has set in
Restore our faith in you and in your presence
Remind us who you have created us to be

(Prayers spoken and silent for places in our own lives where we need healing, nurturing and restoration)

Despite our doubt and our callouses
Hope persists like a sprout in concrete
Defying imprisonment and death
And refusing to give up.

May we see our hope and our faith
Grow thick as mustard and plentiful as mint
And when we are fearful or wounded, O Creator,
May we find nourishment in the faith of one another,
In the relentless hope you have planted in each of us
May we find home in its thick brush
Shelter from the storms that trouble us so

(Prayers spoken and silent for the needs of U of T, our neighbourhoods, workplaces and churches)

Where we fail to serve, O Creator
Forgive us
May we not turn inward or crave dominance
But revel in what you have given us to do for one another.
Help us to celebrate life together,
Cultivating connection and balance.

We pray for places around the world
Where life is threatened;
Where humanity and dignity are disregarded;
Where injustice is used to stockpile power,
Causing suffering for so many.

(Prayers silent and spoken for places around the world where Creator’s justice, compassion and welcome is needed)

We pray, Creator God,
That your justice and balance be restored;
That suffering be tended to, down to its source.
We trust that where harm has been done
You are powerful to correct and to heal.

May our prayers be pleasing to you, O God,
Reaching your ears like the lapping of waves
And rising like the fragrance of wildflowers.
We pray all these things in the name of your Son,
Jesus, Creator Sets Free,
Amen.