Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Ascension - Pentecost: 24th to 31 May 2020
‘They showed us unusual kindness’ (Acts 28:2)
- Bp Bill Fey and Brandon Zimmerman
In John 17:22, Jesus prays that the believers may be united, in the same way that the Son and Father are united, so that the world may believe in Jesus. The disagreements among Jesus’s followers are an obstacle to the spread of the Gospel. During the week of prayer for Christian unity, we are challenged to read and discuss scriptures and pray with our Protestant brothers.
We challenge you to make an agreement with your Protestant co-workers or neighbours to meet together to pray for Christianity unity during 24-31 May. Thisyear the Week of Prayer has been prepared by Christians on the islands of Malta and Gozo in the Mediterranean Sea. The reading for the 2020 Week of Prayer is Acts 27:18 – 28:10, about the shipwreck of St. Paul on Malta, which was the beginning of Christianity in that region. Today many migrants take dangerous journeys by land and sea to escape warfare and poverty. The reading from Acts challenges us not to be indifferent to foreigners who are in need and to trust God in times of danger.
For each day, begin by reading Acts 27:18 – 28:10 and focus on the chosen verses. Then read the other two passages. Discuss with each other how God is speaking to you through the Scripture. Close with prayer.
DAY 1 (24 May)
Reconciliation:Throwing Cargo Overboard
Acts 27:18-19 and 21 (The storm made them throw the cargo overboard)
Psalm 85 (Show us O Lord your kindness and grant us salvation)
Luke 18:9-14 (O God, be merciful to me a sinner)
Question:What do you need to get rid of in order to better love God and others?
Prayer:Forgiving God, set us free us from past memories that wound our shared Christian life. Help us to overcome hatred with love, anger with gentleness and suspicion with trust. We ask this in the name of your Son and our brother Jesus. Amen.
DAY 2 (25 May)
Enlightenment:Seeking Christ’s Light
Acts 27:20 (The storm was so large that we lost our hope of being saved)
Psalm 119:105-110 (You Lord are a lamp to my feet and a light to my path)
Mark 4:35-41 (Jesus awoke and calmed the wind and the sea)
Question:What questions and doubts do you have about God and his plan for you?
Prayer:O God, your word is a light to our steps. Without you we are lost. Help us to walk in your path. May our churches welcome your presence to guide, console and transform us. We ask this in the name of your Son who calls us to be a light to the world. Amen.
DAY 3 (26 May)
Hope: Responding to Paul’s Message
Acts 27:22 and 34 (Take courage for not one of you will be lost)
Psalm 27 (Hold me in your hands and set me high on a rock)
Matthew 11:28-30 (Come to me and I will refresh you)
Question: What are the times when you felt despair? What gave you hope?
Prayer:God of mercy, we turn to you when we are discouraged by a lack of progress toward visible unity. Some see unity as impossible; others see it as unnecessary. May our churches seek the unity for which Jesus prayed in his passion. We ask this through Jesus who lives with you and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
DAY 4 (27 May)
Trust:Believing and Not Being Afraid
Acts 27:23-26 (God will keep all of you safe so trust in him)
Psalm 56 (In God I trust without fear)
Luke 12:22-34 (Where your treasure is, there your heart will be)
Question:When you are afraid to whom do you turn for comfort?
Prayer:Almighty God, we are afraid when we suffer and are sick. We are anxious when someone we love dies. Teach us to trust in you. May our churches be signs of your care. In confidence we ask this in the name of your Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
DAY 5 (28 May)
Strength: Breaking Bread for the Journey
Acts 27:33-36 (Take some food which will give you strength to survive)
Psalm 77 (Lord be with us now as you led your people in the past)
Mark 6:30-44 (Jesus fed thousands with a little bread and fish)
Question: How is the sharing of food important to you and your culture?
Prayer: Loving God, your Son Jesus broke bread and shared the cup with his apostles at the Last Supper. In our celebration of the Eucharist we are given food for the journey that makes us strong. Give us strength to build bridges of compassion and harmony. We ask this in the name of your Son who gave his life that we might live. Amen.
DAY 6 (29 May)
Hospitality: Showing an Unusual kindness
Acts 28:1-2 and 7 (When we landed at Malta the people showed us great kindness)
Psalm 46 (God is our strength in times of distress)
Luke 14:12-24 (Bring in the poor for not one of those invited will enjoy my dinner)
Question:Who has shown you unusual kindness? Whom have you been kind to?
Prayer: Almighty God of the orphan and the widow, open our eyes and hearts when you ask us to feed you, to clothe you and to visit you. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus, who is present in the least of our sisters and brothers. Amen.
DAY 7 (30 May)
Conversion: Changing Our Hearts and Minds
Acts 28:3-6 (A poisonous snake attacked Paul but he shook it off and was unharmed)
Psalm 119:137-144 (Although distress comes on me, your commands are my delight)
Matthew 18:1-6 (Unless you become like a little child, you will not enter the Kingdom)
Question:What are some things in your life that hurt your ability to be a good Christian?
Prayer: Almighty God, as we seek your truth, purify us from our unjust opinions of others and lead the churches to grow closer together. Help us to let go of our fears and so better understand each other. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Day 8 (31 May)
Generosity: Receiving and Giving
Acts 28:8-10 (Paul received kindness from the people and gave healing to the sick)
Psalm 103:1-5 (Bless the Lord and do not forget his gifts)
Matthew 10:7-8 (The gift you have received, give as a gift)
Question:What can you do to bless other people, including strangers?
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for the gift of your love that strengths us. Help our churches to be always open to receive your gifts from one another and to share them with each other. In order to give, we must first learn to receive from you and from others. We ask this in the name of your Son who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever.Amen.