Prayer Booklet 44

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 44 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.

I have continued to turn our attention to the faithfulness of God that we see from the pen of the Psalmist David in Psalm 18.  It is my prayer that our readers will also find great comfort in taking a little bit of time each day to notice that as we remember who God is, and worship Him our souls are blessed and strengthened.  Let us be like David and look for God’s presence and power which is always there, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Martin Fair wrote “As we journey into the future, we do so in the company of the One who transforms our present and who invites us to share in the promise of the coming Kingdom of God.”  This One is Jesus, who brings us into the Kingdom of God. I also trust that you find beginning Monday 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.  If you would like to comment or share a story then please contact me: christistewart@nullbtinternet.com  Amen

Sunday, 14th February, 2021

I am pleased to include again the Sunday Prayer recommended by Rev Martin Fair – Moderator of the Church of Scotland. This Sunday (14 February), as more than one million people in Scotland have received their first dose of the Covid vaccine, Christians across the country – and further afield – will once again join together in prayer and reflection at 7pm in response to the pandemic.

As with previous weeks during lockdown, 15 Christian churches and organisations across the country, including the Church of Scotland, have co-signed the letter calling for prayer.

Scottish Christians have been continuing to answer the call to pray at the same time each week, and Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has been taking part alongside them.

“There are some things which make sense for a certain period of time but which come to a natural conclusion – such as clapping for carers during the spring lockdown. Prayer isn’t one of them,” Dr Fair said. “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.” And even better when we can pray across the whole of the Church, unrestricted by denominational divides. “If Sunday at 7pm is in your diary, keep it there. Thank you. If it hadn’t been, it would be great to have you involved. It matters that we pray.”

Call to Prayer: Sunday 14th February 2021 Prayer @ 7pm.

In the Gospel of Mark, we find the disciples of Jesus journeying with him and experiencing something which they struggle to comprehend and express. Jesus takes Peter, James and John to ‘a high mountain’ and there he is ‘transfigured before them’ in the company of Elijah and Moses. How do the disciples respond? Peter, as ever, makes an attempt to respond but truly he ‘did not know what to say, for they were terrified’. (Mark 9: 2-9)

In the midst of all we face at this time, we are confronted by that for which nothing has truly prepared us as a society. As the experience of Lockdown continues, we are learning a great deal about the strengths and weaknesses of our society. As we do so, we are coming to understand that the future will not simply be a reversion to the ‘normal’ of the past.

As the disciples struggle to comprehend what they see before their eyes, they are overshadowed by the presence of God and hear the words of affirmation: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!’ Then, in an instant, ‘when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus’.

As we journey into the future, we do so in the company of the One who transforms our present and who invites us to share in the promise of the coming Kingdom of God.

We pray:

Living God, Speak to us in the place where we are today
And make your presence known.
Speak to us the words of affirmation
That we may know that we are loved by you.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God, Speak to us in the place where we are today;
Even in the face of darkness.
Speak into the uncertainty of our times
And reassure us that you hold the future.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God, Speak to us in the place where we are today
And bring hope for days to come.
Speak words of comfort and of healing
And words of compassion for those who mourn.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God, Speak to us in the place where we are today,
That we might speak a word for our times.
Speak into the future that lies before us
And grant us grace as we seek to live out that future.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God, Speak to us in the place where we are today,
That we might hear again your voice.
Speak to us on the highest heights,
and in the deepest depths,
And may we know, and be known by, the One whom you love.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Monday 15th 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 16th February, 2021

”The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.” Psalm 18:20

Reflection: David was living in a very different age from us – Jesus had not yet been born, and a person’s right to call God ‘friend’ was earned by how well they kept his commandments – the first being to worship God and God alone. Sometimes David would break those commandments and then weep bitter tears because he knew he had failed.  We can be thankful that we come to God – not on our own merit – but because we receive righteousness by trusting in Jesus, and believing “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.  We also know now that God does not single us out for rewards only when we get it right.  Jesus said we can all come to him at any time.  He longs to strengthen and encourage us and fill us with his grace.  God assured Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9  Let us pray:

