Church in lockdown: weary and burdened? A second century prayer of intercession.

Many of us are weary. Many of us are merely plodding on, and the race feels hard to run.

With lockdown and restrictions on our churches gathering, and with many Anglican brothers and sisters concerned about the publication of LLF today and the fallout and implications of that, we deeply need to be resting on our true source of strength.

During the last lockdown I posted some reflections on a fourth century prayer encouraging us to rest in our Lord, and you can find that here.

This time I want to publish a very short second century prayer, and a simple encouragement with that.

This prayer is from the mouth of Polycarp, an early second-century Christian martyr. This short prayer is found close to the end of the account of Polycarps’s life and death, when he faces the vicious persecution of the Roman state, and has been condemned to die at the hands of the Roman executioners. Polycarp was an old man when he faced this trial (86 years old) – yet he persevered through the strength of the God he depended on in prayer. Our God is so much stronger than our weaknesses, and His power is so much more than our fears. We were encouraged at our church on Sunday morning by the joy of 1 Peter 5:7: “cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Our God is great. He cares deeply for us. And He is strong enough to bear our fears and anxieties. So do not be afraid to come to Him for all that you need, even as strains and worries seem to be mounting. In times of great trial and weariness, of suffering and pain, we can wonderfully come to Him who cares for us.

Polycarp knew this and even in his final hours he looked to the one who had saved him, and the one who sustained him even to the end.

So let us trust in God alone to equip us. Let us trust in God alone to sustain us and bless us with what we need to face each day. And pray that this may be so for one another. As we cast our anxieties on Him, may we rest in His strength and depend on His mercies.

Find below the prayer of Polycarp, and whatever burdens you carry at the moment, take time to reflect on this ancient prayer in your own heart, cast your anxieties upon Him, and ask that He might equip you and sustain you as He has long promised to do.

May God the Father, and the Eternal High Priest Jesus Christ, build us up in faith and truth and love, and grant to us our portion among the saints with all those who believe on our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for all saints, for kings and rulers, for the enemies of the Cross of Christ, and for ourselves we pray that our fruit may abound and we may be made perfect in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Amen.

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