Opening Prayer for Relay for Life

The opening survivor lap from the first DeBary/Orange City Relay for Life held May 5, 2012 at Gemini Springs Park. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

It was a joy to be invited to offer the opening prayer at our first ever DeBary/Orange City Relay for Life. “Relay” reminds me of “race” which reminds me of Hebrews 12:1-3. As I read the passage, I was taken with how well it spoke to the spirit of the event, especially the image of the great cloud of witnesses.

In its original context, the great cloud of witnesses refers to the deceased faithful who go before us, inspiring and cheering us on in our efforts to follow Christ. As I looked out over the crowd waiting to be blessed, I saw a great cloud of witnesses to the reality of cancer- survivors, caregivers, community leaders, those remembering loved ones overcome by the disease. Their loving, generous and sacrificial witness, and the witness of so many who have gone before them, inspires us to persevere in working to end cancer. – Lisa <><

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NRSV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

Opening Prayer for Relay for Life
Merciful God, we thank you for this great and glorious day
A day to join you in ending cancer

We bless you and thank you for surrounding us with so great a cloud of witnesses:
Bless those who have gone before us, whether living or departed,
who cheer us on in this effort.
Bless all who have gathered here today
and those who are gathering in other locations for their own Relay for Life.
Extend your strength and grace to medical professionals and caregivers,
as they come alongside those who are suffering from cancer.
Pour out favor and wisdom on fundraisers and researchers
as they pour out themselves to defeat all cancer for all time.
Shower comfort, peace and healing on all who have cancer right now.
Meet their needs in body, mind and spirit.

Cancer is a heavy burden, bringing discouragement, pain, and heartbreak.
Help all who are touched by this disease to not grow weary.
Help us to not lose heart.
Empower us to overcome,
to lay aside every weight that would keep us from this noble task.
Fill us with Your Spirit that we may run this race with perseverance and joy and hope.
Strengthen us with the promise that You go before us and with us in this good fight.
May this day draw us to your great love.
May this day bring you honor.
May this day bring victory over cancer. Amen.

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© 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form

For more information on the use of the art, scripture translations and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page

13 thoughts on “Opening Prayer for Relay for Life

  1. I have been asked to lead the opening prayer at the Ardmore Relay for Life, so as a good pastor I was researching prayers – yours is wonderful. Thank you for posting. If I use it I will be sure to give you credit. God Bless.

  2. Our small church in central Illinois (St. Petri Lutheran, Flanagan, IL) has a monthly prayer calendar. I am the Prayer Chain coordinator for our church, while being in charge of this ministry for our church, I had a…what I thought was a brilliant idea one day…..I would take the prayer requests day by day on our Prayer Calendar and try to find a devotion or prayer to coincide, and e-mail it to our Prayer Chain Family. As luck would have it, it went over big in our congregation and I have grown to love doing it. Our Livingston County Relay for Life event is this coming weekend and one of our prayer requests if for that cause. I love your opening prayer you used and was wondering if I could use it for our St. Petri Prayer Calendar. I am also a member of one of the teams that take part in this Relay, we have been together I think 12 years. It includes my sisters, brother & several nieces & nephews. We have been very luck to have been blessed with lots of donations over the years that have benefited the Relay for Life event.

  3. thank you Pastor Lisa. i will use your prayer tonight here in Larose Civic Center in our own celebration of Relay for Life.

  4. What a wonderful prayer. I would like to use it for a Relay for Life event in Canton, Ohio. You will receive credit.

  5. Greetings! I appreciate the time and care that this prayer must have taken. I will probably use it (with proper attribution) at the opening of the Relay event in Blaine County, Idaho this evening. Blessings, Ken

  6. Hi Lisa, I was asked to deliver a prayer and blessing at an event of relay for life in Hernando County. As I was searching for proper prayers for this event and I found yours more apt and for the occasion. Hope you wouldn’t mind if I use it with proper attribution. God bless

  7. I have been asked to do the blessing at the East County Relay for Life which starts on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. Thank you for writing this compassionate prayer for the participants and for those who have gone before us. It fits the situation very well. I pray it is alright to use it in a similar situation with credit given to you Lisa for the creation of the blessing.

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