Prayer Booklet 46

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 46 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, we will visit some of the people who looked for Jesus during his 3½ years of ministry.  These were people who heard of his caring and compassionate heart.  These were people like you and me although they lived in a different era and environment.  When we look closely, we discover that human nature and human need has not changed down through the centuries.  We are blessed when we take time to look for him, because if we really look for him we will find Him.  This is a promise in His word.

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.  (I wonder how many of you have kept a prayer journal and noted from Monday’s reflections all that you praise God for… just a thought.) If you would like to comment or share a story then please contact me: christistewart@nullbtinternet.com  Amen

Sunday, 28th February, 2021

I am pleased to include again the Sunday Prayer recommended by Rev Martin Fair – Moderator of the Church of Scotland. This Sunday (28 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 28th February 2021 Prayer @ 7pm.

There are times in the Gospels when it is clear that the disciples of Jesus have real difficulty in understanding his teaching. On one such occasion, Jesus speaks openly about what lies before him and afterwards Peter ‘took him aside and began to rebuke him’. (Mark 8: 31-32) Peter is clear that death and resurrection are not part of that future and, as he speaks, it is equally clear that he has not yet understood the way that Jesus must take. There are times in the past months when all of us have had real difficulty in understanding the challenges faced within our society and across the globe. We have been unclear as to what the future holds and the path to be taken. In all of this, we have not been alone. As the Gospel account unfolds, Jesus gathers the crowd around him and invites them to ‘take up their cross and follow me’. (Mark 8: 34) As we journey into the future and follow the path taken by Jesus, we know that we are not alone. We journey in the way of the cross and in the hope of the resurrection.

We pray:

God of hope,
Be with us as we journey into the future that lies before us.
Be with us through Your Son
Who has journeyed in the way of the Cross.
Grant to us grace and faith that we might follow Him.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of hope,
Be with us as we journey into the future that lies before us.
In all we face,
Be near to us, and all whom we love,
And guard us safe in Your presence.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of hope,
Be with us as we journey into the future that lies before us.
Be with those who fear this day
And who struggle to see the future.
Lead us from the darkness into Your light.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of hope,
Be with us as we journey into the future that lies before us.
Be with those who grieve this day
And who feel bereft of comfort.
In Your compassion, be near to them.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of hope,
Be with us as we journey into the future that lies before us.
In all that is faced by our society today,
Grant wisdom, insight and understanding
To those who are called to govern our nation and act on our behalf.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of hope,
Be with us as we journey into the future that lies before us.
Be with us through Your Son
Whose journey in the way of the Cross
Yields the hope of the Resurrection.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Monday 1st March, 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 March, 2021

”Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.  He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” John 3:1-2

Reflection: I would encourage you to look up your Bible and refresh in your heart the story of Nicodemus in John chapter 3.  We only learn later that he became a believer, but at the time he had seen something in Jesus that made him brave enough to seek him out and confess that he must be from God. Thanks to Nicodemus, and this recorded conversation between him and Jesus, we learn that it is not enough to recognise Jesus, to admit that we know who he is. We must go further and commit ourselves to fully trusting him, not as a teacher but as God the Son.  We must be born again.  We must recognise that we are not enough without him.  We need him to be the light and truth by which we live.  We need to receive his forgiveness and walk his way. “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. “ John 3:5.  We need to allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in our lives and to lead us and teach us…

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 that the knowledge we are born into your family supports us through every day of our lives, regardless of circumstances. You are our light and truth; our strength and song.  You are always with us.
  • Help us to share this confidence with others. Amen

Wednesday 3rd March, 2021

A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.Luke 19:2-4

Reflection: If Nicodemus was a high powered, religious authority figure in the eyes of his people, Zacchaeus was the lowest of the low.  As a tax-collector, he was despised – and certainly not trusted.  He was employed by the oppressive Roman Government. There is a clear message here, that we should not ‘judge a book by its cover’. The people would never have imagined that Zacchaeus had the least longing in his heart to see Jesus, but it was so powerful a longing that it made him behave in an extraordinary way.  Jesus knows our hearts.  Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus and met him right where he was – to the astonishment and disdain of many of those gathered. Meeting with Jesus transformed his life, and many of those bystanders who criticised Jesus for meeting with him would then benefit as Zacchaeus went on to put right the wrongs he had committed.

Prayers:

  • Thank you, Lord, for your gracious response to us when we call out to you. You will always hear us and respond when we earnestly desire to meet with you, and receive your love.
  • Help us all to see beyond the brusque and hardened exteriors of those we meet, to treat others with kindness, and commit to you in prayer, those who cause us concern.
  • Lord God, during this time just before Easter when we reflect more fully on the death and resurrection of Jesus, help us to surrender ourselves more fully to your life-changing truth and light. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Thursday 4th March, 2021

 Among them was a woman who had suffered from severe bleeding for twelve years; she had spent all she had on doctors, but no one had been able to cure her.  She came up in the crowd behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak, and her bleeding stopped at once.  Jesus asked, “Who touched me?”Luke 8: 43-45

