Prayer Guide for First Week of Lent

March 5, 2017 1:10 pm

C3 Lenten Prayer Guide
First Week of Lent

Dependence

“Bow down thine ear O Lord and hear me, for I am poor and needy.” – Psalm 86:1

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 5

“No, I’ve got this.” I will never forget those words. They were said by a man I visited in a hospital many years ago. He was about to endure open-heart surgery, and this was at a time when the outcome of such operations was far less certain – and far more painful – than it is today. We visited briefly in his hospital room and then I offered to pray with him. “No, I’ve got this”, he replied.

I wasn’t sure whether to be more shocked or angered. “You’ve got this? You’ve GOT THIS?” I was incredulous. Steaming inside, I nonetheless smiled, wished him well, and made my exit. Walking down the corridor of the CCU I kept muttering under my breath, “I’ve got this… I’ve got this… are you kidding me! You couldn’t be bothered with prayer, with asking God for help; you’ve GOT THIS?”

When I stepped into the elevator it hit me. Hard. I was displeased with this heart patient because he thought he didn’t need to pray because he thought his need was not so great that he would need God’s help. But I too am a heart patient, just as needy, and I was nearly at the end of my day – a long day – and had never once prayed. Not a word. I’d told God all day long, “No, I’ve got this.”

In fact, what I was saying was far worse than my hospitalized friend had said. After all, I was saying “No, I’ve got this” as I walked around doing the work of the ministry (whatever that is, if one isn’t praying). I was so arrogantly confident in my own abilities that I’d never for even a second that day stopped to ask Jesus for his help, to fill me with his Spirit and love, to grant me his wisdom and strength for my stupidity and weakness, to pour on me his mercy and grace as a sinner serving other sinners. When the elevator opened I went to the Hospital chapel and sat there for about an hour, weeping for my pride and then interceding for the hospital staff – as well as for my friend back upstairs who with his words that day taught me more than I’d ever taught him, or ever could.

Let’s begin this season of prayer by saying this together: “We haven’t got this.” Let’s make this our Declaration of Dependance.

Prayer is rooted in poverty. It is an expression of powerlessness. In the mystery of the Kingdom, we boast in our weakness and rejoice in our lack, for in both we discover the riches of God’s grace and powerful love. In the writings of the ancient Church fathers, the verse of Scripture which is most frequently cited is John 15:5. It reads, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” We should let that truth sink down deeply into our souls; we should begin our day confessing its truth; we should embrace its reality. Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.

Apart from Jesus we will never be fruitful. Apart from Jesus we will never be joyful and loving and missional and faithful and worshipful and truthful. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Yet when we make room for prayer we are saying to Jesus, “We haven’t got this. Please meet our poverty with your riches.” Each day then let us rise with one heart and one voice in a unified confession of dependance on the power of Christ, and each week gather to make our voice heard on high. The Almighty and Everlasting God will hear us and answer swiftly those who put their trust in him.

“Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.”
― D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Ancient Prayer
O Father, I have nothing: before Thee I am as one that is dead, and live by thy mercy alone; I commit my soul into Thy pure hands, in this age and in the age to be. Thou art able to do all things; Thou knowest all things; Thou desirest every kind of goodness for all men and ever longest for my salvation. O Jesus, inflame my soul with the fire of Thy love, which Thou didst send forth upon the earth, that it may burn the stains of my soul, sanctify my conscience, purge the sins of my body, and kindle in my heart the light of Thy knowledge. Strengthen my heart to hate sin, and to love Thee alone above all things. Amen.

Hymn for the Week:

“I Need Thee Every Hour”

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby
Temptations lose their power
When Thou art nigh

I need thee, oh, I need thee, every hour I need Thee
I need thee, I need thee, I need Thee every hour

I need Thee every hour in joy or pain
Come quickly and abide or life is in vain
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee, every hour I need Thee
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour

Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee
Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee
I need Thee every hour, teach me Thy will
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee
Oh I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour

Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee

Readings

Monday (March 6, 2017): Psalm 32; 1 Kings 19:1-8; Hebrews 2:10-18
Tuesday (March 7, 2017): Psalm 32; Genesis 4:1-16; Hebrews 4:14-5:10
Wednesday (March 8, 2017): Psalm 32; Exodus 34:1-9, 27-28; Matthew 18:10-14
Thursday (March 9, 2017): Psalm 121; Isaiah 51:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:3-7
Friday (March 10, 2017): Psalm 121; Micah 7:18-20; Romans 3:21-31
Saturday (March 11, 2017): Psalm 121; Isaiah 51:4-8; Luke 7:1-10

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