Prayer Booklet 54

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 54 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 will continue this week to take inspiration from ‘Say it with Flowers’ by Beverley Parkin – a lovely little book which I gave to my mum.  As I said last week, she had been critically ill for about two years.  Like me, she loved the intricate wonder and beauty of flowers – especially pansies – so it was a gift she really appreciated. Pansies still provide me with wonderful memories whenever I see them. I was also blessed to find a beautiful reflection from ‘Seeds of Kindness’. As usual I have also taken the prayer from Sunday from the C of S website and have added prayers at the end for the Guild Project.  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, 25th April, 2021

This Sunday (25 April), on the eve of further restrictions lifting in 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 25th April  2021 Prayer @ 7pm.

“The imagery of the ‘shepherd’ is woven into Scripture and offers to us a picture of how God relates to us. When we read the words of Jesus in the Gospel: ‘I am the good shepherd’, they create in our mind’s eye a picture of the One who ‘lays down His life for the sheep’ in order that we might be shielded and guarded.

“The ‘good shepherd’ lays down His life because He knows those whom He cares for. In similar fashion, those who are cared for know who the ‘good shepherd’ is and they listen for His voice. (John 10: 11-18)

“The imagery is nurtured by the words of Psalm 23 which, especially when paraphrased and sung, resonate deeply in the hearts of many:

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green: he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear none ill:
For thou art with me; and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me:
And in God’s house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.

“When we strip away all that clouds and confuses us in this life, there remains that which abides forever: the Good Shepherd who will journey with us into the deepest depths and who will lead us safe home.”

We pray:

Lord our God,
We listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd,
For he is the One who will guard us and keep us
And lead us safe home.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd,
For he has spoken to us throughout all our days
And still he speaks, even amidst the clamour of the day.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd,
For he has nurtured and provided for us
And lifted us up, even when we have fallen.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd,
For he is the One who has laid down his life for us
In order that we might have life, even in the face of darkness.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd,
For your goodness and mercy still follows us
And you shall lead us safe home, even at the end of our days.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Monday 26th 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, and more have the vaccine, 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 27th April, 2021

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.
Be my rock of refuge,
 to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.Psalm 71:1,3

Reflection: We mentioned flower arranging last week, and Beverley Parkin took inspiration from this again.  She spoke of the beauty and joy of demonstrating the skill to others, but also the distress when the foundation of the arrangement crumbled and gave way.  With experience of handling these things it should be less likely to happen.  The same is true for us when we practise our faith and learn to trust God in every situation – especially those moments that come to us suddenly bringing bad news or situations that are hard to handle.  The psalmist does not write these words lightly – he has written them out of many and varied difficult situations and has learned that the only true and firm foundation in life is the loving mercy and grace of God.  How do we find this? God is always there, but we need to turn to him and speak to him and listen for his voice speaking to us.

Let us pray:

  • We praise you Lord for every moment we know you are present with us, especially when our hearts cry out in sorrow, or conflict or confusion.
  • When life is extra difficult, we cry out with the man who said, ‘Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.’ We confess it is easy to doubt when bad things happen, and yet we can still feel a deep peace that you are with us. Fill us today with your love and your sweet and perfect peace.
  • 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 28th April, 2021

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Reflection: If flowers are beautiful in themselves, how much more beautiful is the picture of droplets of water glistening on the edge of the petals in sunlight.  It is a picture that is breathtaking.  Of course the presence of the water is not just artistic, it is essential.  The same is true of those whose lives are truly filled by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised those who believed in Him would receive the Holy Spirit in the role of Comforter and Counsellor.  He promised this would give us life in all its fullness, and it would lead to eternal life.  Just as it is essential to our growth in faith, it is also that which makes our lives beautiful to those around us as we ask our Lord to change us daily to be more like Him. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “ Galatians 5: 22,23

Let us pray:

  • Thank you God, for your generous providing. When you created the world you filled it with so many beautiful things as well as those things essential to the sustaining of the universe.  Help us not to take so much for granted.
  • When we look at beautiful things help us to see your hand at work and give you praise.
  • Lord God, many of our days seem difficult and complicated, and many are hurting and grieving. Help us to reach out and care for one another in Jesus’ name as we invite you to fill our lives with the fruit of the Spirit.

