Prayer Booklet 47

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 47 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 continue to visit some of the people who met with Jesus during his 3½ years of ministry.  Some looked for him, and some he found.  These were people like you and me although they lived in a different era and environment.  There are so many lessons for us in what the Gospels reveal to us, if we take time to stop and think through these situations.  Surely as we journey through his period of Lent, it is good for our souls to stop and reflect. Sometimes we are challenged; sometimes comforted.

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, 7th March, 2021

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

During these past months we have become used, or not as the case may be, to living within much more circumscribed and defined spaces. As a consequence, we might well have become more conscious of the locality in which we live. Undoubtedly, the spaces that we inhabit and the places in which we live shape us and mould us. Equally, there are particular places and spaces that we associate with significant events and experiences. Space and place are woven into the rhythm of life. In each of the four Gospels there are accounts of the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the Gospel of John, Jesus journeys to that particular space within that particular locality. (John 2: 13-22) He does so because it is the time of the Passover and the journey he makes is one made in the company of the many thousands who came to Jerusalem at that time. What does Jesus find? He finds that the Temple space has become a “market-place” inhabited by sellers and ‘money-changers’. Those who object to his cleansing of the Temple demand to know: “What sign can you show us for doing this?” In reply, Jesus speaks prophetically of the destruction of “this temple”, by which he means himself, and of being raised “in three days”. In this sign, we see the presence of God embodied in the life of Jesus, and his life, located in a particular place and time, opening our horizons to the God who meets us in the place where we are today.

We pray:

God of Space and Time,
Meet us in the place where we are today.
Meet us in the place where we are
And transform us by the presence of your Son.
In this place, may we encounter the One who embodies your love.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of Space and Time,
Meet us in the place where we are today.
Meet us at the break of day
And be with us in all that lies before us.
In the place in which we live, may we see life renewed.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of Space and Time,
Meet us in the place where we are today.
Meet us in the place of suffering
And bring your healing presence among us.
In the place of suffering, enable us to reach out to those beside us.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of Space and Time,
Meet us in the place where we are today.
Meet us in the place of sorrow
And bring your light into our darkness.
In the place of sorrow, may we become bearers of your light.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of Space and Time,
Meet us in the place where we are today.
Meet us in the rhythm of life
And renew hope within us.
In the community in which we live, may we bear witness to the God of hope.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of Space and Time,
Meet us in the place where we are today.
Meet us at the close of day
And be with us through the night.
Keep us safe and bring us to the dawn of a new day.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Monday 8th 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 9th March, 2021

“He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.  Luke 7: 6-7

Reflection: The Roman Centurion in this story was certainly not a man who shared the faith of the local people.  He was in a leadership role for those who were oppressing the people of Israel at that time.  He managed many people, and no doubt ruled firmly.  However, in this story, he looked for Jesus.  He asked those who knew Jesus to plead with him for healing of his servant who was ill.  He humbled himself to do this, and knew his own unworthiness next to Jesus – and sometimes being prepared to admit that we need Jesus is the greatest stumbling-block to finding faith.  Jesus is not concerned with all the external trappings of our life that make us who we think we are – he is concerned with who we are at the heart of our being, our desire to be reconciled with God and to have our sins forgiven.  Then we can experience the greatest and best healing – peace with God that assures us of a home in Heaven.   Let us pray:

  • Lord God, thank you that our true wholeness and self-worth comes not from within ourselves but from putting our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and receiving his forgiveness for our sins – possible only because of his suffering
  • Lord God, you know that we crave healing throughout the world from Corona virus, and many other conditions. Help us to know and understand that becoming your children is far more precious and creates true hope within us, and then
  • Help us to remain faithful in prayer for all situations, for truly the power to heal is yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Wednesday 10th March, 2021

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him, and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?Luke 17:15-17

Reflection: These verses are about ten people who were outcasts because of a serious skin condition.  Like so many others in the time of Jesus they were brave enough to come to where Jesus was and ask for his healing to free them from disease.  It is true that most of the people we have been thinking about recently have known that they needed Jesus, and Jesus has graciously met their need.  It is also true that we see an uncomfortable truth about human nature – only one of the ten returned to thank Jesus for his healing.  This reminds me of a dear elderly lady I met who had attended church since childhood.  She had taken this for granted throughout her life until one day she understood what it had cost Jesus to grant her faith and salvation, and she was broken in thanksgiving.  She told me that moment of realisation truly changed her and from then on she longed to keep him at the centre of her life, and to live to worship and serve him.  May we take time in this period of Lent to recommit to pleasing Him.    Let us Pray:

  • 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.
  • May we live with thankful hearts and a desire to worship and praise you. May we choose to serve others in your name.
  • Lord God, help us to understand that prayer is a work for you that we can all engage in, and to understand that you love to communicate with your children in this way. Thank you that even as he journeyed to the cross, Jesus prayed for us. Amen

Thursday 11th March, 2021

 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4

Reflection: This is such a beautiful story in the Gospels. Jesus has just been teaching his followers about the futility of pride in our ‘religious’ behaviour. It is not acceptable to God to present ourselves to Him in an ostentatious and showy manner.  As Jesus humbled himself to come to earth, so we must humbly choose to hear him, accept his teaching and follow him.  This poor woman must have felt saddened by her circumstances and perhaps even embarrassed, but she clearly believed in the faithfulness of God to meet her in her need as she made her gift to him.  I don’t believe she even knew that Jesus noticed her and praised her for her actions.  It surely is a comfort to all of us that God knows us and knows our circumstances and assures us of his love.  Let us worship him out of hearts that are thankful, and then we will know deep joy that gives us strength to face each new day.

