Prayer Booklet 60

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 60 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.

This week, it is my joy and delight to focus our thoughts on living on the firm foundation of faith – Jesus, the rock of our salvation.

There are many references to ‘rocks’ in the word of God, and consequently many grains of truth to help us increase and hold fast our faith – and also to find many occasions to praise God. There are even many hymns that refer to ‘rocks’ so we will look at one or two of those.  In this week our reflections will look at some lessons learned from rocks in God’s word and our prayers will relate to the reflections, but there will be additional suggestions for prayer at the end of the booklet. Next week we will look at ‘Rock’ in Jesus’ ministry and beyond…

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, 6th June, 2021

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 Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 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:

“‘Are we there yet?’ We can easily picture a small child enquiring plaintively from the back of the car as to whether, or not, the destination has been reached? Indeed, even as we mature, we can all readily identify with the sentiment as we enquire as to whether, or not, our desired destination has been reached?

“Over the past months, we might perhaps have been tempted to succumb to the frustration of a journey’s end delayed and to rather lose heart.

“As one who had journeyed and who continued to journey, the Apostle Paul was not unfamiliar with the challenges of doing so. In response to those whom he sensed were ready to succumb to frustration, Paul affirms the basis on which we should continue to journey and concludes: ‘Therefore we do not lose heart.’

“What is that basis? It is the assurance that the One who ‘raised the Lord Jesus from the dead’ will also raise us with Him and bring us into God’s presence. We share in the life of the risen Lord Jesus and the challenges we face on the journey are to be set in the light of this. We might not be there yet but, as we share in the life of the risen Lord Jesus, we are those who ‘do not lose heart’. (2 Corinthians 4: 13-5: 1)”

We pray:

Living God,
Who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead,
Be with us on the journey before us.
Be with us when the path is smooth
And the horizon is clear.
Lead us on to the place of Your presence.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead,
Be with us on the journey before us.
Be with us when the path is broken
And the way obscured.
Still lead us on to the place of Your presence.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead,
Be with us on the journey before us.
Be with us as we face the challenges seen
And those as yet unseen.
In all we face, may Your abiding presence remain.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead,
Be with us on the journey.
Be with those who grow frustrated
And who feel disheartened.
Renew us that we may discover Your presence once more.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead,
Be with us on the journey.
Be with us that we might share
In the life of the Risen Lord
And the life everlasting in Your presence.
Lord, in Your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Monday 7th June, 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)

As before, 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 9-12:

“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.  For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. They say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.’ Do not be far from me, my God; come quickly, God, to help me.”

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.  It is interesting to note that in this part of the Psalm, David seems to challenge God by suggesting it is the testimony of His faithfulness that will suffer.  He means that because He has declared the faithfulness of God to his enemies, they will mock his faith in the Living God if God does not come to his aid.  David engages in prayerful conversation with God so often that he has forthright conversations with God.  But take note, he does usually listen and obey when God answers – I see a lesson or two in this…

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 8th June, 2021

 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!” The Lord said to Moses, “Walk out in front of the people. Take your staff, the one you used when you struck the water of the Nile, and call some of the elders of Israel to join you.  I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai. Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.” Exodus 17:4-6

Reflection: There is so much for us to learn from this record of Moses. Just before this incident, the people who were being led by Moses decided that God did not really care about them at all because they were struggling in a desert experience.  I am sure many today are similarly struggling with faith because they cannot see a Mighty and Loving God anywhere in this pandemic.  We must also remember those who are struggling with other issues that seem to be worsening in spite of calling out to the Lord.  The answer seems far away but God has promised that He is near to all who call on Him.  When we do call out to Him he hears – but the answer might be slow in coming.  Just thank him that he is near – and indeed with you in every situation.  He may set you aside from your chosen path for a time – but He will bless you in ways you don’t expect.  As Moses looked about himself, faced with insurmountable problems – I don’t suppose he ever thought the answer was so near – in the rock beside him.  The key is that as he called on God, he was prepared to be obedient to whatever God said.  Let us pray:

  • Father God, life for many is so difficult in these days. We thank you for evidence that you are all around us, and for the reminders in our Spirit that you are with us in every moment.  We thank you for Jesus who endured the cross for us. Amen

Wednesday 9th June, 2021

 He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.  Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong, how just and upright he is!” Deuteronomy 32:4

Reflection: This is a beautiful expression of the Living God – the one in whom we trust.  This verse reminds us powerfully of some of the attributes of the character of who God is. God would not be God if we could bend him to our will.  The truth is our own will is often flawed because we are human and subject to sin in our lives, which means we make too many selfish mistakes. God is the Rock.  There is a wonderful verse in Psalm 18:30: “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

We tend not to like those people much who think they are perfect because it is too easy for us to spot the flaws – but for God to be our ‘rock’ he needs to be perfect – for then he will never let us down.  Even if we don’t like some of the path we are called to travel, we can be sure His presence is with us – leading, lighting and comforting.  He is just and fair to each of His children.  Let us look for Him along the way, and take His hand.  Let us be content that He is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, and He sent his son, Jesus, to be our Saviour. Praise Him

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.
  • Lord, help us to understand that no two of us have the same life experience; but you are equally present with us no matter our circumstances. You do not choose only to be with those who enjoy the ‘good life’, but also with those who seem to have a raw deal. Be our Light and our Rock for the journey.

