Almighty God, do thou touch our ear and it shall hear wisely and justly, and shall lose nothing of all the music of thy voice. Our ear is already filled with vulgar noise, so that we cannot hear the goings of the Almighty, and much of the tenderness of thy tone do we lose, because of the uproar which engages our attention. O that our ear might be touched, even circumcised, and blest, and prepared to hear every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Call us now to attention; may every man here listen for his soul’s good; if any have come to listen for aught else may the change take place in the view this moment, and may the supreme inquiry of every heart be, ” What saith the Lord?” and may every soul go out to him saying, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Yea, let a spirit of hearing fall upon the whole congregation, an earnest desire to listen, so that nothing may be lost of all the message which thou dost this night give unto us. We bless thee for thy gospel, so full of tenderness, glowing with light and love, the very utterance of thine heart, the one way to the living God and his everlasting heaven. Help us to listen to it gratefully, with ecstasy of delight and passion of thankfulness, without indifference of heart, but with all ardour and intensity of love. Regard every one of us as each most particularly needs. If any man here is praying his first true prayer, let this be the time of a great answer to his soul. If any man here is vowing to lead a better life, Lord, turn over the page for him on which he means to write his better writing; establish him in the goodness of his oath; may nothing occur to imperil the constancy of his holy resolution, but may he watch unto prayer, and succeed in the great work. If any man is in peculiar circumstances of perplexity and strangeness, blind so that he cannot see, weak so that he cannot stand, dazed and confounded by the infinite rush of life, the Lord himself send his angel or his prophet to give sight, and strength, and comfort, and guidance to such. If any of us are fat of heart, having waxed prosperous and forgotten our early love, the Lord judge us not with his lightning and thunder, but speak to us with rebukes that shall awaken, and not with judgments that shall destroy. If any man is planning the wrong trick and about to play the foul game, and to do the thing which is hateful in the sight of God, the Lord turn his counsel upside down, and cause all the lines of his life to tremble in confusion. And if any man is endeavouring now to serve the Lord with his whole might, to live a complete and unbroken life in Christ, send more than twelve legions of angels to help him to carry out his purpose. We want the spirit of hearing now, we want the prepared ear, we want our hearts to be at peace, and our whole attention to be on the alert. Blessed Christ, come to us, speak thine own word to our quickened ear. We bless thee for thy life, thy teaching, thy atoning sacrificial blood, thy whole priesthood, thy mighty, prevalent mediation. O, if thou dost open thy wounds again, may it be to give us room in thine heart. Amen.
Almighty God, we come to thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour, and not ours only, but the Saviour of the whole world, who by his precious blood answered all the accusation of thy law. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and there is none other, and we now accept him as thy gift, the very utterance and expression of thine own infinite love. We rejoice to know that there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus; we come therefore to thee, through him alone: in him is our worthiness, in him is our strength, and if we are dumb before thee, it is that he himself may pray for us. We thank thee that we still have an interest in the affairs of thy kingdom. Time doth not charm us, and all the earth with its fulness and all the sea with its music cannot content us. We declare plainly that we seek a country; our eyes are lifted up, and we seek a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Thou hast stirred us by a Divine ambition, thou art moving us by heavenly impulses, the unrest which disturbs our heart is itself a blessing, calling upon us to arise and work and serve and wait and suffer until the end, which is full of light, shall come. Wherein we have done wrong in thy sight do thou now exercise thy mercy, that the miracle of thy forgiveness may exceed the marvel of our guilt. Thou hast an answer to us in Christ Jesus: he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. Lo, this is thy gospel, to our heart when it smites itself with accusation, and to our conscience when it rises threateningly and demands our life. Help us to find rest in Christ, refuge in the cross, and peace in the holy blood—then let thy word dwell in us richly as a new life and a new light, the very glory of Heaven, the very peace of God. So shall we have an answer to every tempter, a refuge in the time of every tempest, and our peace shall be complete, because it is of the nature of the tranquillity of God. Help us to use our time well: may no talent be wrapped up and laid aside, may we be living at every point of our character, yea, may there be no death in us at all; even now may we lay hold upon our immortality and bring to bear upon the things of the dying day the power of an endless life. Where there is sorrow of heart this day, surprise the sorrowful with new joys: where there is a sense of blankness and emptiness because of the visitations of thy bereaving providence, do thou fill up such blankness with thy presence more fully than ever thou hast yet done. When the tears are in the eyes and the sob is suppressed in the heart, bring thy gospel in all its tender solaces and infinite consolations to bear upon the bruised and heavy laden. Interpret unto us the meaning of the grave that is dug under our own hearthstone—show us why death is a continual guest at our table, and do thou thus interpret unto us the mystery of life and give unto us the piety which sees the bright view, the far and celestial outlook, that anticipates the resurrection, the utter and lasting destruction of death. Then shall our voices mingle with the sweet hymn in thy house that gives thee praise for all thy dispensation, and the psalm that adores thee shall have in it the utterance of our love.
