to follow you on the road to Jerusalem

Walking the Jesus Train /  Zeromancer44, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Servant Christ,
Help us to follow you on the road to Jerusalem,
    to set our faces firmly against friendly suggestions
    for a safe, expedient life;
    to embrace boldly the way of self-offering,
The way of life given for other’s gain.

Litany of the Disciples of Christ the Servant Andhra Theological College, India
 
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Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, 
“We are going up to Jerusalem, 
    and everything that is written by the prophets 
    about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 
He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. 
They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 
    they will flog him and kill him. 
On the third day he will rise again.”
 

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You justify the humble

Publican & Pharisee Icon
Publican & Pharisee Icon / Ted / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
 
Humility once exalted the tax collector,
    who bewailed his sin
    and cried: ‘Be merciful,’
    and was justified.
Let him be our example,
    for we have all fallen into the abyss of evil.
Let us cry to the Savior
    from the bottom of our heart:
  we have sinned, be merciful,
    for you alone love us.
 
Lord, you condemned the Pharisee
    who, boasting of his works,
    justified himself.
You justified the tax collector
    who, humbling himself,
    with sorrowful sighing asked for mercy.
For you reject proud hearts.
    but do not reject contrite hearts.
So in humility we prostrate ourselves
    before you, who suffered for us.
Grant us forgiveness
    and generous mercy.
 
From Orthodox Lent. Holy Week, Easter
 
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To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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O God, control my temper

Photo by Marina Kazmirova on Unsplash
 
O God, I know that my temper is far too quick.
I know only too well how liable I am to flare up, 
    and to say things for which afterwards am heartily sorry.
I know only too well that sometimes in anger I do things
    which in my calmer moments I would never have done.
I know that my temper upsets things at home;
    that it makes me difficult to work with;
    that far too often it makes me a cause and source of trouble.
O God, help me.  Help me to think before I speak.
When I feel that I am going to blaze out,
    help me to keep quiet just for a moment or two,
    until I get a grip of myself again.
Help me to remember that you are listening to everything I say,
    and seeing everything I do.
O God, control me and my temper too.
This I ask for your love’s sake.
 
William Barclay, 1907-1978, minister in the Church of Scotland
 
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Know this, my beloved brothers: 
    let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 
    for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness 
    and receive with meekness the implanted word, 
     which is able to save your souls.

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remove anything that separates us

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash
 
I beg of you, my Lord,
  to remove anything which separates
  me from you, and you from me.
Remove anything that makes me unworthy
  of your sight, your control, your discipline;
  of your speech and conversation,
  of your benevolence and love.
Cast from me every evil
  that stands in the way of my seeing you,
  hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you;
  fearing and being mindful of you;
  knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you;
  being conscious of your presence
  and, as far as may be, enjoying you.
This is what I ask for myself
  and earnestly desire from you. Amen.

Peter Faber, 1506-1546, Jesuit Priest and co-founder of the Society of Jesus
Hearts in Fire Praying with Jesuits

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Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

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Sometimes I choose sin

Photo by Nick Gavrilov on Unsplash
 
Father – the truth about me is that often I choose sin:
    Sometimes I choose hatred.  Sometimes I choose slander.
    Sometimes I choose envy.  Sometimes I choose greed.
    Sometimes I choose pettiness.  Sometimes I choose lust.
    Sometimes I choose gossip.  Sometimes I choose pride.
    Sometimes I choose self-reliance.
    Sometimes I choose self-righteousness.
    Sometimes I choose self-aggrandizement.
    Sometimes I choose dishonesty.
    Sometimes I choose unkind words.
    Sometimes I choose to ignore the obvious needs around me.
    Sometimes I choose to hoard my resources.
    Sometimes I choose to neglect Your command to share the gospel.
The list of things I wrongly choose could go on and on.  And sometimes
I act on these things in ways that are darker than I ever care to state.
Each time I make such a choice, I choose death.
Today, I ask that You breathe life into my soul afresh
    and enable me to choose life – to choose You and Your ways.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author or
 
____________________
 
 
For the wages of sin is death, 
    but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

deliver those who have fallen into sin

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash
 
Deliver, O most merciful God,
  those little ones of thy flock who have fallen into sin.
Remember not their offences,
  but set them free from the snare of the enemy.
Prosper with the help of the Holy Spirit
  the endeavors of all who are seeking to train them for good.
Grant that following after humility
  and being made partakers of thy heavenly wisdom,
  they may be strengthened to the performance of thy will
  and may be restored to the perfect fellowship of thy saints;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Robert Leighton, 1611-1684, Scottish minister and scholar
2000 Years of Prayer

