Disciples of Jesus – Praising God – Caring for Its Community

Prayer Booklet 70

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Booklet 70 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.

Our churches, and churches the world over are finding themselves in a time of change, and change is always difficult.  It is important that any change is made for the right reasons in God’s eyes. Our list for reflections and prayers included our churches and so we will focus on praying for churches this week.  Let us join together to pray that God’s will for us and only God’s will be done.  We are His church, and the first thing we need to do is ensure that we serve in His name as he would ask us to do.  We pray that our leaders will be granted His wisdom and grace.  We pray that God will grant us His vision for the future of His church.  We pray that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not hindered by the choices we make. We are His servants, and we should support and encourage one another.

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, 15th August, 2021

This Sunday (15 August), Christians across the country – and further afield – will join together in prayer and reflection at 7pm in response to the pandemic.

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.

“As the statistics appear to move in a hopeful direction, let us not forget that behind each death there will be grieving family and friends; behind each hospitalisation there will be a suffering patient, an anxious family and a caring and skilled medical team.” And behind each vaccination, let us recognise, with thanks, the skill of the scientists’ research and those who make distribution and vaccination possible. Let us remember, too, those in countries who still wait anxiously for vaccines to arrive. May our leaders respond imaginatively and generously to that challenge.

“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:

“As we journey from where we have been in past months to where we will be in times to come, we are beginning to recover some of the parts of our shared life that had been lost to us for a time.

“Within shared communal settings and within the community of God’s people, one of the things that we are recovering is the experience of song and the bonding that the shared experience of singing brings to us.

“Within the community of God’s people, we are gradually beginning to recover the shared expression of worship through the singing of ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’. (Ephesians 5: 20)

“In recovering that which had been lost, we rediscover a dimension of our shared experience that is integral to our worship of God. As the Spirit inspires us, we renew our thanksgiving ‘to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. As we do so, we share more fully in the life that God gifts to us through Christ and by the Spirit.”

We pray:

God our Father,
As we journey from where we have been
To where we will be,
Fill us with Your Spirit
That we might truly worship You
And praise Your holy name.
Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God our Father,
As we journey from where we have been
To where we will be,
Inspire us within the community of God’s people
To lift up our hearts
And to renew our praise.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God our Father,
As we journey from where we have been
To where we will be,
Renew us as we renew our praise
With Psalms and hymns
And all the songs of God’s people.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God our Father,
As we journey from where we have been
To where we will be,
Help us to recover that which has been lost
And to rediscover all that unites us
As those who are made in Your image.
Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God our Father,
As we journey from where we have been
To where we will be,
We give thanks to You
For all your gifts to us
Through Christ and by Your Spirit.
Lord, in Your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

Monday 16th August, 2021

“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” Proverbs 29:18 (The Message)

Reflection: This particular translation of Proverbs 29:18 is a clear call to prayer whenever we are engaging in any ministry to further Christ’s Kingdom.  How can we know what God is doing, and what he asks us to do if we don’t ask Him to show us the way forward?  We must always remember the great commission given by Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 28: “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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.’”

It is easy for us to grow accustomed to what we assume to be ‘serving God’, when in fact we become so busy doing things that we can go for long periods of time following our own ‘clever’ thoughts and ideas and forgetting to take time to pray, ‘Thy will be done.’  The authority for everything we do as His church on earth is that given to us by Jesus himself.  Let us not forget there is a tag to his promise to be with us always, and that (according to Jesus) is to ‘obey everything I have commanded you…’  How can we be sure we are being obedient to Him if we do not regularly turn to His word and prayerfully ask him to show us the way forward, according to His will.

Whether or not we are at the forefront of decision making, we have the most important task of being committed to praying that those with leadership roles will be open to receiving a clear vision from the Lord, and that they will be obedient in fulfilling that vision.  Then, and only then, will God bless us as his people in this time.