– Sunday Morning Prayer by Dr. Joseph Parker
Almighty God, we come to thee through Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, for he alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and there is none other: he is sent of God to bring us unto the Father, and no man cometh unto Christ except the Father draw him. Herein are wonderful mysteries, which we cannot penetrate, but where we cannot understand we fall down and adore. What are we that we should know aught? We are of yesterday and know nothing: our breath is in our nostrils, and whilst we talk of life, behold we are thrown down and are dead men. It well becometh us, therefore, to hold our peace in thy house, and to listen attentively, with the whole hearing of our heart, lest we miss any tone of thy gracious and living voice. Jesus Christ our Saviour loved us: he gave himself for us; his head, his hands, his heart, his feet, his side, bled for us: it was holy blood—the blood of atonement. Thou art always careful of us, as if we were worth much in thy sight. We cannot understand thy care. We could understand thy crushing us because of the provocation of our sins, but why thou shouldst save us and spare us and love us and mightily redeem us with blood, every day in the year, lo, this is a mystery of love which baffles our mind. Deep is thy design, gracious is thy purpose, immeasurable is thine intent, unknown in its beginning and uncomprehended in its issues—it is enough for us to know that thou doest all things in wisdom and in love. Today is the battle, and tomorrow the mystery, and on the third day dost thou perfect the issue. Help us to fight, to wait, to worship, to suffer, to endure with noble courage and unmurmuring patience, knowing that the end will come as a great surprise of hidden love, a revelation of infinite tenderness. We bless thee for thy word; it is good reading in sandy places, and in wildernesses full of stones and wild beasts: it makes the very wind, when loudest and coldest, music in our hearing. It shows us where the tree is, the branches of which will sweeten the bitter pool; it is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Help us to understand it by our modesty, humility, self-renunciation, utter, child-like, unquestioning trust. Thou dost speak wonderful things to the child-heart—may ours evermore be such. Save us from our own imaginings, deliver us from the temptations of our own sagacity and learning, and help us in all simpleness, with complete trust and love of heart, and with the openness of soul which receives all heaven’s gifts, to wait upon the Lord, yea, to wait patiently for him. Every heart has its own story—of joy, of sorrow, of baffled hope, of dead ambitions, of frustrated purposes and trusts—send a gospel to each soul, that none may feel itself left out on the day of benediction and rest. Speak comfortably unto Jerusalem: send thine angel to cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, yea, let this be the day of jubilee, when silver trumpets shall announce the glad reprieve, the great and universal amnesty and release. Give us a nail in thy sanctuary, give us a standing on the threshold of thy house, bring us quite within the sacred enclosure of the holy temple, and give us rest and peace within its hallowed defences. Amen.
– Sunday Morning Prayer by Dr. Joseph Parker
Almighty God, it is our joy to know that though our sin be great thy grace is infinitely greater. Where sin abounds, grace doth much more abound, as where death abounds, life doth much more abound. This is thy method in thy universe, that life shall always be in excess of death, and that out of death itself shall come elements that shall tend to extend life. Thou movest marvellously; our eyes cannot follow the rapidity of thy movements, nor can our understanding bring within its judgment all thy methods and purposes. But we have seen enough to give us quietness and to deepen our childlike and loving trust. When the mystery is thickest and the cloud is densest, then we say, This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working; in his own due time he will turn these clouds into stars, and all his heaven will be bright with the shining of a great glory. Thou hast done so much in our life that we are able to say this with all the emphasis of unquestioning confidence.
Thou hast trained us when there was no hand to take hold of our little life; thou didst understand us when our prayer was but a dumb sign to our eager mother. Thou hast fed us with food convenient for us; when we have said there was no water, thou has caused the rocks to melt into streams. We have said, we shall die here, for there is no road beyond, and behold thou didst make a way for us in the mountains, and we walked by the feet of the great rocks which we expected to shut up our way. Thou hast dealt wonderfully with us; all thy mysteries are in our own life; we need not be startled or stunned by the mysteries in thy great book, for every one of them is repeated in the living book of our own experience. We have now learned wisdom enough to put ourselves absolutely into thy hands; we do not want any plan or purpose for tomorrow—we do not want to have any tomorrow in our possession or prospect at all. We would crowd our urgent life into the present trembling moment and make it the greatest crisis of our experience. Help us to work with both hands diligently; may we be good and faithful servants, using our talents, few or many, with all industry and with ever-growing zeal.
