A Christmas Eve Pastoral Prayer

A pastoral prayer delivered on December 24, 2023 at Grace Bible Church in Escondido, California

Our Great God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—we join our voices with Mary’s voice, with the angels’ voices, and with the voice of the Church around the world to glorify your holy name.

Father, we thank you for everything you’ve given us: life and breath, family and friends, a church community to be part of. But today we’re especially grateful for the gift of your Son. He gave up the glory of heaven for the lowliness of a manger, the honor of heaven for the shame of a Roman cross. And he did it for our sake, so that through his poverty he might make us rich, as heirs together with him of your glory.

Father, you have been so kind and gracious to us. Yet, we’ve sinned against you this past week in all kinds of ways: in our disordered desires; with our words; with our actions; by new sins and by the same old sins we come back to again and again.

If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, who among us could stand before you? But with you there is forgiveness of sins that you may be feared and loved.

Forgive us our sins. Wash us clean. Renew us inwardly so our thoughts, desires, words, and actions come to reflect the holiness, beauty, and goodness of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Father, we know that your kingdom is a peaceable kingdom. Your Son is the Prince of Peace. One day the nations will turn their swords into plowshares. We long and wait for that day. So we pray, “Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

But today, in this world, peace is scarce. We pray for an end to the conflict in Gaza. We pray for an end to the conflict in Ukraine. We ask that you would give peace to our nation. Heal the divisions that plague us. Restore a sense of community and neighborliness. Give us wise, humble, peace-loving leaders.

This Christmas Eve morning, we remember that our Savior came to this world as a humble and homeless refugee. We think of our many neighbors here in Escondido who live on the streets. O God, provide food and shelter. Use us as your ministers of mercy.

We remember that Jesus was born to a poor, unwed teenager. We think of Alternatives Medical Clinic that serves so many pregnant women in our city. Continue to provide them with resources and new opportunities to serve some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

Father, bless and encourage our missionaries and partners in missions around the world.

We ask that you meet the many needs in our own congregation. We pray for [names], all of whom are dealing with bodily ailments of different sorts. Be with them. Strengthen them.

Bind up the brokenhearted among us.

Comfort those who are sad or grieving.

Be a refuge for those living with mental health challenges.

Be a rock for those whose lives have been turned upside down.

Give energy to tired parents and busy employees.

Give courage to those facing the many challenges of aging.

Give diligence and perseverance to students.

Give strength and compassion to those caring for loved ones.

Give meaning and purpose to those who feel adrift.

There are so many more needs that only you know. Meet them in your goodness, kindness, and mercy.

Our Father, you fill us with hope during every Christmastide. We remember again that this is the world you have loved. This is the world to which you sent your Son as our Redeemer and Lord. Cause Christ—the Sun of Righteousness—to shine upon us in new ways. Fill us afresh with hope, peace, and joy as we celebrate his first coming and wait for him to come again.

We ask all these things in the name of our wonderful Savior, your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.