Podcast Worship

Prayer for 3 March 2021

Listen to or read a service of Prayer for 3 March 2021 (Lent 2: Wednesday)


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


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.

Psalm 31.4-5, 14-18

Take me out of the net
         that they have laid secretly for me,
for you are my strength.

Into your hands I commend my spirit,
for you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

But my trust is in you, O Lord.
I have said, ‘You are my God.

‘My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
         and from those who persecute me.

‘Make your face to shine upon your servant,
and save me for your mercy’s sake.’

Lord, let me not be confounded
         for I have called upon you;
but let the wicked be put to shame;
         let them be silent in the grave.

Let the lying lips be put to silence
that speak against the righteous
         with arrogance, disdain and contempt.

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.

Matthew 20.17-28

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.’

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’


Jesus’ words in today’s reading could not be more counter-cultural to the world in which we are living. People do not see being a ‘servant’ or a ‘slave’ as an ambition for themselves. It is drummed into us from a very early age that we should aspire to being the best we can possibly be. People dream of power and riches, they do not dream of fulfilling what they perceive to be the lowliest functions in society. People want to be lawyers and accountants and film stars, they do not choose to see themselves in one of those essential, under-valued roles that mean subservience to the demands and directions of others.

Of course, we cannot all be at the top of the tree. There is a natural hierarchy which becomes apparent as we grow older, as our minds are expanded, as our horizons are broadened. This is not to say that we are pre-destined to fit into certain slots in society. Effort, enterprise and the right circumstances do allow a level of social mobility that did not exist in earlier times. But … we still cannot all be at the top of the tree.

Today’s reading begins with Jesus using himself as a model of this teaching. Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death. Furthermore, Jesus will be mocked and flogged and crucified. Even the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, will experience the humiliation of being treated as one of no value. But, as we know, on the third day he will be raised. Jesus, through his ultimate sacrifice of power, will come to ascend to the ultimate place of power, with his Father in heaven.

The mother of James and John seems to realize the meaning of Jesus’ prediction. She seems to understand the divine kingship that will come at the end of Jesus’ sojourn in this world. Despite the ignominy of what lies ahead, she knows that her sons may, in their time, be able to grab a share in that kingship. Like many an earthly mother, she then tries to get at the front of the queue on behalf of her children. In response, Jesus makes it clear that she does not really understand. Firstly, she is asking something that is only in the gift of God in heaven. Secondly, anyone who aspires to the eternal life must first be prepared to sacrifice everything in this world.

Jesus’ other disciples are privy to the exchange between the doting mother and their Lord, and they are angered. But, Jesus tempers their anger with these words: whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave. That message is at the heart of Jesus’ call today, and through all time. To claim the dignity of true discipleship demands our being prepared to set aside all those dreams of worldly wealth and power. Instead, we need to be ready to serve, even without reward. We need to be ready to join Jesus when, at the Last Supper, he will get on his knees and wash the feet of those we see as being lowlier than him.

Let us pray for the strength to serve in a selfless way. Let us pray for the courage to set aside glory and power in order that we might follow the example of the one who holds all glory and power, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray with confidence to God who has called us to his service.

Shield the Church from all ambition and love of power. Give grace to clergy and lay ministers who have been called to change their lives and follow their Lord.

Give the spirit of humility to a world where many are seeking for the chief places and for power over others. Bring peace among nations, and harmony between races and faiths.

Bless us all in our appointed tasks and help us to praise you through faithful work. Be with those who have left their families to begin their own lives, and hold them together in the spirit of love.

We pray for all whose ambition has led them into evil ways. We pray for all whose lives are consumed by envy, that they may find the contentment of loving service.

We give thanks for those who followed their Lord in this world and have gone to their rest. May their place be with all who have been his disciples.

Accept our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, whose service is perfect freedom.

Prayer for the week

Lord Christ, who came to call
not the righteous but sinners to repentance:
help us in this season of Lent
to hear and respond to your call;
that by your grace
we may turn from whatever in our lives
is at variance with your will,
and walk in the way of holiness and love,
to the glory of God the Father.

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.


From heaven you came, helpless babe,
entered our world, your glory veiled;
not to be served, but to serve,
and give your life that we might live.

This is our God, the Servant King,
he calls us now to follow him,
to bring our lives as a daily offering
of worship to the Servant King.

So let us learn how to serve,
and in our lives enthrone him;
each other’s needs to prefer,
for it is Christ we’re serving.

This is our God, the Servant King,
he calls us now to follow him,
to bring our lives as a daily offering
of worship to the Servant King.

Graham Kendrick (b. 1950)