Prayer for Revival on Sunday Mornings

Join us on Sunday mornings at 9:45 am in Middleton Parlor through August 20 as we pray for revival. Contact  Sonja West for more info.

Sunday, April 16—He is Risen!

This study on Christ’s walk to the cross and atonement comes to a close today, as we celebrate His resurrection and our salvation. As Christians, we are well aware of the significance of the event recognized by this annual holiday. When Christ died and rose again, He fulfilled God’s merciful plan for our redemption. He addressed our inability to atone for our sins personally, and He provided us with a specific process that grants us access to His forgiveness—accept Christ as our savior, confess and repent for our sins, and accept His pardon. When performed sincerely, these actions prepare the path for our walk to Heaven. What a glorious day Easter is, and what a wonderful gift it gives to us!
So we will provide a series of scriptural passages today in hopes that they will capture the true spirit of Easter for you, making this year a time of special connection for you.
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered His words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” (Luke 24:1-12, New Revised Standard Version)
“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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, Revised Standard Version)
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Revised Standard Version)
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews. 9:11-14, Revised Standard Version)
“You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake… For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten; but He trusted to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:18-20 and 2:21-25, Revised Standard Version)

Prayer Suggestion

The following prayer of adoration and responsive prayer for Easter come from the Common Book of Worship. Read them out loud to make them more meaningful and present in your consciousness. Then lift up your own prayer of thanksgiving that Christ has risen and saved us from eternal damnation.

Prayer of Adoration

“Glory to you, O God: on this day you won victory over death, raising Jesus from the grave and giving us eternal life. Glory to you, O Christ: for us and for our salvation you overcame death and opened the gate to everlasting life. Glory to you, O Holy Spirit: you lead us into the truth. Glory to you, O Blessed Trinity, now and forever. Amen.

Responsive Prayer for Easter

O Christ, in your resurrection, the heavens and the earth rejoice. Alleluia! By your resurrection you broke open the gates of hell, and destroyed sin and death.
Keep us victorious over sin.
By your resurrection you raised the dead, and brought us from death to life.
Guide us in the way of eternal life.
By your resurrection you confounded your guards and executioners, and filled the disciples with joy.
Give us joy in your service.
By your resurrection you proclaimed good news to the women and apostles, and brought salvation to the whole world.
Direct our lives as your new creation.
     Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), p. 315.

Saturday, April 15—The Time of Waiting

Holy Saturday also is called the Easter Vigil, the Paschal Vigil, or the Great Vigil of Easter. It is a time of transition and waiting. We shift our attention from Christ’s death on the cross toward Easter and the glory of His resurrection.
Luke 23:50-56 provides one account of what occurred originally. “Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathe′a. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid Him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how His body was laid; then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” (Revised Standard Version)
The fact that Christ did not rise on Saturday is a topic for theological scholars, but one idea seems worth mentioning here. Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath and represented very specific things regarding the relationship between God and humans. Even the people who took Christ’s body, prepared it, and placed it in the tomb, rested on that day in accordance with the Sabbath laws. Christ’s death was a new beginning, however, and new practices were warranted. Because Christ rose on Sunday, Christians worship on the day of His resurrection, not according to the historical Jewish Sabbath.
This does not mean, however, that Holy Saturday is just another day in Holy week. It is far more than that. First, today marks the 40th day of the traditional Lenten fast. The number 40 has deep significance throughout the Bible, and it seems entirely reasonable to dedicate a 40-day period each year to preparing for Christ’s resurrection. When Lent was established, it intentionally included Holy Saturday, rather than concluding on Good Friday.
Furthermore, by having a day between Christ’s death and resurrection, we have time to wait at the Lord’s tomb, as His followers did originally. We can medicate on His life and death. We can use prayer, meditation, fasting, and other approaches to await the arrival of Easter. We wait, as Christ’s Mother Mary did, for His victorious triumph. In the Catholic Church, “this faithful and prayerful symbolic waiting has been called the Ora della Madre or Hour of the Mother,” according to Scripture specifically points out that we should await the resurrection the way a grieving Mother who had complete faith in God’s redemptive powers and plan to bring us to His side after death would do—with reverence and anticipation.
Finally, as we know for the “Apostles’ Creed,” “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.” Clearly, God’s plan called for Christ to face Satan directly proving that God had triumphed over evil permanently. So one day of waiting that permitted such an important accomplishment certainly is worthwhile.
“Apostles’ Creed,” Christian Reformed Church,
References: “Holy Saturday: Holy Saturday History, Information, Prayers, Images, Traditions, and More,”

Prayer Suggestion

The following information comes from the Common Book of Worship, and it describes the traditional service for the Great Easter Vigil in detail. Note that the process has very specific components that relate to God’s plan for His children, Christ’s purpose and life, and the future of God’s relationship with mankind. After reviewing this information, take a moment to pray that God will make this time of transition particularly meaningful to you this year.

