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Hi this is Rod MacIlvaine.
This week is Holy Week. It’s the week that Christians celebrate Jesus’ final days on earth. Traditionally, holy week spans from Palm Sunday to the day he rose from the dead.
The gospels suggest this was a week of both high drama and heightened anxiety among the followers. Jesus’ disciples were anxious about the future, anxious about where Jesus was going and about what life might be like after he was gone.
So, Jesus addresses their anxiety. On the night before he was crucified he said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.”
Jesus is quelling their anxiety. He’s allaying their fears. And that’s a great focus for our prayers during this passion week.
This holy week is unique in history. Our whole world has been disrupted by a global crisis. Our schedules have been disrupted. We’ve heard that the next two weeks are going to be especially challenging.
So, during this holy week, let’s remember the words of Jesus, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”
One of my favorite prayers for calming anxiety is The Serenity Prayer.
It was originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr, but it’s become well known in the past 90 years, because it’s used extensively in 12 – step programs around the world. I love this prayer for both its simplicity and depth.
I will pray through the prayer twice, once so that you become familiar with it, and a second time to apply it our current situation.
Here’s the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Now, let’s pray it again, but expand on the seven themes
Here’s 1st theme about serenity.
Father, we thank you for the possibility of serenity in our lives. In this crisis, we need that state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
- Jesus, we thank you that you are the prince of peace who provides serenity.
- Grant us that peace even in this storm.
- We claim the promise of Phil. 4:5-6 right now. We pray that the “peace that passes understanding” would guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Here’s the second 2nd theme about accepting things we cannot change,
the courage to change things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
- Father, we confess we sometimes don’t know the difference between things that are under our control and those that are beyond our control. We confess this often brings us to anxiety.
- So, Father, in this crisis, please show us what we can and cannot control. And Father, let us act courageously trusting in your provision.
The 3rd theme is about living one day at a time and enjoying one moment at a time.
- Father, even in this crisis, we see things around us that are beautiful and good. Help us see and savor those things.
- Father, right now I commit to enjoy each moment of this day as a gift from you.
The 4th theme is about accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
- Father, we believe that hardship can a pathway to peace spurring us on to fortitude, resilience and courage.
- Father, through this trial we pray that you would produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives today, especially those all-important qualities of: love, joy and peace.
- We joyfully embrace the promise of James 1:2-4 when he says, Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let endurance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The 5th theme is about taking, as Jesus did, this imperfect world as it is, not as I would have it.
- Father, I thank you that Jesus encountered hardship and pain. He was poor (Luke 9:58), sometimes he mourned (Isa. 53:3), he suffered (John 19:28), he was misunderstood and mistreated (John 7:1-5).
- We thank you that even in his pain, he encountered the presence and power of the Father (Matt. 3:16-17).
- Father, as we I encounter the disappointments of this fallen world, we pray that we would also encounter more of you.
The 6th step is about trusting that God will make all things right if I surrender to his will.
- Father, I thank you for your promise in Romans 8:28 that you will recycle all my pain for you have said, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
- Father, I think you for the promise of Revelation 21:4 that in heaven you will “wipe away every tear” and turn any lingering grief into joy.
- Father, I surrender to your will right now standing on these promises.
And the final theme is about being reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with God forever in the next.
- Father, I thank you that this life is not the whole show. I joyfully embrace the reality that I am a never-ceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in Your great universe.
- Right now, I set my mind on things above in agreement with Colossians 3:2. And I say along with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you, and besides you I desire nothing on earth.”
- Father, I intentionally cultivate joy in this present life. I will give thanks in all circumstances, because I know that this is the will of God for me in Christ Jesus.
Father, I thank you that the fierceness of my battle is not in any way evidence of my defeat. Rather, I will bring forth courage in these battles, by your Spirit’s power, remembering that I am…
Loved by you, my Abba-Father
- I am A joint-heir with Jesus the Son
- And I am empowered by the Spirit.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.