Disciples of Jesus – Praising God – Caring for Its Community

Prayer Booklet 61

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 61 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 continue 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 two more Psalms, words of Jesus, and a look at a promise for the future. Our prayers will relate to the reflections, but there will be additional suggestions for prayer at the end of the booklet.  These can be used throughout the week…

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@btinternet.com  Amen

Sunday, 13th June, 2021

As with previous weeks during lockdown, a number of 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:

“‘Seeing is believing!’ The saying is one that we are all familiar with and it finds expression in music, film and everyday speech. In essence it means: To see is to believe.

“However, the reality of life is that we see so much that it becomes increasingly difficult to say we believe simply on the basis of what is before our eyes. The multiplicity of images and information that are presented to us threaten at times to overload the senses

“The Apostle Paul offers us a way of seeing things differently. Instead of saying: ‘Seeing is believing!’, it is almost as if he reverses this and says: ‘Believing is seeing!’

“Paul was very conscious of the challenges he faced and of the passing nature of what he saw around him. In facing the reality of this in his daily life, he is confident that he has found a way to live that is not dependent solely on what he sees. Rather, he affirms: ‘we walk by faith, not by sight’. (2 Corinthians 5: 7)

“Paul looks ‘not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen’, and by faith he ‘sees’, beyond the temporary, the way that God has marked out. (2 Corinthians 4: 18) In our daily lives, we seek to see the world through eyes of faith.”   We pray:

Everlasting God,
Whose way is known to those who live by faith,
Grant us that we might walk by faith
And so live for you
That our lives reflect the glory of God.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Everlasting God,
Whose way is known to those who live by faith,
Grant us the assurance that, as we walk by faith,
We are not alone
And that we walk in the company of your Son.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Everlasting God,
Whose way is known to those who live by faith,
Grant us the knowledge
That we walk in the company of your people
And in the community of your Spirit.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Everlasting God,
Whose way is known to those who live by faith,
Grant us that we might see
The complexity of this world
Through eyes enlightened by faith.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Everlasting God,
Whose way is known to those who live by faith,
Grant us to see, by faith,
The image of God
In each life shaped by your hand.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Everlasting God,
Whose way is known to those who live by faith,
Grant us that, at the last,
We will come into your presence
And share in the life everlasting.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Monday 14th 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 13-16:

“May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. As for me, I shall always have hope; I will praise you more and more.  My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long –though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.”

This section of Psalm 71 contains the words you will be very familiar with, having read them week after week for over a year.  It is important for us to acknowledge that no matter our circumstances we should praise God that he cares for us. However, this section reminded me of Jesus and his words while on earth.  He overturned some of the old principles formed in a time of cruelty and oppression (much as still exists in the world today).  By all means ask God to come to your aid and the aid of others – but don’t ask him to persecute your enemies. Instead, remember the love he showed to all mankind: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…’ Matthew 5:43-44  Seems hard, but God will bless you in response.  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 15th June, 2021

 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.” Psalm 61:1-3

Reflection: If you are tempted to think that God must get fed up with all the calling out to him that has surely been increased in the last year, then stop worrying. David is constantly pleading for God to hear him and God never wearied – instead he sent constant reassurance.  A lovely elderly friend of mine who lives alone said to me one day, “I have cried to God so much recently he must surely be saying ‘Oh no, it’s her again…’ but I don’t know what else to do.” I asked her how she felt when she prayed and she said, ‘It’s hard to explain but I do receive peace that keeps me going through another day.’ So I said, surely God is spirit and truth and he hears you and he comforts you.  He is never weary or tired and you humble yourself to admit you need his loving care …Just keep on doing what you do. ‘Of course’ she said, I also take time to pray for others too, and for other situations’.  The truth is, God was using her calling out to him to do a prayer work for others.  Wonderful… Let us pray:

  • Father God, life for many is so difficult in these days. We thank you for reassurance that you listen, hear us and respond with loving care.
  • Father, encourage others to know they can also come to you – you graciously tell us that your grace meets us where we are and is sufficient for every need.
  • Teach us to receive your love and share with others.

