FOR FAVORABLE WEATHER, AN ABUNDANCE OF THE FRUITS OF THE EARTH AND FOR TEMPERATE SEASONS, LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
Many times, I have been asked what we should be thinking about during the petitions offered at the Divine Liturgy. So, a natural question which follows the question of what to think about during the petitions is how to stay focused. One thing that I have found helpful when it comes to maintaining focus is to have a “slideshow” of the petitions playing in my mind. So, on this petition for favorable weather, abundance of the fruits of the earth and for temperate seasons, some of the “slides” that have passed through my mind have included these images: people in a third world country, travelling to find water; news reports of floods; news accounts of natural disasters when they happen; the farmer in the Midwest taking care of his crops; the family hiking in the mountains.
There are many others. The point of the “slideshow” exercise is that when I’m praying this petition and others, I try to visualize the people I am praying for. Even if I don’t know their names, I am made aware of their struggles via news reports and my own life experience learning about the climate around the world and the struggles of those who live in various climates.
As we pray this petition, we should pray for adequate rain for places that get too much or too little of this precious commodity. This is also a good time to pray for our environment and for our conservation of our natural resources. Like the other petitions, this one is so rich with material that you could have a different “slide” for each Liturgy and not run out of possibilities for many Liturgies.
Thank You Lord for creating the beautiful world in which we live, for the natural resources we enjoy, for the sun and its warmth. Help us Lord to be good stewards of our environment and our resources. Send Your Divine help upon those who find themselves without adequate water that they may have adequate and clean water. And strengthen anyone who is struggling to recover from natural disasters. Amen
FOR TRAVELERS BY LAND, SEA, AND AIR, FOR THE SICK, THE SUFFERING, THE CAPTIVES, AND FOR THEIR SALVATION, LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
Again, our Church offers a wide variety of things and people to remember on this one petition. You could focus on a different part of this petition at every liturgy and that would provide variety in praying the service. “And air” was added to the liturgy in the past century, evidence that the liturgy does change ever so slightly as there is need. And as I mentioned last week, this is a good petition where you can have a “slide show” going through your mind. Often when I am praying this petition, I am thinking of specific people who I know are traveling, and specific people in our community who are sick.
The liturgy, however, is an act of all the people of a community, on behalf of all the people in the world. So there is a global prayer offered for the millions and millions of people on earth, the overwhelming majority of which, obviously, we do not know by name, who are sick or suffering. There are many people in poor parts of the world who do not have access to medical care, and this petition is a good time to pray for them, and for those who have the means to bring medical relief to them. There are people in the world who are suffering in many different ways—poor, homeless, orphans, etc. and this is a good time to bring them to mind and to prayer. At any given time, there are people who are being held unjustly in captivity. And then there are those who are justifiably being held in prisons and jails who should also not escape our prayers for their repentance and salvation. Unfortunately there are many areas in the world where Christians are not safe to practice their Christianity. They are held “captive” by oppressive governments who are bent on stamping our Christianity. We pray for them here as well.
It is interesting to note that we are not praying for safety, freedom, liberation, or vindication for any of the groups mentioned in this petition. We are not praying for material gain or recovery. We are praying for the most important thing—salvation. Perhaps someone who is suffering will never get better, or the person in poverty will never get rich. But salvation is very much in God’s plan for every human soul, and so the prayer for everyone covered by this petition is simple—salvation.
Lord, free those who are held captive by unclean spirits; sail with those who sail; travel with those who travel; defend the widows; protect the orphans; liberate the captives; heal the sick. Remember, Lord, those who are in mines, in exile, in harsh labor, and those in every kind of affliction, necessity, or distress; those who entreat your loving kindness; those who love us and those who hate us; those who have asked us to pray for them, unworthy though we may be. Amen.