Have you ever heard of Rogation Days? I hadn't until recently, even though observing such days is an ancient Christian custom dating back to at least the 5th century. (The word "rogation" comes from a Latin verb, rogare, which means "to ask.")
Here's a quick overview of Rogation Days from An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church:
Traditionally, [these] are the three days before Ascension Day on which the litany [i.e., a series of petitions] is sung (or recited) in procession as an act of intercession. [Rogation Days] originated in Vienne, France, in the fifth century when Bishop Mamertus introduced days of fasting and prayer to ward off a threatened disaster.
In England they were associated with the blessing of the fields at planting. The vicar "beat the bounds" of the parish, processing around the fields reciting psalms and the litany. In the United States they have been associated with rural life and with agriculture and fishing....
[Today, Rogation petitions] have widened their scope to include commerce and industry and the stewardship of creation.
The Rogation Days — observed yesterday, today, and tomorrow (in advance of Ascension Day this Thursday) — serve as a reminder that we are dependent on the Lord to prosper our labors and provide for our needs. This echoes the words of Moses to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 8:17-18:
Beware lest you say in your heart, "My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth." You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth...
This morning (in the PrayerMate app), I came across this Rogation Day prayer from the Church of England:
whose will it is that the earth and the sea
should bear fruit in due season:
bless the labours of those who work on land and sea,
grant us a good harvest
and the grace always to rejoice in your fatherly care;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord...
And here is a Rogation prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:
whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess:
Grant us grace that we may honor thee with our substance and,
remembering the account which we must one day give,
may be faithful stewards of thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Modern life tends to crowd out an ongoing awareness that God is our source and that, ultimately, we are dependent on him for everything. So it seems fitting that the Rogation Days occur just before Ascension Day, when we are reminded that "Christ Jesus...is at the right hand of God — and He is interceding for us" (Romans 8:34).
In the spirit of Rogation Days, I am asking in my prayers this week for God to bless the world with continued fruitfulness of earth and sea, and also for His provision through God-honoring commerce and industry. I hope you will join me. May we also ask for His help in being faithful stewards of what He sees fit to entrust to us.