Day 9 | Sat 8th June - 'For the kingdom, power and glory are yours'

Day 9 | Sat 8th June - 'For the kingdom, power and glory are yours'

“So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’

He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”

Acts 1:6-8

 

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.  There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.  A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”

1 Corinthians 3:4-7

 

On the eve of Pentecost, Craig reminds us that God wants to include us all in building his kingdom, and through his Spirit gives us all we need for the task:

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the day we celebrate that moment when God first poured out his Spirit on those first Christians.  Before Jesus, the Spirit had only been given to particular people for special purposes – from craftsmen, like Bezalel (Exodus 31:2-5 – gifted to do much of the artwork relating to the Tabernacle) to kings and rulers like Saul and David (e.g. 1 Samuel 16:13).

But at Pentecost it all changed.  This was a gift of God’s Spirit for all believers and for their whole lives.  Special acts of service which once were preserved for the divinely chosen and blessed were now open to all.  Why?  Because all are chosen and blessed.

And if you’ve put your trust in Jesus, that means you!  That means God’s Spirit is alive in you, in ways more wonderful than Old Testament craftsmen, prophets, poets and kings!

But why?  Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.”

Why did God send the Spirit on all believers?  It was to give us strength for the task of sharing in God’s mission to our world.  Although it’s God’s mission, his work, it’s a mission which God chooses to include us in – he’s looking for active partners in his work. 

So, although ‘the kingdom, power and glory are yours, now and forever’, we too are workers for the kingdom, empowered by God’s Spirit, shareholders in the glory won for God when another person comes to know and love their maker.  

Throughout the last nine days, we’ve been reminded in different ways that the world is God’s, our lives are in his hands, our purpose is to serve his kingdom, and our joy is to see his plans fulfilled.  But the truth behind all of that is that God is in the business of saving and restoring his creation.  

Do you really believe that he wants to include each of us in that plan, not just as the ones being saved, but as active participants in the work of seeing others saved?  Because it’s true! He wants us to get our hands dirty in the most audacious mission the world has ever known.  He wants us to serve as his witnesses.

But what if we don’t feel adequately gifted for the task of sharing in God’s mission?  What if the very thought of being a ‘witness’ makes us feel faint?  That’s okay, because with the Spirit comes not only power but just as importantly God’s good gifts to his people: 

  • From courage to wisdom, so that we not only have the confidence to speak but also have the words to say. 

  • From gifts of teaching to administration, so that God’s Church is not only built up but also functions effectively. 

  • From gifts of pastoral care to miraculous healings, so that not only are we comforted in sorrow but experience the awesome power of God in our lives.

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us” (1 Cor. 3:7) – and yes, again, that means you. 

Are you open to being used by God to build his kingdom?  Are you hungry to know more of the Spirit’s power in your life, fanning into flame those gifts and abilities God has given to you?  Do you long to see St Richard’s reaching new people, growing new disciples, being a place of healing and wholeness?

Then maybe, just maybe, the solution to our church’s problems doesn’t lie ‘up front’ with the church leadership.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s with you (and me) rediscovering some of what Pentecost is all about.

 

Questions

Do you believe God considers you to be an essential part of his plan to rescue our world?

What stops you taking a more active role as a partner in God’s mission?

What passions, ambitions and gifts has God given you to use for the glory of his Kingdom?

 

Prayer

The Spirit came and your Church was born,
in wind and fire and words of power.

The Spirit came blowing fear aside,
and in its place weak hearts were stronger.

The Spirit came as your Word foretold,
with dreams and signs, visions and wonders.

The Spirit came and is here today,
to feed the hearts of a world that hungers.

Fill us with that Spirit Lord.  Amen.

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Day 8 | Fri 7th June - 'Deliver us from evil'

Day 8 | Fri 7th June - 'Deliver us from evil'

“Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.  All glory to him who alone is God, our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord.  All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.”

Jude 24-25

 

Brenda reflects on the challenges and evils we face daily, and the sure promise of God’s protection, comfort and encouragement:

‘Deliver us from evil.’

Jesus gave these words to his disciples when they asked him for guidance about prayer.  But isn’t it a rather disloyal request to ask of our loving Heavenly Father, who has promised to protect us at all times, to ‘deliver us from evil’?  Surely any loving father would automatically protect his child from evil situations?

