A Prayer for the Church (Galatians 5:16-26)
Our Father in heaven, we rejoice to remember that hidden in the holiness of your Son, you count us holy in your sight. Not only as we pray, but as we live each day, you see us as saints, set apart by our Savior, for our Savior.
And yet we live in the hope that what we see by faith, we will one day see by sight. Surely you will understand us, Father, if we ask today for a foretaste of what we will enjoy tomorrow. Surely you will overlook our impatience if we ask that you would continue to work out in our lives the righteousness and resurrection power that is already ours in Christ.
Father, we know that what we will be, is also what we should be. And yet in our conversations we find ourselves biting and devouring one another - we worry that in the carelessness of our words we'll consume each other. We dream of walking by the Spirit. We wake, and once again gratify the desires of the flesh.
And so we ask that you would be our guide. Lead us away from swamps of sexual immorality, sensuality and impurity. Painful as it might be, expose our inclinations to idolatry and our secret openness to empty superstitions. Fortify us against open and scandalous sins, against drunkenness, even orgies, and things like them. Protect us in our friendships and keep our families from the evils of enmity, strife and fits of anger. We covet your assistance as we struggle with envious spirits, hidden jealousy, and unhealthy rivalries. Restrain the evil one, we ask; restrain ourselves: check our rising doubts, our rebel sighs, our bitter thoughts.
What we pray for ourselves and for our loved ones, we pray for your church. Shield your bride, and shelter her from the onslaught of her enemies. Keep her from the ugliness of dissensions and the deformities that come from divisions. Make her as holy as people poised to inherit the kingdom of God can be.
Father, we ask all of this. Dare we ask for even more? Will you let us see a season in our lives when the fruit of the Spirit will be evident to all? Will you make your church a place where love informs action, where joy runs deep, where peaceful hearts produce patient people? Will you give us the pleasure of seeing kindness amongst Christian children? Will you let us see a day where a quest for true goodness typifies our young men and women, where faithfulness is the hallmark of our marriages, where gentleness and self-control are the prominent features of our parents, of our pastors?
If we belong to Christ Jesus, please crucify our flesh, with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, please keep us in step with your Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Let us become contented, promoting one another, elevating one another.
We come to you with these requests, because there is no one else who can work the wonders that we long to witness. We come to you, because you have redeemed us so that we might bear the fruit of your Spirit. To deny these requests would be to deny your own holy purpose, even your own self! So hear us and answer us for your own name's sake, as we confess you our one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.
*This is the seventh post in Chad VanDixhoorn's series on "Praying Through the Scriptures."