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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Our Lord's Prayer

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Matthew 6:7–15 

Much is written about prayer but only one thing is needed. Much is said about prayer but only one thing is needed. The one thing that is needed is to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from him, for he is the Teacher and he is the Master of prayer. Today, we do just this: we sit at the feet of our Lord, our Master and our Teacher and learn from him, for he is gentle and humble of heart and we will find rest for our souls.

Jesus’s teaching on prayer is revealed supremely and definitively in the Our Father, because in this prayer we learn all we need to know. Could it be that simple? In a word, yes. St Augustine said: “If you run through the petitions of all holy prayers, I believe you will find nothing that is not summed up and contained in the Lord's Prayer.” St Thomas Aquinas taught, “The Lord's Prayer is the best of all prayers. All prayer requires five excellent qualities which are found here. A prayer should be confident, ordered, suitable, devout and humble.” The Our Father, then, is the fundamental Christian prayer. It reveals that our prayer is directed to God who is Father of us all, connecting us all as brothers and sisters who pray to the one God and Father. Jesus is the One who has revealed his Father, and we are blessed and privileged to be invited by the Son to call God “Father”.

The danger with the Our Father, if we can speak in such terms, is that we have become too familiar with it. We almost need to step back and ask the Lord for a renewed and fresh appreciation of it. If we will learn to recite the Our Father more slowly than we normally would, deliberately pondering and reflecting on each phrase, we will allow the Holy Spirit to teach us and reveal its deeper meaning.

The Lord's Prayer is the most perfect of prayers..In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them. (St Thomas Aquinas)

Chris

from Bible Alive

2 Corinthians 11:1–11 • Psalm 110(111):1–4, 7–8 • Matthew 6:7-15

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

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Jesus the High Priest prays to the Father

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John 17:11–19
 
There have been many ordained priests, but actually there is only one Priest: Jesus the Great High Priest.  An ordained priest shares in the priestly ministry of Jesus, but there is only one mediatory between God and man – Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Saviour (1 Timothy 2:5).
 
John 17 is the high-priestly prayer of our High Priest.  If you want to know how our Priest prays, study and pray and reflect on this profound chapter from St John’s Gospel.    Jesus prays first for himself, then for his disciples and finally for all believers.  
 
The focus of today’s Gospel is on Jesus’s prayer for all believers.  We can identify its key themes as unity, God’s protection, joy, holiness and evangelisation.  Jesus prays that believers will be united in faith, that we will know God’s protection from the wiles of the Evil One, that we will experience the full measure of God’s joy, which is our birthright, that we will be empowered to live sanctified lives, and that each of us will fulfil the commission that he gave us to win the world for him.
 
Jesus’s high-priestly prayer wasn’t a one-off: it is for all time.  If you every want to know God’s plan for your life, this is the Scripture for you!  In essence, Jesus is asking the Father to pour out his grace upon us so that we can live a life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
What does this means?  It means that we are in the world but we are not to live as the world lives.  Where there is disunity we are called to bring unity; where there is no joy, we are called to instil joy; where there is sinfulness, we are called to witness to grace and holiness.
 
We can often think that the Christian life is about doing, it is more about being – being and resting in what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.  Of course, deeds rather than words are the fruit  of this being and resting but firstly we are recipients of the grace of God mediated through our Great High Priest, Jesus of Nazareth, the Risen and Glorified Lord.
 
Lord, may we be one, united in faith and love; may we have joy, flowing deep from within our hearts; may we strive for holiness, sanctified by your word; and may we minister to others the riches and treasure of the Father’s everlasting love.
 

Chris

from Bible Alive

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Prayer for the New Year

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From the Downside Prayer Book 2009

The New Year

An old custom used to be to give thanks for the old year and pray for blessing on the new. At an early date, the Roman Church kept the day as a feast of Mary and dedicated the new year to the intercession of the Mother of God. It is also observed now as the World Day of Prayer for Peace.

O God of infinite mercy and generosity, we give you thanks for all the good things you have given us over the past year, and ask you in your kindness that, as you have answered the prayers of those who turn to you in faith, so you will never leave us but prepare us for the rewards of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord of creation, in whose power are all times and seasons, bless this year and crown it with your goodness. Keep your Church in peace, grant us every blessing and lead us to our eternal home, where you reign for ever and ever.

Almighty God, in whose hands lies the destiny of mankind and of the world, let not our hopes perish, nor our sacrifices be in vain. Holy Spirit and giver of life, give us grace to root out from our life the bitterness of ancient wrongs and the desire to be avenged for the betrayals of long ago. Save us from the tyranny of history and set us free to serve each other attentively and live the present as a gift of new life.

In the power of our redemption by you we believe that all our sins of yesterday are forgiven by your love; grant us the grace and courage now to give and receive the forgiveness which alone can heal the wounds which remain. Draw us towards your loving kindness and guide us in the way of peace.

