Prayer Booklet 59

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 59 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 thought it would be good to continue for another week looking at references to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament as the church of Jesus is born. The early leaders and disciples of this new Church took seriously the command of 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) Those disciples experienced so much because the Holy Spirit truly led and encouraged them – and he still does the same today. 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, 30th May, 2021

On Trinity Sunday (30 May), following the Kirk’s annual General Assembly, Christians across the country – and further afield – will join together in prayer and reflection at 7pm in response to the pandemic.

As with previous weeks during lockdown, 14 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 the incoming Moderator, Lord Wallace, is taking part alongside them.

“We should always be mindful for the wisdom handed down to us from past generations; much of it learned the hard way, from mistakes made and consequences suffered,” Lord Wallace said.

“So, too, we are grateful for the richness that comes to us from living alongside people of other traditions. In our day and generation we must surely allow our minds and hearts to be open so that we can risk getting to know them and learning from them.

“In this pandemic, our responsibility is to come together and offer our prayers for all the many diverse expressions of our Christian faith that enrich life, as we have done for many months now.

“A pattern has been set for us, lived out in Jesus Christ, made possible by the Spirit. May we follow in His way, and be guided by the one over-riding rule of love in all that we say and do.”

“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.”

This week’s letter:

“The vision of the Lord offered by the prophet Isaiah is one in which the presence of the living God fills the Temple and we hear resounding from every corner the cry:

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
The whole earth is full of His glory.’

“The Temple itself is shaken as the fullness of God’s presence is revealed. The prophet Isaiah can do no more than acknowledge who he is before God. Yet, even as he senses his own weakness, he hears the voice of the Lord calling: ‘Whom shall I send?’ In response, Isaiah says: ‘Here am I. Send me!’

“Today, in the midst of all we face, the fullness of the living God is made known to us in Creation and revealed through Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and by the Holy Spirit as our Sustainer. In our weakness, we also may hear the voice of the Lord calling: ‘Whom shall I send?’ In response, we also may say: ‘Here am I. Send me!’”

We pray:

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord Almighty;
Living God, may Your presence be known to us
Even in our weakness.
May we know You as Your presence is revealed
And as Your calling is renewed.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord Almighty;
Living God, may Your presence be known to us
In all the gifts of Creation.
May we receive these gifts as a sacred trust
And treasure all that You have given to us.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord Almighty;
Living God, may Your presence be known to us
In the One whom You have sent to redeem us.
May we share in the life of Christ
And in the life of the body of Christ.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord Almighty;
Living God, may Your presence be known to us
In the One whom You have poured out upon us.
May we be renewed by the Spirit
And share in the life the Spirit gives to us.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord Almighty;
Living God, may Your presence be known to us
In our worship in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
May You receive us as we are
And accept us in our weakness.
Lord, in Your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Monday 31st 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 verses 5-8:

“O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.  Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you! My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.”

From David’s writing in this Psalm, we learn that he has experienced many difficult trials throughout his life, but these trials have only served to increase his dependence on the lord, and therefore his joy in the Lord.  We are blessed if we have been brought up in faith and known the Lord as part of our life since childhood.  It is good if we can say like David: “O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.”

However, I believe those who come to faith in God in later life are also richly blessed as they have experience of the transforming power of God in life in a way that is precious and undeniable.  No matter when we come to faith, He is our ‘strong refuge’ and his song fills our hearts.

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 1st June, 2021

 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.Acts 2:38-39

Reflection: We are blessed indeed when we know that by trusting Jesus we have forgiveness for our sins, and are born anew into God’s family by receiving the salvation offered in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  I wonder how many of us ever stopped to think of the enormity of the gift promised by Jesus – that when he returned to the Father, The Holy Spirit of God would be given, and would remain with us from generation to generation.  If we teach our children the precious truths of our faith then they become the Church of Christ from generation to generation.

