March 2024

The following is a possible framework for the Witnessing of the Word. It can be personalised or altered: its purpose is to serve as an example of how this Saying might be used primarily in the context of a Prayer Group, but it may be used by individuals too. It is not intended to be definitive.  In the context of a group: the periods of silence should be appropriate for your group - probably not less than 5 minutes, or more than 15 minutes.

Saying for the month "say, 'The Lord has need of them', and he will send them".  Matthew 21.3  (RSV).

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; you may want to relax your way through your muscles or you may find it helpful to become aware of the sounds around you and then put them aside as you offer this time of prayer to God.

Say this introductory invitation to prayer, then keep a further minute or two of silence:  ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11.28)

Introduction to the first silence - a preparation for listening with the mind:

Palm Sunday and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem is such a pivotal moment in the Lord’s movement towards the Cross.  It is at this point that He is setting out on his journey towards the Cross in the final days of His life.  This is a very powerful statement about Jesus’s identity as well as His intention to face all that was about to happen in Holy Week and Easter.

Jesus must have known well the words of Zechariah 9.9: ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass’.  He comes now to fulfil this prophesy.  In Matthew’s Gospel he has warned the disciples that they are going up to Jerusalem where ‘He will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes who will condemn him to death, who will in turn deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day’ (Matthew 20. 18,19). So when they draw near to Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sends two disciples out with the task of finding an ass and her colt.  And it seems, as a precaution, the words that He gave them then, can in turn become our own back-up words: “say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them”’.

Jesus is being very practical.  He must have known that He needed to make a dramatic statement about who He was; a King of peace and humility and coming to His own city, courageously to face the powers who were plotting His death.  This ‘return’ would fulfil the prophesy of Zechariah, so he needed the donkey.  How he knew where to find the donkey and the foal, to fulfil the prophesy is unknown. Perhaps he had seen them on a previous journey to Jerusalem and even mentioned to the owner that this request would be made by his disciples.  Or perhaps it was a miracle. 

We ponder all this as we take this Saying into our minds, allowing the saying to speak to us: “say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them”’.

A time is now kept for silence of the mind – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes.  The silence concludes with a short thanksgiving, and/or feel free to repeat the Saying.

The first silence ends with the words: Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word.

Introduction to the second silence - a preparation for listening with the heart:

During Lent we are moving towards Palm Sunday and Holy Week with the intention of following our Lord in the final days of His life.  We can therefore contemplate this saying at this time and use it as a watchword as we ‘watch and wait’ for the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the unfolding days of Holy Week.  The words were first spoken to the disciples as a request by Jesus for a simple task; to go and fetch an ass and her foal for the Lord.  This would almost be an everyday task with which they would have been familiar.

For us, the words may indicate that the Lord might require simple tasks of us.  Tasks that will enable Him to be glorified in the everyday workings of our lives and the life of the church.  It may be a task that needs doing in our church or in the home and neighbourhood in which we live.  The Lord may send us to this task with the assurance that there is a back-up plan.  What is it that our Lord may be asking us to do for Him?  Some of us are overworked and have very little capacity to take on anything else and others may perhaps be looking for new employments, alert to jobs that need doing.  We have to be very discerning and wise as to what we may be able to do for the Lord.  And the starting place is not to rush but to seek the Lord’s guidance in prayer and contemplation.  There may well be all manner of tasks that need doing in our churches and communities that God has especially earmarked for each one of us, knowing our gifts and abilities.  March’s Saying: “say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them”’, speaks to each one of us about the particular tasks to which the Lord has appointed us.

And a very important and yet simple task is to ‘listen’ to what the Lord is asking, not only in terms of ‘doing’ but also in our contemplation and prayer life; to be open and receptive to His words.  Our ‘contemplative’ attitude to this saying is what really matters.  In the intercessory part of the exercise it will also be important to pray that the needs of the people and situations for whom we pray are met by God’s Holy Spirit as we remember His Son entering Jerusalem as Lord and King.  An alternative word to reflect out our prayers of intercession might also be ‘Behold your King is coming to you’ (Zechariah 9.9).

Now we take this word into our hearts, as we allow Jesus’ words to speak in us, to let it touch us and let it work more deeply upon our lives.

A time is now kept for silence of the heart – perhaps between 5 and 15 minutes.  

The second silence ends with the words: Father, we thank you that your Word is alive and within us.

Introduction to the time of intercession – taking God’s word outwards into the world:

“say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them”’ (Matthew 21.3)  or ‘Behold your King is coming to you’ (Zechariah 9.9).

Say the name of a person or a group of people, and after a short pause, repeat the saying. For example:

Alison and your family … “say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them”’.

Or say

Alison and your family … “‘The Lord ... will send”’.

Or say 

Alison and your family … ‘Behold your King is coming to you’.

As we allow the word to speak through us we might direct Jesus’ word towards those people and situations where there is suffering, hurt and an absence of joy and where abiding in Christ would bring comfort. 

Conclude this time of intercession with words of thanksgiving: Father, we thank you that your Word has gone out through us to those for whom we pray.

The Conclusion

Feel free to use the Fellowship Prayer (below) or another closing prayer to conclude your time of contemplative prayer:

Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for all your unsearchable riches which pour forth from you as light from the sun, in boundless profusion and generosity, whether received, ignored or rejected. And now we offer to you, in so far as we are able, as an emptiness to be filled with your divine fullness, ourselves, our souls and bodies; all that we are, all that we have and all that we do. Amen

You may wish to say the Grace together before departing.