Disciples of Jesus – Praising God – Caring for Its Community

Prayer Booklet 62

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 62 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 move our reflections to the refreshing promises relating to verses in scripture about water.

There are times in our life – and they do seem to come round frequently – when we simply need to be refreshed in body, soul, and spirit.  Where better to find those times of refreshing than in the word and promises of God?  I have selected a few verses that have become precious to me over the years and I hope they can be firm favourites with you too, if this is not already the case.  My prayer is simply that you will be blessed as you reflect on them.

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, 20th 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:

“‘We’re all in this together!’ When we hear such a statement, it implies that we share together in the difficulty being faced. No one is exempt and we all have to face up to the challenge that confronts us. There are times, of course, when we wonder if this is entirely true.“Nevertheless, the last months have brought home to us the fact that, in facing up to the challenge of the pandemic, no one is exempt. “In the Gospel of Mark, the disciples find themselves in a boat one evening with Jesus. They have left the crowds behind and are in a situation in which they might have said: ‘We’re all in this together!’ Except, Jesus is asleep even as a storm arises ‘and the waves beat into the boat’ and the boat seems set to be overwhelmed. “The disciples are all in this together, but what about Jesus? The disciples ask him: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” In response, Jesus rebukes the wind and calls to the sea: “Peace! Be still!” He then asks the disciples: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” It is as if he is asking them: ‘Did you think that I was not in this together with you?’ (4: 35-41) “The challenges of these last months have left us with many questions. However, we may be sure of this: In all we face, Jesus is with us in the boat in the midst of the storm and we can say: ‘We’re all in this together!’”

We pray:

Lord of the winds and of the sea,
Be with us today
As we turn to You and listen for Your voice.
Whether in the midst of quiet or of storm,
Speak to the depths of who we are.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord of the winds and of the sea,
Be with us today
As we leave behind that which is past
And face the challenges of this day:
Speak Your word to us in this present moment.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord of the winds and of the sea,
Be with us today
As we sense the depth of the challenges we face
And fear that we shall soon be o’erwhlemed:
Speak to us in the still, small voice of calm.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord of the winds and of the sea,
Be with us today
As You have been with us
In all the days that the storm has raged:
Speak the words that calm the storm and cease the rage.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord of the winds and of the sea,
Be with us today
As we hear the words You have spoken
And know the peace of Your presence renewed:
Speak the words that inspire faith and reassure us of Your abiding presence.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Monday 21st 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 21-24:

“You will increase my honour and comfort me once more. I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God, I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered.
My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me  have been put to shame and confusion.”

For some reason the closing words of Psalm 71 made me think back to the words of an old hymn that was familiar to me when I was young.  Although I have not sung it for very many years, the words (and music) came flooding back.

With harps and with vials, There stand a great throng
In the presence of Jesus, And sing this new song:

Unto Him Who has loved us
And washed us from sin,
Unto Him be the glory forever,

Aloud in His praises Our voices shall ring,
So that others, believing, This new song shall sing:

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 22nd June, 2021

 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:2-3

Reflection: There is so much from which to draw strength and inspiration in this verse.  One thing that spoke loudly to me is the moment of realisation when Isaiah writes: ‘The Lord, (Oh my goodness!) the LORD HIMSELF is my strength and song…  I think sometimes we say these things and don’t actually take hold of the awesome fact that almighty God, creator of heaven and earth cares about us as individuals.  He provides our salvation in Jesus Christ – and this is present with us always – like a well of water refreshing our souls – a well that will never run dry.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear;

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer…

Let us pray:

  • Thank you, almighty God, that you are always with us, and always listening for our cry…and in you is our strength and song when we find our salvation in Christ Jesus.
  • 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.
  • We are all conscious, Lord, that this Pandemic is far from over and so we keep calling to you to send your healing love throughout the world.
  • Teach us to receive your love and share with others. Amen

Wednesday 23rd June, 2021

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Isaiah 44:3

Reflection: Are you feeling that all the upsets in life – especially the way everything has changed with this long-lasting pandemic – have dragged you down, and removed most of your joy?  If this is the case then just reflect for a moment on the promises in the above text.  It was written by God’s faithful servant, Isaiah – who spent time in prayer with God, and then shared his message with the people.  At the time, the people were living through great hardship, but God promised relief- relief that would come among them like water on a thirsty land.  He promised it not only for that time but for times when their children and their children’s children would be blessed.  Interestingly, when we look into this more deeply, we see that times of blessing come upon the people when they turn to Jesus, the promised Messiah.  The call is still the same today – if only people would understand how much blessing there is in knowing Jesus as Saviour and Lord.

