These prayers were written to celebrate the re-opening of St Mary's for private prayer.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul has a desire and longing to enter the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.
The sparrow has found her a house
and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young:
at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are they who dwell in your house: they will always be praising you. (Psalm 84:1-3)
God of our days and years, we thank you for this opportunity to pray in your house once again,
this beautiful building where prayers have been offered and heard for centuries past.
As we come before you, we bring to you all those who are on our hearts and minds,
asking you to bless us, our families and friends, and those you have given us to pray for.
We pray for this church and the community it serves, for Banbury and its villages,
the place and its people, of all ages, colours and beliefs.
Help us to serve you in all our neighbours, those we know and those we’ve not yet met.
We pray for our country, at this time of crisis and change, asking your Holy Spirit
to guide us all as we work towards the restoration of a normal way of living.
We pray especially for those in authority, and the difficult decisions they have to make to keep us safe.
Give them courage and humility in equal measure.
We pray for those who have found these last months particularly hard,
remembering those who have been on the front line, caring for the sick and dying;
those who have helped to keep us going, collecting our rubbish, working in shops or on deliveries;
those from our BAME communities, unfairly affected by illness and poverty;
the poor and the homeless,
anyone who has lost their job or fears they may not have a job to go back to;
those who have found the weeks of loneliness particularly hard; and
those who have found it hard to be locked down with others.
Give to them all the comfort and reassurance of your presence,
and the promise of your justice and mercy.
We remember all those who have suffered in body, mind and spirit
and those who continue to suffer -- knowing that you love all that you have made,
and there is nothing human that cannot be made whole in your sight.
We remember those who have died, and trust that in your goodness you will draw them to yourself.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.
May they rest in peace, and rise in glory.
And finally as we call to mind the weeks and months since we were last able to be in this place,
we bring to you all we have lost, all we have learned,
and the questions that only you can answer.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.