  • Lord God, thank you that our righteousness comes not from within ourselves but from putting our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and receiving his forgiveness for our sins
  • Thank you for your promises that can never fail. We know you are always with us – comfort us in this continuing pandemic.
  • Lord God, Help us to be obedient as we honour you through our words and actions. Protect us from the selfishness of those who do not care for others as they blatantly ignore the guidance that would help us to live safely.
  • Almighty God, we continue to ask you to intervene and bring your healing to the people – physically, emotionally and spiritually, in Jesus’ name. Amen

Wednesday 17th February, 2021

 “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

Reflection: There are many ways to look at these lovely words…but let’s just take two thoughts today.  Firstly, we really are only asked to take a step of faith and trust that because of Jesus we are called to be children of God – fully forgiven and blessed by his presence with us. Then, as David discovered, it is the Lord himself who will keep us walking in his light.  As we worship him and own him as Lord we can be sure he will lead us by the light of his presence with us. The light of our life is in his hands.  Secondly, so many difficult things can happen to us and those we love that we can and do feel the weight of darkness.  I would not be so naïve as to suggest that we will never have periods of ‘darkness’ – but I have certainly proved that the way through is to keep looking to the Lord each day – somehow the deep joy that comes from his friendship with us will surface…and of course we know that we are on a journey to where we will live eternally in the light of his presence.

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.  Today we ask you to give us the knowledge and insight to live in that light as we still face the many issues brought to us with Covid-19.
  • 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.  Help us to praise you. Amen.
  • Lord, we pray for all who are exhausted with the simple task of getting through each day. We ask you to bring your light, love and strength to begin the healing process. Amen

Thursday 18th February, 2021

“With your help I can advance against a troop;
    with my God I can scale a wall.Psalm 18: 29

Reflection: I was quite young when I first came across this Psalm, and even then this verse spoke powerfully to me.  I have never engaged in extreme fitness activities, and certainly did not see myself engaged in battle – at least not in physical warfare.  However, I had already encountered situations that called for personal courage and resilience.  I discovered that I could definitely face the day better by confessing that I needed wisdom and grace from the Lord.  I found the same confidence as the apostle Paul who wrote:” I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.  Sometimes we allow the heat of the moment to shut out our faith, but what a joy when we discover afresh the power of Jesus in our lives. And we can have the same experience as David because God’s word reminds us: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Let us pray: 

  • Lord God, we thank you for David who wrote so many wonderful Psalms almost 3000 years ago. You are indeed our living Sovereign and Eternal Lord. Yet you care for us…
  • Loving God, grant us new strength to face the problems of the day and renew our hope and joy in you. And Lord, when we are in a place of confidence and trust and security in our own lives, help us to remember those who are hurting and teach us how to care and how to pray…in Jesus’ name and for his sake.
  • We pray for our children and young people. Many are hurt and confused by the effects of Covid-19 on their young lives. Open their hearts to see you and to trust you. Reveal your love to them in spite of this pandemic. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Friday, 19th February, 2021

“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18: 30

Reflection: In my home church we are currently enjoying a Zoom Bible Study which is taking us through the Gospel of John.  We are split into small groups of 4 or 5 to allow for easier discussion of the readings for the week.  The groups are made up of people who are at all different stages in the journey through life and in their experience of faith. It has become clear when we get together as a large group to share our thoughts that everyone is being richly blessed by the experience of studying the word of God, We can all hear Jesus speaking to us. It is especially good to hear people talking about how Jesus has helped them to discover our relationship with God, and how lives have been changed by trusting in the message of Salvation.  It is also exciting to see more of how Jesus encourages us to live our lives, especially by putting God first and then serving others in love.  He automatically becomes our ‘refuge’ when we do this.

