A Prayer {for the Brokenhearted} this Advent

broken heart

As I stood at the podium ready to serve as the prayer liturgist at my church on Sunday, not only was I frazzled and out of breath from racing to the front just in time to pass off my 18-month-old daughter to my husband, but as I began the prayer I was unexpectedly (and slightly embarrassingly) overcome with emotion. Even though I can blame it, at least partially, on the Holy Spirit (yes, he is known to flood me with tears in the most inopportune times!), the emotions came in a moment when praying for those for whom this time of year is difficult. Suddenly, I could’t hold back the tears, as I had to face the hard truth: I was one of those people. I literally had to give myself a silent pep talk as I was trying to regain composure, “Pull it together, Ali!”

I suppose I have always understood (in theory) that Christmas is a difficult time for many. But I haven’t really understood it on a personal or experiential level until this year, as my family continues to grieve the loss of our beloved mom, Becky. She went home to be with the Lord in January of this year and our hearts are still broken over the hole her loving and vibrant personality left in our family, our home community and our world. She is deeply missed. My heart literally hurts when I think about it.

Here, I simply wanted to share the heartfelt and (unexpected) emotion-filled prayer from Sunday. It is a simple prayer, but it reminded me that God’s heart really is so tender and soft towards the brokenhearted. As Psalm 34:18 puts it:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

May you be a recipient of the close and tender care of our Lord, as I have been, and experience His deep and abiding comfort in whatever you are facing this Advent season.

Heavenly Father, we thank you that today marks the beginning of Advent, a time of waiting, watching, preparing, reflecting, remembering, anticipating, and hoping. A time when we look back in celebration of Your first coming…while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation of Your coming again.

Father, we desire to enter fully into this season of Advent, focused and unfettered. We want to slow down to reflect, pray and ponder who You are and what You have done for us in sending Your Son to us. And yet, we confess our inability to do so on our own accord, on our own strength. We confess our weakness, our short attention spans, our selfishness, our sin and our succumbing to the pull of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We ask for Your forgiveness, Lord, in all the ways we fall short… and for Your help this Advent, in keeping You at the center of our waiting and our wanting.

Father, we also bring before you all of those for whom this time of year is difficult. Please be especially near to those in our midst who are battling sickness, grieving the loss of a loved one, are alone, struggling to provide for their family or to rebuild their lives after recent natural disasters. Bring Your healing Presence and Your hope-filled touch to all who are beaten down and broken, we pray.

Finally Lord, I ask that today and in the weeks ahead, that You would renew us, refill us, and reveal to us a deeper sense of what Advent, the coming of Your Son, means. For Jesus is Immanuel–God with us–the greatest gift we all can receive this Christmas. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

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