Prayer for 20 November 2020


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


Heavenly Lord,
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalm 119.65-72

You have dealt graciously with your servant,
according to your word, O Lord.

O teach me true understanding and knowledge,
for I have trusted in your commandments.

Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.

You are gracious and do good;
O Lord, teach me your statutes.

The proud have smeared me with lies,
but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.

Their heart has become gross with fat,
but my delight is in your law.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
that I may learn your statutes.

The law of your mouth is dearer to me
than a hoard of gold and silver.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

Reading: Luke 19.45-48

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, ‘It is written,
“My house shall be a house of prayer”;
         but you have made it a den of robbers.’

Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.


What does the Church mean to you? Is it a place of prayer and worship, is it a place where you can meet and socialize with like-minded people, or is it just a beautiful ancient museum? That question is particularly relevant at the moment. Access to and the use of our church buildings is restricted because of the government’s reaction to the current coronavirus pandemic. At the moment, church buildings can only be used for private prayer. Between August and the beginning of November we were allowed to return to a reduced and restricted pattern of public worship, but that has been put on hold once again. So … to repeat my initial question … what does the Church mean to you?

Some will realize that the Church is a community and not a building. The beautiful, historic buildings are just that … beautiful and historic. For centuries people have gathered to celebrate, weep, pray and worship in those buildings, but they remain just buildings. Without a community of faith that gathers within those walls to pray and worship the living God, they are just piles of stones. With this thought in mind, I ask again: what does the Church mean to you?

In today’s reading we hear of a famous incident near the end of Jesus’ earthly life. Jesus enters the Temple, the very heart of Jewish prayer and worship, and finds people being exploited and cheated by the money changers. To come to God in prayer involved sacrifice, often in the form of living creatures. To offer a suitable sacrifice involved the acquisition of the ‘right’ sort of money. That is where the money changers came in. To change one’s everyday money into the ‘holy’ currency of the Temple involved an exchange. The rate of that exchange was never fair, it was always exploitative. That is why Jesus overthrew the tables of the money changers. Their actions and motivations were totally contrary to the teachings of God. Their actions and motivations were stumbling blocks to the prayer and the worship of the faithful.

So … again I ask the question: what does the Church mean to you? Is it a social club and a place of comfort and consolation? Or, is it a place where you can meet with other Christians in prayer and worship? Is it a place where, in sharing in that prayer and worship, you find yourself recharged with a new energy to go out and preach God’s message in word and deed? Or, are you happy for it to be a museum and a ‘den of robbers’ … that is the place that Jesus found when he entered the precincts of the Temple in Jerusalem? I pray that we may all see the Church in the context of the living stones that Jesus wanted to see as a conduit for his new way of ensuring that God’s light might shine into the dark corners of this world.

Prayers of Intercession

Lord of the heavens and earth, you need no place made by human hands to dwell among us. Rather, we make a shelter when we encounter your presence. Sanctify our church as a gateway to you. Before you we stand on holy ground.

Lord of glory, you give ‘craftsman’s art and music’s measure’ to delight our senses. Inspire our praise and raise our gaze to see the imprint of your image in your creation.

Lord of yesterday, today and the future, you give to us a heritage of faith proclaimed in stone. Build and restore your temples as living stones. Give us wisdom to treasure and value what has been handed on without stifling your Spirit.

Lord of peace, you give to us space to be still and know that you are God. Bring into our anxious concerns trust in your providential care. Breathe upon us your life restoring presence.

Lord of the harvest, you hold all life from beginning to its end, and onwards to new life. Bear as on eagles’ wings your faithful servants who have departed this life. In union with the great cloud of witnesses, bring us all to rejoice in your heavenly home.

Prayer for the week

God of righteousness, God of peace,
forgive the selfishness, greed and arrogance
that cause us to be at enmity one with another.
Help us and all people to live together
in Christian love and goodwill;
and teach the nations of the world
the things that belong to their peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lord’s Prayer

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. Amen.

The Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.


God is working his purpose out,
as year succeeds to year,
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

All we can do is nothing worth
unless God blesses the deed;
vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
till God gives life to the seed;
yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

Arthur Campbell Ainger (1841–1919)