Living, Loving Father,
It is in You, O Lord, that we seek our refuge. When we pray, You incline Your ear to us, and we need today for You to rescue us, quickly. You are a strong fortress where we can run and find shelter. You are our rock, on whom we can lean completely.
You, our living rock, can also make us into living stones, and through us You are doing Your work of building Your kingdom here. Yet we know part of what this means, because You sent Your own Son, Jesus, as the cornerstone, and still He was rejected and cast aside. So be it for us also if it is to be the same as we follow Him along His way out of darkness into marvelous light. We will choose to go His way, for we know that although He was rejected by people, He was chosen and precious in Your sight, O God, and Your is the approval we long for most of all.
So, Father, just as Jesus did, and later his servant Stephen, into Your hands we entrust our spirits. In Your mercy, receive us, so that by Your grace we may learn to be merciful to others, even if they seek to take our lives. Our times are in Your hands, O God. So as we live, help us to live for You, and when we die, may we be able to see Your face and walk even more fully in Your light.
We know that You chose Jesus, for He revealed You to us perfectly. In his life, death, and resurrection among us, He was as You are. Father, we ask that You would make us like Him, that You would dwell in us and do Your work, and that our lives would bring You glory just as His has done.
We pray all of these things in the name of Your beloved Son, and it is as His followers that we pray today the prayer that He taught us, saying,
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours now and for ever. Amen.
The readings for this week, on which this prayer is based, are:
- Acts 7:55-60: This is the fifth of eight weeks (from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday) when our reading that would normally come from the Old Testament comes instead from the Book of Acts. This passage follows Stephen's speech, in which he summarized God's saving acts in history. When these acts reached their culmination in sending Jesus as the Messiah, those listening to Stephen picked up rocks and stoned him to death, and Stephen became the first Christian martyr.
- Psalm 31:1-5,15-16: David identifies God as his strong fortress and rock of refuge, and pleas for deliverance from his enemies.
- 1 Peter 2:2-10: This is the fourth of six consecutive readings from 1 Peter, which heavily emphasizes the life we are to live in light of Jesus' resurrection. In this passage, Peter uses a play on words on his own name, which means stone or rock, and says that as Christ was God's chosen cornerstone, so too are his followers to be made into living stones to be useful in God's work.
- John 14:1-14: This is the second of four gospel readings from John during the Easter season. (Most of this year's gospel readings come from Matthew) It is also the first of three that come from John's account of Jesus' last night with his disciples, after washing their feet and prior to his arrest. In part of this passage, Jesus assures them that they do not need to be afraid, although he is about to leave them, because they know the way to the place where he will be going. Confused by this, one of them asked, "We don't know where you're going, so how can we know the way?" to which Jesus gave his famous reply, "I am the way, the truth and the life..."
(Ecumenical version of The Lord's Prayer from The United Methodist Hymnal)