A Prayer about Loving Enemies Prompted by Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Heavenly Father,

Help us to love not only those who love us first, but also those who treat us badly.  Jesus expressed his love by dying for us precisely at a time when we were rebelling against his authority.  Help us to do the same sort of thing whenever we are presented with the chance.  Then help us to make opportunities to love where none exist.

When we are disrespected, help us to respond with respect.  When we are ignored precisely as we think we need someone’s attention, help us to think of the needs of others and pay attention to them.  When we are hurt, help us to respond with healing love and in so doing, become more like Jesus our Lord.

In saying all of this, we know that this love does not come naturally to us, but we know that it can arise as the result of you working supernaturally within our hearts.  We need your Holy Spirit to work within us to produce this spiritual fruit.

Father, may self-giving love be a mark of who we are as your children and as followers of Jesus Christ.  It is in his name that we pray.

Amen.

A Prayer about Following Jesus Prompted by Matthew 4:18-20

18While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Heavenly Father,

When Christ called his first disciples to follow him, he let them know that their primary focus would change.  Instead of catching fish they would now catch people, drawing others into a relationship with you through Jesus Christ.

How appropriate that some of your first followers did this kind of work!  They knew what it was to try to bring in a catch.  Sometimes they failed and sometimes they met with amazing success.  There was even a time when they fished all night and caught nothing until the risen Christ advised them.  When they listened to him, they caught more than they could bring into the boat.

Just as no fisherman ever catches all the fish in the sea, there will be many who will not listen to the call that we put out for them.  Still, there will be many others who will and it is for these that you have sent us.  

Remind us continually that this is our first priority.  We are to go and make disciples of all the nations.  Help us to no longer live for ourselves, but for you.  Let the Holy Spirit advise us now just as Jesus did those tired disciples.  Let us see souls won for Christ and disciples multiplied.  Let us not only see converts but see those won to you who will then make disciples of others.

And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, believing that this is your will for us.

Amen.

A Prayer for Endurance Prompted by Matthew 10:16-25

Heavenly Father,

Your Son reminded us that sometimes the best we can expect out of this world is trouble. 

His disciples often faced difficulty, opposition and persecution and they endured.  Give us that same kind of strength.

From Christ’s instruction we learn that our worst enemies and betrayers might be those we would expect to be our closest friends.  Those who should love us and those we love may respond with hatred and rejection.  We thank you that Jesus experienced all of this first.  We are certainly no greater than he is.

Help us, Father, to remain steadfast, to be faithful and to endure.  We may desire happiness, comfort, approval and blessings, but they may not be ours at this time.  Just as Jesus endured to the end and was glorified, help us to stand firm knowing that his story did not end at the cross and neither will ours.

If we experience no glory or honor in this world, may our lives still bring glory to him, for Christ is worthy.

Amen.

Our worth or his? – Matthew 10:28-33

Jesus said we “are of more value than many sparrow.”  Sometimes we think of this in isolation as a statement of how valuable we are in God’s eyes.  After all, if not even a sparrow can fall to the ground apart from our Father, then we can rest assured that God cares for us too.  

There is nothing absolutely wrong with those thoughts.  Our heavenly Father does care.  He is attentive to the smallest detail of our tiniest trouble.  The big troubles mean even more to him, we can be sure.  But let’s read the verses surrounding the sparrows along with the verses we love.

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Overall, they seem to be about not fearing in the face of opposition.  What if I am tempted to deny Christ?  We need to fear God rather than any human opponent.  We should want Jesus to acknowledge us and know that he will, as long as we acknowledge him first.  Christ is telling us we need to have a public faith.

What Jesus is saying is something like this: “You are valuable to your Father and mine, he cares about your smallest concern, but how valuable are he and I to you?  Would you remain faithful to me even if it costs you something?  Will you fear those who can only kill the body, but not fear God more?”

Let’s remember that if we are “worth more than many sparrow,” then Jesus is worth something far greater still.  He is worth our very lives and even those lives are something akin to the penny paid for sparrows by comparison.  Our worth is derivative; it comes entirely from him.  Christ’s worth is original and derived from any other source.  He can share his worth with all of us and still have infinite value left in himself.

A Prayer Prompted by the Wise Men in Matthew 2

Heavenly Father,

Thank you that like these wise men, I was once distant from you, but you led me to Jesus.  When I think of the effort these wise men put forth to find him, I have to admit that I did a lot less and found Jesus all the same.  Teach me to put forth more effort now as I seek to know Christ better than I do.  

These wise men clearly offered gifts from among the best things that they had — gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Teach me also to give all that I have which is valuable to me in the worship of my Savior.

The wise men were also very aware of your leading them: first from a far land to Jerusalem, then to a specific house in Bethlehem and then back to their own country by another way.  Teach me also to be aware of your leading in my own life. 

Deep down I want to serve you well, follow Jesus and be led by the Spirit in all that I do.   Please make my life a more accurate reflection of your will for me.  Help me to make it an offering to you and an act of complete worship.

And I ask this for the glory of the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

A Prayer Prompted by the Genealogy in Matthew 1

Heavenly Father,

We thank you that you did not send Jesus only to the prominent and lovable people of this world or for their sake only.  Thank you that our Savior has the variety of people that he has in his family line. We see the lost, the lonely, the unloved and the despised there giving his genealogy a fair representation of the human race.  The adulterer and immigrant are found alongside the kings and counselors.  In some cases they are the same people.  

You knew who we were and what kind of Savior we needed.  Therefore, you sent us Jesus Christ, your unique, your only-begotten Son, in a way and to a people that would require him to identify with us in all of our sin and shame.  Thank you furthermore for the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It through him and because of his work that we live.

Amen