First Service of Easter

“The Great Vigil of Easter is the brightest jewel of Christian liturgy traced to early Christian times. It proclaims the universal significance of God’s saving acts in history through four related services held on the same occasion, and consists of:

Service of Light

The service begins in the darkness of night. In kindling new fire and lighting the paschal candle, we are reminded that Christ came as a light shining in darkness (John 1:5). Through the use of fire, candles, words, movement, and music, the worshiping community becomes the pilgrim people of God following the ‘pillar of fire’ given to us in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. The paschal candle is used throughout the service as a symbol for Jesus Christ. This candle is carried, leading every procession during the vigil. Christ, the light of the world, thus provides the unifying thread to the service.

Service of Readings

The second part of the vigil consists of a series of readings from the Old and New Testaments. These lessons provide a panoramic view of what God has done for humanity. Beginning with creation, we are reminded of our delivery from bondage in the exodus, of God’s calling us to faithfulness through the cry of the prophets, of God dwelling among us in Jesus Christ, and of Christ’s rising in victory from the tomb. The readings thus retell our ‘holy history’ as God’s children, summarizing the faith into which we are baptized.

Service of Baptism

In the earliest years of the Christian church, baptisms commonly took place at the vigil. So this vigil includes baptism and/or the renewal of the baptismal covenant. As with the natural symbol of light, water plays a critical role in the vigil. The image of water giving life-nurturing crops, sustaining life, and cleansing our bodies—cannot be missed in this part of the vigil. Nor is the ability of water to inflict death in drowning overlooked. Water brings both life and death. So also there is death and life in Baptism, for in Baptism we die to sin and are raised to life. Baptism unites believers to Christ’s death and resurrection.

Service of the Eucharist

The vigil climaxes in a joyous celebration of the feast of the people of God. The risen Lord invites all to participate in the new life He brings by sharing the feast which He has prepared. We thus look forward to the great Messianic feast of the kingdom of God when the redeemed from every time and place ‘will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God’ (Luke 13:29). The vigil thus celebrates what God has done, is doing, and will do.”
     Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), pp. 294-295.

Friday, April 14—It is Finished

Today is Good Friday, but it’s very difficult to remember this day as being good when we annually take the time to remind ourselves of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. Fortunately, we understand that this day is named not to represent Christ’s death but the beginning of the three-day transformation that led to His resurrection, which surely is the most “good” event in the history of mankind.
Let’s start today’s study by considering how cataclysmic Christ’s death on the cross was—how it was evidenced not only by the onsite witnesses who watched Him accept the burden of mankind’s sins from the beginning to the end of time, but also as described in the passage below, Christ’s passing affected all aspects of God’s creation.
“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with Him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27: 51-54, Revised Standard Version)
If Christ had walked with us just as a teacher, His death would have been tragic and such dramatic reactions to it would have been completely reasonable. We would probably not be commemorating Good Friday today, though. Instead, we would be honoring the life and death of the only sin-free man to ever live—a man who taught us so much about God’s expectations for our lives. So we probably would call today Black Friday as a sign of our loss.
Of course, that’s not what happened. Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t the end; it was a beginning—a beginning to an entirely new approach to having a relationship with God. The good news is that because Christ died, He now provides the connection we need with God, Christ’s death pays the debt for our sins over and over again. His death was the ultimate atonement, and it is effective across all generations.
Justin Holcomb describes the importance of Good Friday quite well. “The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness.”
So what should we think and feel today? Sadness and grief are reasonable responses to Christ’s death. After all, the sins of mankind caused God to make a choice. Either we would each be faced with the impossible requirement to atone for our own sins, or God would have to offer us an alternative path to redemption. God chose to be merciful and to send His son to pay our price. Nevertheless, we should feel responsible that Christ’s death became necessary because we fell so short of God’s expectations for us.
At the same time, however, we should start to look ahead to Easter now. We recognize that this heartrending event actually opens a door to new life for all of us who are willing to step through it.
“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” (Romans 6: 4-5, Revised Standard Version)
Reference: “What’s So Good about Good Friday?,” Justin Holcomb,

Prayer Suggestion

Consider this prayer that summarizes the reality of Good Friday and express your thoughts and thanks to God in your follow-up prayer.
“Merciful God, you gave your Son to suffer the shame of the cross. Save us from hardness of heart, that, seeing Him who died for us, we may repent, confess our sin, and receive your overflowing love, in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
     Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), p. 282.

