Our heavenly Father, we cannot imagine what it was like, when on that first Easter morning the women went to the tomb and heard the announcement: “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6). The words were easy enough to understand, but the fact must have been incredible. We are not surprised they were stunned, for they groped to find the significance of what had been said. Some had doubts only answered by seeing. Even after more than 2000 years, the message still seems too good to be true.
As we worship this morning, we pray for the presence of the Risen Christ to be among us. May we be responsive to His speaking and ready not only to believe Him but to follow Him. You have not left us alone, for the Holy Spirit is with us and dwelling in us who are obedient to the teachings of Christ. Though we have no merit of our own, You have given us grace upon grace, and You have been faithful to the covenant established through the redeeming death of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are thankful for Your great love and for the unspeakable grace by which You have saved us.
We give thanks, Father, for all things bright and beautiful, making faith in eternal life more sure: for our families who nurture us, for friends who love us. We thank You for Scripture which has guided us, for the fellowship of the Church which has sustained us during difficult times, and for the faithful witness of those who have held forth the Word of truth. We thank You for the saints who have died in the Lord, whose lives are still an inspiration to us. Above all, we thank You for our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought life and immortality to light, the hope to which we cling this Easter morning.
We pray for those among us who live in defeat, for whom the note of victory sounds distant and unreal. You know their frustrations, the circumstances which seem insurmountable, the temptations which overwhelm them, the failures which dog their consciences, the griefs too heavy for them to bear. Into their darkened lives, we pray that the dawn of Easter morning might break, and in their desolate places we pray You might cause the desert to bloom like a rose. Grant Your song of redeeming grace to reverberate in the depths of their souls, and they be restored to victory.
We pray for Your Church, Lord. We are grateful for her tenacity to stand firm for truth, for the faithfulness of those who have loved You and carried their banners high even in the heat of battle. Grant in these days of danger and opportunity, we who now are given the charge to be faithful even to death might be united in the conviction that Jesus is Lord. May we be courageous in enunciating clearly and fearlessly the witness of the resurrection of our Lord. Send us from this time of worship to live as men and women whose citizenship is in heaven, where we await a change in our lowly bodies to be like Christ’s glorious body, by the power which enables Him to subject all things unto Himself.
We pray for our missionaries who are celebrating Easter in those lands where You have sent them, and we pray for national pastors in mission churches who proclaim to their own people the joyous good news that Christ who died for their sins is alive forevermore. Pour out Your Spirit afresh upon those pastors and their churches, that the name of Jesus may be glorified. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen. [From Prayers for the People: from the heart of a pastor, Bill Coker, Sr.]