So, let’s think about this request, and, we’ll see that it’s not as simple as it seems.  Because, the truth is that, sadly, we live in a world where there is a lot of corruption and selfishness.  Therefore, this request for God to ‘deliver us from evil’ is absolutely vital for us to ask for continually, and, to hold on to.

When I stop and think about my daily life, I see myself travelling, day after day, on an unknown route, with no map or guidance, on a journey through a jungle.  There are large green areas, trees of various sizes and, from time to time, there are areas of rough or dry sandy plots.  As I travel, I come across different animals – lions, tigers, elephants, wolves, and others that just stare at me, not to mention those that crawl silently through the grass – snakes and other well camouflaged creatures.  All of a sudden, I'm surrounded by them and at their mercy.

 Lost, bewildered, and very afraid, I seek help, a friendly voice, comfort and encouragement, and someone to rescue me.  I cry out, ‘Deliver me from this evil.’ Because God loves us, and knows our every need and circumstance, he taught us to pray exactly this, and emphatically. 

But just as importantly, it’s so encouraging for us to know that this petition can be answered positively.  Our Lord is not one to indulge in double-talk.  He would not teach us to ask for deliverance if no deliverance was available.  Just as a caring and concerned parent has the desire to protect and guide their children, to help them deal with situations they encounter, and gradually to see them mature and grow up to be strong, complete people, so it is with our Heavenly Father!  

He guides and encourages us; when we fall, he picks us up and points us in the right direction, never leaving us to cope on our own.  It is he who enables us daily to grow in skills, ability and knowledge.  Though we might feel, at times, surrounded or overcome, our Father is there – responsive, ready and eager to extend His hand to help the instant we need it.

Are we really surprised, then, that our Lord includes this petition in this prayer, ‘Father, deliver us from evil’?  Never forget that, out of what seems to be evil, God our Father can and does bring good to His children.

 

Questions

What are the things you encounter in life which cause you to feel ‘lost, bewildered, or afraid’?

What ‘evils’ of our time is God encouraging you to pray and stand against?

Do you daily commit your way to God, seeking his guidance and protection, for you and your loved ones?

Prayer

Loving Father, strengthen the weak, comfort the bewildered, guide the lost and beat down Satan under our feet.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Day 7 | Thu 6th June - 'Lead us not into temptation'

Day 7 | Thu 6th June - 'Lead us not into temptation'

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.”

James 1:2-6a

 

Craig encourages us to try something different – to reflect on a piece of art as a means of understanding more about today’s theme:

Below is a painting by the French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) entitled ‘Temptation’.  It is striking for its simplicity.  It’s not explicitly religious, though there are clear biblical references.

But there is value in spending time reflecting on this work.  You might think, ‘I’m not artistic’.  Neither am I, and that doesn’t matter.  But by being open, reflecting on the painting, asking ourselves some questions, we may find a new realisation of what it means to be tempted, or to be saved from temptation, as Jesus encourages his followers to pray.

 

Questions

Who might the two characters in the painting be?  Who might they represent?

What are the clues that this painting has anything to do with temptation?

Where, if anywhere, would you place yourself in this painting?

If the painting were a movie, what happens next?

Where is God in this work?

How do any of these answers lead you to pray?  Do that now.

‘Temptation’, William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Day 6 | Wed 5th June - 'Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us'

Day 6 | Wed 5th June - 'Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us'

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Matthew 7:1-5

 

Today, Dave simply encourages us to consider Jesus’ call not to judge but instead to forgive:

Reflecting on this passage, we need to ask ourselves some challenging questions: Are we guilty of criticising others more readily than offering them forgiveness?  Do we see their sins all too clearly whilst ignoring our own?  Can we even get close to what Jesus did by offering forgiveness in the face of persecution, brutality, misunderstanding, pain, and blatant evil?

Jesus was a man who kept the company of men
Till he got betrayed by one of them
And surely that must have been the biggest sin
But in his final hour, he even forgave him
And what he asked you then, well I now ask you too
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
For they too have their cross to bear
In your love, please let them share
For Jesus would have understood
And brought them home to you.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Ralph McTell

 

 

Questions

Justice is important.  But does wanting what’s right ever stop us from being compassionate, people able to forgive?

Can you remember a time a person forgave you?  What difference did their forgiveness make in your own life?

Who do you need to be more forgiving or compassionate towards today?

