Welcome to Booklet 40 of reflection and thoughts for prayer from the Presbytery Prayer Promoters’ Group. As usual, let me graciously remind you that we understand that for some of you, you will have your own prayer notes and ways of approaching God, but we hope that many readers will enjoy these reflections and use them to help guide their thoughts in prayer. Please share these notes as widely as possible; hopefully they will accomplish two things. a) Help us to build our relationship with God, in Christ Jesus and b) lead us into prayer for others, and for situations that seem impossible to us – but not impossible to God.
This week I hope to continue with our focus on the faithfulness of God as we find ourselves in yet another period of Lockdown. The reflections from Tuesday till Saturday consider the faithfulness of God through looking at Bible verses involving the number 40. There are many (146 reference to 40 throughout scripture) and many theologians debate the significance of this but we won’t in this booklet – we will simply look at those that remind us of God’s faithfulness and take it to heart for ourselves at this difficult time. I hope you will be blessed and be a blessing to others as you take time with the Lord. I also trust that you find beginning each week in the same way really helpful as we focus on thanking and praising God. Surely it is good to stop and reflect on those things… and good to make this a habit. (Some prayer prompts at the end)
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Monday 18th January, 2021
I promised in the first booklet that we would begin each new one offering this reflection and prayer of praise and hope from Paula Lennox, a member of both the Mission Committee and the Prayer Promoters’ Group. It is so important to put God first and praise Him before everything else. May we find new hope:
As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more (Psalm 71:14)
In this time of anxiety and uncertainty, let us remember there is always someone we can rely on. May we start each day thanking him for all he has done for us and holding this gratitude before us as a beacon of hope.
Father, we thank you for your promise to always be with us no matter our circumstances and we hold on to that promise now, as we feel anxious and uncertain as each day goes by. May we remember that through you all things were created, that you have supremacy over everything and nothing is impossible for you. You are our hope and we praise you. Amen
Prayer points are all about praising God:
Praise Him for the little things, we previously took for granted
Praise Him for nature that continues to flourish
Praise Him for more time to spend in His Word
Praise Him that whatever happens he is our hope
Praise Him for…
Now just talk to God about whatever is on your heart…he wants to bless you and give you peace as you trust in him. Amen
Tuesday 19th January, 2021
“ The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”… “Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:12 and 18
Reflection: Since the beginning of the recorded history of God’s interaction with human beings he has shown that he cares for us. When he rescued the people of Israel from captivity and oppression in Egypt he did not leave them to their own devices – thankfully. Human nature sadly has traits that lead us to self destruct (since the fall spoiled God’s perfection) and so this account shows him giving laws for protection and survival – so long as they were followed. Moses was the man God chose to lead the people, and here we see Moses waiting patiently for the Lord – 40 days and 40 nights on that mountain. The end result of this visit was the Ten Commandments (printed at the end of the Booklet). To this day they offer us a blue-print for successfully living with one another. It is no surprise that they begin with putting God first – blessings follow.
Let us pray:
- Lord God, we give you thanks that you have given us excellent guidelines to help us to honour you and honour our fellow human beings. Help us to be faithful in all things…
- Lord, we pray for all those who suffer because others are selfish and inconsiderate. Draw near and remind them of your loving care and give them strength, wisdom and grace.
- Fill us with hope as we continue to trust you every day. Amen
Wednesday 20th January, 2021
“ For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.” Nehemiah 9:21
Reflect: Let’s spend another day looking at God’s work with the people of Israel during the Exodus. There are many wonderful events like the giving of the Ten Commandments that we saw yesterday. In this one short verse that sums up 40 years of God accompanying them on that journey, we learn of his care and miraculous protection as he journeyed with them. Of course there were many hardships – and many even lost their lives during this time – simply because this is the way of humanity. Truly it is still the same today, but the miracle is that God is with us in every situation and when we look around and count our blessings we might even discover miracles still do happen – and for those who trust him – eternity in his presence is assured at the end of the journey through life.
Let us pray:
- God our Father, we are astonished that you choose to be alongside us, and you grant us peace when we see you are with us – especially in the life-changing gift of Jesus, our Saviour.
- Lord, we thank you again today for the light of your presence – leading, comforting, chasing away the shadows, blessing us.
- Lord light up the minds of everyone battling to defeat the Pandemic, everywhere. Grant wisdom to all who need it, and protect those facing the virus every day on our behalf.