Thursday, April 13—Transitioning From the Old to the New Testament Perspectives

Let’s take a moment to compare the words used for atonement in the Old and New Testaments. The original Hebrew word was kaphar, which means “to cover.” In the New Testament, however, the word changes to hilasterion, which means “propitiation.” Originally, the blood of sacrificial animals was used to cover peoples’ sins and restore their relationships with God. So these animals served as interim substitutes for human sinners, but ultimately a sin-free human had to take the punishment that we so rightly deserved, Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 describes what will come in the prophecy that often is called “The Suffering Servant.” Verses 4 to 6 in chapter 53 summarize this passage very well.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Revised Standard Version)
Now that we are in the midst of Holy Week and Maundy Thursday is here, we are particularly reminded of the connection between the Old and New Testaments and the theological foundations of atonement, In Exodus 12, God provided very detailed instructions to the Israelites regarding preparation for, carrying out of, and ongoing observance of the Passover Supper. Once again, a sacrificial animal—a lamb “without blemish, a male a year old”—would be served for dinner, and its blood would be put on the two doorposts and the lintel as a sign. At midnight the Lord smote the first born of both men and animals of every household that had not been marked appropriately.
“And when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for He passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when He slew the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” (Exodus 12:25-27 Revised Standard Version)
The parallels between that first Passover Supper and the one Jesus ate with His disciples are not a matter of happenstance but of divine design. They were God’s plan from the beginning of creation, and they were fulfilled according to His plan.
As John 1:1-5 reminds us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (New Revised Standard Version)
Reference: An essay by Dr. Eugene Merrill, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, found on The Exchange: A Blog by Ed Stetzer,

Prayer Suggestion

Prayerfully recite the words of 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 that were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ on the night of His betrayal as He shared the Passover Supper with His disciples. These words still are used today as we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion in remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection. Then take a few minutes to pray silently, praising God for sending His son to take away the sins of the world.
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (Revised Standard Version)

Wednesday, April 12—God Deals With Sin and Reconciliation in the Old Testament

The need for atonement is made clear in the earliest chapters of scripture. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree, they damaged their relationship with Him, bringing sin into the world. He had warned them that sinning would cause the relationship they had with Him to die, but they chose sin over remaining close to God. They immediately knew the error of their ways, but God did not just turn His back and walk away from them.
“And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die…’ And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden… And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3: 2-3, 8, and 21, Revised Standard Version)
As we know so well, the first sin led almost immediately to a second one and so on. Sin became a dominant force in human life. Even in this first case, however, God offered man a form of atonement that involved the sacrifice of an innocent being for our sins—the death of animals that had not eaten from the tree provided the garments Adam and Eve were given to wear.
These early verses from the Bible establish the foundation for all of mankind’s existence and the way God has reached out to save us over and over again. It’s interesting to note that few Christians actually even realize the connection between the way God handled Adam and Eve’s transgressions and His ultimate plan for our atonement—the life, death, and resurrection of His son.
The pattern is easy to spot, however, when we truly begin to grasp that God loves us so much that He does not ask us to personally atone for our sins but provides a substitute to carry our burdens. It’s easy to forget that the animals and vegetation, as well as every other aspect of the world around us, were God’s creations and were important to Him. So even this initial example of how God reaches out to us validates that His love for us. Furthermore, we can see that His desire to maintain a deep and abiding relationship with us is profound and beyond our understanding. He is willing to sacrifice the works of His creation in order to restore us. God’s commitment to us and His approach to our atonement are stated unequivocally in John 2: 16.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Revised Standard Version)
Reference: An essay by Dr. Eugene Merrill, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, found on The Exchange: A Blog by Ed Stetzer,

Prayer Suggestion

Once again, you can use this standard prayer of confession to begin your time of repentance and then add your own personal confessions.
“Almighty God, you poured your Spirit upon gathered disciples creating bold tongues, open ears, and a new community of faith. We confess that we hold back the force of your Spirit among us. We do not listen for your word of grace, speak the good news of your love, or live as a people made one in Christ. Have mercy on us, O God. Transform our timid lives by the power of your Spirit, and fill us with a flaming desire to be your faithful people, doing your will for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
     Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), p. 343.