 

Prayer

A prayer inspired by the opening verse of the great hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind:

 

Heavenly Father, loving father of the human race, creating each person unique yet still in their Father’s image, please forgive all our foolish and selfish thoughts, words and actions.  Through your Holy Spirit help us truly to repent, aligning our thoughts and intentions with your will, cleansing our mind of all unworthy thoughts.  May we live lives guided by you, loving our neighbour and being generous in our service of others and you.  Deepen our faith, increase our longing for your truth, that we may praise you forever, sharing our faith with others.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Day 5 | Tue 4th June - 'Give us today our daily bread'

Day 5 | Tue 4th June - 'Give us today our daily bread'

“And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.  As the Scriptures say,

‘They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.’

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.  In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.  And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.”

2 Corinthians 9:8-11

Emma reflects on the importance of understanding our dependence on God, and, in gratitude, living generous lives:

This is such an important line of the Lord’s Prayer, because it reminds us that we depend on God for everything we have, even our most basic needs.  When we have access to plenty of food, it’s easy to forget how dependent we are.  Praying this line reminds us that everything we have comes from God; it is something precious, which is produced as a result of a great deal of hard work by others.  It is part of the miracle of nature that we can grow a variety of foods from tiny seeds over time; food doesn’t just magically appear on the supermarket aisles!

Bread is that most basic staple food for us in the West (unless you’re gluten free) – what would we do without toast and sandwiches?!  It therefore represents food in general.  However, more than that, it represents all our basic needs, not just food, but a roof over our head, clothes to wear etc.  The phrase ‘the breadwinner’ isn’t used much now (because in most households both adults are working), but it refers to the person who brings in the money to the household.  Therefore, the word ‘bread’ can be used as slang for ‘money,’ representing the provision of our most basic needs.

After the Korean War ended, South Korea was left with a large number of children who had been orphaned by the war.  In the orphanages, even though the children had three meals a day provided for them, they were restless and anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping.  As the relief workers talked to the children, they soon discovered that the children had great anxiety about whether they would have food the next day.

To help resolve this problem, the relief workers in one orphanage decided that each night when the children were put to bed, the nurses there would place a single piece of bread in each child’s hand.  The bread wasn’t intended to be eaten; it was simply intended to be held by the children as they went to sleep.  It was a ‘security blanket’ for them, reminding them that there would be provision for their daily needs.  Sure enough, the bread calmed the children’s anxieties and helped them sleep.  Likewise, we take comfort in knowing that our physical needs are met, that we have food, or ‘bread,’ for our needs.

Let’s remember those around the world who are hungry today, who are worried about when their next meal will be, and pray for provision for them.  Let’s also commit to being part of God’s provision for others by helping those in need, through supporting charities such as Tearfund and Christian Aid.

 

Questions

For what are you most grateful today?  What have you begun to take for granted?

How today can you express thanks to God and generosity to others?

 

Prayer

Loving Father, give us today our daily bread.  Thank you for all you provide for us, our food and our homes.  Help us not to take them for granted, but to come to you in gratitude each day.  Where we or others have great need, we ask for your provision and assurance.  We pray for those who do not have enough to eat today, and for those who are homeless.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Day 4 | Mon 3rd June - 'Your will be done, on earth as in heaven'

Day 4 | Mon 3rd June - 'Your will be done, on earth as in heaven'

“Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, ‘Sit here while I go over there to pray.’ He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.  He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.’

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’”

Matthew 26: 36 – 39

 

John writes about the importance of submitting our plans to God, following Jesus’ example as the time of his greatest trial approached:

‘Your will be done on earth as in Heaven.’

When Jesus told the disciples how they should pray, he made it clear that human decision and activity must always be subject to the will of our Heavenly Father, which may not be what we would choose for ourselves. 

When he entered the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, Jesus already knew that Judas would betray him to the Jewish leaders.  He also knew that Judas was aware of the disciples’ regular meeting place in that Garden and would be leading the Temple Guard there to arrest Him.  Even more – Jesus also knew that he faced a brutal and agonising death.  He was in anguish and distress, and asked Peter, James and John to keep him company.  He fell face down on the ground and prayed to his Heavenly Father that there might be some other way, if his Father’s purpose allowed it. 

And yet, honest and pained as that prayer was, Jesus concluded, ‘Yet not as I will, but as you will.’  Even his disciples’ companionship was denied to him by their sleepiness.  He prayed twice more, each time submitting to his Father’s will; each time finding the disciples asleep.  Then Judas arrived, and Jesus was arrested. 