- Close down the negative voices and those who spread falsehood and lies and mock the wisdom we are given. Amen
Thursday 21st January, 2021
“For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.” 1 Samuel 17:16
“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…” 1 Samuel 17:45
Reflection: What a time the people of Israel were having. The Philistine mentioned here is Goliath – a giant of a man and he was taunting and calling on them to come and fight while the rest of the army hid behind him. The people of Israel had no-one who could match up to him – or so they thought. They had been feeling desperate for so long that they forgot to rely on God and to trust in his protection. Then young David appeared. In his early days he had already proved that trusting in God was the safest and surest way to manage the difficulties of life – and that God was always with him. Some (including Goliath) mocked him, but he stood his ground and uttered those wonderful words: “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…” and the victory was assured.
Let us pray:
- Thank you Father God for the confidence that you are with us in every situation. Thank you for the life and times of David who has given us so much help to build our faith.
- We ask you Lord God to build our confidence and our hope in you. Show us that you are with us; help us to trust you more and to find our peace in you.
- Lord God, we pray for all who feel alone and afraid. Where we can help, show us how to help. Nothing is too hard for you so we pray that you will comfort all who need your love.
Friday, 22nd January, 2021
“The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he (Elijah) got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.” 1 Kings 19:7,8
Reflect: Sometimes there is so much in a story of those who served the Living God, it is hard to catch all the wonders of it. I have to admit that, like Elijah, I have often felt like giving up; I have felt alone, weak and tired and yet I have turned to the Lord and continued in his strength to face the next day and the next – and then looking back I see that God has enabled me to do more than I imagined possible. The Lord miraculously provided what Elijah needed, and persisted until Elijah heard him whisper to him – and went on to accomplish what needed to be done. From asking God to let him die, he found all the strength he needed by listening to God’s loving encouragement until 40 days later he arrived at Horeb (where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments) and where he showed Elijah what to do next…
Let us pray:
- Father God, we admit that we need you – we need to listen to hear your voice; we need to trust that you care for us and want to strengthen us. Help us, Lord.
- Help us, Lord, to understand that our lives are in your hand just as much as those lives of your early people and prophets.
- We have come to you through meeting with Jesus – in his life, death and resurrection – and so we know we are your children. Help us to know and understand this and to trust in you.
- Help us, Lord, to know your call on our lives, and help us to be faithful in worshipping you and serving others in Jesus’ name and in the strength you renew for us each day. Amen
Saturday, 23rd January, 2021
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1: 1-3
Reflect: As you read these words above, I hope you can see that if you ever doubted you were as precious to God as people like Moses, David and Elijah, these words will change that. We have been brought into the kingdom of the Living God by the gift of his son – and perhaps these 40 days are the most precious, because they provided living proof that Jesus is truly Emmanuel – God with us. Death could not hold him. And in case you still wonder about this, let me remind you that Jesus included us in a prayer that he prayed with his disciples: “…My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…” John 17:20. I cannot add anything of value to this…Amen
And now, let us continue to pray for others:
- Father God, We pray today that your Holy Spirit will descend over all the war torn countries of the Middle East – we pray your blessing on children who have known only fear and deprivation. God, we understand they have not believed in your message of love and forgiveness and we pray that you will break into the lives of many so that they turn to you.
- We thank you again today for the development of vaccines to fight Coronavirus round the world. Grant your wisdom and grace to be over the whole process and help each of us to continue in patience, knowing that you are with us in this as in everything. We pray for poor countries that they will not be deprived of this vaccine, but that it will provide hope for all.
- Almighty God, our hearts cry out to you for the conditions in the United States of America. There is little that seems to be united from the evidence that we see happening there. Tragically, this also seems to be true amongst those who claim to be your church. This is heart-breaking, and again we pray that you will visit that country and that your Holy Spirit will move hearts towards finding peace, in Jesus’ name.
- We offer our prayers that you will break through into the unrest between Hong Kong and China. Protect those who are your children there and help them to be peacemakers in very difficult situations.
- Lord God, we pray for your faithfulness to be evident in the work of Open Doors, Barnabus, and other similar organisations that reach out to those in countries where it is dangerous to be known as a believer in Jesus. May the name of the Lord offer the protection of a strong tower – In Jesus’ name, Amen
- Teach us all how to pray, Lord God, especially when we feel overwhelmed. Teach us how to do our part, knowing that you will bring your people everywhere to cover many other issues as we acknowledge our need of you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reflect, pray and obey… these are not only life-changing for individuals but for communities everywhere.
The Ten Commandments (Simplified)
- You shall have no other Gods but me.
- You shall not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it.
- You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
- You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
- Respect your father and mother.
- You must not commit murder.
- You must not commit adultery.
- You must not steal.
- You must not give false evidence against your neighbour.
- You must not be envious of your neighbour’s goods. You shall not be envious of his house nor his wife, nor anything that belongs to your neighbour.
And finally, The Lord’s Prayer…
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done;
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory, For ever and ever. AMEN