Podcast Worship

Daily Prayer for 4 March (Lent)

Listen to a service of Daily Prayer for 4 March, including a reflection on Matthew 5.43-48 (Lent 1: Saturday)


O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Hear our voice, O Lord, according to you faithful love,
according to your judgement give us life.

Blessed are you, God of compassion and mercy,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In the darkness of our sin,
your light breaks forth like the dawn
and your healing springs up for deliverance.
As we rejoice in the gift of your saving help,
sustain us with your bountiful Spirit
and open our lips to sing your praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Matthew 5.43-48

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’


Jesus said: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Most people are familiar with Jesus’ response to the lawyer who asked: Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? Most people will know that Jesus’ response begins by highlighting our responsibility to love God above and before all else in this world. They may also know that Jesus went on to say: And a second is like it; “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” It is very likely that that majority of people will also be able to quote words from the book of Leviticus: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. They will not know the context of the words from the Old Testament, but they will see it as a justification for alienation and revenge, that which causes so much harm in our troubled and divided world.

Today we read a very different message as Jesus says: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Rather than allowing us to distil a social contract that suits our own agenda for life, Jesus is very specifically challenging us to reconsider how we live the Christian life in this world. Rather than seeking out justifications for feelings of hatred and revenge, Jesus is instructing us to love, to love everyone, including our enemies and those who persecute us.

The word ‘enemy’ brings to mind great and intense conflict, possibly conflict on a national scale. But our enemies are much closer than that, and they are often inventions of our own imaginations. Because someone holds a different view to us on some matter or the other, we view them as our opponents, our enemies. Because someone’s way of life and personal values differ from our own, we identify them as ‘enemies’, even if that is not the first word we might use. Because someone chooses to worship God in a way that is not comfortable for us, we label them, and treat them, as enemies.

As those self-defined enemies go about their daily lives, and as others support their seemingly ‘hostile’ ways, we begin to see ourselves as being persecuted. Then, as attitudes and differences become more widely known, those we have identified as our enemies live up to our negative aspirations, they grow into the enemy who must be defeated and upon whom revenge must be exacted.

The challenge of Jesus’ words today revolve around our calling to be Christ-like in our generosity and our love towards others, no matter who or what they might be. Rather than aligning ourselves with some faction or the other, we are being called to open our arms, as Christ opened his arms on the cross, and radiate love. We are being called to open our arms and let our defences drop, no matter how vulnerable that makes us feel, just as Christ did for us on Calvary.

Let us pray that we might love our enemies, both real and imagined, and let us pray for those who persecute us, whether the persecution be real or imagined. Let us pray that we might be as generous and loving as Jesus is to us.


In penitence and faith let us make our prayer to the Father
and ask for his mercy and grace.

For your holy people,
that they may triumph over evil and grow in grace,
we pray to you, O Lord.

For candidates for baptism and confirmation,
that they may live by every word that proceeds from your mouth,
we pray to you, O Lord.

For the leaders of the nations,
that you will guide them in the ways of mercy and truth,
we pray to you, O Lord.

For the needy,
that they may not be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor be taken away,
we pray to you, O Lord.

For the sick in body, mind and spirit,
that they may know your power to heal,
we pray to you, O Lord.

For the poor in spirit,
that they may inherit the kingdom of heaven
and see you face to face,
we pray to you, O Lord.

Let us commend the world, for which Christ suffered,
to the mercy and protection of God.

Almighty God,
by the prayer and discipline of Lent
may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings,
and by following in his Way
come to share in his glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Christ give us grace to grow in holiness,
to deny ourselves, 
take up our cross, 
and follow him;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.