a Deacon’s prayer

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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
 
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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!

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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
 
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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.

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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
 
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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.

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Glory to the Trinity

Trinity image / Metropolitan Museum of Art / public domain
 
Grant, O God, of your mercy, that we may come to everlasting life,
    and there beholding your glory as it is, may equally say:
Glory to the Father who created us,
Glory to the Son who redeemed us,
Glory to the Holy Spirit who sanctified us.
Glory to the most high and undivided Trinity, 
    whose works are inseparable,
    whose kingdom without end abides,
    from age to age forever.
Amen.
 
St. Augustine of Hippo, 354 – 430 
 
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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
    and the love of God, 
    and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

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O wondrous power of the cross!

Bonnat Crucifixion Detailsdalry / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
 
O wondrous power of the cross!
O unspeakable glory of the passion 
    which became the Lord’s tribunal, the world’s judgment, 
    and the power of the Crucified!
From Your cross You draw all things to Yourself, O Lord!
When You stretched out Your hands to an unbelieving people that mocked You,
    the whole world was finally brought to confess Your majesty. . . .
In this way type gave way to truth, prophecy to revelation,
    the ancient law to the gospel.
You drew all things to Yourself, Lord, 
    so that what previously was performed 
         in the one temple of the Jews in mystic signs
    is now celebrated everywhere by holy men
         in every country in revealing rites. . . .
Your cross is the font of all blessings, the source of all graces,
    and through it the believers receive strength in return for weakness,
    glory in return for shame, life in return for death.
 
Pope Leo the Great, c.400-461, influenced the Chalcedonian Creed and Attila the Hun
 
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So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.  So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

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united in one holy bond

image via pixy.org
 
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
      our only Savior, the Prince of Peace:
  give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in
      by our unhappy divisions.
Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us 
      from godly union and concord:
 that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling,
      one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all,
      so may we henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul,
      united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity,
  and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
prayer from the Ascension Service of King George I (1714)
 
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I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

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enlighten the blindness of our minds

Photo by Emma on Unsplash  
 
You who send forth the light, 
    create the morning, 
    and make the sun rise on the good and the evil,
enlighten the blindness of our minds 
    with the knowledge of the truth:
Lift up the light of your countenance upon us,
    that in your light we may see light,
    and, at the end, be in the light of grace
    and in the light of glory.
 
Lancelot Andrewes, 1555-1626, English bishop, oversaw the KJV translation
 
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Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
 

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