Prayer for the Week – Third Sunday in Lent

Monday, March 16, 2009

Third Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

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4 thoughts on “Prayer for the Week – Third Sunday in Lent

  1. This portion of this prayer has always intrigued me: “we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves”.

    Chicken before the egg? Egg before the chicken? I understand man is unable to improve himself in the eyes of God…to become what God intended. And yet, we do have the power to do the one thing that does bring us into full relationship with God, to at least begin the journey…we do have the power to humble ourselves (un-empower ourself?)and by doing so, allow God to do the thing that ‘helps ourself’. I fully accept that it is God who does the work in us, and not ourselves…but until we do that one thing…humble ourself, confess, seek redemption…God doesn’t act on our behalf. The limited control we have is to make that decision. It may not be much power, but it does demonstrate the capacity God gave us to make a decision. That may be the limit of our power…

    I certainly don’t mean to minimize God’s redemptive grace. It only comes when we repent. Repentance may be our anti-power.

  2. Dave, my friend, you are poking at what I think is the greatest mystery of our faith. There is certain knowledge that remains beyond us–hidden behind the curtain of our mortal limitations. On this topic, some have insisted that repentance and faith are our decision; others have strongly insisted that they are actions of the Holy Spirit working in us and we are passive in the process. I could probably trot out Bible verses supporting either side (“we must humble ourselves” or “we have no power in ourselves”). But on the whole, we are not privy to the information of how God saves us. Whatever is happening behind the curtain, it is still our responsibility to repent and come to a point where we can verbalize faith in Jesus Christ (if we are mentally able). We can neither lean on our own strength to repent, nor can we passively assume that the Holy Spirit will save us regardless of what happens in our lives. All we can do is fiercely repent and cling to Jesus, and it doesn’t matter who’s doing what!

  3. It is what Wesley (my Methodist roots) called “previent grace”…that grace of God before we even knew we were searching God…I think that previent grace continues throughout our lives. Song lyrics go through my mind: “Christ! It was funny how he mentioned the only name that could save him now…” Harry Chapin, 30,000 Pounds of Bananas

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