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 24th June, 2021

 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Reflection: Jesus answered her… This time we are not listening to the voice of an Old Testament Prophet, but to the voice of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Again it is all about life-giving water.  This is part of a beautiful story in John‘s gospel – a story when Jesus demonstrated beyond all doubt that he had the power to give life in all its fulness to those who look for it.  It is in his power to give this gift, and there are no barriers.  If anyone is reading this who thinks they are not deserving of the gift from Jesus then turn away from such a lie – he is always ready to make it yours.  The woman in this story thought she was unworthy to receive from him and he put that right.  Salvation freely offered in Jesus is often referred to as living water that flows through us, cleansing our souls, refreshing us and renewing us.  And it always fills us with joy.

 Let us Pray:

  • Thank you, Lord God, that you reach out to us and invite us to receive from you the living water that heals and restores. May we receive it with thankful hearts.
  • Bless all those who long to receive this living water, but have not yet looked in the right place – to the God who holds the gift that is available to all for the asking – and for trusting in Jesus.
  • Lord God, send your Holy Spirit across the world to touch lives and draw them to this living water that many may turn to you and praise your Holy Name. Amen

Friday 25th June, 2021

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-2

Reflection: I thought it would be lovely to complete this week’s references to water by visiting again the most familiar Psalm, Psalm 23.  Yesterday, I mentioned that living Water from Jesus refreshes our souls.  This is an honest and true representation of the word of God, and David who wrote so many Psalms, found it to be true.  Sometimes all we need to do is step aside from everything that clamours for our attention and just take time to be quiet in the presence of the Lord, to let him calm your soul and refresh you in mind and body.  You will probably know the old saying, ‘The grass is always greener on the other side.’ Those who trust in the Lord are never going to experience that, because if we make room for him to lead us through life, he will take us to green pastures.  Sometimes when we are struggling we forget that God is the giver of all good things, and meets us where we are in our need.  Let us Pray:

  • Help us, loving God, if we are finding the still prevalent presence of Covid-19 oppressive. Lighten our hearts and lift our spirits to see and trust you, and help us to rest in you.
  • Thank you Holy Lord, for the comfort of your word. Thank you that Jesus is our Saviour and Shepherd.  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.

Saturday, 26th June, 2021

Let us remember that no matter the problems that we are trying to deal with there are promises throughout the word of God to remind us that he always cares and always comes to give us grace for the day.  In Romans chapter 8 we read:

“ 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.”

CMP 1008

The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want.
He makes me lie in pastures green.
He leads me by the still, still waters,
His goodness restores my soul.

And I will trust in You alone,
and I will trust in You alone,
for Your endless mercy follows me,
Your goodness will lead me home.

He guides my ways in righteousness,
and He anoints my head with oil,
and my cup, it overflows with joy,
I feast on His pure delights.

And though I walk the darkest path,
I will not fear the evil one,
for You are with me, and Your rod and staff
are the comfort I need to know.

You might rightly accuse me of being nostalgic as I quote below a hymn I used to sing in my young days – it actually was my favourite throughout my teens.  I do acknowledge that it is very different from modern types of hymn-writing, but the truth is that this springs to mind frequently when I just feel that I need a hug from God.  I can’t share the music on this page but I can at least share the words… It’s another way of re-inforcing the same message.

I have a Shepherd, one I love so well;
How he has blessed me tongue can never tell.
On the cross he suffered, shed his blood and died,
That I might ever in his love abide

Following Jesus, ever day by day,
Nothing can harm me when He leads the way’
Darkness or sunshine, whate’er befall.
Jesus the shepherd is my all in all.

Pastures abundant doth his hand provide,
Still waters flowing ever at my side;
Goodness and mercy follow on my track,
With such a shepherd nothing can I lack.

When I would wander from the path astray,
Then he will draw me back into the way.
In the darkest valley, I need fear no ill.
For he, my shepherd, will be with me still.

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 stop school again for the summer break…may they have a happy time in spite of everything
  • May all staff serving in schools, hospitals, and public places, find time to be refreshed in the summer even if holidays do not work out as planned.
  • Pray for all those nervously waiting for exams results 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 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. Help us all to share what we can with others even as we give thanks that he is with us in the worst of the situations. Nothing is too difficult for God. Amen