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 April 2020
In these uncertain times when life seems to present a whole raft of new challenges for us all, it is important that we remember the comfort prayer can bring. As communal worship is put on hold, we need to explore new ways of sourcing spiritual nourishment. The internet is an obvious choice for this and the URC web site offers a daily reading and prayer, as do many other websites; daily Bible Study notes can be purchased from Oasis; or we can simply just speak with God as we would speak to any friend. So, I offer this simple prayer for these uncertain times.
Dear Lord God
We thank you for all you have done for us and all that you give to us each day. Thank you for your love shown through our friends and family, and through the gift of your Son. We ask, Lord God, that you be with us as we face the challenges of each new day; bringing us comfort when we feel alone and helping us to be aware of the needs of others. Lord God, we think of those not so fortunate as ourselves and ask they may draw strength from the knowledge that you are alongside them, both at times of joy and also in times of trouble.
We pray especially for those who are ill at this time, and for those supporting them and ministering to them. We give thanks for the dedication of those providing medical care, ignoring the risks to which they may be exposing themselves. May we never take such dedication for granted but be ready to follow the example they, and Jesus, have set for us. We ask that you help us to be your hands and feet, bringing your love to others; your eyes and ears to respond to the needs of others. May the power of your Holy Spirit touch us as we respond to your call. This we ask in the name of your Son and our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Prayer for March 2020
There is an account of the special friendship of the Russian cellist Rostropovich to the composer Shostakovich. The cellist rang up late one night to plead “Slava, Slava. Immediately you have to come and see me. Immediately, I need you to come.”
Rostropovich recounts how he thought maybe he wants to speak about some concert coming up. So I went to him and he said “Slava, sit down.” and after a while “Slava, let's just be quiet” ‘and we sat there not looking at one another. It was like an eternity. Can you imagine it, not speaking for over a quarter of an hour? Then he got up and said “Thank you, thank you Slava, for coming to see me” and I returned home.
Eventually this sort of meeting came up more frequently and Rostropovich became more used to it, but I wonder whether this is the sort of experience we need to find space in our busy lives for - quiet reflective times of prayer.
I must admit I have not found it easier in later life to keep regular structure for any pastime, appointments, mealtimes, or taking pills. But there is a truth in this account, that forming a pattern of time to think slowly for assessment and prayer would be of benefit to a muddled head.
John Pritchard in his book on prayer suggests finding space with the route 'Thank you, Sorry and Please' - and talk to yourself about how you feel.
The Magazine editor needed the Prayer for March, and below is my prayer expressing how I feel: -
Whilst my mind is occupied worrying, thank you Lord for others offering answers to my concerns. THANK YOU for them and bless them, SORRY for thinking I was on my own, PLEASE help me to support those who need help in other ways.
Prayer for February 2020
A PRAYER FOR FEBRUARY
My grandson Joel is four years old and loves trains as many boys his age do. One of his favourite places to visit is Romsey Signal Box, a working museum which is a 'hands on' place to learn about trains, how to operate points and raise/lower signals. There is also an opportunity to hear a talk which gives an insight into a life of a railway signalman years ago when things were done manually and by phone rather than with computers.
It was hard work and long hours with big responsibility. Mistakes would cause accidents and a potential loss of life. There were extremely busy times, many trains coming at the same time and then long gaps between but one had to stay alert all the time.
Life is often like this. Much of the time we experience a very ordinary everyday routine but we also have special festivals and celebrations, something to look forward to.
Waiting an hour for a bus in cold rain may seem a long time but waiting for something of which we are afraid is much harder; waiting for the unknown, illness to take its course, waiting for healing, injustice or suffering to end or our prayers to be answered. We need patience and encouragement.
In the midst of all our hopes and dreams for today or for the future we can be certain that God is always awake. God does not leave us or forsake us whatever this new year brings to us personally or to our families or to our wider communities.
It has been said that God's phone number is 5015 because in Psalm 50, verse 15 it says: 'Then if you call me in time of trouble, I shall come to your rescue, and you will honour me.'
In and through prayer we have this opportunity to communicate with God and also bring others to God in prayer who are perhaps too tired or unable to pray for themselves.
'Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us. In your love and tenderness remake us. In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness. For the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.' St Anselm (1033-1109)
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.