Our Father in Heaven, we are the sheep and You are the Shepherd. We tend to go astray. We tend to fall off the edge. We do not see our enemies well. We cannot outrun the fox. We cannot find our way to the water. We are easily overcome by sin.
Yea, but God, we do know the Shepherd's voice when we hear it. We are not deaf. We know the tone of his voice. We can distinguish it from false shepherds. That is what makes us different. We know the truth when we hear it. Thy word is truth.
Yea Lord, even more important, we have a good Shepherd. We find in Jesus Christ, kindness, mercy, longsuffering, and forgiveness. We know that He is always near. When we pray, we know that He hears us and He is anxious to answer us. We have a benign and gracious Shepherd.
Lord, give us the grace to live by faith. You are mysterious in all your ways. Seldom can we predict the way in which You will answer our prayers. Seldom can we predict the time in which You will answer our prayers. So often we are called upon to wait. Just wait! Just wait! Our patience is tried, and our faith is tested. Yea, Lord, give us faith. Help us to believe that You love us more than an earthly father loves his own children. What child if he asks for a fish would be given a rock by a loving father? Lord, we marvel at the love of a father and a mother for their own children. How much more do you love us!
Even the hard things in life have a purpose in Your mysterious and strange plan. Sometimes it is those who suffer the most who know most of Your love. The poor man knows things that the rich man will never know. The man with a heavy burden will learn more than the man a man who reads a thousand books. The suffering saint who lives without complaint surely is the man who will not faint in the presence of the Lord. The mother of a suffering child surely will know Thy mercy mild. The man without an eye to see surely will sanctified be. The woman without an ear to hear surely will find herself in Thy sight as very dear. Trials and tribulations make us wise. They lift us from the lust of this world and set our sight upon a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Lord, we are prone to worship Thee when the sky is blue and the sun in bright, but we are also prone to doubt Thy love when we see the curse and the blight. We revel in the blessings of health, but we are suspicious of Your love when we lose our wealth. Lord, give us the strength of faith to be steady even when providence catches us surprised and unready.
Our Father, give us true knowledge of Thee. Modern man worships a god that is restrained by the will of man. Modern man worships a god made in His own image. We have lost the meaning of the holiness and power of God. We no longer fear Thee. We are at ease when we should tremble. Where is the conviction of sin that dwells within? Where is the man on his knees when his transgressions he sees? Who asks the questions of how can that be, when we find God no longer mysterious to be?
Lord, give us the hope of the great promises of God. No longer do men look for the success of the gospel, but they look for failure. No longer do men believe that the world can be changed by only a few faithful men, but we put our trust in great numbers. One man with the word of God shall accomplish more than a thousand men who fight in their own strength. Help us to see that everything we do for the Lord, no matter how small, is part of that great work of building His kingdom. We are all on the Lord's side. We are on the side that shall win. We are soldiers of a great army, and we are instruments of the hands of a mighty King.
Lord, you have rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of Your beloved Son in who we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. Enable us to give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints of Light.
Give us rest here as we gather together today. Lord, we need to rest. We are tired. We need to rest from the labors of the week. We need to rest from the worries of the week. We need a quiet time to remember who we are, and to know that Thou art God. We have been so busy we have forgotten to think on the things of God. Lift our hearts up to the heavens, and give us tongues of praise for the God who gives us rest. In Christ name we pray. Amen.