Last week I shared one of the ways that helps me to stay focused and closer to God. I gave an example of two modern songs composed by Matt Redman which I might read or sing and I always find it helpful to have a copy of the words.
Before I was seven years of age, I was a chorister in the choir at St Luke’s Milnsbridge. On Thursday Evenings it was rehearsal night for morning and evening Services the following Sunday. We went through the Hymns, Psalms & Canticles….. I loved it!
The role of Psalms and Canticles in our services today does not have quite such a prominent part to play but are we missing out? The Psalms are a real resource to help us in our prayer life.
This week I suggest using the psalms as a base for our prayers.
You may wish to have a Bible to read the words of the psalms and we start with two psalms which give an invitation to come into the presence of God.
Psalm 95 v 1-7 – ‘Come let us sing to the Lord’
Psalm 100 — Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 98 – leads us into a time of giving thanks and praise to God
Psalm 67 – Can lead us into a time of intercession for the world.
As we pray let us be mindful of psalm 100 “It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” God listens to us as we intercede for all he created.
There is profound disappointment as we go into lockdown in Kirklees. So we pray for all, living in the uncertainty, anxiety and frustration as we try to regain control of the virus.
We pray for the vulnerable, sick, dying and bereaved.
We pray for front line workers.
We plea for God to reach out and help us in all our needs.
We give thanks for all those in our community of Meltham caring and supporting people through the Food Bank and for neighbours who are watching out and helping each other.
As you go through the day be aware that God walks with you and remember the words of verse 10 from Psalm 46 ‘Be Still and know that I am God’
When we do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit prays in us. As we begin our prayers this week, lets pause for a few moments to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives to enlighten our hearts and minds.
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
St Paul knows how hard it can be to pray at times. He encourages the young church at Rome by reminding them and us, of the work of the Spirit deep within our hearts.
Is there a particular type of prayer that brings you closer to God?
The Spirit communicates to God on our behalf, bringing to God our deepest hurts and longings – the things we struggle to say.
What current issues in our world make you groan or sigh?
What issues do you struggle to pray about?
Lift them to God now. God searches the heart.
Allow Jesus to pour his love and healing into anything you are keeping hidden, trying to run away from, or causing you pain.
THE ‘VENITE’ (Oh Come let us sing to the Lord) is an ancient hymn of the church, based on Psalm 95.
This song of invitation to worship and praise is associated with the Matins or Morning Prayer worship, going back to monastic times….
I share with you the way which often helps and keeps me focused and closer to God. I like to read or sing the canticles, hymns and worship songs.
Two examples below which are both composed by Matt Redman.
PURIFY MY HEART
Verse 1] Purify my heart // Let me be as gold and precious silver // Purify my heart // Let me be as gold, pure gold. [Chorus] Refiner’s fire// My heart’s one desire Is to be holy // Set apart for You, Lord //
I choose to be holy // Set apart for You, my Master // Ready to do Your will [Verse 2] Purify my heart// Cleanse me from within and make me holy Purify my heart // Cleanse me from my sin, deep within//
(Chorus] Refiner’s fire// My heart’s one desire Is to be holy…………
TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
V1 To be in your presence //to sit at your feet//when your love surrounds me and makes me complete
(Chorus) This is my desire, o Lord //this is my desire //this is my desire, o Lord// this is my desire// V2 To rest in your presence //not rushing away// to cherish each moment// here I would stay//
You might like to pause, clear your mind, be still and use the words of these two songs letting the Holy Spirit work deeply within you.
The way of the righteous is level ; O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous.
In the path of your judgements, O Lord we wait on you;
your name and your renown are the soul’s desire.
My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you
For when your judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness…
O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us ….. O Lord, in distress they sought you, they poured out a prayer when your chastening was on them.
Like a woman with a child, who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near her time,
so were we because of you, O Lord;
we were with child, we writhed, but we gave birth only to wind.
