Prayer for July & August 2021
Genie and Ernie Knowles, our Grandma and Grandad, my late in-laws were wonderful people of faith and very devoted members of their local URC in Heavitree, Exeter.
I suppose they wouldn’t have dreamt of worshipping anywhere else than in the URC church. Grandad looked after the church accounts and Grandma sat in her library corner after the morning service where people could come and borrow books. Any money raised was given to church funds.
In their outlook Genie and Ernie were very traditional and kept a strict weekly and annual routine. I learned to respect this. Certain things were done on certain days at a certain time without fail. Their annual holiday, always taken in June, was spent in Guernsey, and they always stayed in the same hotel.
Twice a year they came to stay with us in Croydon for a week. Times shared together have left many happy memories. During grandparents' visits our children especially loved teatimes because they were allowed to eat cakes rather than Mum's homemade bread and stew and cinnamon buns. Grandad in particular had a fondness for cakes.Grandparents always arrived on a Thursday and went back to Devon the following Tuesday. The reason for this was that Grandma had her weekly hair appointment on Wednesday and she would never miss her women's meeting at church on a Wednesday night. It had started as a 'Young Wives' meeting and was still going strong many years later although the wives were not so young any more!
Whether we are still working full-time or are retired with other commitments, most of us have our routines which structure our days and weeks. During the past year we have been forced to do things differently and change our routines and habits, maybe even our thinking and attitudes.
During the Lent this year under Mike's helpful guidance we studied the booklet 'Holy Habits: Following Jesus'. It was a good habit to keep Sunday nights free and learn from each other and reflect on scriptures in preparation for Easter.
Few of us are called to live our lives according to the monastic discipline and God does not accept or judge us according to how much or little time we spend in prayer. However, there is a danger that without spiritual food we begin to starve without even realising it.
Now, when we are beginning to have more freedom with fewer restrictions, let us try to develop or keep the habit of prayer. In the midst of our everyday routines, even if only a few minutes a day we could try to listen to God and hear which way He is leading us.
We pray using the words of an Ancient Collect:
'O Heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being,
we humbly pray thee so to guide and govern us by thy Holy Spirit,
that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may never forget thee, but remember that we are ever walking in thy sight; for thine own name's sake'. Amen.
(Prayers through the Centuries by Nancy Martin)
Prayer for June 2021
Many of us have heard of the Taizé Community in Burgundy, France and Iona Community. Another ‘new monastic’ community is that of the Northumbria Community. Like Iona and Taizé, members of the Northumbria Community meet together several times every day for prayer - morning, midday and evening.
Whereas in Taizé people meet in person (when possible), many members of the Iona and the Northumbria Communities join together where they are, at home or at work, for a time of prayer, at specific times, using set prayers from the Celtic traditions. Members experience a great deal of mutual support and encouragement in knowing they are sharing, albeit at a distance, in the same prayers three times a day.
What can we learn and take from this as members of our own church communities? Here is the Wednesday compline (evening prayer) for you to use, especially when life is difficult.
The words in bold are shared by everyone, the * indicates a change of voice.
Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm.
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.
* Father, bless the work that is done,
and the work that is to be.
* Father, bless the servant that I am,
and the servant that I will be.
Thou Lord and God of power,
shield and sustain me this night.
I will lie down this night with God,
and God will lie down with me;
I will lie down this night with Christ,
and Christ will lie down with me;
I will lie down this night with the Spirit,
and the Spirit will lie down with me;
God and Christ and the Spirit,
be lying down with me.
* The peace of God
be over me to shelter me,
* under me to uphold me,
* about me to protect me,
* behind me to direct me,
* ever with me to save me.
The peace of all peace
be mine this night
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
(Used with permission, taken from Wednesday Compline from Northumbria)
Prayer for May 2021
Today as I write this, it is the 14 April, and on 12 April we took a further step on the Prime Minister's Road Map. Now we can eat out-of-doors at pubs and restaurants – providing they have al-fresco dining facilities. Together with a previous relaxation of the rules, we can eat these meals in groups of 6 or as 2 households. I have been waiting to be able to go out to eat again but now we are there, I am not so sure.
I ought to be happy that, as a nation, we can take this next step to getting back to something that feels more like life pre-pandemic. I ought to, but I don’t. In fact, I feel more anxious and most of the people I speak to feel similarly. Will this step lead to a spike in infections? Can we, as a nation, exert proper restraint as we go forward? Will those exhibiting ‘gung-ho’ behaviour having had their 2 injections make life difficult for the rest of us?
It is in times like these that I remember a jazz song, some of the words of which are, “If you’ve not needed the Lord before, you sure do need him now”.
Shall we pray together, for yourself and/or others:
Sometimes I feel lonely or frightened, and from the depths I cry to you loving God, and within me, your voice answers me, and I know that you, Father, are near me.
