Prayer Booklet 63

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 63 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, I have continued on the theme of water to begin with and gradually moved our thought towards praying for our churches and the great commission given by Jesus to those who trust and love him – to those who are his followers and disciples today, in our time.  Well folks, that’s you and me.  We worship and serve him where we are; however, by prayer we can reach out across the world.  What an amazing concept.  This week, at the end of the week, we will begin praying throughout the month of July for churches throughout Presbytery.  Please be patient and commit each and every one to the Lord for his blessing on ministry and service in the communities throughout this Presbytery.

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, 27th 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:

“The Gospel of Mark records the story of a woman who reaches out to Jesus and does so from the depth of her suffering. She does so because she ‘had heard about Jesus’ and longed to find healing.

“The Gospel describes how a large crowd was following Jesus ‘and pressed in on him’ and it is from the midst of the crowd that the woman reaches out. In the moment that she does so, Jesus senses ‘that power had gone forth from him’. In response to his question: “Who touched me?”, the woman comes ‘in fear and trembling’ and tells ‘the whole truth’. In response, Jesus affirms that her faith has yielded wholeness and peace. (Mark 5: 21-43)

“In times of suffering, we may find ourselves worn out and uncertain as to the strength of our faith. Whether from the depths of the crowd, or in the loneliness of our isolation, Jesus invites us to reach out and experience the healing and peace of God.”

We pray:

Living God,
Move among us
And invite us to reach out to your presence revealed in Jesus.
When we are fearful,
Calm our fears and bring us safe into your presence.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Move among us
And invite us to reach out to the One who inspires faith.
When we sense our faith ebbs low,
Renew our faith and reassure that your faithfulness abides forever.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Move among us
And invite us to the place of healing.
When we are broken,
Lift us up and remake us in your image.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Move among us
And invite us to the place of peace.
Where peace seems absent,
Fill the place of absence with your abiding presence.
Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Move among us
And invite us to step out of the crowd.
Where we are hesitant to do so,
Reassure us that you see us and know us and accept us as we are.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Monday 28th June, 2021

I am delighted to share a new reflection from our Prayer Promoter Companion, Paula Lennox.

For ye shall go out with joy, and be lead forth with peace’ Isaiah 55:12 KJV

We find ourselves in a time of change: changes to the way we live from the pandemic and changes within the church, bigger Presbyteries and fewer Ministers. All this leaves us anxious about what will happen. Change is inevitable but if we trust God, yield ourselves to him, then we don’t need to have all the answers to find peace. Let us look forward with joy, pray, trust God for guidance, ask Him for peace, act, and trust Him for the right result.

Father, thank You for working good on our behalf in every season. We trust You and believe You for better days ahead. As we wait, help us lean into faith and find joy right where we are today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay safe, Paula

Let’s reflect further on the promises of God for a brighter future in the hymn words taken from Isaiah 55:

You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace,
and the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you.
There’ll be shouts of joy, and the trees of the field shall clap,
shall clap their hands,
and the trees of the field  shall clap their hands,
and the trees of the field  shall clap their hands,
and the trees of the field shall clap their hands,
and you’ll go out with joy.

Tuesday 29th June, 2021

Away with the noise of your songs!  I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:23-24

Reflection: Flowing waters from the Lord are always precious.  They signify that he is moving in grace and healing amongst us – but they are from his righteousness, and we need to be receiving his righteousness through Jesus to live in the good of these flowing waters.  God speaks through the prophet Amos and says clearly, it is not enough for those who follow me to sing me songs and pray to me without first allowing me to bring out from their lives the fruits of righteousness.  He asks us to live justly; we begin to do this when we let Jesus be our Saviour and Teacher – when we ask God to help us to live out the words of Jesus: “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Let us pray:

  • Thank you, Almighty God, that you are always with us, and always inspiring us to live lives that are pleasing to you.
  • We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who have grown cold in heart. May your Holy Spirit re-inflame them with a desire to worship you in Spirit and in Truth.
  • Lord God, give us hearts to look on others with the same compassion and desire to love that Jesus has shown by his life and death to bring us with joy into your family
  • May our lives draw others to you. Amen

Wednesday 30th June, 2021

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7:37-39

Reflection: Yesterday we read the words of God given to his prophet Amos…and here is Jesus in the New Testament explaining that these rivers of living water will flow out to others from those who believe in him.  We become channels of blessing from the Lord to those around us wherever he has placed us.  We cannot measure this; we just need to trust him and with the help of the Holy Spirit obey him.

Let me give you a wee example from my experience.  It is wonderful when God gives us a glimpse of such things.  I always treated my teaching work as a calling from God, and it was a place of service.  I cared about pupils and prayed for them.  One who was a rogue and ended up in prison is now a Minister and doing wonderful work in difficult areas (and has been for many years).  I had the privilege of meeting him in his Christian Service context and he thanked me for praying for him in those dark and difficult days.  The truth is that I was so troubled by a psychologist’s report that said, ‘this boy is unable to show remorse for his actions’ that I began praying for him right away and did so for many years – not knowing how hard his life had become because of his own downward spiral into crime and misuse of drugs.  His salvation and new life in Christ is a real miracle.  His mother got her son back after many years; his sister got her brother and he has been blessed with wife and children of his own. Now he is blessing many as he faithfully serves the Lord.