 Jesus’ dignified acceptance of His Father’s will was a practical example to the disciples of what it means to pray ‘Your will be done on earth as in Heaven.’  Each time we recite the Lord’s Prayer, may we remember the example of our Lord and Saviour and recognise his sacrifice which enables us to look forward to eternal life with our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

And God said “NO”

I asked God to take away my pride, and God said “NO”. 

He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole, and God said “NO”.  He said her spirit is whole, her body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience, and God said “NO”.

He said patience comes with tribulation, it isn’t granted, but earned.

I asked God to give me happiness, and God said “NO”. 

He said He gives blessings, happiness is up to me. 

I asked God to spare me pain, and God said “NO”. 

He said suffering draws you from worldly cares and closer to me. 

I asked God to make my spirit grow, and He said “NO”. 

I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful. 

I asked God to help me to love others as much as He loves me.

And God said “Ah, finally you have the idea!”

Claudia Minden Weisz

 

Questions

How often to you submit your decisions and plans to God, rather than simply asking him to bless what you’ve already decided on?

In what area would it be the greatest challenge for you to pray today to our Heavenly Father, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus’ example of such honest yet godly prayer.  Help us, like him, to be real in our relationship with you, yet always submitting to your will in every area of our lives, trusting in the goodness of your kingdom.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Day 3 | Sun 2nd June - 'Your kingdom come'

Day 3 | Sun 2nd June - 'Your kingdom come'

“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”

John 5:9

Chris reflects on the difficulty of submitting fully to God, seeking only his glory. But when we do, blessing follows.

This is the toughest prayer in all of Christianity. If you can live out this prayer, then truly you will be living the most authentic Christian existence. At the core of this prayer is putting God in his rightful place as Lord and Saviour. It has everything to do with him and very little to do with us.

It follows on from the first two lines of Lord’s Prayer in which we glorify God, recognising God’s rightful place but also admitting God’s sovereignty and holiness. But the next two lines which we are dealing with here, recognise our fallenness and brokenness. It’s a recognition that, despite the many goods we have, we are nothing compared to God and his perfection.

So it’s through submission and sacrifice that we call for his will to be done over ours. Rightly so, for it’s his good and perfect will alone that will lead to the fullness of life we are called to, rather than one we try to established ourselves. It echoes the greatest commandment of Matthew 22:36-40 of loving God and loving our neighbours: as we put God and those round us first, then we will see his Kingdom come here on earth for that’s what heaven is like too.

Jesus models this perfectly in our reading from John. He heals the disabled man on the Sabbath knowing that’s what he was called to do, even though ultimately it was against Jewish Law and would lead to him being crucified. He states earlier in verse 17 that his Father is always at work and therefore he is too, and by responding to God’s will and the needs of those around him he sees and emulates the kingdom of God here on earth. Not Jesus’ will but that of his Father’s, not for Jesus’ glory but for the Kingdom’s. Jesus states he only wants to do God’s will and not mankind’s and by doing the things that glorify God he also blesses mankind.

How often do you do anything purely for the glory of God? A fantastic wise old priest reflected to me that he has never done anything that wasn’t tinged with selfish intent in some way, even with his best of intentions. It’s really hard. But he had done many things that glorified God and in doing so was a blessing to others and himself. Can you bless someone purely to be a blessing? My prayer is you can.

During these nine days, I challenge myself and all of us to pray this prayer, not for our glory but for God’s. For if you believe Jesus is who he said he is, then everything else will fall into place. By longing for God’s kingdom over ours we will find blessing, hope, provision and peace.

As John the Baptist put it, ‘He must become greater; I must become less’ (John 3:30). As you become less, God becomes more, as John the Baptist states and by praying this prayer you will be in line with God’s purposes for you and you will see his kingdom here and in the life to come.

Questions

What might it look like to live and pray only for the glory of God, rather than any other motivation?

In what areas of life are you most tempted to put ‘self’ first? What steps could you take to allow God to change your heart in this area?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you made us, you saved us, you forgave us and we only have hope because of you. Help us to live fully for your glory, setting aside selfish ambition, allowing you truly to become the greatest part of our lives. And as we work, live and pray for your kingdom to come, open our eyes to the blessing which follows. In Jesus name, Amen.

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Day 2 | Sat 1st June - 'Hallowed by your name'

Day 2 | Sat 1st June - 'Hallowed by your name'

“But Moses protested, ‘If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” they will ask me, “What is his name?” Then what should I tell them?’

