“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said”.
And so we reach the end of our journey. We have prayed together for 40 days. We have prayed for our church, for our own faithfulness, and for God’s guidance. And now we arrive together at that day which is the reason for our hope, that moment when, early on the first day of the week, Jesus arose!
We began this prayer journey looking for new life. Because of the resurrection, we can have it. Let’s finish our journey by praying to enter fully into new life.
Lord, give us new life that expresses itself through our freedom from sin. Give us new life that shows itself in a spiritual freshness and zeal that people notice. Give us a firm hope in the new life that will be ours when you make all things new. And give us new life, new hope, new faith, new faithfulness and new joy in our church as well. Thank you, Lord!
There is little in the Gospels about the Saturday after Good Friday. For the disciples, it’s the day without hope, the day of grief, the day after the death of their Master and of their dream.
It turned out to be only an in-between day, of course, the day between death and resurrection. But they didn’t know that. Yet.
Author Phillip Yancey says that, in a way, we live in a Saturday world. The events of the Gospels are in the past, and they give us our blessed hope. But the fulfillment of the promises are still ahead of us. We haven’t yet been reunited with loved ones. Our tears haven’t yet been wiped away. We are in between the promise and the glory.
So today, let’s pray for strength (for ourselves and each other) to live in the in-between time, while we await our blessed hope (Titus 2:13).
And let’s remember: We know something the disciples didn’t!
What is so good about Good Friday? This day we call “good”, which is described in Matthew 27, is the day our Lord suffered and died! The one holy man who ever lived, abused and killed!
Of course, the goodness in Good Friday is that our Lord did this for us. The goodness is found in that God worked through the worst of human behavior to achieve his good and merciful purpose: Our salvation. The goodness is in this: That God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…
On Good Friday, it is fitting that we pray prayers of repentance for our sin. The cross reminds us that our sin is cause for mourning. Yes, yes, I know! Joy is around the corner and Resurrection Day is coming! But let’s not miss this opportunity to grieve our sins (and the sinful rebellion of humankind) and to remember how much God paid for us!
Father, we thank you for the cross. Thank you for paying the price we could not pay. Thank you for paying it even while we were yet enemies of the cross!
It’s on Thursday that we remember the events in the Upper Room - the last supper, Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, the betrayal. Of course, this all happened on Passover, the night they celebrated God’s rescue of his people during a time of judgment. At the first Passover, people received God’s mercy if their home was marked by the blood of a lamb. And that’s exactly what God was arranging for us over the next few hours.
Today, let’s pray prayers of Passover, for ourselves and MHCC:
Matthew 24 is where we are told that the ”day or hour” of the Lord’s return is unknown. Even if we can play a part in speeding his return (as we saw yesterday), we just don’t know when it will be. So we MUST be prepared.
So Matthew 25 is full of warnings and encouragement to be prepared. And being prepared means living for the Lord TODAY, serving him in this present moment - like the wise young women who kept oil for their lamps; and like the wise servants who were productive with their master’s money; and like those who served Jesus without thought of reward, by feeding the hungry and comforting the hurting.
Today let’s pray for our own preparation for the Lord’s visitation. This might be the day of his return in glory. Or this might be the day he shows up in a distressing disguise, as a stranger, someone who is thirsty, someone who needs help. Pray that, in all things, MHCC and her people will live each moment ready to meet him!
Many Bible students think Tuesday is the day Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and talked about the coming judgment and the end of time (Matthew 24). Wow, there is a lot in this chapter! “You will be hated by all nations because of me”, for example. And: “He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other”.
Read the whole chapter if you can. But today, let’s pray in light of v. 14 - And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
This verse tells us that the church has a part to play in speeding the coming of our Lord. How much are we doing to take the Gospel to the whole world? How much are we praying for it? How much comfort would we surrender in order to help it happen?
Pray about these things, and apply them to MHCC and to your own life as well.
Join us today, if you can, in FASTING as you pray.
The cleansing of the temple is associated with the Monday before Jesus died for us. The word “cleansing” might make it sound pleasant, but make no mistake: This was an act of judgment. The Lord visited and found the temple system wanting. You can see this even more clearly in the closely-related cursing of the fig tree.
We know that the sin of the temple religion was legalism - piling up rules and making it hard for people to enter heaven. This made the temple unfruitful.
That’s probably not our sin. What verdict would the Lord render on OUR church? Or on YOUR life? Would it be a lukewarm attitude, leading to unfruitfulness? Or even outright rebellion against him? Let’s pray about that, and be ready to repent!
See Matthew 21:12-22 to read about these events.
During this final week of the 40 Days of Prayer, let our prayers retrace the path to Calvary and to the empty tomb. We will continue to pray for our church too, seeking new life for MHCC. But remember this: For Jesus and perhaps for us, resurrection and new life comes after a time of death and mourning.
Today is Palm Sunday, the day our Lord rode into Jerusalem and was acclaimed by many as king. Most of those who hailed him that day misunderstood his Lordship. May we both acclaim him as our Lord AND submit fully to his rule.
Thank you, Lord, for coming into our lives and our church. We welcome you as Lord, and we pray that we will find our true freedom under your command.
PEOPLE: Once again, let’s pray for the people inside the church and the people outside. Here’s another passage that touches on both:
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6
Let this passage guide your prayer today.
PEOPLE: Today let’s focus our prayers on people who don’t know the Lord, especially our family and friends. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us one reason why sharing our faith can be so difficult: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. The god of this age means the Evil One and the way of thinking that he inspires.
Spend a few moments asking God to shine his light through this spiritual blindness and, perhaps, to use you to show someone the glory of Christ.
And consider this word, from 2 Timothy 2:24-25 - And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
This passage compels us to pray not only for the release of captive hearts, but for our own gentleness as well.
So pray for the “gift of repentance” for those who oppose us, and for the kindness of your own witness, too.