We have won no victories on earth, and no one is born to inhabit the world.
Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise.
O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a radiant dew, and earth will give birth to those long dead.
The message from Isaiah was written during a time of transition when people were struggling in the gap between what had happened and what was yet to come. The people cry out a lament as they seek God –holding on to faith and trusting that God’s promises will be fulfilled, even though the present time is difficult.
We need to ask ourselves in what ways are we yearning for God to be revealed?
Where do we see the Holy Spirit working in our world?
This time of pandemic has been– and still is—incredibly challenging for many.
What do you long to see change in your life?
What do you hope the future will look like?
Speak now to God about your hopes.
Thinking about the level path what does your path look and feels like?
Make time to ask the Lord Jesus for strength and courage to let go of the past, and journey with you as you move into God’s future.
PRAYER- St Francis de Sales.
Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow and every day.
Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings. Amen
Thank you Val White for sharing this prayer with us.
Very quickly after the Coronavirus hit the UK, there were two books written about God and the Pandemic. Theologian John C Lennox – “Where is God in a Coronavirus world” & a book of prayers by Nick Fawcett from which we have been selecting, using, and benefitting over the weeks – “For Such a Time as This”
More recently Tom Wright, wrote ‘God and the Pandemic.’ Tom Wright is a Research Professor of New Testament & Early Christianity at St Andrews & Wycliffe Hall Oxford, prior to which he was Bishop 0f Durham (2003-2010) and will be known by those of us who attended the York Course MCT Lent Groups as over the years he was a contributor.
In the final chapter – Where do we go from here? Tom Wright tells us that roughly one-third of the psalms are complaints that things are not as they ought to be. The words they use question why, – Sorrow, Anger, Regret, Frustration, Expressing grief, Mourning, Bitterness. Perhaps you have experienced your own feelings and have your own questions.
Some Christians have been turning to the book of Revelations looking for signs of the End Times but in these uncertain times Tom Wright cites the Lord’s Prayer as our ‘Norm’
Are we looking for signs of the end times?
No. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray ”Thy Kingdom come on Earth as in Heaven” and we know that this prayer will be answered because of what we know about Jesus.
Are we looking for fresh, sudden calls to repent?
No. We pray every day, ‘Forgive us our Trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’. We know that this prayer will be answered because of what we know about Jesus.
Tom Wright goes on to say : ‘We need Jesus – His Kingdom-bringing life, death and resurrection; his ascended sovereignty, the promise of his coming to bring heaven & earth together in glorious final renewal. Any attempt to add new ‘signs’ to this narrative diminishes it.
For this week :- may I suggest praying for your concerns and for the uncertainties that relaxing the lockdown brings and spend some time praying the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
Matt 8:23 -27 tells of the disciples’ angst and fear whilst, out in their boat in a storm, Jesus was sleeping.
Whatever noise and distractions there are around us, whatever worries and concerns are vying for our attention, when we begin to pray we need to find that centre of stillness within, settling into a moment of peace, asking for the peace only God can give.
Jesus was surprised that his disciples didn’t feel safe with Him in the boat.
The sea and the storm around them were symbols of the chaos from which God created the world. If we seek Him, Jesus has the same power to create and bring order to our lives.
This story is well known but you may wish to open the bible as you consider the following questions.
How do you react to crises that come into your life? Do you panic like the disciples? Put up your defences? Resign yourself to the inevitable? Or do you put all your trust in the Lord?
Remember Jesus rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
Let us focus our prayers this week on :-
Leicester after 100 days lockdown to be the first to be put back into local Lockdown.
For our government as they run a programme of relaxation of the lockdown rules. Pray for peoples response.
For Social and financial implications already showing signs of the damage the pandemic has caused,
For all the peoples of the world whatever faith they have that, together we can openly recognise and see that we are all in the same boat, so let us seek Gods order for our world
Open Doors is an organization that works in over 60 countries providing support and emergency relief and supporting Christians who suffer for their faith. Across the world, the spread of coronavirus is having a devastating effect. Open Doors is reaching some of those affected and they are highlighting that:.
