Friday 8 April: Lent 2011

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You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,
The sign of Christ be on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit be in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

May the work of the Church of God be in these hands

Ephesian 3:15-21

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Paul wrote, ‘He who desires to be an elder desires a noble thing.’ Perhaps it is for that kind of nobility that will might pray. Perhaps the ‘work of the Church of God’ referred to the service work of the whole church. The language of ‘church’ gives it away: ‘family’, ‘kindred’, ‘hearth’, ‘home’, ‘household’ and ‘tribe’.

If we understand the Church as being the family of God, what is the work of a family? Surely the work of a family is to make its members secure with a feeling of acceptance and belonging – the experience Paul describes as being ‘rooted and grounded in love’. It is to give its members both a warm shelter from the world and the courage to enter and engage with the world; to watch over their ‘goings out’ and ‘comings in’. It is to care sufficiently for every member to enable each one to grow up healthy and wise but without smothering, so that each member is also prepared and ready to take responsibility for the jobs of work that life in this world requires. By praying this prayer, we take up the responsibility to safeguard the family’s welfare by serving those needs.

Our daily repetition of this prayer means a great deal. It shows us that the pattern of serving our family is a privilege modelled on the disciple-making of the Lord Jesus, who himself declared that he had come into the world ‘not to be served but to serve’.

If you have a family, kindred, hearth or tribe, praying today will require you to become its servant:

‘Let the work of the Church of God be in these hands.’