Prayer Booklet 49

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 49 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.

In the last few weeks we have visited some of the people who had the joy of meeting Jesus, either because they looked for him, or because he noticed them.  We saw how he responded with loving-kindness as he walked among the people.  This week we are reflecting on the realisation that Jesus knew what was ahead of him, but remained faithful to fulfilling God’s eternal plan to bring humanity back to a relationship with Himself.  Meeting with Jesus for ourselves is so life-changing that we praise Him.

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, 21st March, 2021

I am pleased to include again the Sunday Prayer recommended by Rev Martin Fair – Moderator of the Church of Scotland. This Sunday (21stMarch), as more than 2 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 21st March 2021 Prayer @ 7pm.

“On the anniversary of the first lockdown on 23 March, we will undoubtedly reflect on all that has happened in the past year and acknowledge the profound impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had upon us personally and communally.

There is not one of us who has not felt the impact of these times in one way or another. Above all else, we shall acknowledge the loss of life and recognise that behind each number recorded there lies a person whose life is known to God and who is mourned by those who have loved them.

In their passing, we are the poorer. In the remembrance of a life given by God, we are the richer.

The Letter to the Hebrews records that: ‘In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears’ (Hebrews 5: 7). Jesus is called to take the place of the one who offers prayers on behalf of us all, and does so with ‘cries and tears’ because He Himself has ‘suffered’ (Hebrews 5: 5-10). He shares in the suffering of the world and brings the suffering of the world before God.

In all our reflections at this time, we remember the One who prayed for us in ‘the days of his flesh’ and who, even now, lives to pray for us once more.”

We pray:

Living God, in whose image we are made,
Hear us we ask, through Your Son who prays for us.
Hear us, as we recall all we have endured as community and nation
In the year that has passed.
Lord, in Your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Living God, who knows us in all our suffering,
Hear us we ask, through Your Son who prays for us.
Hear us, as we reflect across the nation
And remember those who have suffered the deepest loss.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God, whose name is Love,
Hear us we ask, through Your Son who prays for us.
Hear us, as we reach out our hand to those who suffer still
And stand with them in the face of all that is to come.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God, who gives good gifts to all Creation,
Hear us we ask, through Your Son who prays for us.
Hear us, as we give thanks for those who, in hospital and in care home,
Have cared for the dying and the sick.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, who inspires hope,
Hear us we ask, through Your Son who prays for us.
Hear us, as we acknowledge and give thanks for all who have created the vaccines
That give hope to the peoples of all nations.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God, who gives light to the world, even in the face of darkness,
Hear us we ask, through Your Son who prays for us.
Hear us, as we bow in the presence of the One who,
In the days of His flesh, shed tears for us.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Monday 22nd 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 23rd March, 2021

They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, ‘What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?’ John 11:56

Reflection: It is almost time for the Feast of the Jewish Passover so people from all around the country were arriving in Jerusalem.  It was natural to expect Jesus to be there, but this time ‘looking for Jesus’ had sinister connotations.  The religious leaders had been given orders to arrest him and to ensure that he was killed.  This is the beginning of the plot to have him crucified in spite of all the care, compassion and miracles He had shown in his time of ministry.  However, Jesus was following the plans and purposes of God, and so he remained quietly away from them all until the time was just right.  Can you imagine the burden upon his shoulders as he neared the time when he would allow them to capture him, knowing what was to follow?  However, as we will see, Jesus still had much to accomplish and to teach his disciples before the end of his time on earth…

Let us pray:

  • Merciful and gracious God, in this season of Lent we turn our attention from all that burdens us to the great weight that Jesus was carrying, knowing that he was about to bear the sin of the world. Thank you that he did not shy away – even though he knew what lay ahead.
  • Loving God, help us to know and understand when we stubbornly hold fast to our own ideas without asking you to reveal your truth to us. Forgive us when we lose sight of you. Remind us our great responsibility is to love you first and then others in the name of Jesus.
  • Help us to remain faithful in prayer for all situations, for truly the power to heal is yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Wednesday 24th March, 2021

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.John 12:3

Reflection: This verse paints a beautiful picture of humility, generosity, and astonishing bravery in Mary’s determination to break from culture, let her hair flow freely and use it to offer true compassion to Jesus as she wiped the ointment into his feet. It is as if she knew what lay ahead for this friend of their family who, in the power of the Living God, raised their brother from the dead.  It is as if she sensed the pain and degradation Jesus was about to suffer to offer redemption and forgiveness for sin.  Just as the fragrance filled the house and blessed all who had gathered there, so the record of this event reaches down through the centuries to teach us in our time how to be selfless in our worship.  It also teaches us that the more we put the Lord first, the more we reach and touch others in Jesus’ name and so the blessings spread outwards like that fragrance, and like ripples in a pond.