Christians are facing discrimination in the distribution of aid in countries which include Nigeria, India and Bangladesh.
Christian nurses are given COVID-19 patients to care for and denied PPE in the Gulf region – “because it is dangerous… We are dispensable.”
In Somalia, Religious minorities are blamed for the pandemic. Somalia is a very dangerous place for Christians.
Extremists are exploiting vulnerable Christians in lockdown. In Nigeria, 32 Christians were killed in one opportunistic attack.
For many the situation is overwhelming: “People have become so desperate that they are forced to trade their religion in exchange for food.”
The National Health Service came into being on 5 July 1948. 72 years ago this coming Saturday. During post-war reconstruction, improving the healthcare of the nation was seen as crucial to the nation’s recovery. Beveridge, the architect of the NHS, identified “five giants” that had to be slain: want, disease, squalor, ignorance and idleness. The cataclysm of war provided the stimulus for radical reform.
The NHS was based on principles unlike anything that had gone before. It was financed almost entirely from central taxation. That the rich paid more than the poor for comparable benefits was regarded as a crucial part of the scheme. Everyone was eligible for care, even people temporarily resident or visiting the country. People could be referred to any hospital, local or more distant. Care was free at the point of use, although prescription and dental charges were subsequently introduced.
During the current pandemic, there has been immense national and local support for the NHS and its front- line workers. The emergence of the Thursday ‘Clap for Carers’ was a significant experience in the lockdown. Thanksgiving binds communities together, turning ‘I’ into ‘we’. The contribution of carers and key workers who have given of themselves sacrificially needs to be honoured. Sharing stories of people and events during the crisis is likely to form the kernel of any community celebration. Unsung heroes need to be applauded.
Everlasting God, at this time we lift to you those from all nations and backgrounds who work on the front line in healthcare. Give them skill and wisdom in their work. Be their strength and their shield as they give of themselves in the care of others. Amen.
Prayers in relation to Covid-19
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love, for your name’s sake. Amen.
Collect for St Luke
Almighty God, you called Luke the physician, whose praise is in the gospel, to be an evangelist and physician of the soul: by the grace of the Spirit and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel, give your Church the same love and power to heal; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord ,who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
How generous is your goodness, O God, how great is your salvation, how faithful is your love; help us to trust you in trial and praise you in deliverance; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Over a number of years, Meltham Churches Together Prayer Group
met in each other’s buildings on Wednesdays at 10 – 10-30am following a Rota.
It was good to pray in our places of worship. More recently, for a number
of reasons, it was decided that it made more sense to meet at St Bartholomew’s,
due its centrality, especially in the winter months. Leadership of each session
being shared following the Rota from the different churches and including our
I remember well a prayer meeting where one of our Baptist members, was
in charge. George Mellor opened his Bible and shared the prayer
below, a prayer which he had glued to the inside cover of his Bible. You will
recognize it as a confessional prayer. In most worship services we have a
prayer of Confession and Absolution (Forgiveness) early on to re-establish our
relationship with God and to set us free to worship, praise, adore and thank
Gracious God, forgive me for those things I should have done but have
left undone: the acts of kindness I never found time for, the thoughtful word
never spoken, the message of encouragement or concern never sent, the helpful
deed never attempted. Forgive me for all the opportunities I have missed: the
plans I never made, the dreams I never brought to reality, the possibilities I never
even imagined, the gifts I never used. Forgive me for my failure to serve you
as I promised: the prayers I never offered, the sacrifices I never made, the
faith I never had, the commitment I never gave. Forgive me for so often having
time only for self: for being self-centered, self -important, self- righteous,
self-interested., self-indulgent, self-opinionated. Forgive me for forgetting
my friends, my neighbours, and, above all you. Gracious God save me from being
a person of unfulfilled intentions. Help me to translate my thoughts into
actions, to put my preaching into practice and so to turn my good intentions
into good deeds, to the Glory of your
I trust that through the Holy Spirit you might find this prayer
helpful. It is a prayer worth meditating on. Where do you see yourself in
the words of this prayer?
