Prayer Booklet 58

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 58 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.

As you probably know, Sunday 23rd May is the Sunday on which we celebrate the birth of the church after the Holy Spirit came on the first gathering which is described in Acts chapter 2. It was a wonderful, miraculous occasion during which the power of God came on those who would be responsible for fulfilling the commission given by Jesus to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28: 19-20) Our reflections will look at some teaching on the Holy Spirit and our prayers will relate to the reflections, but there will be additional suggestions for prayer at the end of the booklet.

I do hope you enjoy the journey with us, and I would be delighted if you chose to share some thoughts by contacting me.  My email address is: christistewart@nullbtinternet.com  Amen

Sunday, 23rd May, 2021

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.

“Too often, different parts of the Christian Church have allowed themselves to become distant from one another. They’ve looked at certain doctrinal or liturgical matters in different ways and have allowed those differences to become divisive,” Dr Fair said.  “But we can, and should, all pray together. And when we do, we find that some of these differences that seemed important begin to diminish in significance.
“Through the pandemic we have prayed each Sunday evening at 7pm and we’ve done it together. We’ve been united in praying for the country and in praying for the life and mission of the whole Church.“Jesus’ final prayer when with his disciples was, ‘My prayer for all those who believe in me is that they shall be one.’“We’ve demonstrated that by our shared prayer. Let it continue to be so.”Next week’s prayer will be led by incoming Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Lord Wallace.”

“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.”

“The Gospel of John speaks of the One who is to come and of the One who is to go. Jesus is the One who is to go and He must do so first.

“On hearing this, the disciples of Jesus are filled with sorrow and He explains to them that ‘if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you’. The disciples fear that they will be left bereft and Jesus reassures them that His absence will be filled by the outpouring of ‘the Spirit of truth’. The Spirit is the One who is to come and Jesus is the One who is to go. (John 15: 26-27; 16: 4b-15)

“Who is the Spirit who is to come? In the Gospel of John, the word used to describe the Spirit is variously translated as ‘Advocate’, ‘Comforter’, ‘Counsellor’, ‘Helper’ or simply transliterated as ‘Paraclete’. (John 15: 26) The word used is found in only one other place in the New Testament outside the Gospel and here it is used to describe Jesus. Jesus is the One who stands before the Father and pleads for us. (1 John 2: 1)

“On this Pentecost Sunday, we give thanks to God for the Spirit outpoured on the people of God. The Spirit comes to be the abiding presence of God in our lives and in the life of the people of God. We give thanks that the Spirit is the One who has come.”

We pray:

Living God
And Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pour out Your Spirit upon us
And fill the hearts of Your faithful people.
May Your Spirit come as the One who speaks for us
And advocates on our behalf.
Lord, in Your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Living God
And Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pour out Your Spirit upon us
And kindle in us the fire of Your love.
May your Spirit comfort us in our sorrow
And strengthen us in our weakness
Lord, in Your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Living God
And Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pour out Your Spirit upon us
And create Your people anew.
May Your Spirit come to counsel and direct us
And grant to us wisdom in all we face.
Lord, in Your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Living God
And Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pour out Your Spirit upon us
And renew the face of all the earth.
May Your Spirit help us to care for Creation
And to live as those who cherish the gifts You have given.
Lord, in Your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Living God
And Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pour out Your Spirit upon us
And set us free to worship and glorify Your Name.
Come, Holy Spirit,
And fill our hearts with love for You,
Lord, in Your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Monday 24th May, 2021

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

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.  Each time I think about changing it – something stops me.  I believe completely that the first thing we always should do is follow the pattern of this reflection and prayer, and if you have been using these notes for a while, I trust you have learned to take time over this and really explore all the issues suggested between yourself and God.  For me this reflection and prayer has become the same yet different every Monday.  Let’s repeat the verse:

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

I thought it would be interesting to take a few weeks to see what we learn about God and his relationship to those who trust in Him from the rest of the Psalm.  Today I will draw some thoughts together from the first four verses.  The Psalmist has already learned to trust in God, and when he needs a break from problems – very major problems – he has found God to be both his hiding place and his resting place.  He is safe in the presence of God.  Experience has taught him this.  If we put our trust in God, one experience builds on another and we become more confident.

He also sees God as the one who is able to rescue him from the dangers brought to him by others.  There are so many looking to cause his downfall – people who do not live by the wisdom of God but by their own selfishness.  The psalmist recognises that it is God’s righteousness that protects him and also strengthens him to live in a way that pleases God.

