Prayers & Readings for Reflection — Kingdomtide 21


Prayer #1 — Collect for the 21st Sunday in Kingdomtide (BCP 235):

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer #2 — Prayer for the Nation (BCP 258):

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen .

Prayer #3 — All Saint’s Day – November 1 (BCP 245):

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Prayer #4 — “Soldiers of Christ, Arise” (Charles Wesley):

1. Soldiers of Christ arise,
and put your armor on,
strong in the strength
which God supplies
thru his eternal Son;
strong in the Lord of Hosts,
and in his mighty power,
who in the strength of Jesus trusts
is more than conqueror.

2. Stand then in his great might,
with all his strength endued,
but take to arm you for the fight
the panoply of God;
that having all things done,
and all your conflicts passed,
ye may o’ercome thru Christ alone
and stand entire at last.

3. Pray without ceasing, pray,
(your Captain gives the word)
his summons cheerfully obey
and call upon the Lord;
to God your every want
in instant prayer display,
pray always, pray and never faint,
pray, without ceasing pray.

4. From strength to strength go on,
wrestle and fight and pray,
tread all the powers of darkness down
and win the well-fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry
in all his soldiers, “Come!”
till Christ the Lord, descends from high
and takes the conquerors home.

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DAILY READINGS FOR REFLECTION — from John Wesley, “The Means of Grace” (Sermon 16).

DAY 1:

(III.1) According to this, according to the decision of holy writ all who desire the grace of God are to wait for it in the means which he hath ordained; in using, not in laying them aside.

And, First, all who desire the grace of God are to wait for it in the way of prayer. This is the express direction of our Lord himself. In his Sermon upon the Mount, after explaining at large wherein religion consists, and describing the main branches of it, he adds, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matt. 7:7, 8.) Here we are in the plainest manner directed to ask, in order to, or as a means of, receiving; to seek, in order to find, the grace of God, the pearl of great price; and to knock, to continue asking and seeking, if we would enter into his kingdom.

(III.2) That no doubt might remain, our Lord labours this point in a more peculiar manner. He appeals to every man’s own heart: “What man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone Or, if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven,” the Father of angels and men, the Father of the spirits of all flesh, “give good things to them that ask him” (Matt. 7:9-11.) Or, as he expresses himself on another occasion, including all good things in one, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him” (Luke 11:13.) It should be particularly observed here, that the persons directed to ask had not then received the Holy Spirit: Nevertheless our Lord directs them to use this means, and promises that it should be effectual; that upon asking they should receive the Holy Spirit, from him whose mercy is over all his works.

DAY 2:

(III.3) The absolute necessity of using this means, if we would receive any gift from God, yet farther appears from that remarkable passage which immediately precedes these words: “And he said unto them,” whom he had just been teaching how to pray, “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and shall say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves: And he from within shall answer, Trouble me not; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity, he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you.” (Luke 11:5, 7-9.) “Though he will not give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” How could our blessed Lord more plainly declare, that we may receive of God, by this means, by importunately asking, what otherwise we should not receive at all

DAY 3:

(III.4) “He spake also another parable, to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint,” till through this means they should receive of God whatsoever petition they asked of him: “There was in a city a judge which feared not God, neither regarded man. And there was a widow in that city, and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary. And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest, by her continual coming, she weary me.” (Luke 18:1-5.) The application of this our Lord himself hath made: “Hear what the unjust judge saith!” Because she continues to ask, because she will take no denial, therefore I will avenge her. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him I tell you he will avenge them speedily,” if they pray and faint not.

(III.5) A direction, equally full and express, to wait for the blessings of God in private prayer, together with a positive promise, that, by this means, we shall obtain the request of our lips, he hath given us in those well-known words: “Enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matt. 6:6.)

DAY 4:

(III.6) If it be possible for any direction to be more clear, it is that which God hath given us by the Apostle, with regard to prayer of every kind, public or private, and the blessing annexed thereto: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,” (if they ask; otherwise “ye have not, because ye ask not,” (James 4:2,) “and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5).

If it be objected, “But this is no direction to unbelievers; to them who know not the pardoning grace of God: For the Apostle adds, `But let him ask in faith;’ otherwise, `let him not think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord:'” I answer, The meaning of the word faith, in this place, is fixed by the Apostle himself, as if it were on purpose to obviate this objection, in the following: “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering,” nothing doubting, mhden diakrinomenos. Not doubting but God heareth his prayer, and will fulfil the desire of his heart.

The gross, blasphemous absurdity of supposing faith, in this place, to be taken in the full Christian meaning, appears hence: It is supposing the Holy Ghost to direct a man who knows he has not faith, (which is here termed wisdom,) to ask it of God, with a positive promise that “it shall be given him;” and then immediately to subjoin, that it shall not be given him, unless he have it before he asks for it! But who can bear such a supposition From this scripture, therefore, as well as those cited above, we must infer, that all who desire the grace of God are to wait for it in the way of prayer.