As a confessional prayer it is written by someone who desperately wants
to love and serve Jesus. Someone who understands repentance as openness to the
will of God and the way to forgiveness.
If you have other prayers that work for you, I would love to receive a
copy to share on these pages of prayer.
With UK’s Covid 19 Alert level being reduced, the virus is now in
– ‘General Circulation’ which gives us a gradual relaxation where possible. The
general populous might well ask how this is to be managed?
Newsflashes appear several times a day informing us of things
where we have ‘No Power’ to change but to heed and follow the advice we are
given by our Leaders, experts. and scientists. What we do have, when we are
open to God through his forgiveness of us, is the Power to intercede for those
who are struggling to get through the chaos of our times and for those who are
giving of themselves to help others. We also have an opportunity to pray for
the whole world and its needs. In our prayers let us open ourselves to the Holy
Spirit that we might pray according to God’s Will listening in silence and
using our imagination to express what we hear from God who has the answers to
all our needs.
When there seems no end in sight to the problems caused by the crisis.
When the clouds are heavy, Lord, and the storm seems to last forever;
when the night is dark, and the morning proves long in coming;
though rain is constant, and sunshine feels a distant memory;.
though the winter continues despite spring having also begun;
teach us to trust, to keep faith, to believe that day will dawn again
that the clouds will lift, and life will blossom once more;
that after tears will come laughter, after despair, joy,
after chaos, order, after sickness health, and after death, life.
We have been on lockdown for over quarter of the year since the first shock waves of the Coronavirus Pandemic which was travelling rapidly throughout the world, hit us. A chance conversation between Liz Noble from the Methodist church and Judith Powell, Anglican, and the publication of Nick Fawcett’s book of prayers “For a time such as this” set the pathway for the daily 11 o’clock Prayer time with some sense of solidarity as we stop to pray apart at the same time as others. Members of our Meltham churches have been praying at home following a prayer sheet distributed weekly Via email through Meltham Churches Together. Our thanks to Liz & Judith and all who, although unknown, stop to Pray around 11 am or for some at a more suitable time to suit lifestyle.
Prayer doesn’t come easily. You want to bring your fears before God. You want to commit yourself and your loved ones into his keeping. You want to pray for the innumerable people facing unimaginable difficulties and hardship at this time due to the pandemic that has descended so swiftly upon us. We feel almost numbed, almost lost for words, almost as though our own little concerns (however huge they may feel to us personally) are relatively trivial in relation to the scale of the crisis now facing our world. Yet we need to pray, today, more than ever. Not that prayer will guarantee our safety or that of our loved ones, or that it will miraculously put everything right. We need simply to seek help and strength from God to get through whatever the months ahead may bring , as now we relax the disciplines we have had to exert , to keep people safe.
Listen For gods Voice Psalm 25:4—10 ……….Both Scripture & Prayer
4 Show me the right path, O Lord;point out the road for me to follow. 5 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past.7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.8 The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.9 He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. 10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
The concern of the Psalmist is to know God’s will, He wants to be on the right pathway. So for that reason he prays to God for guidance.
The prayer for guidancebegins with a period of waiting. You come before the Lord
In the quiet. You are trying to hear. Have you been in a place where there is just a faint sound? You even stop breathing so you can hear better. We need to get quiet before our God. We need to get quiet inside and out and this takes some doing. You are astonished to discover how much noise is in you mind, in your whole being, how full of noise you are. If you want to hear God’s voice you have to get quiet.
May these prayers calm your anxiety and strengthen your faith. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in the way of truth and glory of God.
In Scripture, we are reminded of God’s guidance in our lives.