There is wonderful encouragement for all parents in this great truth.  If you have children who seem to have turned their back on faith in God, just regularly commit them to God in prayer – He is always ready to forgive and draw people into the family of believers.  Just remember the writer of the beautiful hymn, “Amazing Grace”. His mother prayed for him for many years and it is recorded that she died before he came to faith from a dissolute life.  God is faithful.  Let us pray:

  • Father God, we praise you for Jesus who did not turn away from the cross although clearly he knew the pain and suffering that awaited him. Help us to honour him by living our lives guided by the Holy Spirit – so that we live in his way.
  • Thank you for your Holy Spirit who has been with your people from generation to generation and is with us still. Thank you for all those faithful witnesses who have gone before us.  Continue to guide us as we present your story in this time.

Wednesday 2nd June, 2021

 No one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.” 1 Corinthians 12: 3-6

Reflection: I grew up in a church with a text written boldly across the wall behind the pulpit.  The text was JESUS CHRIST IS LORD. Today we read that it is only the Holy Spirit within us that enables us to say and mean these words – and to live our lives giving him first place.  One day a visiting teacher to the church spoke about the loss of faith for many who choose to live without grasping this truth so that they might become happy to say only that ‘Jesus Christ is’.  In other words they might agree that He is real. Further down the line, they simply acknowledge the name, ‘Jesus Christ’ – which tells us Jesus is the Messiah – almost as a historical fact only.  Finally, the banner might simply show the name, ‘Jesus’ – just another name.  When we do not allow him to be Lord, we lose the ability to serve him in Spirit and in truth because we then lose the gifts given by the spirit for the benefit of the Church and all who have still to believe.  Worse, we stop being able to draw others to faith.  Let us pray:

  • Lord God, teach us to pray, believing that you hear us because of the presence of your Holy Spirit. By your Holy Spirit within, show us how to live with Jesus as Lord of our lives.
  • We know that we cannot work productively as your church on our own – to be your church we must acknowledge the leading and teaching of your Holy Spirit. Help us to be fully aware and to trust you to enable us to fulfil the tasks you give us.
  • Thank you for granting us particular gifts to enable us to fulfil your calling in our lives. May we strive to be obedient.

Thursday 3rd June, 2021

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18-19

Reflection: At first reading this might seem strange – but it is always worth looking carefully at the message in the words. Most of us know what can happen when people gather together at a social function and go a little over the top with the alcohol.  We also know that unfortunate things happen when exuberance leads to debauchery.  It is sad when someone loses control to the point of doing or saying things they later regret – and worse things which damage them in some way.  Paul in this letter has seen the dangers and is advising the church at Ephesus that real joy comes – not from too much alcohol – but from allowing the Holy Spirit to breathe and grow in our lives.  Instead of hurts and damage, we express our joy in praising the Lord. Jesus said: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. ‘Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6: 45-46)  Think about it… 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 to live, honouring your presence in 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.

Bow down before Him now, with reverence and fear…”

  • May everything we speak from our mouths be honouring to you and to one another at all times. Amen

Friday 4th June, 2021

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.Galatians 5:22-25

Reflection: I hope and pray as you read this that you do not see only criticism of a lifestyle that does not honour Jesus.  No-one likes criticism, whether direct or implied.  The previous verse certainly outlines behaviours and attitudes that are not true to the Spirit of Christ within us – but instead of criticising individuals, Paul goes on to say – really, for your own sake, try to pattern your life on the humility and graciousness of Jesus – and you can if you allow the Holy Spirit to teach you.  Look at what the Spirit gives.  He only gives us qualities that lead us into the place of perfect peace.  These are also qualities that benefit all those who live in our life space with us and qualities that would draw others to Jesus. This in turn enables us to fulfil the great commission: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 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

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, 5th June, 2021

 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self discipline.2 Timothy: 1-7

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 555

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
‘tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.

CH4 189

Be still, for the presence of the Lord,
the Holy One is here;
Come bow before Him now
with reverence and fear.
In Him no sin is found,
we stand on holy ground;
Be still, for the presence of the Lord,
the Holy One is here.

Be still, for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around;
He burns with holy fire,
with splendour He is crowned.
How awesome is the sight,
our radiant King of light!
Be still, for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around.

