Thursday, September 13, 2012

Prayer of the Church

The Prayer of the Day for this coming Sunday (17th Sunday after Pentecost) is as follows:

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The safety and the very existence of the Church rests on Jesus’ mercy, cleansing, and defense.  Baptism is our rebirth into the kingdom of God.  But we remain sinners; we are in continual need of his mercy and forgiveness.  Therefore, Jesus’ mercy sustains us in the faith. 

Jesus also defends his Church against every foe.  Satan’s attack does not cease – whether he tries to ensnare individuals through false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins or whether he tries to snuff out the Church through schisms, heresies, or bloodshed.  Left to ourselves, we are lost.  Therefore, we pray for Jesus’ defense, protection, and governance over his Church.  It is not merely that he would preseve an insitution, but that he would preserve his word and the he would preserve us in it.

Our prayer is not merely wishful thinking, either.  With our prayer, we hold Jesus to his own promises:

On this rock (i.e., Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”) I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)

I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:14,27-28)

Our best prayers are the ones that hold God to his own promises.  Our only hope is Jesus Christ, and our only hope is also sure.