God replied to Moses, ‘I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.

This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.’”

Exodus 3:13-15

“God elevated [Christ Jesus] to the place of highest honour
and gave him the name above all other names…”

Philippians 2:9

Katie reflects on the importance of pausing to acknowledge who it is we’re invited to pray to:

In ancient biblical times a person’s name was often closely related to what he or she was. The name Abraham means ‘father of nations’ (Genesis 17:5). The name Israel means ‘he struggles with God’ (Genesis 32:28). The name Moses means ‘delivered from the water’ (Exodus 2:10). And God our Father in heaven gave himself the name Yahweh which means ‘I am who I am’ or ‘I will be who I will be’ (Exodus 3:13-14).

The name of God was of paramount importance in ancient Israel and many times in the Old Testament we read of how Israel’s leaders appealed to God’s great name when they interceded on behalf of his people (for example look at Moses’ prayer in Numbers 14:13-20).

I am who I am. God the One who has no beginning and no end, ‘from everlasting to everlasting you are God’ (Psalm 90:2) cries the psalmist. Our God, the One who always was, who never had a beginning. Our limited minds cannot fathom this; all we can do is bow before the throne of God and acknowledge his greatness.

And it is in this reflective attitude that Jesus teaches us to pray ‘hallowed be your name’. Jesus was utterly loyal to his heavenly father, and fervently jealous for the honour and glory of his Father’s name, the name ‘above every name’ (Philippians 2: 9).

Jesus instructs us to pause and acknowledge the Father’s name. It is a prompt to pause and reflect on the highest name, to praise and adore the name that is above every name. It is a reminder to consider the greatness of God, his power and authority and holiness, and to put ourselves in our rightful place as we come before him. It allows us actively to choose to praise and worship before we bring our petitions and requests in prayer. And as we recall the holiness of God, it prompts us to consider our own lifestyle, and how far we honour the name of God through our attitudes, words (said and unsaid) and behaviour.

How easy it is to move to needs (others as well as our own) and to naming the desire of our hearts and requests not yet answered in our prayers and waiting before God. I see this in my own life; and I see also how God in his patient mercy guides me towards praise, thanks and adoration despite myself. And it has been my personal experience that every time I reflect on the greatness, power and holiness of my God in praise and worship, my attitude changes; my focus shifts to the faithfulness, grace and mercy of God in every situation and circumstance that I bring before him in prayer.

Questions

When did you last pause, acknowledge and praise God’s name, the name that is ‘above every name’ (Philippians 2: 9)?

How far do we regard God’s name as holy; and are there ways that we could choose to honour God’s name better in our prayer lives and more widely in our everyday life?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, make us zealous for your name to be honoured. Teach us what it means to respect your name, and may it be the cry of our hearts to see your name glorified. Today, we come before you and acknowledge that there is no higher name than yours, your name is the name that is above every name. Amen.

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Day 1 | Fri 31st May - 'Our Father in heaven'

Day 1 | Fri 31st May - 'Our Father in heaven'

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”

Philippians 2:3-5

“Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Matthew 18:20

Craig begins this period of prayer by encouraging us to pray as a community, remembering first the joys and sorrows of others:

At school, I often would make the same error in my approach to work: I would rush and make mistakes. Whether over-confident or just keen to finish, I can’t remember, but one of the lessons I had to learn was to slow down, read, reflect and only then move forwards with the task.

So it is with the Lord’s prayer. Yes, it’s a prayer Jesus gave his disciples to teach them how to pray. Yes, it reminds us that God is a loving father, it includes examples of right requests to place before him, and yes it places our lives in the wider context of God’s kingdom.

But before all that comes just a single word, easily missed: ‘Our’.

Our Father.

Prayer, we know, is an essential part of growing in faith and in our relationship with God. It’s the way we’re invited into his presence, both to be changed as we pray and to ask God to change those things outside of our control.

But prayer, for many of us, is a personal thing, something we most often do alone. It’s my task, my time with God, deepening my relationship with him, laying before him my worship and my requests. And if we don’t pray often enough, there’s another reason for me to feel guilty!

But there is a danger here that our prayer lives begin to mimic the world in which we live, one which values the freedom and authority of the individual more than that of any group, community or society to which we belong. As someone once put it, ‘There’s no I in team, but there is in win,’ and personal achievement is the way to win big. It’s all about me.

But this is never true of the Church, and mustn’t be true of our prayer lives. So Jesus begins his prayer lesson with that one challenging little word: Our.