Thou knowest us altogether as a company of Christian worshippers. The old man is here, to whom life was once a dream; now it is a hope, for its life is not here, it is risen. The child is here who has no history, whose life spreads out like a golden dream, a prospect of glee and laughter exceedingly; the patient heart-broken woman, the sorrowing mother, with a grief she cannot tell; the prodigal who has edged his way in here, hoping not to be seen by reason of the crowd—we are all here; speak to us, thou tender One, and let thy speaking, every tone of it, be a gentle gospel that shall bring light into dark hearts, that shall dry tears from eyes used to great weeping, that shall stimulate every one of us to a higher industry and rebuke us gently for the despondency which comes of our want of faith. If any soul is here in peculiar trouble with a distress it may not put into words, let the Lord himself heal the great wound, lest it end in death.
As for our sin, there stands in front of us the infinite cross, the great sacrifice, the complete atonement, the great transaction never to be explained but always to be felt. The Lord touch every heart with the redeeming blood, and the sin shall be found no more. Pity us, great Father; if we are very tired, take us into thine arms awhile till we get our breath again, and according to the necessity and the pain of every life, command thy gracious blessing to rest upon us all. Amen.
– The People’s Bible
Almighty God, our only confidence is in thee; in ourselves we have no trust, for we have proved ourselves, and know that in us—that is, in our flesh—there is no good thing. But thou wilt accomplish thine own work; we will not interfere with God, or seek to hinder Him, or to counsel the omniscient; we will put ourselves into thine hands, saying only, Thy will be done. How thou art to make of us saints in Christ Jesus, we cannot tell; how thou art to work out the miracle of our perfect redemption, we know not; we fall back so much, we are so ignorant, so feeble, so inconstant, we cannot dream how wondrously thou shalt bring on the topstone; but thou wilt surely do so, thy work shall not be surrendered because of want of strength; thou dost not begin except that thou mayest conclude. Inasmuch as thou hast called us thou hast sanctified us; the call is the proof of the redemption; that we are at the altar at all is our confidence and our joy, that we shall ascend, little by little it may be, but with the certainty of thy decree, to all that is meant by heaven. Surely thou hast never forsaken us; we have not had one day’s experience of orphanhood; we have always known how near thou art and how good; if for a small moment thou didst seem to have forsaken us, we have lost the painful memory in the everlasting kindness with which thou hast gathered us. We will speak aloud of thy goodness; we shall not be ashamed of the Lord’s name; we shall ascribe unto thee honour and power and glory world without end; but, more than this, we shall ascribe to thee the glory of having redeemed us, though our unworthiness is unspeakable. All this thou hast done in thy Son Christ Jesus; without him is not anything done that is done; by him were all things made, and for him and to him shall be their final glory and their eternal praise. Such words thou hast taught us; such thoughts thou hast inspired in our minds; such visions thou hast spread out before our imagination. Enable us to walk according to thy law and commandment; may thy love not be a license to us but a discipline; may the mercy of the Lord not encourage our presumption, but deepen our humility and our thankfulness! Let the Lord’s light be round about us like a blessing and delight. Let the Lord’s grace be in our hearts like the warmth of summer. Amen.
– The People’s Bible
Almighty God, we rejoice that thou art light. Of light, thou art the fountain and the centre. God said, Let there be light; and there was light,—himself shone upon the brooding darkness. Shine in our hearts; be the morning of our lives; be the summer of our souls. Jesus Christ thy Son is the Light of the world. As long as he is in the world he is the Light of the world; he abideth with us for ever, therefore are we living in the day of light and in the presence of light: may we answer light by light, and thus may thy creation be full of glory. They that are of the darkness love the things that are evil; may we be children of the morning and not of the night, rejoicing in all things pure, beautiful, true, and lovely. If thou wilt answer this prayer for us at the Cross, we shall know that the blood of Jesus Christ thy Son cleanseth from all sin; we shall know that we have God in us as the light abounds in our whole thought and purpose. Chase away the last shadow; break up the evil empire of night; and bring in the sovereignty of divine effulgence. We bless thee for a religion that is full of light; we thank thee that we are called to fellowship one with another in the full light of day. Thy Church always meets at midday; it is the child of the noon; there is in it no love of darkness, no trace of mystery or secrecy that is corrupt; the Lord help us to realize our call into light, and may we be found in loving obedience serving the altar of the Cross. Amen.