Tuesday, April 11—The Need for Atonement

Atonement—it’s a word we don’t use in everyday language that represents the recompense that is given to make amends for a wrong-doing or injury. Conceptually, atonement is a form of rebalancing after the disruption of a relationship; a payment of equal value is given to the person who has been negatively impacted by a wrongful action in order to settle the score.
We learn at a young age that we need to apologize when we do something that hurts another person. Apologies represent the simplest form of atonement, and they are socially acceptable ways to offset relatively minor infractions; however, apologies generally are believed to be insufficient in situations were more serious damage is done.
Mankind has developed complex laws to systematize atonement in society. These regulations define the degree of “wrongness” and assign seemingly appropriate levels of reparation. Of course, views regarding the effectiveness of these legal approaches vary widely and are influenced by many situational factors. In countless real-life cases, the injured person firmly believes that no amount or form of payment ever could provide sufficient penance for the offense that had been committed.
So now, stop and consider the theological implications of atonement. The offended party is God—our creator, who is sovereign over all of mankind and the world around us. He sees all and knows all. He is love incarnate, but He also is the law-giver and judge. He is so holy that every minor misstep we make must seem enormous to Him, generating huge rifts in our relationship with Him. Furthermore, our day-in and day-out repetition of sinful acts causes the wall between God and us to grow progressively thicker and higher—ultimately becoming insurmountable.
As the Bible tells us in Isaiah 59:1-2. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear.” (Revised Standard Version)
Clearly, there is no payment we could make that would satisfy the wrongs we have done to God—no way that we ever could atone for our sins and rebalance our relationship with the almighty. If we accept this reality, we are faced with the message that the Bible tells us in so many ways. Fortunately, as we begin to remember Christ’s walk to the cross and His resurrection, we already know how this horrifying truth was converted into a new beginning for each of us—not through our own efforts but through the sacrificial atonement God granted to us through the death of His son, Jesus Christ.
Paul said it so well in Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Revised Standard Version)

Prayer Suggestion

Use this standard prayer of confession to open your hearts and minds in order to obtain a deeper understanding of your need for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Then, add your own personal confessions.
“Eternal God, our judge and redeemer, we confess that we have tried to hide from you, for we have done wrong. We have lived for ourselves, and apart from you. We have turned from our neighbors, and refused to bear the burdens of others. We have ignored the pain of the world, and passed by the hungry, the poor, and the oppressed. In your great mercy forgive our sins and free us from selfishness, that we may choose your will and obey your commandments; through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), p. 54.

A Prayer Story From Diana Farrell

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20 ESV)
Praying with others has been one of the greatest blessings that God has given me. With each new person I pray with, I am able to find something that helps me to deepen my own prayer life.
I have one friend who begins each prayer by painting a picture of God’s throne room. She talks about kneeling in front of the throne. Every time I think of this image I am reminded of the sovereignty of our God. Another friend approaches prayer with joy and celebration, and I am reminded of how wonderful it is to spend time in the presence of our God and how amazing his works are. Another friend uses Psalms and other Bible verses in her prayers which makes me feel connected to the Saints of old and the promises of God, and yet another taught me to pray in the Jewish tradition, which roots me to God’s chosen people.
What an amazing thing to be able to learn from these wonderful prayer warriors; however, not only do we have the ability to learn how to pray from one another, but we also are granted the opportunity to build relationships with the people with whom we pray. Sincere prayer always shows the heart. It shows what we love, what we need, and what we fear. Therefore, by its very nature, praying with another is an act of intimacy. What an amazing gift and responsibility. We not only are now able to pray more effectively for that person, but they are now able to pray more effectively for us, and through this process a bond grows, and we become true sisters and brothers in Christ.
For those who are anxious about praying with another, may I just take a moment to encourage you to try it? God isn’t looking for the most eloquent of speakers; he is looking for the sincere heart. I love how children pray. They say what they mean, and they say it plainly. Are we not children, too? Trust God; he gave you this gift of praying with one another, and he will help you through the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God for encouraging us to pray with one another, and a sincere thank you to all of the wonderful people with whom I have had the privilege of praying.