 Let us pray:

  • Father God, we call to you in the name of Jesus, to inspire your people to search for your truth and to obey your will for us in this present time.
  • Lord God, help us in the name of Jesus to keep showing love and grace towards one another, so that we are united in worshipping and serving you.
  • Lord God, help us, your church, to be inspired to find ways to reach and support your children everywhere, and to keep reaching out to those who do not know yet of your eternal, sacrificial love for all humankind.
  • Grant us hearts, Lord, to remain faithful in prayer for all the work being done in the name of Jesus. Teach us all to remember that He alone is our authority for how we live and work in our communities.
  • Teach us how to pray for your will to be accomplished in a world that needs to turn away from selfish conceit to own you as Lord of all – for young and old alike
  • Father God, we pray for everyone who is troubled by decisions they don’t like which affect the way they have enjoyed being your church in their communities. Inspire each one to understand that your love for them has not changed, and that you call each child of yours to serve as you have equipped them within their own communities. You are still the eternal God in heaven, whose plans and purposes will be fulfilled, and you love us with an everlasting love. Hear our prayers in Jesus’ name and for His sake, Amen

Tuesday 17th August, 2021

“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” Proverbs 29:18 (The Message)

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” Proverbs 29:35 (The Message)

Reflection: It can be hard to be clear in knowing what God wants us to do, and we sometimes fear that we are just ‘thinking’ we know what God is saying.  The more we turn to Him in prayer, and listen to His voice, the more we understand His will. When we feel certain that something is in opposition to God’s will, we have to keep asking Him for guidance and wisdom to take our next steps in a way that pleases Him.  His written word and the voice of Jesus should always be our standard. Often, we worry about speaking out because we fear people’s opinion more than we fear (honour and respect) the Lord.  When our opinion differs from others, expressing it is okay so long as we remember always to be gracious and loving – not critical and dismissive.  Let us pray:

  • Father God, we praise you for your eternal love, your grace, and your wisdom. In a time when difficult decisions are being made that look like they will affect how our churches go forward into the future, grant us, your children, the grace, and wisdom we need to trust you and to live in a way that accomplishes your will.
  • Increase our faith and our trust in you, Sovereign Lord. We know that whatever our time and place your will is all that matters and it will be accomplished.
  • Lord, you see and understand the struggles and challenges that present themselves to your people today. Nothing is hidden from you. Help us to turn to you for wisdom and teach us how to honour and serve you in Christ Jesus. Amen

Wednesday 18th August, 2021

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.” Psalm 96:1-2

Reflection: When the Psalms were written, it is clear that times were very difficult for the people.  They faced many challenges and great opposition from peoples who did not acknowledge, let alone worship, the Living God. This is still true today, which means the commission given by Jesus to declare Him and his sacrificial love across the world is just as important in our time as it was 2000 years ago.  We can see from this Psalm and others very like it that praising God and declaring His salvation should be a daily way of life for each of us.  Being Church does not depend on how many ministers we have or how many Church buildings we have.  Mission is a calling to everyone who believes in Jesus – not just a select few.  We thank God for giving us gifted people to minister to us and to guide and care for us, but we also need to ask the Lord to inspire us to do our part.  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 and find opportunities to share it with others.
  • Thank you for everyone who has answered the call to be full-time servants in Jesus’ name. Inspire them and guide them Lord to meet the needs of your people and to encourage us all to reach others. Give them rest in you and help them to be there for their families.  Show us all how to trust you, to serve you and to find balance in our lives.
  • May our joy in you, Lord, as we sing a new song and praise you with our whole lives, draw others to long to know you. Amen

Thursday 19th August, 2021

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.” Psalm 93:1-2

Reflection: Read and re-read these wonderful words.  Before you read any further on this page let me suggest that you ask God to let something grab your attention…something that gives you comfort.  Take time and relax and let God speak…

