Autumn Prayer Service

A Service of Prayer for the Beginning of the Academic Term

The Call to Prayer

Let Israel rejoice in his Maker;
    let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise his Name in the dance;
    let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people
    and adorns the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;
    let them be joyful on their beds.
    Psalm 149:2-5

Request for Presence

Show us your mercy, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
    Psalm 85:7

The Greeting

Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,* because of your judgments, O LORD.

The Hymn

More love to thee
More love to thee, O Christ,
more love to thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee;
this is my earnest plea,
more love, O Christ, to thee,
more love to thee, more love to thee.

Once earthly joy I craved,
sought peace and rest;
now thee alone I seek; give what is best:
this all my prayer shall be,
more love, O Christ, to thee,
more love to thee, more love to thee.

Then shall my latest breath
whisper thy praise;
this be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
this still my prayer shall be,
more love, O Christ, to thee,
more love to thee, more love to thee.

The Refrain

For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room,* and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.
    Psalm 84:9

Psalm Reading

In your presence is fullness of joy
O LORD, you are my portion and my cup, it is you who uphold my lot.
My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel; my heart teaches me, night after night.
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.
My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; my body also shall rest in hope.
For you will not abandon me to the grave, nor let your holy one to see the Pit.
You will show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
    Psalm 16:5-11

The Refrain

For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.
    Psalm 84:9

Old Testament Reading

Seek the peace of the city to which I have carried you.

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
    Jeremiah 29:4-13

The Refrain

For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room,* and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.
    Psalm 84:9

Gospel Reading

Whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will find it.

Then Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
    Mark 8:34-38

The Refrain

For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.
    Psalm 84:9

A Bidding Prayer for the Peace of the University

Seek the Lord for the peace of the university; the flourishing, wholeness, justice, harmony, truth, and leadership of higher education, that faculty would be a redeeming influence on people, ideas and structures of the university; and in particular, for excellence in teaching and scholarship.

Almighty God, we beseech thee, with thy gracious favour to behold our universities, colleges, and schools; that knowledge may be increased among us, and all good learning flourish and abound. Bless all who teach and all who learn; and grant that in humility of heart they may ever look unto thee, who art the fountain of all wisdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ask the Lord to renew the truth of vocation among his people in the academy, helping us to see its foundational place in the life of discipleship to the Lord Jesus, renewing the calling of those who are flagging in zeal for the Lord’s purpose for their lives, making his particular calling clear to each Christian student and faculty member. Pray as well for your faithfulness to your current calling.

Almighty and ever living God, you are beyond the grasp of our highest thought, but within the reach of our frailest trust. Come in the beauty of the morning’s light and reveal yourself to us. Enrich us out of the heritage of seers and scholars and saints into whose faith and labors we have entered, and quicken us to new insights for our time; that we may be possessors of the truth of many yesterdays, partakers of your thoughts for today, and creators with you of a better tomorrow, through Jesus Christ, the Lord of the ages.

Intercede for particular faculty within the circle of your relationships, raising their names and their needs to the LORD.

Ask the Lord to provide and assemble all the needed resources of people, ideas, relationships, organizations, and funds to enable us to seek the peace of the university.

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise up early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.
    Psalm 127: 1-2

Take several minutes of silence to ponder Jesus call to wholehearted discipleship. What might that mean for you coming into a new academic year? Lean into the silence and prostrate your heart before the Lord Christ.

The Refrain

For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room,* and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.
    Psalm 84:9

The Lord’s Prayer (saying “debts … debtors”)

The Prayer Appointed for the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in me the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and that I may obtain what you promise, make me love what you have commanded; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Concluding Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you art mine, and I am yours.

So be it.

(from John Wesley’s Covenant Service, 1755)

*Freely adapted from the model of Phyllis Tickle, Prayer of the Hours (Image, 2006).

Photo credit: Drowsy Mary on flickr.

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Thomas Trevethan is one of InterVarsity’s most gifted Bible expositors. He has also authored the books The Beauty of God’s Holiness (InterVarsity Press) and Our Joyful Confidence: The Lordship of Jesus in Colossians (DILL Press). Tom holds an MA from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife Barb live in Ann Arbor where we are sure he continues to affect all he encounters as he enjoys retirement from InterVarsity after many years as the staff worker for the University of Michigan.

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