Lord, hear our prayer

Longings for the church in 2024

January 11, 2024 | Feature | Volume 28 Issue 1
Photo: mstudio For Pexels

We asked people who wrote for Canadian Mennonite in 2023 to share their wish and prayer for the church in 2024. 

I’m easily afraid. So is the church. I pray that we will listen for, and joyfully embrace, Christ’s “fear not, I’m here” in 2024. 
– Dora Dueck, Tsawwassen, B.C.

God make us a shelter for warmth, safety, meaning, friendship and love. You are all we have. Our lives are in your gentle hands.
– Jan Schroeder, Ottawa 

Spirit of Jesus, hold us tenderly as we watch and wait for your strength to be made perfect in our weakness, uncertainty and loss. Amen.
– Josh Wallace, Saskatoon

Guiding God, walking ahead, beside and behind us, lead us into hand-shaking hospitality, that mobilizes us way beyond our borders, for Jesus’ sake, amen. 
– Lois Siemens, Saskatoon

I wish for joy—Spirit-infused joy that ignites energy and imaginations and that brings together people across our congregations.
– Brenda Tiessen-Wiens, Calgary 

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) My prayer is that we will be able to join our siblings in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas 2024, finding God’s presence in our broken world. 
– James Friesen, Winnipeg

“See, I am doing a new thing.” (Isaiah 43:19) May we embrace a spiritual posture of curiosity, trust, openness and bold faith, growing in attentiveness and responsiveness as God writes a new story amongst us. 
– Kara Carter, Poole, Ontario

I wish for openness, love and courage. May our hearts and arms be open to all who come searching.
– Ruth Bergen Braun, Calgary

That we will live lives worthy of our calling . . . with humility, gentleness and patience, accepting each other with love, making every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties us together. (Adapted from Ephesians 4:1-3.) 
– Marilyn Rudy-Froese, Kitchener, Ontario

I have no reason to be over-optimistic [sic] / But somehow when you smile / I can brave bad weather. (Paraphrased slightly from Pete Townshend in The Who’s rock opera, “Tommy.”)
– Ross Muir, Waterloo, Ontario

Come Holy Spirit
Lead us in wisdom, truth, faith
Enliven your church
– Laura Funk, Winnipeg

May we, the church, be transformed, inspired and called to be radical messengers of hope, peace, joy and love. 
– Ann L. Schultz, Kitchener, Ontario

May Christ be formed in us, to walk ever more faithfully in Jesus’ way of love toward greater justice, peace and joy for all.
– Michael Pahl, Winnipeg

Spirit of God, massage our hearts, that we would remain tenderhearted toward one another and the sufferings of all people and creation. 
– Kathy Giesbrecht, Winnipeg

“Let us not grow weary in doing what is right.” (Gal. 6:9) I offer prayers for ongoing and sustained collaboration toward justice, peace and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
– Jonathan Neufeld, Oakville, Manitoba

May our people be the light on the hill, radiating kindness, seeking justice and walking humbly with our God. 
– Werner and Margot Fieguth, Waterloo, Ontario

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) That our hearts, minds and senses are open to receive God’s ever-present love, and thus, we participate in God’s love for the world.
– Kevin Driedger, Winkler, Manitoba

My wish and prayer for the church is to advocate for peace around us and, collectively, for the people in a world of genocide and destruction. 
– Ken Loewen, Altona, Manitoba

Our God and Redeemer, please guide us in 2024 to grow greatly in our understanding and practice of loving faith, following Christ in community.
– Art Koop, Edson, Alberta
Prayer for intercultural churches, that they can give up their comfort zone, inverting their perspectives and creating a new humanity only in Christ. 
– Joon Park, Edmonton

God of the void, garden, flood, bush, cloud, tabernacle, kingdom, manger, dove, storm, tomb, road, fire, book and church . . . what is the next surprise?
– Valerie Kauffman, Leamington, Ontario

My prayer for the church: to find harmony for those divided, health for those afflicted, healing for the hurting and hope for tomorrow.
– Maria H. Klassen, St. Catharines, Ontario

In the Kalahari earlier this year, a woman I barely know drove hours to get meds I needed without asking for money.  This is church today, tomorrow. 
– Carol Ann Weaver, Waterloo, Ontario

That we’ll be known by the way we love and include people regardless of faith, social standing, gender, orientation, culture or ethnicity. 
– Angelika Dawson, Abbotsford, B.C.