If you have a good friend it might be interesting to share what they experienced as they did this.  It is an exercise in prayer and trusting God that I love. You might be surprised to know that in a group of people there will be several different responses.  God speaks to us where we are as individuals when we allow him to…and he always speaks to us in love – even if he challenges us.  Doing this prayerfully as I read His word often gives me a new perspective as I go into a new day, and always increases my trust in the Lord.  Let us Pray:

  • Lord God, we are refreshed in our Spirits to be reminded that you are the Lord, and you reign in majesty. The words from Psalm 93 remind us of the great truth that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8
  • Forgive us for worrying about the future – especially the future of your church. One thing is certain, you are from eternity to eternity and your church will not be lost. It may change, but help us to remain faithful to your truth and look for your help and guidance, it will always emerge victorious.
  • Lord God, we pray for everyone who is feeling distressed because they have no Minister in place and so fear the future. Strengthen our hearts to know that You will never leave us.  

Friday 20th August, 2021

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

Reflection: I know I reminded our hearts of this verse last Friday.  As I went to put in a new verse this week, I felt constrained to leave this one in place.  I seemed to hear God saying that to be able to be content as we see new situations arising is to honour him.  It is to trust Him and to hold fast to our faith.  Our faith is in the living God, not in people or bricks and mortar.  Organisations are subject to change throughout time, people are not always consistent (that is human nature) but if we faithfully look to God and hold fast to His eternal truth that our hope and our salvation is in Christ Jesus then we are truly blest.  The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.’ Psalm 118:14  Let us Pray:

  • Father God, we are privileged to be called to prayer. Teach us to truly commit ourselves to praying for your name to be honoured and revered in our land. Your word declares that if we humble ourselves and pray then you will hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. Lord we pray…
  • Lord, we ask you to make yourself known to us in a new and powerful way. We long to see you honoured in our land and we long for people to find their joy in knowing you as Saviour.
  • Father God, help us to learn again how to live as an example of what it means to love others in Jesus’ name so that our lives speak clearly of you and we draw others to you.
  • We pray not only for our land but for the honour of your name throughout the world. Strengthen your people wherever they are and open eyes to see You.  Amen

Saturday 21st August, 2021

This week I am offering you the prayer from Weekly Worship on the Church of Scotland website.  It seemed appropriate. With thanks to Vicky Stigant.  Vicky is a Youth Work facilitator in Gordon Presbytery.  This prayer seemed to tie together our thoughts for the week just passed and the previous week.  I was thankful to God for showing this to me.  May you also be blessed.

In the prayers of intercession, I have been thinking about places where wisdom and guidance from God is needed. You may want to add to and adapt these to reflect concerns both locally and globally.

Father God,
be with our children and young people as they start and return to school.
Help them to learn and grow and flourish.
We pray for the children and families who are feeling anxious about the new term,
knowing that school isn’t always an easy place to be.
We pray for the pupils and teachers at [your local schools].

God of wisdom, guide our paths

Be with the people getting ready for the COP26 Climate conference in just a few months’ time.
As reports are prepared and arrangements made,
give us bold ambition to make the changes we know are necessary
to protect the world You have created.
Let us not lose sight of the need for justice and accountability in decision-making.

God of wisdom, guide our paths

Be in and with our church,
as we grapple with the need for change
and the reality of a future that is going to be very different from our past.
Help us to recognise You at work already in our community
and to be listening for Your whispers of new possibilities
and ways of living out our faith.

God of wisdom, guide our paths. Amen

I am reminded of the words of another old hymn (I do also love new worship music):

CH4 511

Your hand, O God, has guided, Your flock, from age to age;
the wondrous tale is written, full clear, on every page;
Your people owned Your goodness, and we their deeds record;
and both of this bear witness:
one Church, one Faith, one Lord.

Your mercy will not fail us, nor leave Your work undone;
with Your right hand to help us, Your victory shall be won;
by mortals and by angels, Your name shall be adored,
and this shall be their anthem:
one Church, one Faith, one Lord.