Praying Through the Holidays

This is the hectic time – just days before Christmas – so much planning, so many traveling, so many children itching to open presents. We suffer a kind of uncomfortable exhaustion mixed with expectation. It reminds me of how Garrison Keillor described Christmas once, “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” It is a time like no other in our year, and it carries with it so many needful reminders. One of those reminders is to be open to an awareness of God’s presence throughout all of the festivities. One important reality of God’s presence is the promise of peace that is woven throughout this season.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

In prophecy Jesus is called ‘Prince of Peace’. After his death and resurrection, he entered the room where some of his disciples were present. His word to them at that crucial moment?

Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Luke 24:36

Praying through the holidays should center on prayers for peace. Here are some guides and Scriptures to help you pray through the holidays.

Pray for Peace in the World. No one would deny, we need peace in the world. With the 24 hour news cycle, we know everything all the time – and that’s not a healthy and peaceful way to live. Most of the things we learn can do nothing but rob us of peace. True world peace awaits the return of Jesus. Until then, the people of God can administer peace all around them, giving testimony to the coming world. Peace was a part of the message at the crucial moment of the birth of Christ, as the ordinary and unknown shepherds in the field heard the angelic voices.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:8-14

Pray for Peace in our Hearts, Especially for the Hurting, Ill, & Lonely. Peace in our world is one thing, but so is peace in our private, personal world. It is no secret that the holidays are especially hard for those who are hurting. The contrast with expectations of joyous celebration and the inner pain and hurts, can be hard to bear. Illness can lead to isolation. Loneliness is the true epidemic of our time. We need to pray for peace in our own hearts.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:4-8

Pray for Peace in our Families. The holidays are a time for family gatherings, and that can be both a blessing and a challenge. We pray not only for peace among our family members, but for that peace to lead to kinder and sweeter relationships. We pray for those who travel to be with family, that they not only have safe journeys but create wonderful memories.

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:11-14

Prayer for Peace for those burdened with the cares of life. In the previous two passages we read references to the peace of God and the God of peace. So many people enter into the holiday season carrying heavy burdens of grief, care, concern, and worry. Anxiety about the year to come is common. What big decisions are you facing this week or this month? Worries about finances – especially if we have over extended ourselves in purchasing gifts – can wear us down in spirit. We pray for the peace of God and the God of peace to be close to us in these days of heavy burdens.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Pray for Peace to Be found in Jesus. Ultimately the only source of peace we can find is a central part of the Christmas season: Christ. It is his birth that we recognize and think about as we go through these days of carols and nativity scenes. Making the Prince of Peace the King of your heart will help you through the darkest and brightest of days.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious richeshe may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

In the 1927 Presidential Christmas Address, Calvin Coolidge spoke to the nation.

“To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”

I think that’s a beautiful expression of faith and hope to be found in Jesus. As you make your way through the holidays, make sure to keep Christ in your thoughts. Keep your prayers focused on peace.

I thank you for reading this and I have great gratitude for those who share it. I hope it helps give you a format and structure, as well as inspiration, for praying through the holidays. Merry Christmas!

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