— NICK HARSH —
Sunday morning. For some families, these two simple words call to mind a morning filled with chaos. For others, however, Sunday mornings are slow and provide an opportunity to sleep in. Sometimes when you arrive at church, it’s clear that others have had a crazy morning. Perhaps you observe a periodic yawn, missed belt-loop, or uncombed cowlick en route to the sanctuary — the alarm clock is a strong foe, and not all are victorious. Others seem to have it together — we wish they would teach us their ways. Regardless of your pre-church routine, here are three prayers to pray on Sunday morning.
LORD, GIVE ME A CHANCE TO SERVE
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
Those who have been made alive in Christ — given eyes to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus — are no longer slaves to sin. Earlier in Galatians Paul writes that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’” We are no longer under the law. We’ve been set free. One of the implications of our freedom is service. In light of our redemption, we should look for ways to serve others. As those who have been set free from servitude to sin we should live with eyes open to serve those for whom Christ died. Often as we gather on Sunday, the responsibilities of the coming week weigh heavy on our minds. But let us not forget that through Jesus we have been set free from servanthood to sin so that we may willingly serve believers. The point is not that we would feel guilty or serve begrudgingly. Instead, when we grasp the gospel, the natural response is to serve.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is more significant than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)
You and I are never more like Jesus than when we use our freedom to serve others graciously. There is no better example of sacrificial service than Jesus. Each week we have to privilege of following his example by serving one another.
LORD, GIVE ME A CHANCE TO ENCOURAGE
The New Testament is replete with “one-another” commands — things we are to do towards one another. One of those exhortations is to encourage one another.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
Each week people come to church with the burdens of the past week fresh in their minds — we do too. Not only that but many carry with them the shame of their own sinfulness equally fresh in their minds — we do too. We can all think of moments where we fell short, moments where our lives were not consistent with the salvation we claim. As a believer, we have the opportunity to encourage one another in our walk with Jesus. At times this means cheering people on as they faithfully pursue Christ. Other times this means confronting sin and encouraging repentance. In both cases, we are called to encourage one another.
LORD, MAKE ME HOSPITABLE TOWARDS GUESTS
This is a tough one. It is easy to gather as a church, check our kids into their classes, grab our coffee, and attend the service without ever considering the people around you. Have you ever considered, though, how unusual your Sunday activities are to the person who never grew up in the church? In what other context does a group of people, with little in common, stand facing the front of a room to sing songs about death, and blood, and grace. Then we spend the better part of an hour listening to someone talk. Where else does that happen — TED Talks? Yet how sad would it be if our liturgy and activities were the only things that caused our churches to stand out? How sad would it be if the guests at our churches saw no differences between your joy and their boss’s, between your friendliness and their casher’s? Yes, it can be a bit uncomfortable introducing yourself to someone you’ve never met, but this Sunday let’s embrace the awkward and pray, “Lord, help me see guests and treat them with love and hospitality.”