The prayer life: Meditation for Rogation Sunday
Every 5th Sunday after Easter, which is also the Sunday preceding Ascension Day, is traditionally marked as Rogation Sunday. Rogation comes from the Latin rogare, which means, “to ask.” It is a day, when the church specially asks for God’s blessing on the seed that have been or will be planted, the soil that have been cultivated, and the farmers who labour in the field and for the good of all humanity. It is from the Rogation Days prayers (as found in the Sarum Sacramentary) that Archbishop Cranmer formulated the Litany (1545), which was his first work of liturgical reform.
A tradition has it that the Rogation Days, which are the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after the Rogation Sunday or before Ascension Day, originated in Vienne, France (not Vienna, Austria), in 470 after a series of natural disasters had caused much suffering among the people. Archbishop Mamertus proclaimed a fast and ordered that special litanies and prayers be said as the population processed around their fields, asking God’s protection and blessing on the crops that were just beginning to sprout. This is a clear demonstration of the church’s belief in prayer. In an agricultural society, closely connected with the soil and highly vulnerable to the uncertainties of nature, such an idea took root quickly, and the custom spread around Europe and over to Britain.
Thus, traditionally, on Rogation Sundays, the church congregations process around the boundaries of the churches and to farms and factories, “asking” God to bless the crops being sown, send rain, grant us good harvest later in the year and bless the works of our hands.
Today, we meditate on Prayer or the Life of Prayer.
Prayer, according to Sun Mobile Dictionary is: “1. Devout petition or spiritual communication with God. 2. Petition.” Although technically, petition (asking for or bringing our sensed needs or desires to God) is only an element of prayer, it expresses the basic meaning of prayer, which is our putting into tangible action our belief in a personal, caring God, Who is present, willing, and able to act on our behalf and others. Prayer is a privilege, an opportunity, a duty and responsibility. It can change a person, his family, his friends, and the world. It is the petition aspect that is our focus today. The scope of petition is anything or anyone that concerns the petitioner.
In the Gospel for the day (John 16:23-33), our Lord Jesus assured the disciples that His Father would give them whatever they ask in His name. They were, therefore, urged to ask and consequently receive and so have their joy complete.
Rogationtide marks an expression and demonstration of confidence in the Almighty God, Who is much interested in our welfare and ever willing to hear us when we pray. God will surely bless our land, and us if we call on His name with respect to calamities and adversities of our land (2Chron. 7:13-14). The Lord explicitly bids us to ask and we will receive; to seek and we will find; and to knock and it will be opened to us (Matt. 7:7-11). It is a promise, and God is faithful in keeping His promise.
Hindrances To Prayers
If we do not receive what we ask God in prayers, the reasons must be from us. Such reasons include:
i. Our relationship with the Triune God:
• Not asking according to God’s will (Matt. 6:10; I Jn 3:22; 5:14-15);
• Not abiding in Jesus (Jn 15:7);
• Not asking in the Name of Jesus (Jn 14:13, 14; 15:16; 16:23-24) and
• Not praying in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20).
ii. Our motives
• Asking amiss (Jas 4:3) and
• Selfishness (Jas 4:2-3)
iii. Our attitudes
• Asking with doubt and wavering mind (Matt. 21:22; Jas 1:6-7);
• Asking with arrogance and presumption (Luke 18:9-14);
• Lack of perseverance (Luke 18:1-8; Col. 4:2; Jas 5:16) and
• Marital discord (I Peter 3:7)
iv. Our spiritual/sinful life
• Unconfessed/cherished sin (Psalm 66:18);
• Disregard for God’s Law/Word (Prov. 28:9);
• Iniquity/wickedness/injustice (Isa. 59:1-2) and
• Sin (Isa. 64:7)
We need a prayer life to succeed. But we need to examine our lives for our unanswered prayers and so pray aright.
Ven. Dr Princewill O. Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. www.ibrucentre.org
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