I pray for those who do not have family gatherings to look forward to, those who don't have friends who can welcome them in for meals and fellowship.
I pray for those who wish the noisy, inconsiderate, mean, abusive friends and family weren't going to be present.
I pray for those for whom this will be their first holiday season without a dear one at the table.
I pray for those who are suffering with kanswer, ebola, diabetes, high blood pressure, AIDS, mental illness and anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, and every other ailment that plagues the world's people.
I pray for the doctors and nurses and physician's assistants and counselors and therapists and social workers and hospice workers and specialists of all types who have been called to serve and touch and heal those who are sick, suffering, and dying.
I pray that our nation and its leaders will give the health and welfare of the millions of poor and desperate inhabitants of this country a higher priority than the shrill and selfish voices of those who are already wealthy and have more than they need.
I pray that we will be more concerned with those who have no one who loves them, nothing to eat and no place to live than we are with those whose incomes we envy, whose houses we covet, and whose bodies we lust after.
I pray that I will be more committed to speak up and do more for those whose voices aren't heard, for those whose interests aren't being represented in the "halls of power," and whose lives seem to matter less than the lives of others.
I pray that systemic change will begin to happen in governments, in companies, in churches and other faith-based organizations, in towns, in neighborhoods, in homes, and in relationships between people, change that brings about freedom, justice, and peace for all people everywhere.
I pray that each of us and all of us will decide to do one or two small things every day to bring about that change - that we will speak kindly to one another, that we will speak up when we see someone being treated unjustly, that we will vote, that we will write to our government representatives, that we will get involved in efforts to bring change, that we will never give up hope, and that we will always operate and live from love, from joy, and from gratitude.
I pray that we will begin to pay attention to the good things that are already happening and not focus on the negative.
I pray that I will not allow prayer to be an excuse for not getting actively involved in being the answer to prayer.
I pray that I will be able to both act and pray at the same time: that I will work for the good of others and pray at the same time, that I will serve my community and pray at the same time, that I will support and encourage my family and friends and pray at the same time, that I will welcome the stranger and feed the hungry and comfort the uncomfortable and pray at the same time, that I will enjoy the bounty and beauty of life and pray at the same time.
I pray that all people everywhere will sense the boundless love of God, the comforting presence of the One who loved them enough to come to earth and live among the people, and the gentle breath of the Spirit so undeniably that our only response will be, "Speak, Lord, you servant, your child, your beloved one is listening."