Thursday 29th 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: Lift your heart as you reflect again on this verse. One of the most amazing things about creating a garden is the certainty that given the right environment, plants will flourish.  Don’t you just love springtime as we see colour and beauty emerging year after year from the cold damp earth?  The fact that it happens gives us confidence that God is in control, that the world keeps turning and that new life keeps appearing.  In these things we have hope. For us the right environment is to live in the presence and purposes of God. And, look at the words God gave this prophet, Isaiah, to share with the people. Just as surely as the garden keeps producing new growth from tiny seeds, so there will come a day when we see all around us the righteousness of God, unblemished by sin, and we will lift our hearts and voices in rapturous praise. Thy Kingdom Come, Amen

Let us pray:

  • Lord God, we thank you for every evidence around us that you are a faithful God and your word is true
  • Forgive us for all the moments of weakness when we take our eyes off you, when we never open your word, when we forget to pray. Forgive us when the clamours of life push you into the background, and thank you that in those moments you still hold us close in the love of Jesus.
  • Lord God, as we look around 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.
  • Help us to know your presence with us. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Friday 30th April, 2021

Strongly Rooted

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7, NLT

Reflection: Johannes Facius, who used to teach a course called, ‘Sitting at the Feet of Jesus’, told the story of how he was visiting a friend one day. He was chatting with him while he was watering his garden, after a long, dry period. As his friend went round with his hose, Johannes noticed that he missed out one plant with beautiful yellow flowers, so he asked his friend what this dear little plant had done to deserve not to be watered. His friend replied that this plant had been brought from the Negev desert area of Israel when he had visited several years earlier.

Because it was a desert plant, if he watered it, it would die, as it was supposed to put its roots deep down into the soil to find water. That is what gave it life. If he watered it, the roots would shrivel up and die. It had to search for water to enable its roots to grow strong and secure. Then it could display its beauty.

It got me thinking whether our roots are shrivelled up, or whether we are pushing down deep into the soil of the word, so that we will produce the beautiful fruit we were designed to produce. It is so easy to allow others to feed us, and we can become lazy at pressing into God’s word and letting our roots grow strong in Him. It is only as we press into the truth of God’s word that the Spirit reveals the hidden truths to us which will feed and nourish us. This is how we can grow into strong disciples, displaying His glory in our lives.

None of us know what the days ahead hold, but we do know that we need to be strong in the Lord in our own individual walk with Him. We can only do that by becoming more and more dependent on His strength, not on anybody else’s.

As in the scripture above says, we need to allow our roots to grow down into God’s love, so that we will be able to keep strong. We need to do this even more these days, because there is so much happening in the world which is not godly. We need to be pressing into the Lord’s love and reading and meditating on His word. Then we will know the truth of God’s word and be prepared for whatever the Lord has ahead.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be always seeking and searching deeply in Your word, so that I will constantly be growing in You. Forgive me for the times when I have depended solely on others rather than searching out the deep nuggets of truth hidden in Your word. Lead me on today to be deeply rooted in the truth of Your word, so I will serve You faithfully. Amen.

(Writer: Margaret Davies – formerly with Ellel Ministries)

Copyright Notice

Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.

Saturday, 1st May, 2021

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

I would like to conclude this week by asking prayer for the Guild’s new projects – a work of worship and service.

Following a successful three-year fundraising cycle where members raised more than £540,000, the Church of Scotland’s Guild has now announced its six new project partners for 2021-24.  Let us commit to praying for these works of faith.

Each of the six projects will receive financial and prayerful support from the Guild until the end of the fundraising cycle in 2024.

All six project partners, as well as the ongoing work, worship and focus of the Guild, will relate to the theme of their new three-year strategy, ‘Look Forward In Faith’.

