Year III: Prayer for Unity

Thursday: Morning Prayer

ABOUT TODAY

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: This week 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 34

The Happiness of Those Who Trust in God

A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.

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, in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we celebrate the fact that you have incorporated us as part of your Bride. May your people the world over celebrate “one body, one Spirit, one hope… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.”
    – Father, make us one…
  • Open our hearts to our brothers and sisters all over this world. Break down the walls of prejudice that separate us from each other.
    – Father, make us one…
  • Forgive us when out of fear, foolishness or lack of love we have allowed a hard word or an unkind thought to arise in our hearts against any one of your people.
    – Father, make us one…

Family & Friends

  • Father of all, may our families be restored, faith be remembered and failures be forgotten. Reconcile us with our neighbour and release us from our pride.
    – Father, make us one…
  • May we be bold peacemakers and courageous defenders of the weak.
    – Father, make us one…
  • Give us ears to hear and hearts to understand. Make us instruments of peace in our fractured world.
    – Father, make us one…

The Church

  • Lord Jesus, we pray for your church and her leaders. Let us not divide what you have united. Forgive us our historic intolerance, ungodly opinions and selfish motives. May your church be one, even as you are one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
    – Father, make us one…
  • We repent of the historic sectarianism, legalism, racism and political scheming that causes your name to be dishonoured. May we bring you joy as we pray…
    – Father, make us one…
  • Bless all who work within your body to bring unity. Empower Churches Together in their work and inspire church leaders to connect.
    – Father, make us one…

The World

  • Heavenly Father, we pray for the global mission of your church as it engages in your name with rulers, governments and councils. Let her speak with one voice and show with one accord the message and ministry of Jesus.
    – Father, make us one…
  • For Christians on all sides of the political spectrum. Unite them in defending the faith and pleading your cause in places of power.
    – Father, make us one…
  • For Christian Unions, Business Fellowships and those involved in workplace ministry. May they bring your people together to declare your wondrous works!
    – 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 15:1-20

Traditions and Commandments

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honour your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honour his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honours me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

What Defiles a Person

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

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


Pause for Reflection…

READING: THE WAY OF CHRIST (Optional)

Principle of discipleship drawn from the book, “The Way of Christ”

Reader:
The Way of Joy: The Principle of Cultivating the Garden of the Heart.

Conscious that my own unhealed pain creates suffering for others, I take refuge in God to heal my sorrow in order that His joy would be my strength and His smile be always upon my lips. As a follower of the Way of Joy, I take responsibility for the garden of my heart, prayerfully transforming seeds of sadness, suffering and affliction, and diligently nurturing the seeds of wonder, joyfulness and hope.

All:
This is The Way of Joy: The Principle of Cultivating the Garden of the Heart.


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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