Let us Pray:

  • Open our eyes, Lord, to see you as Mary did; open our hearts to respond in adoration and worship for the King of Glory who humbled himself to go to the cross.
  • 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 sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zones to demonstrate your love for us and our love for you to others. For Mary to uncover her hair was shocking to those around her, but she knew what was more important and more blessed in that moment. Amen

Thursday 25th March, 2021

 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,  ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”John 12:4-5

Reflection: These are powerful words for a number of reasons.  Jesus was always the friend of the poor, and yet here he seems to contradict that when he tells Judas that Mary was doing the right thing in lavishing this expensive perfume on his feet.  To me this is part of the great truth that when we put Jesus first in our lives, the blessings to others are multiplied.  Jesus also knew, of course, that his earthly ministry was about to come to an abrupt and terrible end – although later there would be the triumph of his resurrection.  He also saw the motives behind the actions.  Mary was worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth.  Judas was selfishly thinking that the more money in the bag, the more he could siphon off for himself.  He was not an honourable man – even although he had wonderful opportunities to learn from this Lord of Heaven and Earth.

Let us pray: 

  • Lord God, we thank you that you love us and have called us to be your family. We thank you for all that Jesus has done for us.  Help us to worship you in Spirit and in Truth.
  • Help us all, Lord, to know and understand the motives for our actions and to see them through your eyes. Help us to be honourable in all we do so that to you may be all Glory.
  • Father God, we know that life is filled with opportunities to worship and serve you. Open our eyes to see them, and strengthen our hearts and faith as we take opportunities where we live to honour your name.
  • May others see your grace in our lives. Amen

Friday, 26th March, 2021

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.  They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’ John 12: 12-13

Reflection: Since we are looking in on this after the event, and since we know that Jesus – the Messiah – was well aware of the suffering that lay ahead, I think we should reflect on his innermost feelings as the crowd cheered and sang his praises.  I wonder, too, if the people in those crowds realised that on the day he was handed over to Pilate, they would be shouting ‘Crucify Him’.  No wonder the word of God declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”  (Jeremiah 17:9).  There is not one of us who can be truthful and claim that we have never had a sinful thought, or spoken a sinful word, or committed a sinful action – even although we like to believe we are above such things.  However, as we know there is always God’s plan of salvation: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8   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 respond and 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, 27th March, 2021

  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. 1 Timothy 2: 5-6

I have chosen to end the week with this verse and this hymn because they remind us of the whole reason and purpose of God in sending His Son into this world, and surely cause us to worship in Spirit and in truth.   Hymn:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
a great High Priest, whose name is Love,
who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
my name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see Him there
who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
for God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there!  the risen Lamb,
my perfect, spotless righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself, I cannot die;
my soul is purchased by His blood;
my life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ my Saviour and my God.

(Charitie L. de Chenez)

Some prayer points:

The following timely prayer has been sent by our Prayer Promoter, Michael Dickie:

Gracious God and loving Father,

at this time of tension and trouble for Your human family in the world,  we come to seek Your help in our relationships with other people, in the world, but especially within our own nation.  We long to be more like Jesus in our dealings with other people. At this present time, whatever our colour, or sex, or class or creed, or political views, may we seek with all our hearts to support and value those who are called to protect us.

Take from us all wrong impressions and false attitudes when we ourselves are confronted by the keepers of Law and Order, may we refrain from any form of violence, and if we continue to work for any cause we believe in which is not always accepted or understood, may we do so peacefully, even if we have to accept being fined or imprisoned.

Loving Father of all your children, we pray at this time for the men and women of our Police Force who are called to keep order in society, and to ensure safety for all our people of whatever race, sex, colour, belief or class.

May all who seek to become members of the Force receive real questioning of their motives to join the Force, and sufficient training that enables them to face many different situations without prejudice.  May those in Government, nationally and locally make wise decisions on Laws to be upheld.

May individual Police men and women feel called to react and deal quietly in every situation and with every individual, and not feel bound to an institution that needs to protect itself.  Loving Father, have mercy upon ALL of us, forgive our self- centeredness and through the example of Your Son Jesus Christ, may we learn to listen to others, refrain from violence, in word or in action, and work tirelessly to make this world in which we live the kind of world You wish it to be.

In Jesus name. Amen

I am pleased to enclose the following prayers for this week from Pray for Scotland:

The resurrection of Jesus points to a powerful God who brings love, hope and redemption.  A God of mercy who heals our brokenness.   Cry for Mercy:

  • for children and young people who are struggling with broken family relationships – our hearts go out to them as they try to make sense of what is happening in their lives;
  • for all those in our communities in need in whatever way – forgive us Lord when we do not have the time to care or have the heart for people’s needs;
  • for the poor and the marginalised who struggle with so many issues, feeling that life is not worth living – forgive us Lord when we have not shown your compassion.
  • Help us Lord to ‘shine your light’ on them. Amen