Praying Prayers of Paul for the Church You Love
This week, take this prayer of the Apostle Paul and use it as a prompt to pray for North Wake.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. ~ Colossians 4:2-4
Meditation For Preparation
Read: John 19:28
Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, “stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink ’ ” (Jn. 7:37). Now, on the cross, He who said these words was, Himself, thirsty.
According to moral philosopher Susan Neiman the world changed on All Saints Day in 1755. In Lisbon, Portugal, a ten-minute earthquake, followed by a tsunami and fires, killed an estimated 60,000 people, many crushed by collapsing churches where they gathered to celebrate that Christian holy day.
For many Western intellectuals, this incident of natural evil proved God could no longer be trusted. French philosopher Voltaire offered scathing words in a poem:
“Are you then sure, the power which would create
The universe and fix the laws of fate,
Could not have found for man a proper place,
But earthquakes must destroy the human race?”
So, in the modern era, trust moved from God to man. And it seemed to work: technological advances, scientific progress, scholarly criticism of the Bible.
The moral evils of the 20th century, however, revealed that trust in man was misplaced: Auschwitz, fascism, and global violence.
The cross directly addresses this world of moral and natural evils. God is not aloof from human suffering as Voltaire imagined, nor will human evil have the final say. Our God once thirsted, like we do. Our God entered the world of human suffering, suffered Himself, and has the scars to prove it.
Nearly two centuries after Voltaire, another poem, by theologian Edward Shillito, offers a different take on the suffering we experience:
If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.
If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are; have no fear;
Show us Thy Scars; we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.