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
Prayer for June 2020
God of all creation,
Send your Holy Spirit again, we pray, to renew and refresh your world, and all you have made – and continue to make – in all its colour and all its diversity; that we may sing out your praise and celebrate your presence among us.
Send streams of living water where hearts are parched, sprinkle showers of grace and peace in all places of conflict and need.
Let us continually be aware of your Holy Spirit in our own lives, your church and in the renewing of lives broken by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bring wisdom and determination to scientists and front-line key workers we pray; bring healing, comfort and encouragement to all who are unwell in body, mind and spirit, especially those we know and love in this time of wide-spread isolation.
In Jesus’ name. Amen
Prayer for May 2020
I am writing this during Holy Week so that it is ready in time for publication. Over recent weeks all of us have had time to think and that may have led to us being able to find more time for prayer and meditation.
Each day I am following the Stations of the Cross put up on the e-mails by the URC. It has led to me contemplating the patient acceptance of his destiny shown by Jesus – the Son of God - who in his three years of ministry commanded the storm to cease, made the sick well, and the dead to rise. Also, he challenged the power of the rulers.
My thoughts have led to me remembering a hymn that we sang in Sunday School (during World War 2) which seems so appropriate to the situation in which we find ourselves – ‘Count your blessings’.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
This is a hymn about gratitude, about rising above self-isolation and not being able to do the things we would normally be doing at this time of year. When you read this piece, we will have passed through Holy Week and the crucifixion and through the joy and praise and thanks for Easter and our redemption. What a huge blessing to count!
Will you join me in saying a prayer, written by Teresa of Avila?
Let nothing disturb you, nothing dismay you,
All things pass but God never changes.
Whoever has God lacks nothing. If you only have God,
You have more than enough.
Prayer for July & August 2017
Avril Bamber's service in June used colours as visual aids for our worship. In our service Avril had words of prayer for rainbow colours but also referred to BLACK, illustrated in many newspapers by the burnt-out shell of the high-rise flats in Kensington. RED can also be a reminder of good and bad; the enveloping flames or the fire engines. Some of us were given a prayer card with coloured ribbons.
LORD - teach us to pray without words as we reflect the colours that surround us:
RED - for the love of God all around.
BLUE – for God's over-arching presence reflected in clear skies and calm seas
GREEN – the trees and plants of creation that sing God's goodness to us
GOLDEN YELLOW – in sunshine, in flowers, in precious gifts given in love.
But also, Lord, we pray for those who have lost family and friends, for those with bleak memories that will not go away.
RED engines – of the fire brigade
BLUE uniforms – of the police
GREEN AND YELLOW – for the gifts of food, clothing, hugs and sympathy that have been offered.
For guidance and blessing we ask this in the name of Christ our Lord.