Late last year our church body held a service with an emphasis on benevolence. Love and good works. Our four elders – David, Ron, Kevin, and Tim – have a desire to see our church body help meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Commerce community as much as we are able. Everyone has something to offer.

During that service, I was called on to give the Prayer of Thanksgiving. I write many of my public prayers out beforehand. Because I’m not a fan of public speaking, I enjoy having something ready made to read from. I don’t want my public prayers to be filled with “uh’s” and “um’s” but with clarity and purpose. Distraction hinders devotion.

Recently, I was reading through my notebook and came across that prayer. I share it now, not because it is especially elegant or lofty, but I think it fitting to begin a new year with a prayer – a desire to serve the community.

Each new year I make promises to myself: eat better, exercise more, learn a new language. All good things, but I notice, at least with myself, most, if not all, my resolutions tend toward the self. Even in my promises, I focus on myself more than others.

There is nothing wrong with diet and exercise. In fact, I plan to do those as well (Jesse got me new jeans for Christmas – they’re a little tight); however, while we are making all these promises of self-improvement, I would ask us to consider what promises we are making to better those around us. For the Christian, this question is not an if but a “how much?” God called us to “love and good works,” so I believe we should be intentional in fulfilling that calling.

So, here is an edited version of the prayer I prayed during that corporate worship service in October. This serves as a promise and a hope to better serve the community I love in the year ahead.

“Lord, we do not know how you will answer our prayers, petitions, and desires to be a more benevolent body, but we know you will because your word promises that when we pray in accordance to your will, you hear and respond. And you will respond far more abundantly than we have words to speak. It is your will that we would be a people zealous for good works.

“Lord, we ask for that zealousness, we ask for that desire, passion, that zeal for good works done in your name so that you and you alone would receive the glory. We ask not only for the opportunity and willingness to serve, but also for the knowledge and understanding that must undergird why we serve.

“We love because you first loved us. We were not worthy of your love; we could and can never earn or deserve your love. But it’s a love you willingly gave us. So we pray to share that same love you gave to us, capstoning in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, with those in our community. We pray for the mind of Christ, that we would love as you love, give as you gave, and serve as you served: with joy and gladness, looking forward to the day when you return to wipe away every tear and make all things new.

“Amen.”

Joseph Hamrick is a semi-professional writer and sometimes thinker. He lives in Commerce and serves as a deacon at Commerce Community Church (C3). He can be reached at jhamrick777@gmail.com.

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