When we pray, we do so as part of a community called into being by our Father, one that extends both around the world and back through time. When we worship, we join with all the saints, on earth and in heaven, together proclaiming ‘Holy, holy, holy…’ (Rev. 4:8). Yes, you can believe in God on your own, but you can’t be a Christian alone, and you were never meant to be.

Living, worshipping, praying in community, as a community, changes everything. Whether or not the words are said alone isn’t the point; it’s the realisation that putting our trust in Jesus makes us members of a family that matters. And the Lord’s Prayer is the family prayer.

That’s why God’s presence is often experienced in special ways when we pray and worship together (Matt. 18:20). That’s why poor relationships between Christians are seen in the Bible as barrier to God’s work being done (Matt. 5:23-24). That’s why the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ events are so inspiring – as we join with millions of Christians around the world, praying at the same time for the same things. Together we’re part of something!

So at the start of this week of prayer, I encourage you to spend time reflecting on the importance of your own communities – Christian and otherwise. Allow those communal relationships, concerns, joys and sorrows to guide your prayers and shape your hopes.

In doing so we truly follow Jesus’ example in serving his Father and putting the needs of others first.

Questions

Reflecting on the communities to which you belong, what are the things for which you are most grateful?

How might praying using ‘we’ or ‘our’ language change the substance of our prayers?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for calling us to be a part of your family, the Church. Help us to live our lives in honour of you and service of one another. Teach us to pray for, to think about, to choose and to love others before ourselves. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for five friends

If you haven’t already done so, take some time to think of the five people you could commit to praying for daily. Then simply ask for God’s blessing on them and their journey of faith.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Thy Kingdom Come

Thy Kingdom Come

What’s it all about?

Thy Kingdom Come is a prayer movement which encourages us all to pray daily over a nine day period, from Ascension to Pentecost (30th May to 9th June). This period of devotion recalls the nine days that the followers of Jesus spent in prayer between Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost Sunday, as Jesus had asked them.

Once again this year, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to every parish in the Church of England inviting us to join with many Christians around the world in this special time of prayer. They write:

“We are praying that the Spirit would inspire and equip us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with our friends and families, our communities and networks… It is our prayer that those who have not yet heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and his love for the world will hear it for themselves, and in faith respond and follow Him… Together let us pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, trusting the faithfulness of God.”

What are we being asked to do?

There are four simple ways we can respond to this call:

1. Personal Prayer

We’ve prepared a booklet of daily readings and written prayers for the nine days in-between Ascension and Pentecost. The readings focus on the theme of the Lord’s Prayer, taken line by line. Jesus gave us this prayer to help us to pray for and understand what it means for God’s kingdom to come.

These devotions are offered as a starting point for our individual prayers and devotion over these nine days. Each day’s reflection will be posted here (the day before, at 12 noon). You can also pick up a paper copy in church, or download the booklet as a PDF here.

2. Praying the Lord’s Prayer

Specifically, each day we are also invited to pray the words of the Lord’s Prayer, so that it becomes a natural part of our daily devotion.

3. Praying For Five Friends

Praying for others to know Jesus is one of the most powerful things we can do. As part of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ we’re each invited to choose five people regularly to pray for.

If you’re not sure who to pray for, ask God to guide you as you choose. Once you have settled on five names, commit to praying for them regularly. Why not spend time now prayerfully thinking about who God has placed on your heart and note down their names.

4. Praying Together

Throughout these nine days there are a number of extra services and events (listed below) to give us the opportunity to pray together with others. We do this remembering Jesus’ words that, “where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

Services are all at St Richard’s apart from the first and last:

Thu 30th May
8:00 pm – Deanery Ascension Day Service
St Mary’s Church, Hampton - Thames Street, TW12 2EB

Mon 3rd June
9:30 am – Morning Prayer

Tue 4th June
8:00 pm - Evening Prayer

Wed 5th June
9:30 am – Morning Prayer
12:00 pm - Holy Communion (spoken service)

Thu 6th June
8:00 pm – Evening Prayer

Fri 7th June
9:30 am – Morning Prayer

Sat 8th June
Day of Prayer – more info to follow

Sun 9th June
Pentecost Trafalgar Square family festival (12 - 4 pm) and service (4 - 6 pm)
Visit www.london.anglican.org/event/2019/06/09/trafalgar-square-beacon-event/ for more info.