Palm Sunday (Belated)

The prayer below comes from Pastor Eric Youngblood. We’ll be featuring some of his prayers throughout this Holy Week as he helps us align our gaze towards Calvary. If you’d like to subscribe to his daily prayers throughout Lent, click here and scroll to the bottom to subscribe.

On this Palm Sunday as we celebrate the entrance of our Savior into the Jerusalem to do a kingly work of self-donating sacrifice that no one expected, it seems fitting to focus our time today on a few moments of thoughtful gratitude and considered praise. So we start by asking God to “blink our eyes open” which is how Anne Lamott describes what occurs to us when we notice praise-worthy things:

“It’s sort of like blinking your eyes open. … It’s sort of like when the Wizard of Oz first — when Dorothy lands in Oz and the movie goes from black and white to color, and it’s like having a new pair of glasses, and you say, ‘Wow!’ ”

And then, in keeping with one of Professor Clyde Kilby’s resolutions for mental health:

“I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.”

Lenten Prayer

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Blink my eyes wide open this day that I might see in vivid color the strokes of your artistic hand in all my scenic surroundings.

Unplug my clogged ears this day that I might hear soothing divine melodies in wind-in-tree duos, and in choral collaborations of chirping birds who are singing their gratitude to the One who has fed them yet again.

I stand at attention this morning to drink in the marvels of your Magnificence, O My King. 

“You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,

O Son of God, O Giver of life, your glory fills the whole world.” (Book of Common Prayer)

“Not to us, not to us but to your name be the glory Lord, because of your love and your faithfulness.” (Psalm 115)

Because you can’t resist being entirely loving toward all you have made, I give you astounded praise.

Because you are unashamed to admit us into your family Lord Jesus, I give you delighted praise.

Because you lavishly provide us with all our enjoyment requires, I give you appreciative praise.

Because it’s a good thing that your ways are most assuredly not ours, I give you adoring praise.

Because you bend, fashion, and alter the awful so that even it will become awe-producingly beneficial in the lives of those in whom you’ve taken an enduring interest, I give you exuberant praise!

Because you have so often sent the “cushions of your compassion amid even the harshest of circumstances,” we give our resilient praise.

Because you have indiscriminately promised the consoling presence of the Holy Spirit to all who ask, I give you relieved praise!

(Spend a few moments thinking of 3 things that happened in the last month (or week) where God answered a prayer, supplied for a need, or saw you through something difficult, or even, when you just noticed something wonderful that he had done in the world.)

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” (Phil. 1)…”But God who comforts the downcast, comforted us with the coming of Titus” (2 Cor. 7) ….You learned it (the Gospel of God’s grace) from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf (Col. 1) …So when we could stand it no longer…we sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials…” (1 Thess. 3)

(Ask God to draw to your attention to 2-3 folks he has sent into your life to comfort, teach, strengthen, or encourage you in the faith…and give God thanks for his thoughtful regard for what you have needed)

And now Lord, as I go to worship, I ask that a powerful impulse of gratitude will circulate through my spiritual bloodstream and in that of all your church throughout the world. 

Help us all to mimic your beautifully fragrant life of self-donation before our Father and before all to whom he sends us. 

Let our family resemblance to you be so pronounced and growing that it’d be inconceivable for any specks of sexual immorality, impurity, or greed to substantially smudge our lives as we are sent out into the world this week. 

Stop us in time when we’re tempted to use tongues meant for praise, for injurious gossip instead…or when we’re flirting with using words meant to cause flourishing for belittling or punishment.

Pull up the convoluted root systems of our grumbletonian suspicion, our detached cynicism, and our poisonous sarcasm, and plant in their place, lush gardens of aromatic gratitude, contagious wonder, soothing sincerity, and edifying speech.

I offer myself to you, O Christ. 

Do in me and through me all manner of surprising things which cause exponential gratitude to accrue to You, my worthy Savior, and Lord. Amen.

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