Monday, April 24, 2017

A prayer at the beginning of a clergy sabbatical

Some of this is personal to me and it just stops rather than having a polished ending, but just in case any of this is helpful to others:

Father God,

Thank you for the space and opportunity for this sabbatical.

Thank you for all those who have made it possible,

For those who have assisted with arrangements and advice,

And for financial provision.

Thank you for all those who are helping with my normal responsibilities during this time.

Thank you for all your goodness and kindness to me,

For innumerable blessings which I do not deserve.

Make me more conscious of the grace I have received, I pray.

Give me a humility which comes from knowing that all I have or am is pure gift.

Give me an increasing desire for your glory and a lack of concern for my own perceived status.  

Forgive me for times when I have been forgetful of you and ungrateful for your mercies.

For times when I have sinned against others.

Forgive my grumpiness and impatience and lack of faith.

And the sins I am barely aware of or would rather not name, even before you.

Help me to genuinely step aside from the responsibilities which would distract from the best use of this time.

Help me to trust you with those things I will not be doing and to leave them to others.

Bless and prosper those ministries in my absence.

May I rejoice at the end of my sabbatical to hear of the good things that have happened without me, and the way in which you have used others.

Deliver me from all hints of a Messiah-complex and from wanting to think of myself as indispensable.

Help me not to treat this “time off” as time off from being a Christian!

Help me to be a blessing to those whom I meet during this time.

Help me to make the most of this time, without being frenetic or overly precious about it.

Give me wisdom about my priorities and direct my energies.

Teach me to trust your good providence if all does not go to my plans.

Help me to prioritise my walk with you and find good ways of getting to know you better.

Open my eyes afresh to your greatness and love,

To the wonder of your character

and the glories of your purposes in the gospel.

Bless my times of prayer, Bible reading and fellowship with others.

May I rejoice in knowing Christ and in being yours.

May I love you more and know you better at the end of this time.

Help me to know myself.

Show me my sin.

Cause me to hate it and to strive to put it to death, depending on your Spirit.

Give me a desire to be more like Christ and help me to see how I can grow in Him.

Make me conscious of ways in which I have fallen in to sinful or unhelpful patterns or ways in which I compromise or acquiesce with godlessness.

Thank you for your work in my life and for the gifts you have given me.

Help me to use them effectively in your service and for the good of others.

Bless my family, especially when I am away.

Help us to love one another and to love you more.

We pray that we might serve you effectively together as a team.

Help us to be kind and caring to one another.

May we rejoice and mourn together and carry one another’s burdens.

Make our home a place of peace, joy, forgiveness and grace.

Help us to practice hospitality and to be a blessing to others.

Help me to be a godly husband and father, to encourage and nurture.

Forgive my selfishness and impatience.

May I lead my family by serving them wisely not pleasing myself.

Please help me review and plan.

Give me good ideas for future life and ministry.

Help me increasingly to form good habits that will help to sustain a life-time of ministry.

Help me to wisely take care of myself without being lazy or self-indulgent, nor imaging myself to be super-human or invulnerable.

Teach me your power which is available in weakness.

May my sabbatical be of use to me and my family, to those to whom I minister and to the wider church.

In particular, may my study and writing be faithful to your word and beneficial.

I pray that there may be a specific tangible outcome from this time, such as a publishable journal article which will help others.

Deliver me from ego in this, but graciously use me in your service.

I pray that I might be rested and refreshed by this sabbatical, not worn out by trying to do too much, or by misguided use of the time.

Help me to make a good return to my normal ministries with a renewed vision and a sense of how to go forward.

I pray for those whom I serve that it might be good to have me back!

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