A Prayer Story From Morf Morford

CS Lewis used to describe the Gospel as “a good contagion.” I would describe the continuing emergence or out-working of the Gospel as the equivalent of good weeds.
No matter how much solid legalism, suffocating dogma, or toxic confusion and distortion we pour or build on the living spirit of God, it will pop up—pure and alive—somewhere else, and like some particularly hardy weeds, the true Gospel will never be fully eradicated. Even the deadest church holds some smoldering spark or latent, hibernating seed waiting maybe decades or possibly even centuries, for the right mix of nutrients, receptivity, and opportunity.
“Can these bones live?,” was the question in Ezekiel. “Only God knows” is the eternal answer. We like to imagine that we know with our bi-polar yes or no, but our hope is too shallow, and we give up too easily. Some trees takes centuries to reach maturity; some movements takes generations just to take root.
Many of these “good weeds” are constant irritations that annoy us and take our time. Our private projects are disturbed, and then when we didn’t even notice, our precious projects are over-shadowed by an immense monument of beauty and strength we had done our best to ignore or even stamp out.
God’s grace is like that. It emerges without our permission, beyond our will, and most of the time, in defiance of our expectations. Jesus described the Holy Spirit as being like the wind. We never know where it came from, what it will do, where it will go, or where it went. This is how I see the Holy Spirit in my life; it catches me by surprise when I do see it, but mostly I only see its effects or its absence. There’s the lingering sense that something holy was here, and perhaps the spores still remain, but they’ve scattered, and we step on them and capture, isolate, and fossilize the few we do find. Like children, we expect them to be our pets, do our bidding, wear our cute little costumes, and take part in our eager charades. How little we realize that we have taken in a whirlwind—a loving storm that will turn us upside down and inside out.
We will be, if we allow it, far more, far deeper, and more real than we were in the past We will be more uniquely ourselves than we could have ever imagined. No matter how old we are, our story is just beginning.

Tuesday, February 28—For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

“[Jesus] must have been either the prince of impostors or what He really was, the lord of lords, the king of kings, the savior of mankind,” claims William Booth.
Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the most powerful man in the world. Augustus’ kingdom was enormous, and he was able to enforce a strict peace (the Pax Romana) within its borders. In many ways, Augustus was the best the world could offer as far as power and glory were concerned. Against this imposing king we see the familiar setting of the nativity—a poor couple away from home and a young woman giving birth in a room occupied by animals. It does not seem very impressive at all; yet the nativity is very much about the competition between two rival kingdoms, one represented by Caesar and the other by a little, wailing baby called Jesus. Where did the real power and glory exist?
Augustus caused the known world to be counted in his census; the birth of Jesus caused the angels to sing in the heavens. Augustus altered the course of a young couple’s lives, making them journey to Bethlehem for the birth of their son; the birth of that son altered the course of world history forever. Augustus used the threat of his armies to force a temporary peace amongst men; Jesus used obedience, humility, and suffering to bring about an eternal peace between God and humanity. It was under the authority of another Caesar that Jesus was put to death; that death and His subsequent resurrection made salvation possible for all who call Jesus lord. Augustus and Rome reflected all the glory of the world; Jesus reflected all the glory of the God who made the world.
The kingdom that Jesus introduced was and is the dangerous, radical alternative to the powers of this world. By praying this last part of the “Lord’s Prayer,” we are declaring that we pledge our allegiance to the kingdom of God. We also are declaring that we will dedicate our lives to seeing this alternative kingdom become a reality here on earth. It is thus a prayer of mission, a subversive prayer, and a commitment to not simply accepting the kingdoms of this world or their values.
It is also a prayer of empowerment. Jesus spoke and acted the way He did because He was the rightful king of kings. We are His children and, therefore, are rightful heirs to the kingdom. We have within us the very Spirit of Jesus, and that is a Spirit of true power, authority, and glory.
Finally, this is a prayer of confidence. It is only because God is king that we can pray the rest of the “Lord’s Prayer” with conviction. We pray with boldness because we are praying in the name of the king, the victor over evil, the true light of heaven who outshone the glory of this world with the glory of the cross.
Jesus showed us that the world’s understanding of power and glory is flawed. Real power and glory is found in obedience, humility, grace, justice, love, forgiveness, and all the things that characterized His life. This is the power and glory that exists in the kingdom of God.

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Write a list of things that count for power and glory in this world. Then write the things that count for power and glory in the kingdom of God. Pray that your life and the life of your family, friends, and other Christians will find its identity in the kingdom of God.
  • Read Revelations 5:1-14. Jesus is described here as both a lion and a slain lamb. What images do both of these descriptions bring to your mind? In a small group, discuss what these images tell you about the power and glory of Jesus, and how they can help you in your prayer life.
  • Take some time to reflect on what you have learned about the “Lord’s Prayer.” Give all the praise and the glory for the week of study you have had to God, including your prayers that will be answered in the future.