Let us pray:

  • Lord God, forgive us for the times when we are too stubbornly set in our own ways to consider yours. Help us to find that your way is indeed perfect. Your plan for us now and in the future is better than we could devise for ourselves.
  • Lord, we pray that you will open the eyes of many to see you and to follow you. Clearly the world would be a better place if we loved you first and then you enabled us to love others, as Jesus taught us.
  • We pray that you will bless the vaccines against the pandemic which rages across our world. Continue to grant knowledge and wisdom to all involved in production and delivery. Bless and protect those who administer them, In Jesus’ name, Amen

Saturday, 20th February, 2021

“He (The Lord) gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.”  Psalm 18:50

It seems appropriate to conclude the week with the triumphant conclusion written by David to end the Psalm.  Before I share a hymn of rejoicing (that spoke to our Bible Study Group), let me assure you that because Jesus bought us with a price, we can claim the same truth as David.  Amen.

Come and see, come and see, come and see the King of love;
see the purple robe  and crown of thorns He wears.
Soldiers mock, rulers sneer as He lifts the cruel cross;
lone and friendless now,  He climbs towards the hill. 

We worship at Your feet, where wrath and mercy meet,
and a guilty world is washed by love’s pure stream.
For us He was made sin – oh, help me take it in.
Deep wounds of love cry out,  ‘Father, forgive.’
I worship, I worship the Lamb who was slain. 

Come and weep, come and mourn for your sin that pierced Him there;
so much deeper than the wounds of thorn and nail.
All our pride, all our greed all our fallenness and shame;
and the Lord has laid the punishment on Him.

Man of heaven, born to earth to restore us to Your heaven.
Here we bow in awe beneath Your searching eyes.
From Your tears comes our joy, from Your death our life shall spring;
by Your resurrection power we shall rise.

Now let us close the week with prayers for others: I have decided to share from The Church of Scotland World Mission Council this week.  The notes are pointers to things we might pray for:

Ecumenical call to prayer

Our partner, the Middle East Council of Churches, announce their time of prayer (Friday 12th).  Let us pray for the work of the Middle East Council of Churches as they work in a sensitive landscape.  Pray that God will be glorified in all that they do.

United Mission to Nepal

Our partners at United Mission to Nepal (UMN) are addressing the impact of coronavirus and lockdown through hospital work and community development work. From UMN’S coronavirus response web page you can see links to relevant news and responses from their clusters and hospitals.

Please continue to pray for the UMN agreements and visa renewals. Their staff does not want any work to be stopped by lack of permission or lack of understanding of the local, transformational approach. Their weekly prayer notes share the latest prayer points. Prayerful support from around the world is much appreciated in these days.

Cyclone Eloise

On 23 January Cyclone Eloise hit Mozambique causing devastation. Eloise caused landfall, floods and crop damage and left more than 400,000 people displaced. People were rebuilding their lives after Cyclone Idai, but they have once again lost everything. As the rain continues to fall with intensity throughout the country, it is estimated that more people will be affected by natural disasters in Mozambique.

The Christian Council of Mozambique and the government are working together to gather support for those affected. Our partner, the Evangelical Church of Christ in Mozambique, is gathering support from their members in the form of blankets, food, tents, hygiene kits and clothes to be sent to the Christian Council of Mozambique for the victims of Cyclone Eloise.

Christian Aid Supporter gathering

Pray for the work of Christian Aid:

Our partners at Christian Aid are holding their Scotland Supporter Gathering online on Tuesday 16 February from 10am-12pm.
Netsanet Feleke and Solomon Woldetsadik from Christian Aid Ethiopia will speak about the impact of climate change, locusts and conflict on vulnerable communities. Also on the programme will be new ways of celebrating Christian Aid Week, as well as a look forward to COP26 to think about how everyone can get involved in the fight against climate change. And you’ll meet some of the new faces on the Christian Aid Scotland team.

A prayer for our friends in Malawi (Kept in from last week!)

Gracious God, we give you thanks for our brothers and sisters in Malawi. We thank you for the way in which they teach us so much about you and about how we can reach out to our community. We pray Lord that we will be faithful friends and work together to strengthen the Guild in both Scotland and Malawi. Amen