Prayer Booklet 42

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 42 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 believe it is good for us to rest in the beauty of what God has provided and to rest in his love for each one of us.  Of course, it is true that even the commandments were given – not from a God of tyranny, but a God of love.  However, this week, the reflections from Tuesday till Saturday will look at some references to flowers in the Bible.  I hope you will be blessed and be a blessing to others as you take time to consider them each day. Flowers always fill me with a sense of wonder at God’s creation, and a sense of hope as I look on their fragile yet tenacious beauty.  I also trust that you find beginning each week in the same way really helpful as we focus again on thanking and praising God.  Surely it is good to stop and reflect on those things… and good to make this a habit. (N.B. I have tried to find the truest name to identify the flowers.  There is debate…)

If you would like to comment or share a story then please contact me: christistewart@nullbtinternet.com  Amen

Sunday, 31st January, 2021

I have been remiss in not including the Sunday Prayer recommended by Rev Martin Fair – Moderator of the Church of Scotland. We are encouraged to be united together in this prayer at 7.00 p.m. on a Sunday ( a different time if you cannot do this at 7) It is never too late to join in these prayers…

“The Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing’ and Jesus himself offers parables where persistence in prayer is lauded.

“It can be hard to keep going when there’s no end in sight; much easier when the finishing line comes into view. In the case of the pandemic, it still feels as if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.“  All the more reason then for God’s people to continue faithfully in prayer.

“In the Book of Psalms, the Psalmist affirms that God ‘remembers’ and that, in particular, God remembers the covenant made with the people of God. The One who forges a relationship with the people of God, is the One who remembers the covenant forever. (Psalm 111: 5)

“In our remembering, we recall the One who remembers us and does not forget all that we endure in these hard times.”

We pray:

God who remembers,
Be with us in our remembering this day.
Be with us on the journey
That takes us from the past
And into the future that lies before us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who remembers,
Be with us in our remembering this day.
Be with as we recall those who have shaped us
And the events that have made us.
Grant to us grace and healing in all we recall.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who remembers,
Be with us in our remembering this day.
Be with us in sorrow and in loss
And come beside all who mourn this day.
Come beside us and do not leave us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who remembers,
Be with us in our remembering this day.
Be with those who serve in hospitals and in homes
And who, by their medical and nursing skills,
Provide comfort and hope to those who suffer.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who remembers,
Be with us in our remembering this day.
Be with us as community and nation
And strengthen us in all we endure.
Even in the darkness, may we find your light renewed through Jesus Christ.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Monday 1st February, 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.

Prayer

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 2nd February, 2021

“See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
 is heard in our land.” Song of Songs 2:11,12

Reflection: Today, where better to start than with this song of hope that begins with flowers appearing on the earth. Song of Songs is a book in the word of God that can be described as a poetic love song.  These verses are a picture again of the blessings that God longs to pour out on his creation.  It might seem as though these days are far away as we still struggle, not only in our land, but throughout the world, with the ravages of Covid-19.  Yet, as we look around us we see the evidence of the wonders of creation still happening.  This is evidence that God has not deserted us. There is also hope that vaccinations are helping to free us from the continuing tragedies created by Coronavirus.  Let me encourage you to keep praying and calling out to him.  David, in Psalm 37, reminds us to ‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.’  Let us calm our fears and try to do this.  Look for the flowers; listen for the birds; count the blessings that come in different ways; be thankful and let God refresh your soul. Let us pray together:

  • Loving Creator, God, we believe you do long to bless us with healing and freedom to live our lives. Thank you.
  • Today we pray and ask you to give comfort to all those who have lost loved ones or who are struggling with illness.
  • Thank you for everyone who is called to serve the needs of others while many stay sheltered at home; strengthen them
  • Grant wisdom to those who make decisions on our behalf.
  • Now grant us peace and rest and help us to see Jesus, our friend, with us always as he promised. Amen

Wednesday 3rd February, 2021

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet, I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. ” Luke 12: 27

Reflection: Yesterday we looked at words from the book of Solomon, and today we read words in which Jesus referred to Solomon – a very rich and wise King at the beginning of his reign. This is a real call to us in testing times to trust the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and keep our faith firmly fixed in God.  It might not seem easy, but today I encourage you to think about all Jesus has done to enable us to be called the children of God – his was the most difficult path of all as he journeyed to the cross, always knowing that the purpose of his life was to give himself for us that we might know new life in him, as we receive forgiveness for all that would separate us from God.  Like the beautiful lilies, we are given the beauty of God’s grace simply by trusting in Jesus.  If we can do as Jesus said and focus on God and his kingdom, his way of hope and peace, we find hope even in the darkness of this time.

