Today (Sunday, January 23) marks the sixth day in the eight day Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. During this week, daily scripture references, meditations and prayer are offered for readers’ reflection. ( Material provided courtesy of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute).
Day 6, Devoted themselves… to the prayers.
Jonah 2:1-9, Deliverance belongs to the Lord!
Psalm 67:1-7, Let the peoples praise you, O God!
1 Timothy 2:1-8, Prayers should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions.
Matthew 6:5-15, Your kingdom come, your will be done.
It is prayer that empowers Christians for our mission together. For Jonah the intensity of his prayer is met with dramatic deliverance from the belly of the fish. His prayer is heartfelt, as it arises from his own sense of repentance at having tried to avoid God’s will. He had abandoned the Lord’s call to prophesy, and ended up in a hopeless place. And here God meets his prayer with deliverance for his mission. The Psalm calls us to pray that God’s face will shine upon us — not only for our own benefit, but for the spread of His rule “among all the nations.”
Prayer is a part of the strength and power of mission and prophecy for the world. Paul instructs us to pray especially for those with power in the world so that we may live together in peace and dignity. Our own prayer for unity in Christ reaches out to the whole world.
In Matthew’s Gospel we hear of prayer as a “secret” power, born not from display or performance, but from a humble coming before the Lord. Jesus’ teaching is summed up in the Lord’s Prayer. Praying this together forms us as a united people who seek the Father’s will, and the building up of His Kingdom here on earth, and calls us to a life of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Lord God our Father, we rejoice that in all times, places and cultures, there are people who reach out to you in prayer. Teach us to pray better as Christians together, so that we may always be aware of your guidance and encouragement through all our joys and distress, through the power your Holy Spirit. Amen.