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.

Community

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.

Emotional Health

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

Family

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

Spiritual Health

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.