Sometimes a sense of failure seizes me, and I am disheartened. To you Lord I raise my eyes and the light of my heavenly Father shines on me, and bids me persevere.
Sometimes my daily life oppresses me. To you I lift my soul and I realize that by serving others I am serving you.
Sometimes I am sad and sick at heart, but when I think of you, Spirit of righteousness and love, a wonderful joy comes to me, for I know that you are guiding me. O Lord God, surely you will ever comfort me. Blessed be your Name for ever and ever.
(adapted from Fratres Book of Prayer)
Prayer for April 2021
I write this prayer after celebrating Mothering Sunday: you read this prayer as we remember the death and resurrection of Christ. The origins of Mothering Sunday are linked to giving thanks for Mother Church: the Easter message calls us to give thanks to our Father God for the gift of His Son. Both remind us that we are part of a large family linked on this earth through God, our creator, who cares for us and calls us to care for one another. With this in mind, I offer the following prayer for April.
Father God, who gave us the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, that we may be closer to you, we offer our thanks for this world and all that it offers. We thank you that you were willing to sacrifice your Son for us all. May we follow His example, as we live amongst all your family on this earth.
We thank you for the power of the Holy Spirit, which gives us the strength to follow the path you lay before us, both as individuals and as your Church.
May we always be open to your Spirit, willing to listen to your Word, and ready to be a witness to your presence in your world today.
And so be it.
Prayer for March 2021
Creator God, we pray for your guidance and blessing in our lives.
We think of a time when we have seen beauty around us:
A sunset over hills,
A song that had special meaning for us,
blossom appearing unexpectedly in a garden.
Lord, open our eyes to the beauty and diversity of your creation.
We think of a time of change in our lives.
When we saw new promise evolving in a young person,
When we have had a change of heart for ill or good
The change of being locked-down.
Lord, open our minds and understanding when change occurs.
Think of people in many countries facing difficulties
Where corona-virus is rampant,
Where refugee camps are full of families seeking safety,
Where climate change produces floods and fires.
Lord, we pray for those who give aid and comfort.
Think of the pastoral work in Southampton
For the Amber organisation,
helping women involved in the sex-trade.
For Pastor Nicky who came to our service in February.
Lord, we remember the commitment.
Think of our community life at Eastertime
That we may meet family and friends once more
For our church fellowship and it's groups,
For all who lead and support our Christian life
Everything seemed dead but then the resurrection.
Bless to us, O God,
The morning sun that is above us,
The good earth that is beneath us,
The friends that are around us,
Your image deep within us,
The day which is before us.
Prayer for February 2021
A PRAYER FOR FEBRUARY
New Year has started and in the church calendar it is Epiphany, heading towards Lent. I have always liked to follow the Common Lectionary, not only because it provides bible readings but also because it provides a structure for the spiritual journey throughout the year.
I believe that this past year, and Christmas 2020, have been very different to what most of us are used to and will remain in our memories (for sure). We tend to best remember the most emotionally charged events in our lives, both the good and not so good ones.
The Christmas just gone reminded me of the two Christmases when we lived in Guangzhou in China in the early 1980s. Mainland China was opening up to the outside world but living there was very different to where we had previously lived and worked in Hong Kong. Christmas was not celebrated there at all in those days, so there were no signs of it, or any holiday period.
Chinese New Year was, and still is, the most important time of the year for the Chinese. It is then that people have time off and celebrate together with their families.
I remember vividly finding some red apples at the market and how wonderful that was. There were no emails, social media or video calls in those days and we collected any letters or cards sent to us long after Christmas from the PO box we had in Hong Kong. Yet the message of Christmas was the same, if not even more meaningful. The Saviour of the World had been born; bringing hope and love to be shared, not only at Christmas but throughout the year.
We give thanks to God that He has been and continues to be with us 'through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy.'
Let us pray with words that come from the Orthodox tradition:
O God Eternal, good beyond all that is good, fair beyond all that is fair, in whom is calmness and peace: reconcile the differences which divide us from one another and bring us back into the unity of love which may bear some likeness to your divine nature.
Grant that we may be spiritually one, both within ourselves and with one another, through the grace, mercy and tenderness of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen
(From the anthology Prayers Encircling the World)
Prayer for December & January
In Mexico, Las Posadas is celebrated in cities and towns. Each evening during the festival, a small child dressed as an angel leads a procession through the streets of the town. Adults, including musicians, follow the procession, which visits selected homes and asks for lodging for Joseph and Mary. Traditionally, the procession is always refused lodging, though the hosts often provide refreshments. At each stop, passages of scripture are read and Christmas carols are sung.
Similarly, in Latin America, Posada is a custom in which figures of Mary and Joseph 'travel' from house to house during Advent to symbolise how every household can make room for Jesus.