He also understands that God is constant in his righteousness and his care for him, and this gives his life stability.  God is not just his refuge but his ‘rock of refuge’.  It is wonderful for us when we find the same strength from God.  ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.’

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 25th May, 2021

 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth.John 14: 15-17

Reflection: We are never too old to learn – and this week I have been privileged to spend some time learning more about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I was thinking of the old favourite hymn, and how it comforts us:

What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit! O what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!”

Our text today illustrates the first way in which Jesus is our friend – He promised on our behalf to ask His Father to send the Holy Spirit to be with us – in other words the presence of God within our lives.  We cannot walk in friendship with Jesus and decide the Holy Spirit is not a welcome part of our lives.  Sadly I do know some fellow Christians who shy away from even considering the Holy Spirit as a part of their faith journey – and yet the presence of the Holy Spirit is a gift from God the Father through Jesus the Son.

Let us pray:

  • Loving and gracious God, giver of all good things – we thank you that when Jesus completed His earthly mission to accomplish our salvation it was only the beginning of a new and wonderful relationship between you and us.
  • Help us to understand the gift of your Holy Spirit in our lives and to trust you to lead and guide us in Jesus’ name. Amen

Wednesday 26th May, 2021

 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth.John 14: 15-17

Reflection: I learned something really interesting when I looked into the use of the word ‘Comforter’ to describe the Holy Spirit. In our time its meaning is a bit restricted compared to its original meaning when the Bible was first translated into English.  We all understand the blessing from those who give us comfort in times of sorrow or difficulty. However, the original word in the Greek text means much more than this and holds the meaning of one ‘who is called in’ to be an advocate or helper.  The Holy Spirit has a really active role in our lives.  The Holy Spirit listens when we pray and translates our prayers to Father God in Heaven; in response he helps us to find answers; gives us advice; gives courage when we are afraid; and strengthens us when we struggle – to name a few of his active roles when we recognise his presence and wait quietly as we pray to hear from Him.

Let us pray:

  • Lord God, teach us to pray, believing that you hear us because of the presence of your Holy Spirit. Grant us the confidence to believe this and to listen for responses from your still small voice within us.  Teach us to spend time with you.
  • Strengthen us Lord, with the knowledge that Jesus, our friend, made it possible to have this relationship with you by asking you to grant us the presence of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Thursday 27th May, 2021

 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth.John 14: 15-17

Reflection: ‘He (the Holy Spirit) will never leave you.’  These were words spoken by Jesus so why would we doubt them?  Why would we not recognise and hold on to this amazing gift from God granted by the request of his Son?  There is nothing provocative or unsettling about this promise.  I know many of you know this to be true, but I hope to help those who feel afraid because it seems too supernatural…Jesus came to earth as a living, breathing human being to do the will of the Father.  He truly is the greatest teacher the world has ever known and the most compassionate and selfless person.  His purpose on earth was complete and he returned to the Father in Heaven, but this time the presence of God came in such a way that he would be with us till the end of time.  It really is as simple as that.  Whatever way we look at it, he is  the ‘Emmanuel’ of Christmas – God with us.

Let us pray:

  • Loving God, thank you that it is your desire to be with us – and you keep your word. Help us to understand that our part is to recognise your presence with us and respond to your touch upon our lives.
  • Let our hearts be still as we praise you with the hymn, “Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here.” Your presence with us is a gift beyond all gifts, made possible only by the sacrifice of Jesus. Amen.

Friday 28th May, 2021

 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth. John 14: 15-17

Reflection: Have you ever stopped to wonder what is meant by truth?  I have wondered this many times since as a student at university a lecturer told us that living by truth meant to live according to the light you have…I am glad that in my young days I also discovered the joy of knowing Jesus, who is the ‘light of the world.’  It can be a confusing world out there, and many versions of ‘the truth’ seem to exist.  To find the truth as God enlightens us, we need to trust these words that the Holy Spirit will teach us and instruct us in the way we should go.  The truth is contained in the word of God given to us as the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. As we read, we should ask the Holy Spirit to help us to understand what we are reading.  As we read the teachings of Jesus (who is also described as the ‘Word’), we should ask help from the Holy Spirit to interpret His truths into our own lives.  It is also good to listen to those who have spent time studying the word of God, but it is then particularly necessary to think over such teachings for ourselves in the light of God’s word and to ask the Holy Spirit to clarify our thinking on points that seem unclear.