Jesus is our good Shepherd who leads us and desires that we follow the path that leads to joy and peace. As we pray for God’s guidance and for discernment through the Holy Spirit, we can rest assured that God will bestow us with wisdom and the inspiration to live within His will!
Trusting in God to transform what seems hopeless
Hold on to us, Lord, through this troubled time. Where there is sickness, may there also be health. Where there are tears, may there also be laughter. Where there is despair, may there also be hope. Where there is fear, may there also be trust. Where there is hardship, may there also be help. Where there is doubt, may there also be faith. Where there is weakness, may there also be strength. Where there is defeat, may there also be victory. Where there is chaos, may there also be calm. Where there are problems, may there also be solutions. Where there is distancing in body, may there also be a coming together in spirit. Where there is death, may there also be life. Come, Lord, and work your miracle of love, out of darkness bringing light. Amen.
Putting our trust in God rather than ourselves
We thought we were in charge of our destiny, Lord; that we had all the answers, all the solutions to our problems, nothing being beyond our wit to solve. And no doubt in time we will beat this virus, as we have beaten many others, human ingenuity triumphing again over adversity. But this crisis of recent months has reminded us that we’re not quite so much in control as we like to imagine; that life is less secure, less certain than we sometimes think, and that much of what we take for granted can be swept away in an instant. Help us to recognise our limitations as well as our achievements, our vulnerability as well as our strengths, and may we find in you one whose promises endure beyond the changes and chances of this fleeting world, enfolding us, and all things, in your eternal, unchanging love. Amen.
A plea for God to reach out and help us
Show us that you’re listening, prove to us you care, come and bring us healing. Father hear our prayer. Show us that you’re with us, help us know you’re there. Offer strength and comfort. Father hear our prayer. Show us that we matter; in these trials we bear, give us help and wisdom. Father hear our prayer. Show us there’s a future, save us from despair. Grant us hope and courage. Father hear our prayer.
Keep Safe, keep praying, and keep listening for the voice of God and His guidance for you!
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
I was to experience a life changing encounter in 1969. Dennis Bennett’s Book was one of the first Books on our bookshelves tackling the reality of “Baptism in the Spirit “and” Speaking in Tongues.” There after followed a plethora of books from the US which were soon followed by our own authors from the UK. We were well served by the “Fountain Trust “and the Rev Michael Harper who edited “Renewal Magazine” and organised Conferences around Great Britain.
These were exciting times when there was a real sense of God’s Holy spirit working in his church. But the Holy Spirit hasn’t changed, and we need to continue to pray that He will bring about a new change in His church in these changing days, equipping his people to go into the world to demonstrate the love and power of God.
As we pray today spend a few minutes taking in the above passage from the Apostle Paul to the Philippians-
And as we pray let us seek God’s guidance through the Holy Spirit
A Prayer in times of Crisis
I can’t believe it, Lord.
The world turned on its head so quickly, so unexpectedly.
One moment, everything normal, proceeding much as it has always done before,
and the next, chaos and confusion, everything overturned in an instant, institutions teetering on the brink, certainties crumbling into dust, lives descending into mayhem. I’d thought I could plan ahead, fashion what the future held in store, but now I realise how wrong I was:
that though we can control much, we cannot control everything, our ultimate destiny lying not in our hands but in yours. Grant your guidance, show us the path to take, and lead us through this crisis. Amen
Pray for those you know locally who have needs, hold them in your minds eye alongside Jesus who is listening to them and meeting their needs.
Give thanks for those who are selflessly serving others currently.
Give thanks for those supporting the Crossroads project and its food bank….
Pray for people’s concerns about the safety of children and staff as they start to return to their schools.
Pray for scientists seeking to develop a vaccine against coronavirus.
Pray for the families, friends and neighbours of the 40,000 deaths due to Covid 19
Pray for the troubles in America regarding racial justice
PRAY AS THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS YOU – USE THE THOUGHTS THAT COME INTO YOUR MIND