‘Look Forward In Faith’

Mabel Wallace, the Guild’s National Convener, acknowledged the project partnership scheme is a “huge privilege”.

“As National Convener, I give thanks that we are able to partner with another six wonderful charities for the next three years under our strategy, ‘Look Forward In Faith’,” Mabel said.

“Our desire is to offer prayerful support to their work and to raise money that will see the vocation and mission of the projects worked out in so many ways. It is a huge privilege to be able to work with these wonderful organisations and we look forward to sharing the project partnership scheme with congregations across the country.

“Please pray for the work of our partners and for the Guild as we seek to support them in all that they do.”

“It is always a hugely exciting time in the life of the Guild when we announce our project partners at the beginning of a new three-year cycle,” said Iain Whyte, General Secretary of the Church of Scotland Guild.

“The new projects will operate across four continents, in a hugely diverse range of purposes and with an equally diverse variety of people. From South East Asia, to Brazil, Tanzania and Uganda – as well as at home in Scotland – we are really looking forward to learning about the work of our partners and offering prayerful and financial support to them.”

The six new Guild projects

The six new projects are:

  1. The Vine Trust – the Kazunzu Village of Hope in Tanzania

Working with the Vine Trust and their partners on the ground, the Guild will help them take forward the development of a sustainable village with homes, a school, a health centre, a community hub and 40 individual homes. The large family homes will enable young families to serve as foster parents to four or five orphan children identified by the Church in partnership with community leaders and social services. Self-sustainability will come through agriculture, gardening, fish-farming and the development of a transport business.

  1. Beat – ‘Blether with Beat’, Scotland

Eating disorders have a huge impact on young people and on their families. This project will help develop a network of young ambassadors who will work in schools, colleges and universities as well as with church congregations, the Boys’ Brigade, the Girls’ Brigade and school chaplains to raise awareness of the impact of eating disorders and to encourage people to seek help. In addition, the charity hopes that by engaging with the Guild its members will be better informed and will be able to open doors to meetings with community leaders, GP practice managers, teachers and others, to share resources and key messages about eating disorders.

  1. Home for Good, Scotland

Home for Good is a Christian charity dedicated to finding a home for every child who needs one. The charity works to inspire people to think about fostering and adoption. It also equips churches to welcome these families and help support people on their journeys. This project will allow Home for Good to reach all parts of Scotland and will also enable them to build their network of volunteers. Once trained, these volunteers can run events, offer training and build support groups which provide much needed encouragement for these families. Home for Good wants all children to find a loving home and this project will help them to do that.

  1. Pioneers – Chocolate heaven, South East Asia

This project will help build and develop a factory to support the production of sustainable chocolate production in South East Asia. The project’s success will be measured by: more farmers receiving fair prices; more workers experiencing regular employment – many for the first time; more parents able to provide a bright future for their children; and it could also mean the start of a network of people choosing Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

  1. UNIDA – ‘Hear our voice!’, Brazil

‘Faith in the Future’ is a project at Faculdade Unida de Vitória (UNIDA), a higher education institution in Brazil, designed to empower young women through theological education. UNIDA believes in an education that can transform lives in a violently unjust Brazilian society. Their project has three core elements: providing access to accredited theological education for young women through special scholarships; equipping young women for leadership in churches, faith-based organisations and wider civil society through practical education; and mentoring young women through accompaniment and work placements.

  1. Starchild, Uganda

Starchild are hoping that, together with the support of the Guild, they will be able to build a centre where children with a range of learning disabilities – but particularly autism – can come to learn alongside their peers. In Uganda, children with learning disabilities are often hidden away and do not receive the education they should. This project hopes to tackle that stigma, support the children and their families and also help to educate community leaders.

Whether you are a Guild member who wants to continue to support the work of the Guild or a friend to the Guild who is moved to contribute for the work of our project partners, we want to help you support the Guild in whichever way you feel led. To donate directly to the Guild and its project partners, you can visit our donations page to donate online or contact Guild@nullchurchofscotland.org.uk