A Posada Prayer for Advent:
Eternal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we welcome Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem, we pray that you will be with us also as we travel on life’s way. Help us to experience the joy of looking forward, accepting new beginnings, and finding you in the most unexpected of places. Amen
A prayer for the new year:
Living God of all that is new, we ask that this year you will help us to carry your light into every place we go and share your good news with those we meet. May we walk and work in unity to reveal your love and goodness. Amen
Prayer for November 2020
A couple of weeks ago a friend recommended a book to me. It is by Hans Rosling with assistance from his son and daughter and is called ‘Factfulness’. It has a subtitle ’Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think’. It was a couple of days before I was able to get a copy and I am already well through it. It is fascinating!
The author has become increasingly aware that we all adopt a very pessimistic view of the world and that we totally fail to take into consideration the progress we are making. Yet in almost every sphere of life in which we as Christians would want things to get better, it is happening.
To begin making his point he begins the book by asking the reader to answer some questions – I will ask you to answer the first 3 that he sets:
1. In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
2. Where does the majority of the world population live?
- Low-income countries;
- Middle-income countries;
- High-income countries
3. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in poverty has…
- almost doubled;
- remained more or less the same;
- almost halved
The answers are at the end of the prayer, have a look.
How did you do? If things are not as bad as you thought, join the club.
Hans has asked these questions and more to students studying politics and economics, to politicians and to the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and in many other forums and, without exception, we all got it wrong. In fact, answering randomly would have, on average, got one third of the answers right and the great majority of scores were substantially below that random score. In the UK only 6% were correct on question 1, 23% were correct on question 2 and 9% were right on question 3. No wonder we think the world is becoming a worse place in which to live.
All the time we are praying for things to improve. The Holy Spirit is working through people improving the world – that’s what we are praying for, so why do we not believe it is happening?
How about some real facts?
- Children dying before their 5th birthday was 44% in 1800, 4% in 2016.
- Nuclear Arms in the world was 64,000 in 1986, 15,000 in 2017.
- People undernourished was 28% in 1970,11% in 2015.
- Clean water was available to 58% in 1980 but 88% in 2015.
And I could go on. The point is, that through our prayers and the acts of the Holy Spirit, we are getting better. Of course, we still have a way to go but let’s recognise we are making progress.
Great God we thank you for all the good that is happening in the world, we thank you that the Holy Spirit is working through people to improve so many aspects of everyone’s lives. Help us to recognise the progress and to continue our prayer so that all peoples will one day be able to say, ‘Your Kingdom has come’. Amen
Answers to the questions: 1, c; 2, b; 3, c.
Prayer for October 2020
2020 has certainly been a year unlike any others, with restrictions imposed upon us that we have never seen before. We have seen acts of neighbourliness by many which some found reminiscent of the war days, and we have seen acts of selfishness by a few which have resulted in enforced restrictions again being imposed on the innocent majority.
On the wider stage of the world, we have seen governments using necessary civil restrictions as an excuse to tighten their control of the people or line their own pockets, and governments listening to their informed advisors and taking good decisions to aid their people’s health and economy.
As we look to a future when this pandemic is finally brought under control, we will never see the same “normal” as before; but may we learn from our experiences and listen to the calls of God guiding us in His love to build on the good and help defeat the evil in this world.
So, I offer this prayer …
Lord God our Father
You offer us a life of peace, inner peace brought through love, a world in which all can live in harmony and respect for one another. Help us to hear your word speaking to us through the different circumstances in which we now find ourselves, that we may be channels of your love to be felt by all whom we meet.
Lord Jesus Christ, you have come as God to earth to show us the way, to show us the truth and to give us eternal life. We thank you for the sacrifice you made for each one of us and ask that the example you set us whilst on earth, may be a guiding light for all humanity. Holy Spirit, the power of God within us, enable us to live out God’s calling to us and, through our actions and our words, reflect your light into this darkened world. Amen
Prayer for September
Almighty God, we seek your guidance during the Autumn. We are happy to have the sun shining for our holidays but become sad when the earth becomes baked. We are pleased when the rains come about but depressed when they do not stop and cause flooding. We listen to the forecasts hoping for the weather we need. We are 'Children of God' and are challenged.
Lord, we thank you for the bounty of harvest time, the colours of the trees and gardens. Bless those who work on the land and people who are employed in the food trade. Give wisdom and humility that we may guard and care for your creation. Forgive us for our inaction.
We remember those who continue to suffer because of the pandemic. Help us to be aware of the need to greet and recognise others. Lord, we miss the hugs of family and friends, the shaking of hands and the smiles now hidden under masks.
Father God, we pray for guidance:-
In love, to listen to one another
In love to learn from one another
In love to care for one another
In love to share fellowship together.
Blessings and Amen