Anonymous

 
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The Holy Spirit for St Stephen, and for us

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Acts 6:8-15
 
Events began to unfold around Stephen which mirrored the Lord’s Passion and death; false accusations, charges of blasphemy and being hauled before the Sanhedrin.  Like Christ in life, like Christ in death, Stephen becomes the first martyr.  And his witness of martyrdom speaks to every generation of believers, until the end of time.
 
Luke highlights how Stephen was a man full of grace, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit.  He was God-centred, not self-centred.  Where did this grace and power come from?
 
Some of the answer can be found in the opening verses of Chapter 6: Stephen was selected by members of his community because of his apparent virtues and was presented, along with six others for the blessing of the apostles.
 
Luke informs us that the apostles “prayed and laid their hands upon them” (v. 6).  This was the customary manner in the early Church by which people were invested with the Holy Spirit to carry out special assignments and work.  This must have been the source of Stephen’s Spirit-filled life.
 
We too can be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Without the Spirit we labour in vain as we seek to serve the Lord by the power of our own strength and abilities.  Don’t be afraid to seek out the blessing of being prayed over to receive a fresh outpouring of the Spirit.
 
Bishops, priests and deacons can make this prayer, but so can fellow believers – when two or three gather in Jesus’s name.
 
We are called to be Spirit-filled Christians, men and women who live not for ourselves but for others, not by our own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Lord, fill me with your Spirit; fill me with your joy, hope and love that I many be an authentic witness of the Gospel.
 
Chris
 
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Guard against self-interest

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Jesus – “Salvation is found in no one else . . .
Acts  4: 1–12
 
For the Sadducees life after death was a revolutionary and subversive idea that threatened their position.  Their difficulty was that, “People who believe that their God is about to make a new world, and that those who die in loyalty to him in the meantime will rise again and share gloriously in it, are far more likely to lose respect for a wealthy aristocracy than people who think that this life, this world and this age are the only ones there will ever be . . .” (Tom Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God).
 
The Sadducees held much power; their interest was not in the word of God, but in the maintenance of the status quo, because this was of most benefit to them.  The Sadducees wanted to preserve their own interests.
 
To guard against the same temptation, we can harness the power of prayer.  Perfect prayer is all love.  The key to protecting ourselves from becoming like the Sadducees is to avoid self-interest in the first place, to focus our attention on love.
 
Oh my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love.  I seek to love my neighbour as myself for the love of you.  I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon for all whom I have injured.  Amen.
 
Chris
 
 
 
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Our Father

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Matthew 6:7–15
 
Our Father by Jesus on sunrise
 
We address God as ‘Father’ – as ‘Abba’ in Aramaic.  This was unthinkable, even abhorrent, for a faithful Jew in Jesus’s day.
 
Only Jesus could cross the threshold of divne holiness, for by his cross and resurrection he made purification for our sins and brought us into the Father’s presence.
 
How comforting and consoling are these words from the writer of the Hebrews, in which Christ says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me” (2:13).
 
The Holy Spirit works to stretch and expand our hearts and minds so that they can grasp the amazing truth that we are children of the Father, sons and daughters of the Living God.
 
We who call God ‘Our Father’ because he is Our Father in heaven.  We don’t approach him lightly or nonchalantly or irreverently but in profound wonder that we are privileged to know God, the Creator, as a father who loves and cares for us.
 
”Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father himself and the Spirit of his Son had not impelled us to this cry, “Abba Father!"
 
‘When would a mortal dare call God “Father” if our innermost being were not animated by power from on high?’ (St Peter Chrysologus)
 
Chris
 
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Lent

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Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18
 
In order that we may better love the Lord our God, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we practise self-denial and acts of penance, and strive to reform our lives under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
 
In the Bible the heart is understood as the apex or very essence of our being, and it is the heart that needs renewing.
 
As St Benedict Joseph Labre once said, “To love god you need three hearts: a heart of fire for him, a warm heart towards our neighbour and a heart of bronze towards ourselves."
 
It is always springtime in the heart that loves God. (St John Vianney).
 
Chris
 
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The importance of listening – Martha or Mary?

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Luke 10:38-42
 
Mary did what Martha didn’t — she made time.
 
We know in our own hearts that the decision to find time to pray is often harder than the decision to attend to work, write another email, make a telephone call etc . . .
 
Today we put out into the deep in expectation of encountering the Lord in a new way in prayer.  Today we rejoice in the pearl of great price, the ‘one thing’ that is needed, which is to be still and know that God is God.
 
“Prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting ones’s eyes, quite simply to heaven, a cry of grateful love from the crest of joy or the trough of despair; it is a vast, supernatural force that opens out my heart and binds me close to Jesus.” Ste Thérèse of Lisieux.
 
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Three Ways to Rest

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There is an entry on the You Version blog:
 
 
That describes ways to rest, ways to stop doing stuff because doing stuff makes you feel as if you’re getting somewhere.
 
You might achieve something with the doing, but not as much or as happily if you’ve taken time to be close to Jesus first.
 
And I like the idea of giving your worries to Our Lord, taking time to do so, making it a quiet time and perhaps meditating with Jesus in your heart as you do so.
 
I shall try it.
 
Chris
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