Let us pray together:

  • Father God, we come to you with faith and hope in our hearts. Thank you for your constant presence with us.  Help us to put everything into your hands for safe-keeping.
  • We pray for all who struggle to find hope, for those who feel nothing but despair. Lord God, open their hearts to know that there is always hope in Jesus, and may they take tentative steps today towards that hope.
  • “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All his wonderful passion and purity, O thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” (Albert Orsborn)
  • Help us to reach out to others in love, in Jesus’ name. Amen

Thursday 4th February, 2021

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.  Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.“ Isaiah 35:1-2

Reflection: This is a beautiful reminder that, like nature, the seasons of life are ever changing.  If we were to weave life into a tapestry, there would be colours of every shade and mood.  There is hope for us when we see spring flowers breaking through the cold, hard earth that God is with us in every moment.  We cannot see the crocus springing to life below the soil, but it is happening.  One day, and I believe it will be soon, we will see brighter and happier moments filling our days as we break free of this pandemic.  God is ever working…

However, as we rejoice in the hope of better days to come, let us never forget the price paid to this virus by those who have lost much, and have more to do to rebuild lives in a different way.  Let us meet one another with kindness – even when we might lack understanding.  May we all help to bring joy to one another and remember there is nothing at all that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  May the joy of the Lord always be our strength.  Let us pray: 

  • Lord God, we thank you today for every blessing; even when our situation is difficult we can see them all around us – especially in the beauty of tender new flowers opening up.
  • Father God, show us today how we can help to provide what someone else needs. Help us not to miss opportunities to show your love and grace to others practically and in prayer.
  • We thank you today for every group set up to help and support others – especially our Church Guild, Pastoral Care Teams and Youth Organisations. We pray you will show them how to be your people.  Bless them in Jesus’ name. Amen

Friday, 5th February, 2021

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” Matthew 6:30 (The Living Bible)

Reflect: I have been making a practice recently of listening for the voice of Jesus, who is after all the Son of God.  He speaks with the authority of God. At this point in his time on earth he was instructing those who had committed themselves to following him, and so he is also instructing his followers today, now, in our time.  He is giving instruction to you and to me.  Jesus follows these words by telling his disciples that they should only concern themselves with their worries for today and to leave tomorrow’s worries alone. Then he is counselling them to take today’s worries and hand them over to God and trust that God knows and understands, and will draw near in providing strength and support for the day. He is asking us to seek out God in the midst of our worries.  God is there with his wisdom, comfort and grace.

Let us pray:

  • Lord, we all have difficult times when we feel there is much that we need. In those times grant us the faith to trust in you and be patient in our circumstances.
  • Father God, we are hearing so much about countries arguing over who gets the vaccines first. Send your spirit of wisdom, mercy and grace on all leaders to be fair and equitable.
  • Thank you for the time Jesus spent on the earth. Show us how to truly listen to his message, and to take his words and make them work in our lives that we might be true followers.
  • Lord, we pray for all those for whom the vaccine is just too late. Their suffering is over but families and friends suffer the grief of loss. Draw near in compassion and healing. Amen

Saturday, 6th February, 2021

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”  Songs of Solomon 2:1

This hymn was written almost 100 years ago, but it is still a beautiful personal reflection on Jesus, using the name of the flower ‘Rose of Sharon’.  (The ‘Rose of Sharon’ is a name for the Hibiscus shrub – not a rose.  But it is beautiful)

  1. Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom within my heart;
    Beauties of Thy truth and holiness impart,
    That wherever I go my life may shed abroad
    Fragrance of the knowledge of the love of God.

    • Refrain:
      Jesus, Rose of Sharon,
      Bloom in radiance and in love within my heart.
  2. Jesus, Rose of Sharon, sweeter far to see
    Than the fairest flowers of earth could ever be,
    Fill my life completely, adding more each day
    Of Thy grace divine and purity, I pray.
  3. Jesus, Rose of Sharon, balm for every ill,
    May Thy tender mercy’s healing power distil
    For afflicted souls of weary burdened men,
    Giving needy mortals health and hope again.
  4. Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom forevermore;
    Be Thy glory seen on earth from shore to shore,
    Till the nations own Thy sovereignty complete,
    Lay their honours down and worship at Thy feet.

(By Ida d. Gurney 1922)

And now, let us continue to pray for others: the following statement on Nuclear Weapons from The Church’s World Mission Update has immense significance for the world. I thought you would welcome the opportunity to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for this treaty. It is a huge step forwards for mankind.  However, we also need to pray that all nations will be willing to abide by it.  Please pray

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into legal force on Friday 22 January. The treaty prohibits signatories from taking part in any activities involving nuclear weapons, including possessing, transferring, using, or encouraging use of nuclear weapons.
We’re celebrating the treaty and the work of all the peace campaigners and activists who have helped to secure this historic development, as well as urging the UK government, which has not yet signed the treaty, to reconsider.
The General Assembly has consistently backed nuclear disarmament for nearly 40 years, and in 2018 it explicitly welcomed the Treaty and called for the UK Government to disarm and engage with the treaty process.
Faith Impact Forum Convener, the Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, has contributed to a short video featuring leaders of different faith communities standing together for a more peaceful world. You can watch the video from Friday (that was 22nd January) as the legislation comes into force. (This video may be seen on Church of Scotland Website – under the tab News and Events)