Monday, November 01, 2010

Pastoral Prayer for Reformation Sunday and All Saints' Day

Almighty God, Father, Son, and Spirit, Creator of the heavens and the earth, You spoke this universe by the Word of Your power, and You continually uphold it all by that same Word, and by the mighty working of Your Spirit.

And therefore we praise You and we worship You, as the only God, the only true God. You are Holy and Mighty and Gracious and Just and all Glorious. And we know this because this world and its story is full of Your glory. You framed the heavens and the earth and filled them with treasures, and when we disdained that gift and reached for our own glory, You sent us out into the world. But your grace has followed us down through the ages. And in the seed of the woman you have told and are telling an amazing story.

We give you thanks for righteous Abel who offered worship to you in faith though His brother hated him and spilled his blood on the earth. We praise you for faithful Enoch who walked with you and for Noah who was a preacher of righteousness and the judgment to come. We praise you for Abram who left his father’s house and went to a foreign land on the basis of Your promises. Thank you for the faith of Sarah who laughed when you promised her a son in her old age. Thank you for Rebekah who believed the promise of God and tricked her husband into obeying you. Thank you for the faith of Jacob who blessed his rebellious sons and trusted Your promises despite all appearances. Thank you for Joseph who did not compromise with his master’s wife to stay out of trouble. Thank you for the faith of the midwives who disobeyed the king’s wicked order to kill the Hebrew boys. Thank you for the faithfulness of Moses though Israel was stubborn and hard-hearted. We praise you for Rahab who hid the spies and lied to the soldiers who were looking for them. Thank you for her grace and cunning. Thank you for Joshua who taught the people how to destroy cities with trumpets. And for Gideon who knew that every battle belongs to You. And we worship you for Deborah and Barak and Jael, and we praise you for Siserah’s head crushed by a tent peg. Thank you for David who was a man after Your own heart; thank you for his faith and courage and for his sling and for the songs that he sang. Thank you for Jeremiah and Ezekiel; thank you for Micah and Jonah and Malachi, prophets who declared Your word fearlessly despite the consequences, despite the shame, despite their inadequacies.

Thank you for Matthew who wrote his gospel by faith. Thank you for the Apostle Paul and Timothy and Titus his disciples who were also faithful pastors and evangelists. Thank you for Phoebe who was a faithful servant of Paul and the church in Cenchrea. We don’t know much about her, but she reminds us of how there were so many faithful saints in those early days of the church who suffered and sacrificed and served gladly for the sake of the Kingdom. We thank you for St. Stephen the first Christian martyr who saw our Lord Jesus in the sky and did not flinch when they stoned him to death. Thank you for Ignatius who was devoured by lions because of his love for you. Thank you for Eustachius and Germanicus and Polycarp and Justin and Irenaeus and Hippolitus and Lawrence and Alban and Sebastian, and the countless thousands of others who gave their lives willingly for the sake of Christ, who did not consider their lives more valuable than the salvation You have won for us. We praise you for mothers who watched their children burned at the stake, and we praise you for children who were faithful even to death.

We thank you for Constantine who loved you and ended the persecution of Your people. We thank you for Athanasius and Augustine and Ambrose and Leo and Gregory. Thank you for Boniface and Bede; and for all those nameless scribes who copied out the Scriptures faithfully over the centuries so that we might have them today in our hands. Thank you for Thomas Acquinas and John Huss and Wycliffe and Calvin and Bucer and Luther. And thank you for Luther’s wife, Katie. We praise you for Cranmer and Hooper and Latimer and the many faithful Huguenots who were slaughtered for their love of the cross. We give you thanks for John Bunyan and John Foxe and William Carey and George Whitefield and John Wesley for their faithful proclamations of the gospel. We praise you for Hudson Taylor, Gresham Machen, Jim Eliot, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Alexander Schmemann, Bessie Wilson, and Betty Appel.

We praise you for all Christian wives and mothers who have offered their daily labors to their husbands and children with cheerful love of Christ. Thank you for how they have given of themselves in so many small ways rising early, staying up late, making meals, doing laundry, teaching lessons, disciplining, and loving, pouring themselves out, serving gladly, offering their bodies as living sacrifices to you. And we bless them now before Your throne and we give you thanks and praise for them. Thank you for faithful children down through the ages who image what we must become to enter the Kingdom. Thank you for peanut butter and jelly smears on their faces. Thank you for their prayers and their lessons. Thank you for their exuberance. Thank you for the gift of faith you have bestowed upon them. And thank you for the millions of little ones that we have not yet met but who rejoice around Your throne in glory. Thank you for the poor, the sick, the outcasts, the mentally and physically disabled. We thank you for your people who make us laugh, thank you for those who tell stories, thank you for those who remember and help us remember. Thank you for all honorable occupations. Thank you for hard, honest work. Thank you for secretaries and auto mechanics, thank you for writers and missionaries, thank you for doctors and nurses and accountants and artists. Thank you for teachers and deacons, thank you for coaches and architects and pilots and janitors and senators. We praise you for your people in China and Russia and Egypt and Ivory Coast and Columbia and Mexico and Finland and Italy and France and Iraq and Afghanistan and Myanmar. We thank you and we praise you for all your saints, all your faithful down through the centuries, and we praise you for those who are still yet to come, that innumerable company of saints yet to play their part on the stage. We thank you that in the gift of the Spirit you have rushed us up into the heavenly places and that by Your mighty working we are united to all your saints throughout time and space and that in a mystery we are bound together in Christ.

Our gracious God and Father, we are undone by your goodness, we are glad, and we are deeply grateful to you. But we are most deeply thankful for our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Holy One of Israel, the One who has been anointed with the fullness of Your Holy Spirit, the One in Whom all saints find their rest. We praise you for our Lord Jesus Christ who is the only begotten Son of God and who is the seed of the woman come to crush the serpent’s head. And we give thanks to You for all Your people chiefly because in them we have seen Christ manifested. For You have poured out His Spirit on all flesh, and You have begun to remake this world by Your wonderful grace and love.

And so we worship You now, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for You are worthy of all glory and praise, unto ages of ages. Amen!


Katiebdit said...

Thank you, Pastor Sumpter - this is so very uplifting and glorious in its reminder of our place in God's story of His people. I'm going to print this, and save it as a family prayer for All Saints Day.

DanaeL said...

This was a very uplifting prayer, thank you so much. I will be coming back to it again and again.

Mark said...

As weird as it may sound, I thought this prayer was great ...