DAY 5:

(III.7) Secondly. All who desire the grace of God are to wait for it in searching the Scriptures.

Our Lord’s direction, with regard to the use of this means, is likewise plain and clear. “Search the Scriptures,” saith he to the unbelieving Jews, “for they testify of me.” (John 5:39.) And for this very end did he direct them to search the Scriptures, that they might believe in him.

The objection, that “this is not a command, but only an assertion, that they did search the Scriptures,” is shamelessly false. I desire those who urge it, to let us know how a command can be more clearly expressed, than in those terms, Ereunate tas grajas. It is as peremptory as so many words can make it.

And what a blessing from God attends the use of this means, appears from what is recorded concerning the Bereans; who, after hearing St. Paul, “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed;” — found the grace of God, in the way which he had ordained. (Acts 17:11, 12.)

It is probable, indeed, that in some of those who had “received the word with all readiness of mind,” “faith came,” as the same Apostle speaks, “by hearing,” and was only confirmed by reading the Scriptures: But it was observed above, that under the general term of searching the Scriptures, both hearing, reading, and meditating are contained.

(III.8) And that this is a means whereby God not only gives, but also confirms and increases, true wisdom, we learn from the words of St. Paul to Timothy: “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15.) The same truth (namely, that this is the great means God has ordained for conveying his manifold grace to man) is delivered, in the fullest manner that can be conceived, in the words which immediately follow: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;” consequently, all Scripture is infallibly true; “and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;” to the end “that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17.)

DAY 6:

(III.9) It should be observed, that this is spoken primarily and directly of the Scriptures which Timothy had known from a child; which must have been those of the Old Testament, for the New was not then wrote. How far then was St. Paul (though he was “not a whit behind the very chief of the Apostles,” nor, therefore, I presume, behind any man now upon earth) from making light of the Old Testament! Behold this, lest ye one day “wonder and perish,” ye who make so small account of one half of the oracles of God! Yea, and that half of which the Holy Ghost expressly declares, that it is “profitable,” as a means ordained of God, for this very thing, “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;” to the end, “the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

(III.10) Nor is this profitable only for the men of God, for those who walk already in the light of his countenance; but also for those who are yet in darkness, seeking him whom they know not. Thus St. Peter, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy:” Literally, “And we have the prophetic word more sure;” kai ecomen bebaioteron ton projhtikon logon, confirmed by our being “eye-witnesses of his Majesty,” and “hearing the voice which came from the excellent glory;” unto which — prophetic word; so he styles the Holy Scriptures — “ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the Day-star arise in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19.) Let all, therefore, who desire that day to dawn upon their hearts, wait for it in searching the Scriptures.

DAY 7:

(III.11) Thirdly. All who desire an increase of the grace of God are to wait for it in partaking of the Lord’s Supper: For this also is a direction himself hath given. “The same night in which he was betrayed, he took bread, and brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body;” that is, the sacred sign of my body: “This do in remembrance of me.” Likewise, “he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new testament,” or covenant, “in my blood;” the sacred sign of that covenant; “this do ye in remembrance of me.” “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord’s death till he come:” (1 Cor. 11:23, &c.:) Ye openly exhibit the same by, these visible signs, before God, and angels, and men; ye manifest your solemn remembrance of his death, till he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

Only “let a man” first “examine himself,” whether he understand the nature and design of this holy institution, and whether he really desire to be himself made conformable to the death of Christ; and so, nothing doubting, “let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” (1 Cor. 11:28.)

Here, then, the direction first given by our Lord is expressly repeated by the Apostle: “Let him eat; let him drink;” esqietv, pinetv, both in the imperative mood;) words not implying a bare permission only, but a clear, explicit command; a command to all those either who already are filled with peace and joy in believing, or who can truly say, “The remembrance of our sins is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable.”

(III.12) And that this is also an ordinary, stated means of receiving the grace of God, is evident from those words of the Apostle, which occur in the preceding chapter: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion,” or communication, “of the blood of Christ The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16.) Is not the eating of that bread, and the drinking of that cup, the outward, visible means, whereby God conveys into our souls all that spiritual grace, that righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, which were purchased by the body of Christ once broken and the blood of Christ once shed for us Let all, therefore, who truly desire the grace of God, eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. ( from John Wesley, “The Means of Grace” [Sermon 16], III.1-12).

**- Edited by Darin Million with corrections by Ryan Danker and George Lyons for the Wesley Center for Applied Theology.

Copyright 1999 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology. Text may be freely used for personal or scholarly purposes or mirrored on other web sites, provided this notice is left intact. Any use of this material for commercial purposes of any kind is strictly forbidden without the express permission of the Wesley Center at Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, ID 83686. Contact the Webmaster for permission.


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