The following was the introduction given at the Middleburg Heights, Ohio 2019 National Day of Prayer event
The theme for today’s National Day of Prayer is, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you.” John 13:34 That is a wonderful thought, that all people would love one another, but what did Jesus mean by “as I have loved you?” Did he mean the love that a child has for a candy bar? The erotic love of a man and a woman? The indulgent love of grandparents for a toddler?
Jesus gave this command to His disciples just after He had washed their feet to give them an example of the love He meant – a love that wills what is best for the other (not necessarily what the other would like at the moment).
How else did Jesus love His disciples? He radiated love to them so strongly that when He called “Follow me,” they dropped their fish nets, walked away from their families, and joined a life of complete trust in, and dependence on, Christ. Even when He sent them off to preach, with no food, no money, no change of clothes, His love provided, and they lacked nothing.
Jesus loved His disciples in a way that totally transformed their lives – from lives toiling in and for the world to lives lived eternally in the spirit.
What does all this have to do with our day of prayer?
We look upon the immensity and complexity of the universe that God has created, and the natural laws by which He constantly maintains it, and we pray in awe.
We look upon the miracle of life, the way in which all other living species complement and sustain each other according to God’s laws. We consider the gift God has given us to share in this life, and we pray in gratitude.
Then we look upon the world of human beings, the only species that may disobey God’s laws, and we see hunger, exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, wars … and we pray in remorse. “For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blaspheme, pride, foolishness.” (Mar 7:21) “From whence come wars and fighting among you?” (Jas 4:1) “All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mar 7:23)
So as we pray today for the many ways in which we would like to see God’s kingdom come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we must pray first of all for Christ, who dwells within each person as a seed, to rise up and take control and deliver us from the evil within ourselves, as He has the power to do when we submit. For the Kingdom is at hand, and it grows here on earth as, one by one, we yield ourselves to His will, to be done in our hearts and in our lives. Then we can love one another as Christ has loved us.