This Maundy Thursday reflection and prayer comes from Pastor Eric Youngblood’s Lenten prayer series. If you’d like to subscribe to his daily prayers throughout Lent, click here and scroll to the bottom to subscribe.
The healing command was issued of course on an ancient Thursday after the enfleshed “Lord of the Star-fields and Ancient of Days” dropped to his knees with a wash rag and bucket of water to wipe the grime from his protesting disciples feet.
Divine Power used to pressure wash mildew-stained souls, to beautify the haggard beloved, and to increase the other’s gain at incalculable personal expense.
Jesus insisted our replication of this seeking, giving, other-preoccupied, self-forgetful, serving, beautifying, foot-washing love would be his brand. “By this, all men will know you are my disciples.” (cf. John 13)
And an intriguing promise. A pledge that elucidates a daily aspiration no matter our particular vocation:
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17)
Today, we pray for an increase of love. For an increase of desire to love. For an increased apprehension of the marvel of this Savior who “stoops to conquer.”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13)
Stooping and Saving King,
I bow and pause before you at the head of this day, armed with gratitude and awe for
the splendors of your sacrifice,
by which peace was purchased for us at the price of punishment for you,
a healing was worked into us at the drastic cost of your own wounds.
Indeed, O Christ, You are:
“A sun and shield;
You bestow favor and honor;
And no good thing do you withhold.” (Psalm 84:11)
Thank you for your stunning patience toward me which emboldens me to return to you again today.
Counting on an affectionate audience from him who desires my salvation and is opposed to my ruin is a sweet and stunning inducement to come to you, my Savior.
I am sorry that what I know most about love, often seems to be truncated and cramped: how to guard, protect, promote, defend, ponder… myself.
I labor frequently for love, but mostly, of a sort that trips me up for it is a deformed self-love chock-full of pre-occupation with my own advantage.
Like the disciples whom you assured could have no part with you unless you washed them, I need your comprehensive cleansing.
Like King David after his precipitous moral collapse, I plead, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
Like the Apostle Peter after this trinity of despairing denials of you, I need your reassurance through reinstatement to your service…to know and believe that my selfishness, cowardice, and faltering allegiance to you hasn’t disqualified me from representing you or being full yours.
Today wounded Savior, please hide your face from my perennial suspiciousness of your goodness, my careless and punishing tongue, and the paltry level of love in the tank of my heart, especially for those who are not like me.
And as “you withhold no good thing”,
From the abundance of your profound generosity, create a new heart in me and rehabilitate my jaded attitude.
From the overflow of your world-healing love, make my love increase today for everyone I meet, and anyone who might have a claim on my time, attention or money.
From the enormity of your gut-shaking compassion for legions of helpless, harassed and unshepherded folk, make my compassion increase today for the angry, scared, complaining, needy, downcast, poor, and demanding.
From the unparalleled fullness of your refusal to hold our sins against us, make my instinct to forgive increase today so that retaliation, nursing grudges, and slanderous payback become foreign concepts to me.
(Spend a few moments praying for love, compassion, and forgiveness for people you know, work with, are in conflict with, or may run across…ask God for “your love to increase for each other and for everyone else” I Thessalonians 3:12)
Father, you are always at work.
And it is our beautifying love that directs, sustains, and flavors that action in the world.
I praise you for acting on our behalf,
For so regularly lifting me out of the pit, and putting a new song of praise in my heart.
And I praise you this day that you sent your suffering Son to seek and to save what was lost. That, while I was not concerned with you, you nevertheless came seeking me, and not only me O Lord, but a countless host of wanderers, rebels, and disinterested malcontents.
Will you spur me on to love and good deeds today, as an outworking of what you have now worked into me?
Will you let me my love abound more and more…and let me be filled with the fruit of righteousness, a righteousness that will happily disadvantage myself for the advantage of others, which emerges only through my foot-washing, bruised, battered, but now, resurrected Savior?
Will you give me the blessedness of putting love into action today, because, as Paul reminds us “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”?
(Ask Jesus if there are ACTS of love, even the very tiniest seeming, where He might use you to encourage, help, serve, benefit, or hearten another through your willing generosity with words, work, listening, money, or service.)
Good Shepherd, please grant me an undivided heart that teems with your Spirit and will, all this day, bear the “fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, do please make my love concrete; your grace in me evident; and the tenderness I have received, cheerfully shareable by all to whom you assign me to care this day. I pray with confidence through the name of my Rescue, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.