Let us pray: 

  • Lord God, we thank you for reminding us that you see us, you know us and you love us. Help us to love you in return.
  • We confess that there are many things we do not understand, especially about this last year with all its difficulties and hurts, but we pray that you will continue to show us how to live in the light of your grace and mercy, and to keep faith.
  • 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, 12th March, 2021

 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’  ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’ John 8:9-11

Reflection: In case you are not sure of the context of these words, it is about the lady that was being brought to Jesus to be punished because she was caught in the act of adultery. It is a perfect illustration about why we should not judge and condemn others for the great truth is that ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23)  It also shows us the great heart of compassion Jesus had – he prevented this woman from being stoned, even although this was lawful punishment at that time. Jesus showed the inadequacy of the law.  The woman was not the only one failing to measure up – But he does not condone her sin either.  As he pardoned her, he counselled her to repent in the words ‘‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’  After all, he was journeying to the cross to bear the sin of the world.

Let us pray:

  • Lord God, we thank you for the suffering of Jesus in sacrificial love for us to bring us back into a relationship with you – our righteous and holy God.
  • Lord God, we thank you for the peace and freedom given to us when we trust Jesus to forgive us for all our sins.
  • Help us to look on others with your heart of compassion and teach us how to be faithful in prayer for those we know and love – especially those who have not yet found their peace and joy in trusting you.
  • Help us to know your presence with us. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Saturday, 13th March, 2021

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4: 4-7

Let us reflect and pray these lovely words from Hymn 565 (CH4):

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation:
I catch the sweet, though far off, hymn
that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul –
How can I keep from singing

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord, my Saviour, liveth.
What though the darkness round me close?
Songs in the night He giveth.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing.
All things are mine since I am His!
How can I keep from singing?

(Robert Lowry and Doris Plenn)

Some prayer points:

I am pleased to enclose the following prayers for this week from one of our readers, Frances.

Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Even though they are in lockdown, CUs are boldly running mission weeks this spring (weeks of high-profile events to share the gospel). This year, the majority are entirely online, with CUs running focused weeks or fortnights;

Pray for dependence on God – that students remain focused on the Lord as they run these events prayerfully with the aim of glorifying Jesus.

Pray for CU members, that students prayerfully invite individual friends to come to mission week events.

Pray for online CU hosts – that CU leaders will prepare well, and that listening students are put at ease

Pray for working technology – CUs will be relying on strong internet and working laptops and cameras to run these mission weeks. Pray that these consistently work well.

Pray for intentional follow-up – that CU members intentionally follow-up members and stay in touch with students they meet with online seeker courses and Bible-reading resources.

University CUs involved in outreach: Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow School of Art, Dundee, Glasgow Caledonian, St Andrews, Abertay.

Scripture Union  

“Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Although plans may be changed and adapted for the year ahead, SU staff move forward with the strength of God and the love and encouragement of supporters surrounding them.

Coming soon… Jungle Adventure! A brand new Holiday Club resource for 2021 developed to help children discover how Jesus is the greatest guide ever.  It is written for use in an outdoor woodland setting, with easy adaptions so it can be used in other settings.

Prayer Hotline – Every year an email-based prayer hotline is run during the Easter, Summer and October holidays, with updates and needs from holidays and missions. Please pray for these events. Whether holidays and missions this year take place in person or online, SU continue to pray and prepare, ready to adapt plans as circumstances change. SU couldn’t do this work without volunteers for Holidays, Missions or schools as well as our prayers and financial support.

Boys Brigade  

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:52 

Please pray for the Boy’s Brigade in Ayrshire, for the boys, leaders and parents. The BB movement provides opportunities for boys and young men to learn, grow and discover in a safe, fun and caring environment which is rooted in the Christian faith. There’s something for every young person whether it’s camping or kayaking, first aid or five a side, music or crafts. Members develop skills, build confidence, make friends, take responsibility and are encouraged to make a real difference in their communities and Churches – sharing the values that make us who we are. Pray and thank God for all volunteers.

All Church Youth Work

Lord God, we ask you to pour out your blessing on all children and young people.  Many of them will be puzzled and confused about the ways in which their lives have been so disrupted by this pandemic.  We pray that you will reveal yourself to them in a new way and that many will find Jesus to be the source of life and joy now and in the future.

Bless the efforts of all who care for the young and especially those who love you and want to share your love with others.

 

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