salvation confession

 image / Lawrence OP / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
I don’t remember Who – or what – put the question, I don’t know when it was put.  I don’t even remember answering.  But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self surrender, had a goal.
 
From that moment I had known what it means “not to look back,” and ” to take no thought of the morrow.” 
 
Led by Ariedne’s thread of my answer through the labyrinth of Life, I came to a time and place where I realized that the Way leads to a triumph which is a catastrophe, and to a catastrophe which as triumph, that the price for committing one’s life would be reproach, and that the only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation.  After that, the word “courage” lost its meaning, since nothing could be taken from me.
 
As I continued along the Way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every saying in the Gospels stands one man and one man’s experience.  Also behind the prayer that the cup might pass from him and his promise to drink it.  Also  behind each of the words from the Cross.
 
Dag Hammarskjöld, 1905 – 1961, Swedish diplomat, UN Secretary General
 
__________________________
 
 
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
 
 

Continue reading

a Deacon’s prayer

image / youtube
 
I thank Thee, Lord, for sparing me to see this morning, the blood running warm in my veins, the activity of my limbs and the use of my tongue.  I thank Thee, Lord, for clothing and for food, and above all, I thank Thee for the gift of your darling Son Jesus, who came all the way from heaven down to this low ground of sorrow, who died upon the cross, that “whosoever believeth upon Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
 
Our Lord, our heavenly Master, we ask Thee to teach us.  Guide us in the way we know not.  Give us more faith and a better understanding and a closer walk to your bleeding side.
 
I have faith to believe you are the same God that was in the days that are past and gone.  You heard Elijah praying in the cleft of the mountain.  You heard Paul and Silas in jail.  You heard the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace.  I have faith to believe that you have once heard me pray, when I was laying and lugging ’round the gates of hell, no eye to pity me, no arm to save me.  You reached down your long arm of protection, snatched my soul from the midst of eternal burning.  You placed me in the rock and placed a new song in my mouth.  You told me to go, and you would go with me; open my mouth, and you would speak for me.
 
For this cause we call upon you at this hour.  And while we call upon you, we ask you please don’t go back to Glory, neither turn a deaf ear to our call.  But turn down the kindness of a listening ear, catch our moans and our groans, and take them home to the High Heavens.  We please boldly one thing more, if it is your glorious will, I pray Thee.
 
Deacon Washington Banks, Gethsemane Baptist Church, 1973
 
_____________________
 
 
To you, O Lord, I cry,
    and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Continue reading

restoring worship

image / Lawrence OP / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions.
Nothing of earth’s treasures shall seem dear to me, 
    if only You are glorified in my life.
Be Thou exalted over my friendships.
I am determined that You shall be above all,
    though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth.
Be Thou exalted above my comforts.
Though it means the loss of bodily comforts 
    and the carrying of heavy crosses,
    I shall keep my vow made this day before You.
Be Thou exalted over my reputation.
Make me ambitious to please You 
    even if as a result I must sink into obscurity
    and my name be forgotten as a dream.
Rise, O Lord, into Your proper place of honor,
    above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, 
    above my family, my health and even my life itself.
Let me decrease that You may increase;
    let me sink that You may rise above.
Ride forth upon me as You rode into Jerusalem 
    mounted on the humble little beast, a colt, the foul of a donkey,
    and let me hear the children cry to You, “Hosanna in the highest.”
 
A. W. Tozer, 1897 – 1963,  American pastor, author and spiritual mentor
The Pursuit of God, slightly modernized
 
______________________
 
 
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. 
We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, 
    but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.

Continue reading

to listen to others

image / Thomas Hawk / flickr
 
Lord Jesus, 
    you were ever ready to listen to those who cried out to you.
You gave us ears to hear:
    help us to hear.
May we listen to all we meet, 
    and to those who come to us in trouble.
Remind us daily that there is a time for silence and a time for speaking,
    and show us when to speak and when to hold our peace.
Never let us miss a cry for help, 
    because we are too busy talking about ourselves.
Make us ready to listen to others, 
    because we listen each day in silence to you,
O Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
 
Michael Counsell, 1935-2015, retired Anglican priest
 
________________________________
 
 
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 
    not looking to your own interests 
    but each of you to the interests of the others.
 

Continue reading

prayer about back surgery

image / James Tissot / Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord Jesus, some of my friends have had back surgery 
    and others are soon to have it.
They are hoping for complete healing.
They are like the Paralyzed Man who was brought to Jesus.
 