Reflection: Can you just imagine the hope in the heart of this dear lady as she heard that Jesus was coming to a place near her. She had obviously heard about him and she was at the end of her resources – physically, mentally and financially.  She must have thought that it was simply worth a try, but she would be nervous and shy about making a spectacle of herself.  Yet this story proves the truth that Jesus often proclaimed – we simply need to exercise a little bit of faith, confess our need and leave the rest to him.  This woman received physical healing, as she was blessed to meet Jesus when he was engaging in this ministry.  Nowadays it is hard to understand healing, even when we believe in the power of prayer – but one thing we can be assured of and that is his healing presence in our lives, no matter our circumstances for we have been promised that ‘nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’  Romans 8:39.  Let us pray: 

  • Lord God, thank you that we can always come to you and know that you will touch our lives with healing peace.
  • We confess that there are many things we do not understand, but we pray that you will continue to show us how to live in the light of your grace and mercy, and to hold fast to faith
  • Father God, you know we are weary with the effects of Covid-19. We ask you to refresh our spirits and help us to live with the courage and confidence that comes when we meet with you at the start of each new day. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Friday, 5th March, 2021

 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:46-48

Reflection: I love this story. I love the persistence of Bartimaeus in the face of those who would shut him up and prevent him from seeing Jesus. The people of that time had no compassion for those who suffered illness or disability, believing it was a direct punishment for individual sin.  Jesus changed all that. Indeed Jesus had a mission to show that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23). Therefore we need to accept the salvation he offers. Like Bartimaeus, we all need to receive his mercy and grace and follow Him.  We need to also ensure that as part of his Church on earth today, we are always ready to welcome those who are seeking Jesus. May we not be like those who told Bartimaeus to be quiet. Rather let us encourage many to faith on the journey… Let us pray:

  • Lord God, you promise your children an awesome future when we become your family because of the suffering of Jesus. Help us to begin to truly worship, praise and serve you now as we realise how much you love us.
  • Lord God, grant us your strength and peace for each new day while our ‘normal’ lives are still on hold. Help us to see and count our blessings as we wait for healing and freedom.
  • Continue to grant wisdom and knowledge to all those who are making a way for us to come through these days and grant your comfort to those whose loss is great. In Jesus’ name…

Saturday, 6th March, 2021

“He says,“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.””  Psalm 46:10

Let the words of Hymn 707 from CH4 be a prayer both of thanksgiving and petition.  (It goes well to the tune of ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’)

Healing river of the Spirit,
Bathe the wounds that living brings.
Plunge our pain, our sin, our sadness
Deep beneath your sacred springs.
Weary from the restless searching
That has lured us from your side,
We discover in your presence
Peace the world cannot provide.

Wellspring of the healing Spirit,
Stream that flows to bring release,
As we gain our selves, our senses,
May our lives reflect your peace.
Grateful for the flood that heals us,
May your Church live out your grace.
As we meet both friend and stranger,
May we see our Saviour’s face.

Living stream that heals the nations,
Make us channels of your power.
All the world is torn by conflict;
Wars are raging at this hour.
Saving Spirit, move among us;
Guide our winding, human course,
Till we find our way together,
Flowing homeward to our Source.

( Ruth C. Duck )

Some prayer points:

Medical Care: Lord God we thank you for our Health Service – especially for the fact that we can receive the care we need when we need it, without worrying about cost.  Help us to appreciate it and not abuse it.  We thank you for the huge variety of treatments and care on offer to us and we pray for those suffering because treatment has been postponed because of Coronavirus.

We also ask you to be the strength and grace in medical staff who have been working tirelessly to keep the hospitals managing essential emergencies.  It will take a miracle, Lord, if there is not a huge traumatic collapse in many those who have worked so long with little respite.  Be their miracle provider Lord.

Vaccines: Lord God, you are the one who Heals, and we pray that your healing power will be in the development of vaccines that are now working to help prevent further devastation caused by this pandemic.  We thank you for all involved in the development, manufacture and distribution of the vaccines and pray your blessing on the process.

Loving Father, we also pray for poor countries around the world that they may share in this treatment even without money.  Lord there are many people willing to share their resources to enable the poorest countries to receive this healing also. Inspire those who can to share what they have, even as we long to share with others in our own communities.  Help us to see that as we help one, we help all.

Education: Gracious God, source of all wisdom and knowledge, we pray that our education system will be robust enough to support our children and young people as they return to school.  We also pray that support teams will be in place to provide help in every way that our young people require.  We have taken this for granted for so long and now we know how important it is to put children first.  We pray especially for those who have suffered extra trauma by being in homes where they have not been safe. May they be given all the help and care they need to deal with life as they return to the classroom

We ask you to sustain school staff who have been working hard in very difficult circumstances.  Help them to find times of refreshing and renew their joy in serving young people as things return to normal and they meet with them in person again.

Care Homes: we thank you for the great progress made in vaccinating those who live in community care homes.  The tragedy is that so many died without loving families around them, and families have been unable to grieve properly. We thank you for every caring member of staff and ask that they will be blessed as they serve others.  Again, Lord God, we pray the blessing of the comfort you alone draw near to give on all who suffer loss.  May our care Homes become much better homes as a result of the knowledge gained in this pandemic so that all is not lost.

Miscellaneous: Father God, you know our hearts reach out to all those who have found themselves in desperate need.  May your Church continue to worship and praise you, and may we be your hands and feet, and voice in the places where we live.  We pray that people will be drawn to our church communities to find you, and to join with others in worship.  May our land come together to sing your praises.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Now Lord, we pray for our Queen, and all those in government – especially where there is bitterness and conflict. Bring truthful resolution.  Pour out your blessings of wisdom and grace. Amen