By Brooke Holt
“Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” – Book of Common Prayer, The Collect for Year B, Third Sunday in Lent
Yesterday we began our church service with this humble prayer: “Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves.” As we enter this fourth week of Lent, it is easy to see how true these words are. If the season of Lent were not enough to reveal our human fragility, then all we must do is turn on the news—and we are reminded of the global pandemic, political rancor, economic instability, and war in Ukraine. We can pray fervently, but we know that these situations are far beyond the strength of our human solutions. Thankfully, they are not beyond the providence of our heavenly Father.
In this Collect, we are reminded that when life feels overwhelming, we can turn to the Lord and ask him for protection in the external world. Even more, we can ask him for protection in our internal world. We come in prayer, asking the Lord to protect us from war, poverty, hunger, and every enemy to our bodies and souls. As we ask for that protection, we ask the Lord to strengthen our spirits—so that no matter what happens, we may think the thoughts of Christ, turn from evil, and remain steadfast in faith. True hope is found in the perfect finished work of Christ on our behalf, and we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2b). We wait with patience and hope for the resurrection in the life to come (Romans 8:23–25).
As this Collect concludes, we are reminded to whom we pray—Jesus Christ, who is eternal, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He is our advocate and our Savior. He knows the battles that rage in our world, both externally and internally, and he has made the way for victory. Victory will not come in our power but in acknowledging our need for his power to work in us and through us.
What a glorious God we serve!
Let us pray again today: Almighty God, help us! How do you need the Lord to help you with the battles of your external and internal worlds today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week small group Bible study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.
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