A Prayer of Dependence on God From Ghana :: Worldwide Prayer

Scripture: Colossians 1:15-18
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

This beautiful prayer acknowledges the supremacy of Christ and our dependence solely upon him, not just for salvation but for every eventuality of our lives. May this prayer set us free from the idea of our own sufficiency and turn our hands and eyes Godward in search of his kingdom above all else. — John

A Prayer of Dependence on God From Ghana :: Worldwide Prayer

Our God,
God of all creation,
God of the fierce and stormy wind that plucks the green leaves from the trees,
That enables the dead wood hanging on trees to fall and find their resting place on the ground.
God who allows the poor to find that wood to make fire.

Our God,
God of all creation
You are the rain-giving God, rain that produces an abundance of food.

Our God,
God of all creation.
You who provides in abundance.
Strong warrior, what you have provided we collect with our right hand.

Our God,
God of all creation.
You are friend to the disabled, glorious king of lepers, servant of the crippled, guide to the blind.
Lord Jesus, your eyes mix with the rays of the sun to bring light everywhere.

O God,
You are always there, and we listen to good news from you.
You are king of teachers who always imparts knowledge to your children.
Jesus, your beauty is like the moon rising from the sea.

O God,
Our king, when we come near you, it is as if we come to sleep in a room covered in gold.

We worship you in the name of Jesus.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

The Call to Prayer
I will call upon God and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at the noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
He will bring me back…God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me.

— Psalm 55:17

– From 
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 14 (Listen – 5:22)
Colossians 1 (Listen – 4:18)

The Office as Sacred Space :: Weekend Reading List

Discussing personal faith in the workplace can feel like pogo-sticking through a minefield—with the loss of credibility, relationship, opportunity, and income, all at stake. Yet through prayer, thoughtfulness, and intentionality, spiritual fruit can be born as Christians balance the demands of the workplace with the desire to live out their faith.

“For Martin Luther, vocation is nothing less than the locus of the Christian life,” writes Gene Edward Veith for Acton Commentary. Luther wasn’t interested in sparking an evangelistic conversation with a coworker once a quarter. The reformer believed works of faith transformed other people’s lives as well as the very material and meaning of vocation. Veith explains:

God does not need our good works, Luther said, but our neighbor does. Our relationship with God is based completely on his work for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. But having been justified by faith, we are sent by God back into the world, into our vocations, to love and serve our neighbors.

Human flourishing is cultivated in the soil of vocation. A recent study found that, “employees who openly discuss their religious beliefs at work are often happier and have higher job satisfaction than those employees who do not.” The bottom line for Christians, however, isn’t that the integration of faith at work is a noble and profitable enterprise. Because God works through his church scattered throughout the world, our offices, homes, and schools are all sacred places of spiritual transformation—for our neighbors as well as ourselves.

“Vocation counters the materialism and self-centeredness of economic pursuits by giving them a new meaning and a new orientation,” Veith remarks.  Luther took this seriously, calling Christians to abandon idolatrous pursuits so their neighbors—their coworkers—might experience the gospel:

If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish something good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work. For each one ought to live, speak, act, hear, suffer, and die in love and service for another, even for one’s enemies… so that one’s hand, mouth, eye, foot, heart and desire is for others; these are Christian works, good in nature.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; love your neighbor as yourself. Veith concludes; “God is hidden in vocation. Christ is hidden in our neighbors.”

Today’s Reading
Proverbs 20 (Listen – 3:19)
Colossians 3 (Listen – 3:09)

This Weekend’s Readings
Proverbs 21 (Listen – 3:12)
Colossians 4 (Listen – 2:21)

Weekend Reading List

 

 

A Prayer for the Hurting :: Throwback Thursday

By Severus of Thrace

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. — Colossians 1:24

*Editor’s note: Severus was a priest in third-century Greece. Variations of this prayer are believed to have been used by the priest himself, and many who followed him, in preparation for martyrdom. 

To all who are tossed by the waves, you are the calm of the harbor; you are the hope of the hopeful. You are the health of the sick, you relieve the needy and guide the blind. To those exposed to punishment on every count, you are merciful; to the weary, a wall; in darkness, light.

You created the land, you rule the sea, you set every element in its place; a word from you and the heavens, the stars, and all else was made, and made perfect.

You kept Noah safe and gave wealth to Abraham, let Isaac go free and provided a victim in his stead, wrestled with Jacob, to his sweet confusion, took Lot away from the accursed land of Sodom.

Moses you let see you; to Joshua, son of Nun, you gave prudence.

In your mercy you went with Joseph on his way and brought your people out of the land of Egypt, leading them to the land they had been promised. You protected the three children in the furnace: your dew—Majesty—flowed over them and the flames could not touch them.