Be still, for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place;
He comes to cleanse and heal,
to minister His grace.
No work too hard for Him,
in faith receive from Him;
Be still, for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place.

Prayers this week for Malawi:

Ayr Presbytery is privileged to be linked with churches in The African country of Malawi.  We are privileged because we have opportunities to pray and support others in a country which knows poverty far greater than we do in terms of financial support, food provision, modern conveniences and health provision to name but a few.  However, we are also richly blessed by being aware of a people who truly worship Jesus and shine for him with joy in their hearts.  And they pray for us.

These notes are only a summary of prayer points to encourage us to think more and pray more for God’s work in Malawi.

Some prayer Points:

  • That Covid restrictions will be lifted sufficiently to allow aid boxes from Ayr Presbytery and others to safely pass through Dundee and onwards to Bandawe and Limphasa Presbyteries
  • That Castlehill Church will be blessed in formalising a partnership with Nhkata Bay Church
  • That visits between members of Ayr Presbytery to their partner churches in Bandawe and Limphasa Presbyteries might soon be able to be arranged once again
  • Pray that will God will bless all links between Kingcase Church and Chinteche Church and for a blessing on the work of the new minister there, Reverend Custom Kapombe
  • Pray for God’s blessing on the links between St Nicholas Church and Phiri Church. Pray for the safer sanitisation of buildings and for the construction of the new health centre at Sanje on the lake shore of Nkhata Bay.
  • Pray for God’s blessing on the links between Girvan North and Likoma Island. In particular their minister in Likoma is recovering from Malaria, and we are thankful for improved communications through the new head of education, Mr Benford Mwakauni.
  • Pray also for God’s blessing on the links between Troon Portland Church and Limphasa Church. Prayer points include the partnership with a congregation in CCAP in Northern Malawi through a wide range of projects eg provision of a sewing machine to make face masks during the pandemic; provision of printed literature re enhanced hygiene and Covid prevention; finance towards education fees and installation of electric lighting. Pray also for the sadness of the bereaved in the death of John Hart who was inspirational in establishing these links
  • Pray for God’s blessing on the links between Annbank & Tarbolton with Sanga Church. They have maintained positive links, communications, provision of financial aid and prayers during the pandemic – although Covid has increased hardship, and also halted the delivery of aid boxes.  Pray that all aid sent out will be delivered in the near future.  Pray also that the links set up between Tarbolton Primary School and three schools in Sanga can be allowed to develop in the near future.  Pray for the work of Reverend Mazunda.
  • Pray God’s blessing on the link between New Cumnock Church and Kajilirwe Church. Financial aid has been provided by new Cumnock and prayers are requested because Reverend Alex Mwafulirwa has been moved to another congregation and has been replaced by Reverend Luneta Ng’ambi. May God bless these ministers and the communities which they serve.
  • Pray God’s blessing on links between Alloway Church and BAGSS/Bandawe Station. There is much on-going work but pray especially for the successful completion of a pit latrine toilet block and a facility for the disabled at the Bandawe Girls Secondary School.
  • Pray God’s blessing on the link between Dundonald and Mdyaka where the minister is Reverend Glory Mazunda. Dundonald was blessed to have a message from Glory shared as part of our worship on You tube recently. They have struggled greatly with Covid but remain thankful for every blessing.  Pray for the links which assist their Nursery Feeding Programme; the development of five Community Prayer Houses; supporting a student in teacher training; and supporting the Mdyaka Guild in funding secondary school fees for an orphaned student.

Above all, we ask for your prayers that our precious links with Malawi will continue to prosper and grow as we face the merger of our presbytery with others to become known as West of Scotland Presbytery.  Indeed keep all these ‘political’ changes affecting our churches in your prayers that God will continue to bless and strengthen his church – even when we feel daunted by proposed changes.  We commit all things to him through the prompting and working of his Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen

Pray also for the riches of God’s blessing on whatever has been debated and will be carried forward from the recent General Assembly. May His name be glorified and honoured.