A Prayer from the People of the Cross

Would you pray with me…

Lord, it feels like it’s been an intense week and You know the details better than we do.

Father, we seek You because we don’t know what else to do with the events of this past week. In a week where we have heard of 21 men executed for believing in you and of the death of a little one, wandering in the cold and darkness of an early morning, we turn to you. We turn to you, because You are God Almighty. You are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. You are the Creator; you breathed the stars and the planets into existence and by your word alone everything was created. You are eternal, you are sovereign and you are good.

God, You are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… You are the Lord Almighty and you are with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

No matter what we have faced this week, you know it all and you were present through it all.

We seek You and your Truth because we know that Your Word is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword. Thank you for the power of Your Word, the sword of the spirit, and how it can change things. Thank you that we can be strong in You, Lord, and in Your mighty power as we daily put on the full armour of God. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Thank you, Lord, that those men, when the day of evil came, stood their ground, stood firm even though it meant death.

John 1 says that “Through Jesus, the Word, all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Sometimes it doesn’t look this way to us, God. We see the great darkness, and we fear it. We think it is bigger than us, bigger than You even. But in Colossians 2, Your word reassures us that through the mystery of the cross, the powers and authorities in the spiritual realm were disarmed, thrown down, and defeated. Defeated by your act of courageous love. And although the darkness might look large, it is only part of a bigger reality that we cannot fully see. Thank you that through the cross the enemy has already been defeated. Thank you that we are waging battles against a defeated foe who has already lost the war. Thank you Jesus, that you are the “head over every power and authority and that in everything you have the supremacy”. We thank you for the words of 2 Thessalonians, that tell us that ‘the lawless one will be overthrown by the breath of your mouth and destroyed by the splendor of your coming’. The end of the story has been written – you have already won.

We have been challenged and threatened as a people of the Cross. We admire those brave men who called out to you as they faced death. But what of us? Would we be brave enough to admit our faith in our work places, or in our social circles where others don’t know you? We fail you daily. We deny you daily. We use language that we should not. We listen to or condone gossip by standing by. We judge others in our hearts and our minds. We live in unforgiveness, rather than in grace and truth. We believe the lies of the enemy over the Truth in your Word because we have not hidden your Word in our hearts. We do not seek your righteousness first, but our own comfort.

Lord, you tell us to forgive those who hurt us and bless those who persecute. These are hard words. Sometimes it seems too difficult to bless those who commit such horrendous and evil acts as we have seen of late. In the words of Ann Voskamp,

there’s a supernatural evil that slithers into the corners of this world and pythons around hearts and minds until it strangles out the light ….

At some point — our Love runs out, and we need a Love larger than our own to Love Larger than evil. The only Love that can come take down the kind of evil that’s invaded our world, has to come from beyond the walls of the world. The only Love that can crush undeniable evil is the undeniable love of the Cross.

Those 21 men didn’t die for Kumbayah love — they died for the love they found on a Cross.

If evil — not people acting, but real active evil — is out to behead us, then Kumbayah love will never be enoughonly Cross Love that willingly offers itself for us as a Living Ransom will rescue us.

Because don’t ever be fooled: Cross Love that lays itself down is the only power that can lay the sharp edge of an axe right into evil’s head.

Cross Love that looks upside down, weak, surrendered and sacrificed is the only strong power that ultimately upends the evil and conquers the dark.

 Lord, help us to willingly lay down our lives for you, as you have already done for us, so that we can truly be inhabited by Love itself.

It is only through You that we can love as you would have us love,

forgive as you would have us forgive, and bless as you would have us bless.

 We ask for your comfort to surround those who mourn. We lift up the families and the children of the men who were killed in Libya. We thank you that because of their courage, their steadfastness and their faith, that others have heard your name. We echo Joseph’s words from Genesis when he said, that what the enemy intended for evil, you used for good.

We lift up Elijah March’s family. We pray for your presence to rest upon them, that they might feel your comfort in their pain and grief.

We pray for Mission Aviation Fellowship and their worldwide ministry. Lord, guide them as they make decisions about how to wisely use their resources. We thank you for the way that you protect the pilots as they make their flights into dark places. We thank you for the light that they bring to people and the communities they visit.

We also lift up SLM who leaves on a mission trip with her school in the coming week. We praise you for providing funding and we thank you that you God, will meet these young people in Peru and open their eyes to more of who You are.

We lift before you Marta, a woman who works closely with PAN. We thank you for her continued trust in you despite difficult circumstances. Father, we have faith in your plan for her and we thank you that you will reveal that to her as she continues trusting in you.

We pray that God may count us worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of ours and every act prompted by our faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us, and us in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.