You closed the lions’ mouths, gave life, gave food to Daniel.

You did not allow Jonah to perish in the depths of the see and when the cruel sea-beast caught him in its jaws, you let him escape unhurt.

You gave Judith the weapons she needed; Susanna you saved from the unjust judges.

Esther had her triumph from you; you procured the downfall of Haman. You brought us from darkness to eternal light, Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, light yourself unquenchable, you who gave me the sign of the cross, the sign of Christ.

I beg you not to decide, Lord, that I am unworthy of these sufferings that my brethren have been allowed to undergo. Let me share the crown with them; let me be with them in glory, as I have been with them in prison. Let me rest with them, as I have confessed your glorious name with them.

Today’s Reading
Proverbs 19 (Listen – 3:09)
Colossians 2 (Listen – 3:27)

Counterfeit Peace

Absent from the transcendent peace of God, our heart relentlessly manufactures a counterfeit through its pursuits of comfort and control. If we could just maintain stasis, command the events ahead, and assign meaning to those which have passed behind us—we convince ourselves—our hearts would find peace.

Economics help with such pursuits. Increased prosperity gives access to higher creature comforts, greater predictability, and less daily friction in general. And yet, the brummagem never holds up under the pressures of life.

Every generation of Americans since the 1930’s have reported increasing amounts of anxiety and depression. Because these daily struggles have increased during the same period economic prosperity has grown, some anthropologists have begun to view them as symptoms of something deeper.

“The Lord is at hand,” Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” It is important to make a distinction—the apostle isn’t talking about mental health conditions (although he may wrestle with something similar in another letter), rather he is addressing the daily anxieties common to all people.

Counterfeit peace is built on circumstance and dominance. Authentic peace rests in the giver of peace. This may be why we’re uninterested in it—the goal isn’t to return comfort and control to us as individuals, but to reorient our heart so that we pursue the giver rather than the gifts.

Ultimately finding our heart’s resting place in Christ results in greater peace not only for times of struggle, but for times of joy as well. In his sermon Peace—Overcoming Anxiety pastor Timothy Keller explains what happens when genuine peace defines our lives:

You can enjoy good food. You can enjoy a comfort. You can enjoy physical pleasures, but you know what they’re there for. They’re simply little samples. Like those sort of cruddy little things they stick out in the delicatessens and say, “Here, come and taste something.”

You taste them. They’re okay, but they’re stale. They’re not the very best thing you’re going to get, not the best dessert that comes out from the great restaurant. Even the best physical pleasures are just those kinds of dim hints. That’s the reason why our friend C.S. Lewis says a real Christian allows his mind to run up the sunbeam to the sun. He doesn’t sit and look at the sunbeam. He knows where it’s from.

Today’s Reading
Proverbs 18 (Listen – 2:23)
Colossians 1 (Listen – 4:18)

Cherished Prayers

Colossians 4.3
Pray for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.

Though primarily associated with flash-points in history, religious intolerance and persecution still run rampant in our world today. Pew Research Center’s most recent study, released last year, opened by stating, “Religious hostilities increased in every major region of the world except the Americas.”

You now live in a position of privilege if you can read scripture without threat to freedom, worship without worry of attack, or be identified as a Christian without threat to life and family.

This privilege shouldn’t bring guilt, nor should it breed fondness of its luxury. The words of martyrs quickly rebuke such self-absorption and idleness. Polycarp, in final prayer before his martyrdom c.156 C.E., said this:

I bless you because you have thought me worthy of this day and hour, worthy to be numbered among the martyrs and to drink out of the cup your Anointed has drunk from, so to rise and live forever, body and soul, in the incorruptibility that is the Holy Spirit’s.

May I be admitted with them in your presence today, a satisfying welcome sacrifice. You have made my life a preparation for this; you showed me that this was to be and now you have brought it about, like the veracious and truthful God that you are. For this and all your blessings I praise you and give you glory, through the eternal high priest, Jesus Christ the heavenly, your dear Child.

He is with you and the Holy Spirit. Through him may glory be given you now and in the ages to come. Amen.
Paul asks for prayer at the end of Colossians because the persecuted cherish the prayers of the church. We can raise awareness of global persecution, and prompt our government to action — but we should not forget the power of our prayers.
Prayer is the most necessary action, the greatest gift, the hardest spiritual labor, as well the simplest cry of a loving heart. The time that you spend in prayer has an eternal impact on the lives of men and women throughout our world. Through prayer our world is changed, closed doors are opened, resistant people are made receptive, leaders are put down and raised up, and the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is extended. — Voice of the Martyr’s prayer guide for persecuted Christians
Today’s Reading
1 Kings 17 (Listen – 3:14)
Colossians 4 (Listen – 2:21)
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