But things aren’t going as we had hoped
    and we are concerned about their wellbeing.
Lord, they know you and have received your salvation;
    they have enjoyed a transformed life because of their new birth.
They know and believe that you alone have the authority to forgive sins,
    and that it is not harder for you to heal the body than it is to save the soul.
 
Jesus, we want to be like those four companions 
        who brought the Paralyzed Man to you,
    offering up our prayers on the altar of our hearts 
        just as they lowered the man through the hole in the roof
            placing everything at your feet.
 
Lord Jesus, we ask you to demonstrate your authority again;
    we beg you to speak the word of healing upon the bodies of our friends,
  and as they “take up their mats and walk”
    we will all joyously proclaim your amazing grace!
 
EM
 
__________________________
 
 
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Continue reading

send us, come with us, empower us

Great Commission icon / Ted / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

 

God the Sender, send us.
God the Sent, come with us.
God the Strengthener of those who go, empower us,
    that we may go with you
    and find those who will call you
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
Welsh prayer
 
__________________________
 
 
And Jesus came and said to them, 
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, 
    baptizing them 
    in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

Continue reading

in contact with the Spirit

image / Hans / Pixabay
 
Lord, I see what the Holy Spirit is like
  as I gather the garbage to burn in the fire.
I try to keep the fire burning continually;
  nevertheless there are times when it seems
  that the fire has gone out completely,
  but I know that underneath, a few embers continue to burn.
I think humanity is like the garbage and the Holy Spirit is like the fire.
Just as I gather the garbage to burn in the fire
  so may your church gather together humanity
  and put it in contact with the Spirit
  to purify it until it is no longer garbage.
May the church never lose hope,
  even when the fire cannot be seen
  and the garbage is plentiful.
May we be convinced that the fire continues to burn below
  and that it will never go out.

after words shared by a Garbage man in South America
A Procession of Prayers, edited by John Carden
 
_____________________________
 
 
John answered their questions by saying, 
“I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

Continue reading

to confess what the Lord has done for us

Jarena Lee, By Lithograph by P.S. Duval, from life by A. Huffy, Wikimedia Commons
 
God, you know the secrets of all hearts.
Favor us with your presence, O God.
Display your power by a general outpouring of the spirit.
May sinners cry for mercy, while others shout for joy.
May we be faithful stewards of the manifold gifts of God
    and never be ashamed to confess what the Lord has done for us.
May we never lose the witness out of the heart
    by withholding our testimony from our friends and neighbors 
    of your power to save.
May we not just run well for a season,
    and yield to the temptation of the tempter’s whisper
    saying “not now” 
    and by and by the soul becomes barren and unfruitful.
May we “watch” and tell around what a dear Savior we have found.
 
Jarena Lee, 1783-1864, African American minister
 
______________________
 
 
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. 
It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes
    —the Jew first and also the Gentile. 
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. 
This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. 
As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

Continue reading

Our Good Shepherd

image / Hans Schäufelein 15th century / Metropolitan Museum of Art
 
Show me, O Lord, your mercy, and delight my heart with it.
Let me find you whom I so longingly seek.
See, here is the man whom the robbers seized, mishandled,
    and left half dead on the road to Jericho.
O kind hearted Samaritan, come to my aid!
I am the sheep who wandered into the wilderness – seek after me,
    and bring me home again to your fold.
Do with me what you will, that I may stay by you all the days of my life,
    and praise you with all those who are with you in heaven for all eternity.
 

St Jerome, c.347-420, translator of the Latin Vulgate

Seasons of Devotion

 
_________________________
 
 
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
 

Continue reading

Guide us to your will

Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash
 
Almighty Lord God,
    your glory cannot be approached,
    your compassion knows no bounds,
    and your love for all mankind
    is beyond human expression;
    in your mercy look on us and all your people:
do not leave us to our sins
    but deal with us according to your goodness.
Guide us to the haven of your will
    and make us truly obedient to your commands,
    that we many not feel ashamed
    when we come before your Messiah’s
        dread judgement seat.
 
For you, O God,
    are good and ever-loving,
    and we glorify you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
    now and for ever,
    to the ages of ages.    Amen.
 
from The Barberini Codex, 8th Century document of Byzantine prayers
 
___________________________
 
 
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. 
We have received all of this by coming to know him, 
    the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  
And because of his glory and excellence, 
    he has given us great and precious promises. 
These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature 
    and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Continue reading