‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given’ (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.
Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us for ever,
Now thy gracious Kingdom bring.
(SASB 79, Charles Wesley)
The salvation that comes through Jesus is meant for everyone.
What salvation frees people from is huge. What it frees people to is equally large.
…to worship God
‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence’ (Hebrews 4:16).
Many people (like the woman in John Chapter 4) think God can only be worshipped in tightly constrained ways, but Jesus throws the doors open wide.
Pray for those who are afraid that God will hate them if they make mistakes in the way they worship.
Pray for those whose families or governments impose penalties on them if they worship openly.
…to make morally responsible decisions
‘“I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive’ (1 Corinthians 10:23).
While many people look to someone else to make their choices for them, others think that freedom means it’s okay to do whatever you want. But, neither attitude is what God has in mind. God’s grace means that when Jesus saves people, he frees them to make their own decisions but to do so with the good of their neighbour fully in mind.
Give thanks for the freedom to choose.
Pray for wisdom in the exercise of choice, for the resources to perceive accurately which options are beneficial and constructive.
…to love all our neighbours, even our enemies
Jesus said, ‘“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven”’ (Matthew 5:43-45).
When Jesus frees sinners from the anxiety of guilt, he frees them to turn outward in order to love their neighbours. Nobody said it better than Martin Luther: ‘[The Christian ought to think]: “…my God has given me in Christ all the riches of righteousness and salvation without any merit on my part, out of pure, free mercy, so that from now on I need nothing except faith which believes that this is true. Why should I not therefore freely, joyfully, with all my heart, and with an eager will do all things which I know are pleasing and acceptable to such a Father who has overwhelmed me with his inestimable riches? I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbour, just as Christ offered himself to me; I will do nothing in this life except what I see is necessary, profitable, and salutary to my neighbour, since through faith I have an abundance of all good things in Christ”’ (The Freedom of a Christian).
We have all received freely. Pray for a spirit of generosity which joys in giving freely.
Pray for those who feel they have to differentiate between those who deserve care and those who don’t.
‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’ (Galatians 5:1).
The Monthly Prayer Focus is provided by the International Social Justice Commission