Thursday 10th June, 2021

You neglected the Rock who had fathered you;
    you forgot the God who had given you birth.

 “The Lord saw this and drew back…” Deuteronomy 32:18-19

Reflection: At first there is something frightening about this reading from Deuteronomy. God was interacting with the people of Israel in the time before the birth of Jesus.  The story is one of many awesome moments, of real blessing, but also times of hardship and failure.  The story also reveals how firm and steadfast God is, but how weak and selfish, and fickle the people are.  From time to time they completely rejected God, forgetting all that He had done for them, and the leadership he provided through faithful servants.  They forgot that the relationship between God and themselves was a two-way relationship.  God was not there to pander to their whims but to keep them safe and protect them.  They were fenced around by his power of protection – when they chose to trample down that fence, they seemed to lose it – but always only for a time.  When we repent of our sinful nature and receive the salvation offered in Jesus we journey through life in a blessed relationship with God.  We only truly know this blessing when we keep walking with Him.  If we have chosen to forget about God in our lives, he is always ready to welcome us back when we return…  Let us pray:

  • Thank you, Lord God that you have promised never to leave us – but if we forget you, we might not feel your presence with us. Help us to look for you, to praise you and serve you in Jesus’ name who has brought us into a relationship with you.
  • 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…”

Friday 11th June, 2021

 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3

Reflection: Just walk with me step by step through these wonderful verses.  They were written by David who, as we know, had to trust the Lord so many times throughout His life:

  1. He waited patiently for the Lord
  2. The Lord turned towards Him
  3. The Lord heard his cry.
  4. David’s situation was difficult and distressing
  5. David’s situation was worsening and he struggled (miry clay is the kind that sucks you in the more you struggle)
  6. The Lord brought him out of all of this
  7. He did not then leave David; He set His feet on a rock
  8. The Lord remained there until David was set on a new and better path
  9. He gave David a new song to sing – a song of joy, not lament. David praised God
  10. The result – because of David’s experience, many more were drawn to revere and worship God

Let us Pray:

  • Father God, we have all that David had and more because we have Jesus who is our Saviour and Redeemer and who promised never to leave us. Help us always to turn our eyes upon him and to trust the word of His promise in every situation.  May we be faithful in our praise and thanksgiving and may our lives of faith and trust draw others to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Saturday, 12th June, 2021

 See, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice.  Each will be like a hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32: 1-2

Reflection: For today I have reflected on the Rock in the words of this hymn. Note especially to the echo of the words from Isaiah 32 – ‘The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land’ – what a blessing. This is one of those lovely old hymns that was removed between CH3 and CH4

CMP 55 (CH3 684)

Beneath the cross of Jesus,
I fain would take my stand –
The shadow of a mighty rock,
Within a weary land.;
A home within the wilderness,
A rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat
And the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter,
O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where heaven’s love
And heaven’s justice meet!
As to the exiled patriarch
That wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Saviour’s cross to me –
A ladder up to heaven.

I take, O cross, they shadow
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine
Than the sunshine of His face.
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss –
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all, the cross.

By Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane (1830 – 1869)

Let’s reflect again on these wonderful words:

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.

David J Evans (1957 -)

Prayers for the week (only Guidelines – add anything that come to mind:

  • Continue to pray 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.
  • Praise God for the wisdom and knowledge given to researchers to provide vaccines to keep us safe from Corona virus
  • Pray that work on these vaccines will constantly be improved to reduce unwanted side-effects in the process of prevention.
  • Pray that God will continue to comfort and strengthen all who have been bereaved because of the virus and because of other deaths caused by the problems of care associated with over-filled hospitals and over-stretched medical provision
  • Pray for all those –young and old – who have developed mental health problems throughout these very difficult times. Send respite and healing, and friends to stand beside them
  • Pray for all who have suffered and are still suffering in many ways as a result of the pandemic. The sense of loss comes in many ways – bereavement; lost employment; loss of status in the workplace; loss of homes; loss of certainty; loss of independence; loss of self-esteem, and many more ways.  May God help us all to understand that our worth is in who we are and in his love for us.
  • Pray especially that God will bless the children as they return to a more normal way of education. Help them to settle and may teachers be blessed with wisdom and grace in abundance as they help them to re-establish good patterns of learning and behaviour in their groups.
  • Pray for all those nervous and anxious about exams in this very difficult year when systems have broken down.
  • Pray that the jobs market will open up again, and people will find work that both supports and satisfies them.
  • Ask God to bless all our political leaders as they strive on our behalf to restore balance to our everyday lives. May they too have wisdom, grace and knowledge in abundance, and may they recognise and honour the living God.
  • Pray for our churches – that they will again resound with worship and praise as we seek to be God’s people in a difficult situation.
  • Pray that our eyes will be opened to the best way to move forward in a way that is pleasing to God – as we seek to blend all we have learned about on-line worship with meeting together. May we reach many more with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.
  • Pray that we will show God’s love by serving the needs in our communities with willing and joyful hearts, praising God as we do.
  • Let us call on God to bring an end to this Pandemic throughout the world, even as we give thanks that he is with us in the worst of the situations. Nothing is too difficult for God. Amen