On another occasion, I was in a town where I had taught when a young woman trailing a child by the hand spotted me and ran after me calling my name.  I recognised her when she drew near as a young girl who was always in hot water with most of her teachers.  I had to remove her often from classes where she was being disruptive and spend time with her to calm her and give her what I hoped was ‘wise counsel’. She was usually sullen and unresponsive.  On this occasion she surprised me by saying, “ I have wished often I could meet you to thank you for your endless patience when I was your pupil.  I want you to know I was always listening and inside I wanted to get it right.  I am now happy and have a child of my own and I want to help her to understand there is a better way…”

The point is, we don’t know the effect we have when we allow God to work through us by his mercy and grace…we just need to let his ‘rivers of living water’ flow through us.

Let us pray:

  • Thank you, Lord, that you love us with an everlasting love, and in that love that took Jesus to the cross, we find our salvation, our hope and our strength for the journey. May we always have confidence in your love and mercy.
  • As we take time to find our joy and strength in you, and as we are refreshed by your streams of living water, help us to share your love with others that they, too, might find their joy in you. Amen

Thursday 1st July, 2021

11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!’  Psalm 32:11

If ever there was a time when people are concerned about what is happening to our churches it is now…not only in the Mission Committee but throughout our congregations.    Now we add into this the very real effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and its disastrous effects on lives, the economy, the whole fabric of society.   However, we must also thank God that we have learned to be church in a new way. The words of Psalm 32:11 should still resonate within us.  Let us worship God, in Christ Jesus.  Let us spend time in worship until we feel this joy…

Prayer:  Merciful God, grant us an awareness that you are active in our midst, and that you are bigger than our fears and anxieties and uncertainties…

Prayer points for today:

  • Thank God for every activity in our churches that reaches out to others with a message of love and hope – be particular in thinking of your own church today…
  • Ask for inspiration and wisdom to develop something new…
  • Pray that even now God will be challenging and inspiring some new servants to be willing to do His work in Ayr Presbytery.
  • Pray for wisdom, strength and grace for everyone who is burdened by any extra call on their time and resources because of Covid-19. Do not lose sight of Him who said: “Be still, and know that I am God;” Psalm 16:10
  • Give thanks for every evidence of answered prayer… Amen

Friday 2nd July, 2021

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, 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 28:18-20

Reflect and Pray

It is no wonder that this passage has been entitled ‘The Great Commission’. Travel in those days was somewhat limited, and yet here is Jesus instructing his disciples to go to ‘all nations’ (or as Mark expresses it ‘into all the world’) with His message.  In our day we can deliver the message of the Gospel to all the world without leaving our own homes – and for many this has been a wonderful reality in recent months.  However, we do need our churches.  I cannot envisage baptism for instance done on the internet. It would be a travesty to think we could do this without the touch of blessing and without the water of life and cleansing in the name of Jesus.  And we should not replace joining together with one another to worship God and sing his praise so long as we are able.  It lifts our souls and encourages us.

Let us pray:

  • Thank God for the faithfulness of all who have shared His message across the world and down through every generation.
  • Thank God for this age of the internet allowing us to encourage faith and worship to so many more people.
  • Ask God to protect all ministries in this time of great change and indeed to bless them as they develop in new ways.
  • Pray that our churches will soon fully re-open safely to allow us to worship and serve in fellowship with one another. Amen

Saturday, 3rd July, 2021

… For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 These words were a message sent by God to his people long ago, but they are true for us today.  I have been thinking in recent days how quickly situations change – we should never be complacent, but put our hope in the one who has saved and redeemed us…

Reflect and Pray– where you have specific knowledge, pray specifically, but pray anyway, committing these churches to God that his sovereign grace and his will be known…

Alloway: Minister: Rev Neil McNaught; OLM: Rev David Hume

Session Clerk: Eric Ness;

Annbank/Tarbolton

Minister: Rev Mandy Ralph; Session Clerks: Mrs Audrey Brown (A) and Mrs Maureen McNae (T)

May God sustain them and enable them to work in harmony to the glory of His name.  Pray for:

Office bearers and conveners of committees and organisations– that God will enable them to fulfil their tasks effectively;

The congregation members who are able to attend Church; May God bless them with a sense of his presence always with them;

The congregation members unable to attend Church – may we reach out to them as precious members of the Church family;

those who no longer attend church because they have forgotten God or lost their faith – may the Lord restore them by His Holy Spirit at work in their lives;

The communities served by our churches – may they learn of the gospel and grace of God as we love and serve in Jesus’ name.

FROM THE GUILD NEWS

Pray this week

Monday: for General Secretary Iain Whyte as he enjoys some holiday time.
Tuesday: thinking especially of older people who have been victims of physical or mental abuse, asking for healing and restoration.
Wednesday: giving thanks for the work of Feed the Minds and asking God to bless their work.
Thursday: for Guilds beginning to plan their meetings for the new session, asking that planning will go smoothly and that they will receive help and encouragement from their local congregations.
Friday: remembering the Assembly Trustees and giving thanks for the work that they do on behalf of the wider Church.
Saturday: thinking especially of our project partners in Kanyama, Zambia, as the country battles to contain the Covid-19 virus. Praying for protection on all involved with the project.
Sunday: remembering all who are refugees, far from home and often fleeing war or famine. Pray that they will find a place of welcome and safety.