May we walk humbly with God, being a voice for justice locally and globally, believing the best of others, acting in kindness and love. 
– Geraldine Balzer, Saskatoon

Lord, I pray for peace in our families, churches and countries in the world. Have mercy on us. Glory and honour be to you.
– Helmut Lemke, Vancouver
Lord, as we pray for peace in the world, help us keep moral clarity that evil be defeated and the innocents be returned home.
– Janet Dirks, Victoria

Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief! (Adapted from Mark 9:24) Give us the eyes to see you at work in the world and the courage to follow wholeheartedly.  
– Doug Klassen, Winnipeg   

Sometimes it seems the world is falling apart. We feel threatened by despair. What I wish for the church is the joy of hope as embodied by Christ.
– Marieke Meyer, Toronto

I pray that we take strength from our communities to humbly see the divine in everyone we meet, listening, empathizing, loving and welcoming all.
– Wendy Suddaby, Victoria

May we release our grip on conventions that keep us stagnant, and gently open our hands to the Spirit’s gifts in this extraordinary season. 
– Anneli Loepp Thiessen, Ottawa

Let the people of the church be who they are. Let people as they are be the church. Saturday night is Sunday morning. 
– Barry Bergen, Leamington, Ontario

May we be brave enough to engage with our blemishes and let our nostalgia die, to be resurrected as something surprisingly beautiful and new.
– Joshua Penfold, New Hamburg, Ontario
At the foot of this new year, I’m remembering Mary’s song: “He has brought down the powerful and lifted up the lowly.”
– Sarah Ens, Winnipeg

During Advent 2023, yearnings for a story of hope sufficient to transform conditions of life today were tended. I pray for these tender roots.
– Cheryl Pauls, Winnipeg

I pray that the church looks forward more than it looks back. May we “seek the peace of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7), courageously loving our neighbours. 
– Susanne Guenther Loewen, Saskatoon

My hope is for a deeper experience of the Holy Spirit, bringing unity in diversity in our church, and healing in our world.
– Arli Klassen, Kitchener, Ontario

That the church will shine the light of Jesus, the light of love, courage, truth, mercy, justice and peace into the deep gloom of our human and planetary suffering.  
– Esther Epp-Thiessen, Winnipeg

My prayer for 2024 is simple: I pray for the shalom-peace of God, through Jesus, to come more and more in a world that so desperately needs it.
– Jesse Nickel, Abbotsford, B.C.

My wish is that Mennonite Church Manitoba would join the communities of faith around the world calling for an international Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. 
– Josiah Neufeld, Winnipeg

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days.
“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal.” (Voices Together #716)
– Miles Zimmerly Wiederkehr, Mildmay, Ontario

A singular focus on the health and building of local churches. There is no Jesusy-justice, Mennonite Church Canada or Regional Church separate from the local, messy, gathering and scattering local church. 
– Shel Boese, Langley, B.C.

May the church start with a right confession: Jesus is Lord. And then accept the confusion, clarity and contradiction that comes from it.
– David Driedger, Winnipeg

My wish for the church, including myself, is to grow bolder in solidarity with people beaten down by poverty, racism and oppression, and worry less about success and image. 
– Byron Rempel-Burkholder, Winnipeg

May we build bridges and not walls. Bridges, which link us, which invite others to join us and widen our horizon. 
– Cathrin van Sintern-Dick, Chatham, Ontario

That God will bless us with a spirit of unity and grace, that we might witness to the world the strange and beautiful truth of the Gospel.
– jason greig, Kitchener, Ontario 

I did not receive inspiration that would have been constructive . . . .
– Anonymous
My wish and my prayer for churches in 2024 is for more dialogue on more topics.
– Howard Boldt, near Osler, Saskatchewan

My prayer for 2024 is that the church rediscover the energy and the hope of the greatest commandment. To love is to live God. 
– Ed Olfert, Laird, Saskatchewan

May the church grow in hope and point the way to God through intentional relationships with Jesus and others for the well-being of all people.
– Melody Steinman, Baden, Ontario

I pray that God’s dream for the world will be reflected in our lives, our congregations and global family of faith as a sign of the new creation. 
– Jeanette Hanson, Rosthern, Saskatchewan

I pray the church will be both humble and bold in 2024. Humble enough to learn from Jesus, and bold enough to follow him. 
– Donita Wiebe-Neufeld, Edmonton

“As an Anabaptist church we cannot keep silent about the ongoing wars in Ukraine and between Palestine and Israel.” (Quoting Geraldine Balzer, Canadian Mennonite, December 15, 2023)
– Henry Fast, Winnipeg

May the God of hope inspire in us the resolve and courage to meet suffering and pain with humility, love and peace.
– Arlyn Friesen Epp, Winnipeg

We pray that we learn from Jonah to follow God’s lead and welcome all, especially those we’re quite sure don’t deserve God’s lavish grace. 
– James Barber, Markham, Ontario 

For Discussion

1. What is your prayer, wish or longing for the church in 2024?

2. Which of the prayers above resonate most with you?

3. What Bible verse would you want to claim as a prayer for the church in 2024?

4. Although there is much darkness in our world, where do you see the light of hope?

5. As you reflect on your life, are there specific times when you can say, “God was with us”?

– CM staff

Photo: mstudio For Pexels

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