Wednesday 16th June, 2021

 Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

Reflection: In these two weeks we are being reminded that God is our Rock.  He is the faithful One, the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)  Having said that, sometimes we only learn through the most difficult situations to say with the Psalmist, “I shall never be shaken.”  I have discovered that when I am praying about situations that affect me, I can quickly put my trust in God and discover that I can rest from my worries, by prayer and thanksgiving for all that is good and by crying out to Him for loving care when I am deeply troubled.  However, my anxiety levels are much higher when I am praying about situations affecting my beloved family.  I want answers and I want them now…and yes my faith is shaken …  Then, I hear the voice of God saying, If you are this concerned for your family, I am more so.  I know them better than you and I love them more than you and hear these words: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-39

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. Amen

Thursday 17th June, 2021

 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’” Matthew 7: 24-27

Reflection: This is Jesus, our Lord and Saviour speaking.  Let us listen to his voice and heed his words. But what words is he talking about? He has just told those around him that it is not enough to say He is Lord, without living life in a way that shows we mean it and it is true – he explains the way to do this is by seeking to live lives that reflect the will of God.(verse 21)

However, we should not let this worry us, because we only need to accept salvation for our sins by trusting in Jesus, and then regularly praying that God will show us what to do in life as his family – and his church.  Then – look at the joy and certainty given to us.  Our lives become like a house with its foundation firmly built on a rock.  The great comfort is that God provides all we need in Jesus his Son, every day of our lives.

 Let us Pray:

  • Thank you, Lord God, that when we open our hearts to receive you, our lives then have a firm foundation on the Rock
  • Thank you, that this means that we have the assurance of you travelling alongside us every moment – and indeed we receive the gift of your Holy Spirit within helping us, leading us, guiding us and comforting us.
  • Help us, Lord, to understand how much you love us and to share your love with those we meet. Amen.

Friday 18th 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 (verse from last Saturday…the future in God’s hands)

Reflection: This takes us to a day yet to come, when the earth will know the beauty of the truth of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.  Isn’t this a picture of wonderful peace and security?  It is an awesome thought that God will provide complete rest from all troubles and anxieties when our Prince of Peace takes up the throne. The truth is that he also wants to bless us now, as we trust him.  The world is still a broken place in so many ways – and people choose to ignore God – or wilfully shut him out – and so miss the joy that he gives to sustain us on life’s journey.  If we speak to Him and share how we feel – especially when we are carrying the weight of burdens – then simply rest in His presence – we can experience even now the sense of shade and protection that is provided for travellers when they come to a great rock in a barren, relentless desert. Remember, too, on the 8th June, we saw that the rock also provided refreshing water for the people – nothing is too difficult for the Lord.  Let us Pray:

  • Thank you Holy Lord, for the comfort of your word. Thank you that Jesus is our Saviour.  Thank you that the more we reflect on who you are and the more we trust you – the more we understand that, as you promised, you can meet our every need, and the grace you give can enable us to face every circumstance. Amen.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

Saturday, 19th June, 2021

 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.Psalm 62:5-6

Reflection: to conclude these thoughts from the last two weeks, I have chosen again to share a few inspired verses from hymn-writers.  If you know them you can sing them from your own heart.  Prayers are once again at the end of this booklet – they are not the only prayers, but I hope they inspire you to make prayer an important and regular part of your life.  The world around us is constantly changing so please add in a cry to the lord for anything that touches you.  Remember, of course, to thank him and praise him.  Amen

Junior Praise 73 (Copyright Phil Burt 1986)

He brought me to His banqueting House,
And His banner over me is love;
He brought me to His banqueting House,
And His banner over me is love;
He brought me to His banqueting House,
And His banner over me is love;
His banner over me is Love.

Jesus is the Rock of my salvation
And His banner over me is love;
Jesus is the Rock of my salvation
And His banner over me is love;
Jesus is the Rock of my salvation
And His banner over me is love;
His banner over me is love.

CH4 565

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation:
I catch the sweet, though far off, hymn
that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul –
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord, my Saviour, liveth.
What though the darkness round me close?
Songs in the night He giveth.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing.
All things are mine since I am His!
How can I keep from singing?

Robert Lowry (1822-1899) & Doris Plenn

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. Grant that people will comply with regulations.
  • 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 for our ministers and all who engage in serving the needs of others – that they will find times of refreshing, and time to enjoy family life.
  • May the Lord help many to understand they have gifts they can share, and to offer to serve with the gifts with which he has blessed them.
  • 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.
  • Pray for God’s wisdom and grace to flow through all decisions made at the recent G7 Summit.