Podcast Worship

Prayer for Thursday 2 December 2021

Listen to a service of Prayer for 2 December 2021 (Advent 1: Thursday), including a reflection on the gospel reading


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


Almighty God,
as your kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin
to the light of holiness,
that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Psalm 118.18-27a

The Lord has punished me sorely,
but he has not given me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have become my salvation.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.

This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvellous in our eyes.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Come, O Lord, and save us we pray.
Come, Lord, send us now prosperity.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
we bless you from the house of the Lord.

The Lord is God; he has given us light.

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 7.21, 24-27

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall!’


As we journey through the season of Advent we find ourselves surrounded by the trappings of Christmas. As we seek to prepare ourselves for our celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus, we see the secular world turning that solemn moment in the history of humanity into a jamboree of extravagance and over-indulgence. As we consider what the beginning of a new liturgical year might mean for us, we might be thinking about our own commitment to Christ and our place within the community of faith.

Those who consider themselves loyal members of the Church of Christ often speak of this time of year in a negative way. They speak of those who only come to Church once a year … the Christmas visitors who feel ‘entitled’ to a traditional Carol Service and all the other trimmings that go with it. As I hear these words year after year, I wonder what those ‘loyal’ church members have done in the previous twelve months to make a difference in the lives of those who feel the need to celebrate Christmas in a church, but who do not feel the need to make a similar commitment at any other time of the year?

Today’s reading opens with Jesus saying this: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven. For many the meaning of these words will seem obvious: ‘If you are not a committed Christian you cannot expect to be welcomed into God’s nearer presence.’ Surely, it is as simple as that! Surely, the reward of a place in the kingdom of heaven is for the regular churchgoer, and not for the Christmas visitor! Or … is there another way of hearing Jesus’ words?

The readings this week have focused on true faith. Such faith is not about ‘show’, it is about a quiet commitment to faithful discipleship. To be a Christian does involve membership of the community of faith we call the Church, but that membership is not a casual engagement when time permits and there is nothing better to do. Church membership is about prayer, worship and the spreading of the Good News to others. It is not for those who belong to a church community to criticize those who dip their toe in the water once a year; it is for them to show the occasional visitor that there is a loving welcome ready for them every single day.

In my ministry I have heard many excuses for not attending church on a regular basis. Those who consider themselves to be Christian speak of visitors, family commitments and a whole range of distractions that they choose to put before worshipping God. The casual visitor speaks of a lack of friendliness, a sense of not belonging or not fitting in, and a sense of rejection. All of these excuses should cause every one of us a great deal of pain.

Jesus says: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven. Let us pray that we might turn our ‘Lord, Lord’ into an expression of genuine and profound faith, and that we might come to know that which God offers to all who put him first on their to-do lists.

Prayers of intercession

For wisdom and constancy in all people, let us pray to the Lord.

Keep the Church firm on the foundation of her Lord and Saviour, that she may hear his words and fulfil the works of faith. Let your people not be broken in the time of trial or found wanting in the time of judgement.

Give the strength that comes from you alone to the world where many build on weak foundations, trusting in riches, in position, in their own capacity. Grant that those who have the duty of planning for the lives of others may be guided with wisdom and foresight.

As we try to plan our own lives help us to remember that nothing is secure that does not rest on the foundation of faith. Be with those in positions of responsibility in this community, especially those concerned with housing and welfare.

Comfort those who have seen their hopes frustrated, who have built up careers or personal relationships that have fallen into ruin. Give them courage for a fresh start in the knowledge of the only sure foundation.

Have mercy on those who have come to judgement trusting in their own words and deeds. As they pass through the high waters of death, bring them to safety on the rock of salvation.

May our prayers be accepted through Jesus Christ, the eternal rock of our faith.

Prayer for the week

God of all hope and joy,
open our hearts in welcome,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in us a dwelling prepared for him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

The Lord’s Prayer

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. 

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.