Biddag voor het gewas en arbeid:
Day of prayer for crops and labour.
Springtime is when farmers wonder what the growing season will be like. Will they get adequate moisture after planting? Will there be windy, hot days with no rainfall for weeks at a time? Farmers have all experienced drought at some time in their lives.
Every spring, for as long as I can remember, our church has had an evening prayer service focused almost entirely on prayer and singing. As immigrants in the early years, we referred to it as Biddag voor het gewas (Day of prayer for crops). It was an important day each spring in the Netherlands as far back as the 15th century. Farmers and the labourers had the day off while the priests would be busy going to the fields and blessing the crops.
In our Renfrew church, it started out primarily as a prayer service for farmers to pray that their crops would receive rain and flourish. As the number of farmers in our congregation decreased, and members’ occupations became diversified, so did the prayer service.
In recent years it’s been called the Annual Day of Prayer. This year Synod designated Wednesday, March 11 as the Annual Day of Prayer. All Christian Reformed Church congregations were requested to assemble on March 11 to ask God’s blessing upon the world, our nations, crops and industry, and the church worldwide.
Our church in Renfrew decided to hold this service on Sunday, April 19, having reasoned that March is too early and attendance would be poor on a Wednesday evening. If I recall from recent years, the prayer service includes prayer for church and missions, for home and family, for education, for agriculture, for business and industry, for government and for health and justice. Different members of the congregation go the front and pray for their assigned vocation.
Writing a prayer that encompassed most aspects of agriculture is challenging, as I found out.
On our knees in April
Heavenly Father, we thank you for those in the agricultural industry. We thank you for the livestock producers, the grain and oilseed producers, the poultry producers, those in the feather industry such as the turkey and boiler producers, dairy farmers, hog producers, beekeepers, sheep and goat producers, and market garden producers who together produce the foods we eat.
We thank you Lord for the technology and knowledge they have to help them in their daily endeavours resulting in production of wholesome foods at an affordable price for all.
We pray for safety, as farming can be a dangerous occupation. Be with them as they work long hours planting and harvesting their crops.
We pray for each farm family, that they may support, love and encourage one another as they work together for a common goal.
We pray that you give strength, energy and hope to our farmers as they continually struggle with the high costs of operating a farm and the smaller profit margins they are faced with. Farmers have had to adapt to new environmental laws, which will force some farmers out of business. We pray for those whose livelihoods have been ruined by disease, by falling prices and by the shortcomings of disaster management.
Lord, we pray for adequate rain during the growing season. People who are not associated with growing crops and vegetables prefer sunny days all summer long. We saw the challenges farmers and ranchers in California faced last year when little or no rain fell and there wasn’t adequate water in the reservoirs to irrigate all the crops. Thousands of acres of crops were lost to the drought. Lord, humble us that we may empathize with the farmer’s plight – to realize the importance of rain and sunshine.
We thank you, Father, for the rich variety of our food, from many parts of the world that we find daily in our stores and supermarkets. We pray for those who grow, prepare and distribute the food we eat.
We thank you Lord for the animals and crops we may care for. They are the essence of our farming operations. We thank you for the sense of pride, accomplishment and self-satisfaction that motivates farmers to continue to work long, tiring days.
In closing, Lord, continue to watch over our farmers, their farms and their farm animals and crops.