Esther and Ahasuerus, by Paolo Veronese
Artist: Paolo Veronese
Location: Galleria degli Uffizi
Medium: Oil on canvas
Date: Unknown (1528-1588)
My Lord God, there is not one mention of your name in the book of Esther, and yet your work in preserving your people is clearly discerned throughout it. The book provides an example of the persecution your people have endured time and again throughout history, and your sovereignty in turning even the work of evil men to good for those whom you love. Haman succeeded in tricking Ahasuerus to decree that the Jews be massacred—but your purposes prevailed, and through your servant Esther your people were given the power to gain mastery over their enemies. Help me to remember that you reign in every situation, and that you work all things, even the darkest and most painful, to the good of those who love you—for you love us infinitely.
Father, I thank you that you have provided us with examples of real men and women who have lived out their faith before us, from whom we may draw strength and encouragement. You have promised us your Holy Spirit to guide our hearts closer to you, given us your word to instruct us in how to walk in accordance with your desires, and added to these the examples of those who have gone before us. You know that it is often difficult for us to put your words into practice, and descriptions of men and women of faith who have won the victory and whom we will one day meet in the great communion of saints inspires us to stretch higher to achieve the tasks you have set for us. I thank you for the recorded life of Esther, and for directing me to the woman I should be through her example.
Give me the courage of Esther, dear Lord, to do what is needed even when it may result in death. Cultivate in me the self-sacrifice of Esther, who was willing to give up her life in order to protect her people. I am lacking in both of these and cling to antithetical traits in my weakness, so often acting out selfishness and failing to take a stand for what is right. Only your power can make perfect my weakness, and I pray that you work out this promise in me.
Esther was an intercessor for her people against evil, as you have commanded all of us to intercede for one another. Forgive me, dear Lord, that I fail to follow this example and to plead for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am too wrapped up in myself to remember the people whom it is my duty and privilege to bring before you; open my heart to care for others so that I may be a blessing to them through intercession, so that your Church may be strengthened to stand against the Evil One who never sleeps in his desire to destroy us.
Most of all, dear God, make me your instrument as you did Esther. Give me a heart of such humility and obedience that it is ever mindful of your desires and submissive to your commands. Establish Christ as Lord of my heart that I may shine his light on all who know me, and use me as your instrument of blessing for your people. Make me like Esther, Lord: a woman of faults still, but who is greatly used of you.