A Prayer for Graduates
(Thirty-five years following my graduation from seminary I was invited to offer the closing prayer at the graduation of my alma mater.)
Almighty and eternal God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we commit to your care, preservation, and use the graduates of this class. We ask for them all that you will make them strong when they are tempted by the evil one. Assure them of forgiveness by the merits and sacrifice of Christ when they sin and fail. Grant them endurance in the many trials of life and service. Preserve them in their most holy faith until their earthly service is complete. Bring them at last to the inheritance of eternal life that is theirs by faith in Jesus Christ.
Bless those who will minister to struggling families and to persons buffeted by the cares of life. Make their counsel faithful to the timeless truths of your Word and relevant to the often mysterious and baffling realities of living in a fallen world when not yet fully restored to the image of God in Christ. Prosper those who have prepared themselves for various forms of lay service in the kingdom, and those who will go on to other studies that their efforts may be fruitful.
We pray for those who are called to ministry of the Word of God that Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer and King of the Church, will by his Spirit bestow on them all the graces and gifts necessary to serve the Church faithfully and effectively. Help them to be gentle with those who err, merciful with those who suffer, tender with the children, comforting with the dying, and forbearing with those who oppose. With the wisdom of serpents grant them the harmlessness of doves. Bestow upon them the grace that will make them principled and brave in the face of unbelief, compromise, and sin in the world and in the Church. Give to them the acceptance of the Church, the love of the people they serve, the sympathy of their fellow ministers, and the support of those who oversee the church.
Keep them from being blown about by every wind of doctrine and practice. May they hold to the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and may they lead worship, preach the Word, and care for the flock according to the apostolic pattern. Make their reading and preaching of the Word, their administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and their public prayers effective to the salvation, edification, and preservation of that multitude no man can number given by the Father to the Son.
We pray that this generation of ministers you now are raising up may prove to be more holy in life, more faithful in doctrine, more confident in the means of grace, more committed to the visible Church, more selfless in service, and more effective in ministry than the generation they succeed. Allow them to find success in faithfulness, popularity in truthfulness, and recognition in lowliness. And, when their service to the Church on earth is done, let the testimony of the Church and their own consciences be that they have run their race, kept the faith, and finished their course. Then receive them into the nearer presence of Christ, where they may rest from their labors with their works following them, as they wait for the yet more glorious day when they and all the saints with rise from death to sinless and immortal life.
And, now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, to whom be the glory forever. Amen.