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A Rare Prayer for the Church
 Salvatore Anthony Luiso
     Psalm 80:14 says:
 
Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;
 
     In the book The Treasury of David, by Charles H. Spurgeon, the following prayer attributed to the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498) is quoted in connection with this verse:
 
Still it has roots, still some branches are living. In the beginning of the world it began, and never has failed, and never will. For thou hast said, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. It may be diminished, it can never utterly fall. This vine is the vine which thou hast planted. There is one spirit, one faith, one baptism, one God, and Lord of all, who is all in all. Visit, then, this vine, for thy visitation preserves her spirit; visit by thy grace, by thy presence, by thy Holy Spirit. Visit with thy rod, and with thy staff; for thy rod and thy staff comfort her. Visit with thy scourge that she may be chastened and purified, for the time of pruning comes. Cast out the stones, gather up the dry branches, and bind them in bundles for burning. Raise her up, cut off the superfluous shoots, make fast her supports, enrich the soil, build up the fence, and visit this vine, as now thou visitest the earth and watereth it.

     Much of this prayer is based on John 15:1-8, wherein the Lord Jesus speaks of Himself as the True Vine, His disciples as the branches, and His heavenly Father as the vinedresser. Savonarola believed that all the people of God of all ages--including those who lived prior to the Incarnation, e.g. the Patriarchs--are branches in the Vine who is Christ.
 
     It is also based on other passages of the Scriptures, including, it seems to me, at least the following: Matthew 28:20, Psalm 80:8, Ephesians 1:23 and 4:4-5, Psalm 23:4, Hebrews 12:5-11, Titus 2:14, Isaiah 5:1-2, Matthew 13:30, and Psalm 65:9.
 
     Savonarola agreed with the author of Hebrews that it is good for God to chasten His people, and thus he prayed for Him to do it. Hebrews 12:10-11 says that God chastens them in fatherly love so that they may yield "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" and partake of His holiness.
 
     Savonarola also agreed with the Lord Jesus that it is good for God the Father to take away the branches of the Vine which produce no fruit, and to prune those branches which do produce fruit. Both measures are conducive to fruitfulness, and the Father is glorified when the branches bear much fruit (John 15:2 and 8). He prunes with love, and He has the knowledge and wisdom to prune as is best.
 
Questions for consideration:
1. Do you consider God's chastening (discipline) to be good?
2. If so, do you desire He chasten the church? Yourself?
3. What do you think about asking God, in fatherly love and in His knowledge and wisdom, to chasten and purify the church, for her good and His glory?
4. Do you consider God's pruning of the branches so that they would bear much fruit to be good?
5. If so, do you desire that He prune the church? Yourself?
6. What do you think about asking God, in His knowledge and wisdom, to take away unfruitful branches and to prune fruitful branches of His church, so that she would bear much fruit and He would be glorified?
7. Would you like to pray this prayer attributed to Savonarola? If so, why? If not, why not?

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Lord God,

It is so very painful to be disciplined by You. But You would not be a good father if You didn't correct us. We are wayward, with deceitful hearts and we get ourselves into trouble. Please help us to understand what You want to teach us so that we can learn from our mistakes and experiences. Help us to be more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us.

You are the One who binds our broken hearts. Thank You.

We pray Ps 51:12 for us all: Restore to us the joy of Your salvation, and sustain us with a willing spirit.

Thank You in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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