Prayers for Friday, 21 August, 2020 (Proper 20, Trinity10)


Today in the Christian calendar we remember Blaise Pascal (d 1662), scientist and religious thinker.  





O God, make speed to save us.


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.



The Lord is our refuge and our strength:  O come, let us worship.


Hebrew Scriptures 

Job 2.1-13

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.’

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.

Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. 




Psalm 140   


Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers;

   protect me from those who are violent, 

who plan evil things in their minds

   and stir up wars continually. 

They make their tongue sharp as a snake’s,

   and under their lips is the venom of vipers.



Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;

   protect me from the violent

   who have planned my downfall. 

The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,

   and with cords they have spread a net;

   along the road they have set snares for me.



I say to the Lord, ‘You are my God;

   give ear, O Lord, to the voice of my supplications.’ 

O Lord, my Lord, my strong deliverer,

   you have covered my head in the day of battle. 

Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked;

   do not further their evil plot.



Those who surround me lift up their heads;

   let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them! 

Let burning coals fall on them!

   Let them be flung into pits, no more to rise! 

Do not let the slanderer be established in the land;

   let evil speedily hunt down the violent! 


I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy,

   and executes justice for the poor. 

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;

   the upright shall live in your presence.






Acts 9.1-9 (The Conversion of Saul)



John 6.27-40

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ So they said to him, ‘What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” ’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’



Commentary (Father Michael)


Pressing on today with the story of Job. and what a difficult thing to read, with its suggestion that God would willingly allow us to experience suffering!  God’s giving Job into the power of Satan, like the story of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis, can be difficult to reconcile with our idea of God as a loving father.  All I can suggest for now is that we be willing to sit with that tension and unease as we work our way through Job.


The second exchange between God and Satan (2.1-3a) is word for word identical with the first exchange (1.6-8), and this repetition reminds us of how folktales often work.  Job probably originated as a folktale, which took on theological weight as the canon of the Hebrew scriptures was developed.  Likewise the words of Job’s wife, which elicit a statement of faithful patience from Job (2.9-10), mirror Job’s reaction to the terrible news he receives from the surviving servant (1.13-22).  In both cases, the theme of the story, of faithful acceptance of the good and bad that life brings, is developed.


The appearance of Job’s friends at the end of chapter 2 completes the prologue and sets the stage for the long debates that follow.  Their strategy, to sit silently with their friend in solidarity with his suffering, is admirable.  As anyone trained in pastoral care and visiting knows, the most effective thing one can do when visiting is to be a compassionate presence, so the one suffering knows that they are not alone.  Usually the worst thing that a visitor can do is to show up and start talking!   We shall see how well Job’s friends do as we go on.




Is God giving Job into Satan’s power problematic for you?   How do you respond to Job’s continuing faithfulness amid all that he has suffered?  

What other questions come to mind in today’s passages?




Let us pray in faith to God our Father, to his Son Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, saying, “Lord, hear and have mercy.”


For the Church of the living God throughout the world, let us ask the riches of his grace.  Today we pray in the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer for the clergy and people of these Dioceses and for their bishops:  Oleh (Nigeria) The Rt Revd John Usiwoma Aruakpor, and Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda) The Rt Revd Samuel Kahuma 

 In our Diocesan cycle, we pray for the clergy and people of St. Paul, Runnymede.


 Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who proclaim he word of truth, especially all who struggle to communicate the gospel within the isolation and restrictions of the pandemic, 

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who have consecrated their lives to the kingdom of God, and for all struggling to follow the way of Christ, let us all the gifts of the Spirit.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For Elizabeth our Queen, for Justin our Prime Minister, and for all who govern the nations, that they may strive for justice and peace, let us ask the strength of God.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For the people of Belarus, as they struggle to claim their stolen election, and for the people of Lebanon, dealing with failed government and the aftermath of the Beirut explosion.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For scholars and research workers, particularly for those working on treatments and a vaccine for Covid 19, and for all whose work seeks to benefit humanity, let us ask the light of the Lord.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


We pray to be forgiven our sins and set free from all hardship, distress, want, war, and injustice.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who have passed from this life in faith and obedience,  and for all who have perished from Covid 19 and from diseases that went untreated because hospitals were overwhelmed, let us ask the peace of Christ.

Lord, hear and have mercy.



The Lord’s Prayer


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.






Almighty God, who gave your servant Blaise Pascal a great Intellect, that he might explore the mysteries of your creation, and who kindled in his heart a love for you and a devotion to your service: Mercifully give us your servants, according to our various callings, gifts of excellence in body, mind, and will, and the grace to use them diligently and to your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and sent into our hearts the Spirit of your Son.  Give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that all people may know the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.