As this strange and troubling academic term comes to an end, I can think of no better way of finishing it than by turning to God in prayer—in adoration for his grace, confession and thanksgiving for what’s past, and supplication for the future.

Dear Lord and Father,

We thank you for all of the joys of this past academic year: for the opportunities you’ve provided for us to work, learn, and teach. Thank you for the jobs and colleagues you’ve given us and for the students we’ve been able to care for and help. We praise you for showing us that true leadership is found in humble service. Thank you for your sustaining grace and constant care, and particularly for your provision of online learning tools that has enabled schools and universities to continue teaching during lockdown.

Please bless university students as they finish their terms: please give them perseverance and strength to see it out. Please give them rest and peace over the break and bring them back safely in the autumn. Please be with students who are starting new programmes at university next year, and those who are leaving: please give them peace in the uncertainty and help them look to you to find their identity and security.

In the past few months, we’ve seen the world stricken with so much suffering and fear. Please bless those who no longer have work: help us to encourage and support them, and please provide them with new work opportunities. Please bless those who have suffered loss: help us to draw alongside them and mourn with them. Please bless those who live in danger or uncertainty: help us to partner with you in providing safety and security for them. Please bless those who live in fear: help us point them to the hope there is in Christ. Please give wisdom and a spirit of humility to those who lead, that they may do so collaboratively and constructively with other nations. Please bless those who are serving sacrificially at the frontlines of covid-19 and ebola crises: please be their hope and refuge, and in your mercy, keep them healthy and safe. Please provide a vaccine for this disease that is made available to all people—especially the poorest in your world.

Lord, we confess that we are sinful people: this past year has seen the ravages of disease, but also the escalation of suffering brought about by historic, ingrained injustice in our societies. Please help us humbly submit before you, who created all humans in your image, to repent of our ways, corporately and individually. Grow in us a passion to defend the rights of the weak, to be peacemakers, and to seek justice. Please help our society abandon the prejudices of the past, while actively seeking those still trapped in modern-day slavery all around the world.

These terrible times have reminded us of the world’s brokenness, our own brokenness, and our inability to control or fix the world around us. Thank you for the reminder that we are not the sovereigns of our own lives or worlds—you are. We are utterly dependent on your sustaining grace. Thank you also Lord, that in Jesus, we have a refuge in difficult times and an ever-present help in trouble. As job prospects change, families are stricken with loss, and the world is burdened with sickness, depression, and injustice, please remind us that in you, we have a compassionate High Priest who has suffered and knows the pain of loss, and who will ultimately bring perfect justice and right every wrong.

Thank you for the break ahead. Please help those teachers among us to rest well and to use our time off to your glory. Help the quietness of the break allow us to reflect and process the events of this past year, and to bring all of our pain and confusion and sadness to you in prayer. Help us not grow weary in doing good, but continue to seek your kingdom and serve one another in love.