Year II: Prayer for Unity

Saturday: Morning Prayer

ABOUT TODAY

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:  This week, culminating on Unity Sunday is set apart by the church all across the world as a time to search our hearts and set our intentions on fulfilling the great desire of the Lord Jesus, “that they may be one…”  (John 17:21).  Our Invitatory Psalm for the week is the great ecumenical anthem, Psalm 133 and our intercessions reflect this special season.  But don’t just pray – get involved with ecumenical events in your area and meet the parts of our amazing global church family that you would otherwise never meet!


CALL TO WORSHIP

Reader:
Lord, Open my lips.
All: 
And my mouth will give you praise.

Reader:
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  
All:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen


INVITATORY PSALM:  

Psalm 133  (Ecce, quam bonum!)

All: 

Blessed Unity of the People of God
A Song of Ascents. Of David.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing –
Life forevermore.

All:  
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen


MORNING PSALM

Psalm 27

An Exuberant Declaration of Faith
A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

All:  
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen


WORSHIP

All:  
(A time of worship and thanksgiving, led or spontaneous.  Alternatively a devotional song may be played and listened to.)


PRAYER & INTERCESSION

Reader:
Let us pray for the day and its tasks, for the church and her life, and for the world and its needs.

(You may use these prayers as written or use them as ‘prayer pointers’ for your own spontaneous petitions.

Personal Requests

  • Almighty God, renew our minds this morning to see your presence in those we meet. May our hearts be big enough to embrace all people and our lives expansive enough that none may be excluded.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • Give us courage to share our time and resources with those around us. Make us the answer to the prayers of others and suppliers to their need.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • Give us patience with those with whom we differ and understanding that we may continue to offer love where none is returned.
    –  Father, make us one…

Family & Friends

  • Merciful Lord, your Spirit hovered over the waters and made diversity sprout and flourish. We confess our difficulty in living with difference. Forgive us those attitudes of mind, words and actions that do violence to unity or devalue diversity.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • Almighty God, breathe into us the tolerance that welcomes and makes us true community.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • Almighty God, breathe into us the wind of unity that celebrates difference and transforms our fear.
    –  Father, make us one…

The Church

  • God our Father, as we walk with the wounded body of Christ, hasten the day when we can realise the fullness of fellowship at his table and inflame in our hearts the desire to overcome all that divides us.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • As we walk towards freedom, raise the unity of the Churches to be a sign of hope in situations of discrimination and injustice.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • As we walk as friends of Jesus, enlarge and deepen our fellowship and friendship with each other and with those who are marginalised.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • As we walk beyond barriers, grant us courage to overcome cultural prejudices that hinder us from recognising the presence of God in each other.
    –  Father, make us one…

The World

  • Lord Jesus, come and inspire your people to take your gospel once again to the nations. May we be known by our message of hope and our works of love. Bring Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox to the unity of the faith and the full measure of Christ.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • Grant us peace; teach us and guide us to be builders of a tolerant and non-violent world.
    –  Father, make us one…
  • May your people once again lead the nations to your House, and may the hope of the world be found in the unity of your Church.
    –  Father, make us one…

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Reader: 
And so we pray…

All:   
Our Father in heaven,
Holy is Your Name.
Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
Forever and ever,  Amen.


GOSPEL READING

Matthew 13:1-23

The Parable of the Sower

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Reader:      

The Word of the Lord.
All:  
Thanks be to God.


Pause for Reflection…


READING FROM THE CHURCH
 FATHERS (Optional)

Lesson from the Church Fathers – ‘Awakening Faith’ Day 347


Pause for Reflection…


THE APOSTLES CREED

Reader
And so we make our declaration of faith…

All:  
We believe in God the Father, Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into the grave;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Spirit;
The Holy Worldwide Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.  Amen.


COLLECT

Reader:
(Either this or an alternative closing prayer may be said.)

Great God, you are One,
And you bring together what is scattered and mend what is broken.
Unite us with the scattered peoples of earth,
That we may become one family of your children.
Bind up our wounds and heal us in spirit,
That we may be renewed as disciples of Jesus Christ,
Our Savior and Friend.  Amen


BLESSING

Reader:
(When praying in community, this or a similar blessing may be used)

And may the one God, in whom all things find their being,
Keep you in fellowship with Him and in unity with His body,
Until He returns at the end of the age.  Amen


Psalms taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Other Scripture taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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