Let us Pray:

  • Heavenly Father, Lord of Life, we thank you that you have revealed so many wonderful truths to us, and we pray that we will continue to search out the truth with the help of your Holy Spirit given to us for that purpose.
  • Thank you that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Amen

Saturday, 29th May, 2021

 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth.John 14: 15-17

Reflection: For today I have decided to give you the opportunity to sing your praise for the gift of the Holy Spirit with these lovely hymn words… Enjoy these words as you worship and pray.

CH4  600

Spirit of God, unseen as the wind,
gentle as is the dove,
teach us the truth and help us believe,
show us the Saviour’s love.

You spoke to us long, long ago,
gave us the written word;
we read it still, needing its truth,
through it God’s voice is heard.

Without your help we fail our Lord,
we cannot live his way;
we need your power, we need your strength,
following Christ each day.

CMP 241

Holy Spirit, we welcome you,
Holy Spirit, we welcome you,
Move among us with holy fire
As we lay aside all earthly desire,
Hands reach out and our hearts aspire,
Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit,
Holy Spirit, we welcome you!

Holy Spirit, we welcome you,
Holy Spirit, we welcome you,
Let the breeze of your presence blow,
That your children here might truly know,
How to move in the spirit’s flow,
Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit,
Holy Spirit, we welcome you!

Holy Spirit, we welcome you,
Holy Spirit, we welcome you,
Please accomplish in us today
Some new work of loving grace, we pray –
Unreservedly- have your way.
Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit,
Holy Spirit, we welcome you!

CH4 599

Holy Spirit, hear us;  help us while we sing;
breathe into the music of the praise we bring.

Holy Spirit, prompt us when we try to pray;
nearer come, and teach us what we ought to say.

Holy Spirit, teach us through the words we read;
bring to life the Bible with the life we need.

Holy Spirit, give us each a lively mind;
make us more like Jesus, gracious, pure, and kind.

Holy Spirit, help us daily, by Your might,
what is wrong to conquer, and to choose the right.

Prayers for throughout the week…

  • Lord, as members of your church have been meeting at the General Assembly to discuss spiritual and practical implications of continuing ministry in a changing world, let them keep their hearts and minds fixed on seeking your will and guidance first and foremost as they move forward.
  • Father, help all of us keep a focus on the great commission given by Jesus in the words He spoke, “He told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
  • Help us also to remember that Jesus taught us to put our love for God first, and then to love others in His name.
  • In love for others we pray for all those hurting and broken in our own communities. Show us how to find those that you would draw to you, and lead them into the joy and light of your presence.
  • We pray for all around us who have been bereaved. Surround them with people in Jesus’ name to offer compassion, empathy and courage. Let them not feel alone.
  • We pray for our government and all in Authority. Lord God we ask you to be a real living presence among them and grant wisdom, grace and integrity to flow through Parliament.
  • Now Lord, open our eyes to the great need throughout a world devastated by this pandemic. Send your healing Spirit, inspire wealthier nations to support the poor, change the hearts of selfish, ruthless governments, and show us to do what we are able to do to be your Church in the world. Amen
  • We pray for peace in Israel and all its surrounding countries. It seems a travesty that the land which gave birth to our Saviour and Lord is so often at the heart of uprisings and wars – yet we see a picture of this in all life across the world.  We know, Father God, you only wants to bring us good things, but still there is an ongoing battle with evil on the earth.  We pray for your kingdom of peace and joy to come.

From the Guild:

Friday 21: giving thanks for Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair and for all that he has done to support the Church and the Guild in this strange year. Praying for God to bless him and his family as they are able to spend more time together.
Saturday 22: for Jim Wallace as he is installed as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Sunday 23: thinking especially of the Principal Clerk, Rev Dr George Whyte, and his Deputy, Christine Paterson, as they support the work of the General Assembly in the week ahead.
Monday 24: for all international representatives who will be taking part in the General Assembly, giving thanks for the way in which their contributions enrich our deliberations, particularly as we debate a series of complex issues.
Tuesday 25: for National Convener, Mabel Wallace, as she presents the Guild report to the General Assembly.
Wednesday 26: for the Conveners of the Faith Impact Forum and CrossReach (Social Care Council) who will be presenting their reports at the General Assembly.
Thursday 27: giving thanks for the work of HM Forces Chaplains who will report to the General Assembly, and for Scott Shakleton who leaves his role in chaplaincy to become Head of Faith Action in the central Church.
Friday 28: remembering our partners in the Guilds of the Synod of Livingstonia as they work to support the most vulnerable in their communities.
Saturday 29: asking for rest and relaxation for staff and members this weekend.
Sunday 30: for our project partners, past and present, giving thanks for the work that they do across Scotland and in the world.