As we approach yet another annual “First Responders Sunday” at North Life, I wrote this prayer that will be offered to the Lord over those who attend…many of which do not have a pastor. Feel free to share this prayer with those you know in this line of work/calling or use it in similar settings in your ministry.
Heavenly Father, we come to you on behalf of our first responders
We who owe them a debt of gratitude
A debt that is rarely felt as acutely as required
To them, to You for them
May you cause them to sense today our heart
A heart with no agenda or angle
A heart with distinctive distance from those
Those who malign and ridicule them
Those who sleep, work, and live in peace
Oblivious to the sacrifices of those stretched so thin
To stand between us and the pervasive threats to our community.
A community, including us, that truly owes them so, so much.
God, today we remember these local, unsung heroes
Heroes who are not sheathed in impenetrable armor
But are real people made of finite flesh like the rest of us
Flesh that hurts alongside all the trauma it witnesses
Flesh that struggles to fully process seeing people at their worst
Flesh that is prone to become calloused, hardened, cynical
Bestow upon them the heaven-sent relationships needed
Relationships to provide support and guidance
Relationships that allow them to fully process out loud
The raw, reverberating effects of responding to such weighty matters.
May your life-giving Spirit help and heal their emotional challenges
May your renewing Word give their mind a place of fixed faith and focus
We would be remiss, Lord, if we did not acknowledge an oft-forgotten group
A group called the family of first responders
A group that often experiences unfortunate interruptions
Interruptions to an otherwise good night’s sleep
Interruptions to what everybody else enjoys around the holidays
Interruptions to predictable patterns and rhythms known by others
God, we pray specifically for the marriages of these dear families
May their marriages be unified around your calling
May their marriages be anchored by your love and peace
We also pray for the children represented in this room
May their children sense the nobility of their God-given duty
May their descendants in years to come rejoice in their enduring sacrifices
Lastly, Lord, be close to the hearts of these dear men and women
The hearts behind the badge, behind the uniform.
May you grant them the humility needed to admit their own need
Their need for your Son Jesus to be their personal Lord and Savior
He who is the ultimate first responder
The One who alone meets soul level needs
Needs more desperate than chaos, crime, fire, and illness
Needs deeper and more enduring than flesh and bone
A glorious ministry that culminates with being unchained
Unchained from the tyranny of all fear
Fear of loneliness, fear of judgment, and fear of even death itself.
May they lean upon you, the God who is Spirit and gives us our spirit.