As I write this, it is Friday, March 4th, which is designated as this year’s World Day of Prayer. Christian leaders from around the globe join in an intentional endeavor to offer prayers for all the world’s countries, leaders, and citizens.
The chosen theme is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. In the time of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, God’s people had been captured, taken from their homeland, and made to be exiles in a foreign land. This was in reality a punishment from God because of their blatant sins and excessive unfaithfulness to Him.
Even though it was their fault, the people felt estranged and forsaken, and they surely felt that God Himself had abandoned them. But The Lord God had not abandoned them. In fact, He had great plans for them. The verse graciously ends this way, “plans for welfare, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God’s “plan for a future and a hope” is what the world is praying for today, praying that “God’s plan for a future and a hope” would come to our world today, without delay.
But as Christians we know that God’s Best Plan for a Future and a Hope has already become a reality. It is a reality in the person of Jesus Christ, who came to fulfill God’s Plan of Salvation, the needed and necessary salvation for the whole world, which was lost in sin and unfaithfulness.
In Jesus’ sacrificial suffering and death and in His glorious resurrection, the themes of Lent and Easter, God’s plan for our future in heaven is secured. And in these great acts of love by Christ for us, we most definitely have the sure Hope that God’s power is with us through all of our life’s many steps, both good and bad.
We Christians also know that what we have from God in Christ Jesus is both “already” and “not yet.” We “already” have the future and hope in Christ, but we do “not yet” have it in totality.
So, we pray. We pray with our world. We pray for our world. We pray giving thanks that God has His plans for us, plans for our welfare, and not for evil, and that God’s plans both “already” and “not yet” most definitely give us a future and a hope.
And, importantly, we pray our prayers with confidence and peace, even while our world is full of the evils of fallen human hearts, war, division, and strife. In the middle of all this we pray, and pray, and pray.
Of course, we are all right now praying with great attention and emphasis on Ukraine, and rightfully so. We are all encouraged to pray our most simple prayer for God’s Peace and Power to prevail.
Bishop Dan Selbo of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) offered a meaningful prayer this past week concerning Ukraine. I share that with you here and ask you to pray it as you read it, and even return to it multiple times as a way to continue in prayer for this dire and disturbing situation.
Bishop Selbo prays,
“Gracious God, we come to You as people who know we have fallen short of Your call, who are in daily need of Your forgiveness and grace, and who have no lasting hope apart from the promises we have in Jesus. And yet we come with thankful and expectant hearts, knowing that You have promised to hear and to answer prayer.
“We pray for You to be working in the hearts and the lives of the people in Russia and the Ukraine who are caught in this senseless war and whose lives are being torn apart because of the conflict. We pray for the families who have been separated from their loved ones, for those who have been physically hurt as a result of the fighting, and for those lives that have been lost. We pray, Lord, that You would open doors for peace talks and negotiations to happen that would bring an end to the war and that would save the lives of many for whom our Lord Jesus died.
“Work through the nations of our world, through their governments, the United Nations, and through those leaders who have authority and opportunity to influence and impact what is happening in Christ-honoring ways. Be with our missionaries and mission agencies that their work would be a witness to the love You have for all people, and to the desire You have for Your world that we would live in peace.
“Help us to never lose sight of the promises we have in Jesus and to never lose hope in the One who, through His cross and resurrection from the dead, has overcome the world. In His most holy and precious name we pray. Amen.”
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
So I close with full confidence that God is hearing our prayers on this day and every day. Amen!
[Kollmeyer, a Fayette County resident for 36 years, is Pastor Emeritus at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. Follow Pastor Scott Ness and this great church at www.princeofpeacefayette.org. Kollmeyer until recently was Interim Pastor at Word of God Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg. Find some of his video recorded sermons at www.woglutheran.org and follow Pastor Jason Dampier and this great church on this site.]