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Hebrews 3:12-13

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart 
    that turns away from the living God.  
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” 
    so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
 

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Praise to you, saving sacrifice

Twelfth Station / Tango7174 / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord Jesus Christ,
I approach your banquet table
    in fear and trembling,
    for I am a sinner,
    and dare not rely on my own worth
    but only on your goodness and mercy. . . .
Praise to you, saving sacrifice,
    offered on the wood of the cross for me and for all mankind.
Praise to the noble and precious blood,
    flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ
    and washing away the sins of the whole world.
Remember, Lord, your creature,
    whom you have redeemed with your blood.
 
John of Fecamp, 1028-1078, Benedictine spiritual writer
 
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And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, 
    he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son 
    while we were still his enemies, 
    we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

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cleanse me from my sin!

Adam and Eve, Sistine Chapel / Sebastian Bergmann / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Where shall I begin to weep for the actions of my wretched life?
What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, in this my lamentation?
But in Your compassion grant me forgiveness of sins.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
Come, wretched soul, with your flesh to the Creator of all.
Make confession to Him, and abstain henceforth from past brutishness;
    and offer to God tears of repentance.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
I have rivaled in transgression, Adam, the first-formed man,
    and I have found myself stripped naked of God,
    of the eternal Kingdom and its joy, because of my sins.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.  
 
Woe to you, miserable soul! How alike you are to first Eve!
For you have looked in wickedness and were grievously wounded;
    you have touched the tree and rashly tasted the deceptive food.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.   
 
Instead of the visible Eve, I have the Eve of the mind:
    the passionate thought in my flesh,
    showing me what seems sweet;
    yet whenever I taste from it, I find it bitter.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.   
 
Adam was justly banished from Eden,
    because he disobeyed one commandment of Yours, O Savior,
What then shall I suffer, for I am always rejecting Your words of life?
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
By my own free choice I have incurred the guilt of Cain’s murder.
I have killed my conscience,
    bringing the flesh to life and making war upon the soul 
    by my wicked actions.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
  
O Jesus, I have not been like Abel in his righteousness.
Never have I offered You acceptable gifts or godly actions,
    a pure sacrifice or a life unblemished.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
Like Cain, O miserable soul, we too have offered,
    to the Creator of all,
    defiled actions and a polluted sacrifice and a worthless life;
    and so we also are condemned.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
 
Frederica Mathewes-Green, American Orthodox author
 
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Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

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repentance and forgiveness

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash
 
Almighty God of Mercy,
 
I come before You in humble submission,
    repenting for my sins.
Though I sincerely believe in Your forgiveness,
    I seek to right my wrongs 
    through a form of restitution acceptable to You.
I feel that my repentance is simply not enough.
I pray to be able to pay back my great debt to You in some way.
 
Lord, I know that the debt is too great to repay in action alone,
    and it is only through the blood of Jesus 
    that we are washed clean and made pure as gold.
I know forgiveness flows freely to those who sincerely repent.
Please accept my humble repentance
    as I lay prostrate before Your throne of grace.
Lord, please receive my efforts with my heartfelt prayer of gratitude
    for your everlasting love and kindness shown to us 
    through Your gift to the world,
    Your only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.
In Christ’s name. Amen.
 
Chestina Mitchell Archibald, Pastor serving in Nashville, TN
 
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In him we have redemption through his blood, 
    the forgiveness of sins, 
    in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

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hope in times of pain

image / pixabay
 
Dear Jesus,
Whether it comes from betrayal, neglect, abandonment, or from a broken bone or failing health – the result is some kind of emotional or physical pain.  When I look back on my life, I remember the physical tension of my aching body or the chest-tightening ache that came from a broken heart.  My greatest hope in times of pain is that you will bring me healing.  Thank you that I never have to worry you haven’t noticed my pain.  How compassionate you are to comfort me in my hurts.  On the other hand, there are times when I hurt so badly that I forget about you, Jesus.  I become completely focused on how to stop the pain.  But you never abandon me.  When I feel alone in my hurt, it is often because I am concentrating so much on easing the pain of my problems that I have forgotten you have promised to help me in my difficulties.  Thank you that you never leave me.  I find comfort in your promise to be with me and give me hope and purpose in the midst of my aching body and soul.
 
Ron A. Beers 
 
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And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.  We were given this hope when we were saved.

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