Prayer Booklet 53

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 53 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 1991 I bought a lovely little book called ‘Say it with Flowers’ by Beverley Parkin and gave it to my mum.  She had been critically ill for about two years.  Like me, she loved the intricate wonder and beauty of flowers so it was a gift she really appreciated. When she died in 1996, I brought it home with me and to my delight I came across it earlier this week. While looking through it, I felt inspired to use it as springboard for our reflections and prayers.  I hope you enjoy these thoughts as much as I do. May you hear God speaking to you and encouraging you while you read, and perhaps we might all learn something fresh and new, as we enjoy reflecting on God’s faithfulness in the cycle of life and beauty seen in the flowers that surround us. If you would like to comment or share a story then please contact me: christistewart@nullbtinternet.com  Amen

Sunday, 18th April, 2021

This Sunday (18 April), as restrictions ease across Scotland, Christians across the country – and further afield – will join together in prayer and reflection at 7pm in response to the pandemic.

I am pleased to include again the Sunday Prayer recommended by Rev Martin Fair – Moderator of the Church of Scotland. 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 18th April  2021 Prayer @ 7pm.

During these past months, we have been disturbed and disturbed profoundly. All that we had taken for granted, up until even a year ago, seems to be placed into question. Things are not as they were and we do not yet know how they will be. The disciples of Jesus had been disturbed and disturbed profoundly by all that had happened in the events leading up to his crucifixion. The reports that had come to them since that time had, in a sense, disturbed them even more. All that they had taken for granted seemed to be placed into question and they remained afraid. It is to those disciples that Jesus comes and speaks these words: ‘Peace be with you.’ The Risen Lord stands among them and his word is: ‘Peace be with you.’ So disturbed have they been that they react with fear and doubt. In response, Jesus invites them to reach out as his presence is renewed and revealed. (Luke 24: 36-48) In the providence of God, we give thanks for the progress that we have made as a society in addressing the challenges of our times. In the providence of God, we give thanks for the presence of the Risen Lord whose word to us today is: ‘Peace be with you.’

Living God,
Your word to us through the Risen Lord is:
Peace be with you.
Amidst the disturbance of the times,
May we hear your word and embrace the peace you offer.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Your word to us through the Risen Lord is:
Peace be with you.
When the foundations are shaken and the certainties no longer sure,
May you speak to us in the still small voice of calm.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Your word to us through the Risen Lord is:
Peace be with you.
When we are fearful and troubled,
May you speak to the depths of our fears and still our troubled hearts.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Your word to us through the Risen Lord is:
Peace be with you.
As we hear his voice,
May we reach out to the One whose presence is renewed and revealed before us.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Your word to us through the Risen Lord is:
Peace be with you.
As we experience the renewal of life within our family and community,
May we bear witness to your abiding presence among us.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Monday 19th April, 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 so I am continuing into year two with the same reflection and prayers. May we find new hope:

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more (Psalm 71:14)

Even as restrictions lift, there is still anxiety so 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 20th April, 2021

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Reflection: If you are able to get out walking, I wonder how often something beautiful stops you in your tracks as you look and delight in it.  Occasionally it might be a man-made feature, but more often it is likely to be something in nature, and more often still something flowering.  If we open our eyes and look, beauty is all around us.  I love to look at the colours and shapes of flowers; the delicacy of their petals; the stages of their growth; the surroundings in which they flourish – and truly they do make my heart sing with praise to God in every circumstance.

If you can’t get out walking, I hope you can see some from your window, or even inside your house – even pictures. Look and give God thanks: For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies.  Christ our God, to you we raise, this  our sacrifice of praise.

Let us pray:

  • God of beauty and perfect love, we give you thanks for a world that is simply breath-taking. Thank you for your faithfulness seen in the changing seasons and constant regeneration.   Thank you that we are linked with you for all eternity in our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • Lord forgive us when we are careless with all you have provided, and fail to care for it as we should, and forgive us when we take it for granted without acknowledging you.
  • Help us to remain faithful in prayer for all situations, especially a world caught in a pandemic, for truly the power to heal and restore is yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Wednesday 21st April, 2021

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6

Reflection: Beverley Parkin offers a lovely insight into these verses from the skill of flower-arranging (a skill I would love to have, and a skill that is often such an important part of worship offered to God).  She wrote about those awkward stems that seemed not to blend in easily, and how the answer was to use them in such a way that they would add interest and character to the display.  This is such a lovely picture of what it actually means to submit to the Lord.  I have met people who cannot find their way to worship God because they have a spirit that does not want to submit to anything or anyone.  However, those who do ‘submit’ to the God of creation and the God of our salvation, find out quickly, that he then brings out the best in us.  Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. God does not curtail us; he causes us to flourish.  Pray:

  • Lord God, we submit to your plan for our lives, and we trust you to bring out the best in each of us – even when we feel awkward and inadequate. Help us to trust in you, more than in ourselves and in that way our lives will reveal your beauty.
  • Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All His wonderful passion and purity. Oh, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.
  • 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.
  • Lord God, may we all understand our part in the arrangements of life where you have placed us. Refresh and sustain us.Amen

Thursday 22nd April, 2021

 Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17

Reflection: These are powerful words. I love listening to people who have served God and learned to trust him completely in difficult situations.  Perhaps we tend to pay lip-service to God so often that we deny ourselves the opportunity to live by faith.  It begins by believing in his creative genius and power and it continues by understanding the power that enabled Jesus to humble himself to death on a cross and to be miraculously raised again on the third day. And what might this have to do with flowers?

Beverley Parkin likens this to the tenacity of those plants that creep up where we have decided they are not wanted – like the mesmerising beauty of the Dandelion; like the power and strength of those plants that force themselves through concrete. They may look fragile, but they possess inner strength.  We need that strength and courage to trust the God of creation, especially when circumstances threaten to overwhelm us.

Let us pray: 

  • Lord God, help us to worship you in Spirit and in Truth, by truly reflecting on your awesome power and authority.
  • We confess that we believe you could overcome this global pandemic and other issues that destroy us, but it is hard to understand why you don’t. Teach us to trust you more.
  • Teach us to be tenacious in our faith, and to bring light and joy to those around us as we worship and serve you in Jesus’ name – sharing the light of hope and promise that he gives
  • May others see your grace in our lives and understand that you are still a presence with us in this imperfect world. Amen

Friday, 23rd April, 2021

“For as the soil makes the young plant come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness  and praise spring up before all nations.” Isaiah 61:11

Reflection: We are undoubtedly living in a hurting and broken world for the time being, yet the beautiful handiwork of God is still present all around us.  The Bible – the Word of God – is absolutely clear about the destructive power of sin in the world in the present time, but it is also clear that our hope is found in God alone through the redeeming work of Jesus.  We are truly blessed if we begin to understand this.  Let our world of flowers serve to remind us constantly of the hope we have in a faithful God.  He has promised to create a new heaven and a new earth that is completely free from the burdens of sin, and Jesus will reign as Prince of Peace.  Meantime we pray, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, when ‘righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.’

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.
  • 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.
  • Lord God, as we look around and listen to the news we understand how much we need your intervention to restore peace and order to our lives. We continue to ask you to help us through these hard times.
  • Inspire everyone still working to free us from this pandemic.
  • Help us to know your presence with us. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Saturday, 24th April, 2021

  In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.’ Hebrews 1:1-3

These words from Hebrews Chapter 1 sum up so much of the power, majesty and redeeming love of God.  I have loved them since I was a teenager.  They are filled with power, love and commitment to fulfil his promises.

Let us now take time to contemplate the words of the whole hymn from which I quoted earlier:

CH4 181

For the beauty of the earth
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:

Christ our God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light:

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight:

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above;
For all gentle thoughts and mild:

For each perfect gift and sign
Of Your love so freely given,
Graces, human and divine,
Flowers of earth, and buds of heaven:

Prayers from the Guild this week.

Let us remember especially the new projects which are due to begin. We are thankful for the inspiration and knowledge that comes to each of us through this work of the Guild – and also the opportunity to serve God through this work.

Pray this week

Monday: remembering all who are feeling alone and sad at this time. Asking that God will draw close and comfort them.
Tuesday: thinking of all who have had a new baby in the family. Giving thanks for the wonder.
Wednesday: for our six new project partners as they prepare to meet Guild representatives at our Project Launch Conference.
Thursday: for all who will attend our Project Launch Conference, asking that they are inspired and encouraged by the six new projects.
Friday: remembering all those who live in areas of conflict, struggling every day with threats of violence and intimidation. Pray for peace in each situation.
Saturday: thanking God for all who serve us in elected office, praying that they will have wisdom and courage in the decisions they make.
Sunday: giving thanks for the ways in which, despite all the challenges, churches have found ways of engaging with their congregation and the wider community.

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

Take a moment to imagine what this past year would have been like if you did not have this blessed assurance?  We have a steadfast hope, that many in our nation and the nations do not have.  How do we pray for them?  How do we seek God’s mercy for the British Isles when it has strayed from Him in so many ways?  The Word tells us “If my people, which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray….”

Cry for Mercy…..

  • for the God of comfort to be a ‘wrap around presence’ to those who have felt alone and isolated, struggling especially with mental issues;
  • for us to draw strength from God, not to lean on our own understanding, but learn to be a people who TRUST Him
  • for God’s mercy to be shown to our nations as we pray and seek God’s heart for His healing of the land and the people.
  • Help us Lord to ‘shine your light’ on them. Amen