Monday of Pentecost 13 – Prayer of the Week

O merciful Lord, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all. Grant us courage and strength to take up the cross and follow Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

If you are reading these words in the U.S., it is Labor Day. (I have a few readers who live in other countries.) We pray for the courage and strength to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Courage and strength – cross bearing sounds like work! My neighbor has a business in which he trims trees. The large fir tree on the border of our two lots is his practice and training tree. Young men strap on various harnesses and soon are nimbly working around the canopy of that tree, over 30 or 40 feet off the ground. I am both terrified and impressed by their work.

My daughter works at a local grocery store. If you know anyone who labors in retail these days, especially in a city, say a prayer for them. Too often that job requires great courage and strength on her part. The other day the police came to break up a fight in the parking lot between customers who had a disagreement about proper decorum at the store.

All of us, however, need the courage and strength to follow Christ in the cross-bearing to which he calls us. I frankly do not have it of myself. I am grateful for the times people taught me to be brave, just as my neighbor teaches his new workers to climb that tree. I am glad for those whose presence has bolstered my courage, as the police officer surely did for my daughter when grown men were throwing punches outside the door of her workplace. Through people, experiences, His Word, and perhaps even through these devotions, God is giving you the gifts of courage and strength. Bear your cross with Christ. It is the very salvation of the world.

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