Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 3 October 2021 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers. Deacon Burton owns the copyright to this post. We reprint here with her permission.
Hi Everyone! I pray for God’s favour and sustenance in your life as you continue on this journey during these unusual times. May God’s hand of comfort and love permeate your spirit and cause you to transcend peace. If you or anyone you know has a prayer request, please let us know and we will include you in our prayers. You may post your prayer request here on our website.
I have been looking at the issue of forgiveness for the last couple of weeks. I realised that it is an issue that cuts deep into the hearts and minds of many people. It is also one that I had to understand and deal with most of my life. Guess what? I am still trying to do so. Interestingly, it is an issue that does not disappear. It lives with you. Have you ever wondered about the reason for this? I think that it has to do with our relationships.
Therefore, as long as there are relationships, there will be a need for forgiveness. Relationships span throughout the different aspects of our lives and we do things that upset and hurt each other. I put it to you that forgiveness is a key that we need to take with us in getting through life. It means that we need to keep it in our pocket and use it as we take the different journeys of life.
You know, as I process the issue of forgiveness and assist others in doing so I realised that it involves many different sides and it needs to be continuous. We keep on forgiving those around us. I also find that, in most instances, the people who are closest hurt us the most. It could be because there is an expectation that those people in our close circle have our backs, will defend and support us. We make ourselves vulnerable to them but they do things to upset and hurt us. This happens a lot in families. If we are all honest, I do not know of a family that does not have to deal with disappointment and hurt from each other. It has happened in my family.
I realised that there are times when we may have to forgive someone even in situations where we did no wrong. This I spoke about in my last post but I wanted to say more about it. I recalled the Holy Spirit prompting me to send a text to some people and apologise. However, I did not remember doing anything wrong. I thought, wait a moment! Lord, what are you talking about?
The Holy Spirit is always up to something good. I did as instructed and ended up getting an apology. One of the people told me that if anyone should get an apology, it is me and went on to explain the reason and apologise to me. You see, the Spirit of God knows how to do all things. Therefore, we need Him to be at the centre of what we say and do. Clearly, we need Him as it relates to forgiveness.
You know, every time something bad happens and I ask the Lord for direction, His instruction is always for me to treat people with compassion. There are times when people deserve a hit on the head or a slap on the face, but MERCY! The Lord has taught me that those who hurt or disappoint me are in need of something and I need to treat them with compassion because I receive compassion from Him. I think you should sit on that thought as I did. I need to forgive even when the person who hurts or disappoint me does not apologise or show remorse for their wrong. Hmm…
Joseph helps me to understand something about forgiveness. When you read the entire story of Joseph, you realise that he was a selfless person. This one needs a big chair in our thoughts because we may have to lie down on it, not just sit. When I consider his demeanour and the aura he carried, it clicked for me that selflessness made it easier to forgive.
Consider this, even when he tried to get back at his brothers it was not in him to sustain that kind of behaviour. It conflicted with his make-up. It went against everything that he lived for, that is, to honour and revere God. He had to let go (hurt), give (forgive) and receive (peace). Then love flowed. It was the power of forgiveness that Joseph released. The power was of no real value to him if he kept it to himself. He had to release that power to give and receive love and peace. Wow! Someone must be hearing this, so sit tightly on it.
Joseph’s challenges started with a number of dreams that he had as a child, which he disclosed to his father, Jacob, and brothers. They were really mad at him. The scripture tells us, “When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” (Genesis 37:10-11, NIV).
The scripture tells us how Joseph’s brother sold him out of their lives. “So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.” “…his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.” (Genesis 37: 23-24, 28, NIV).
Joseph encountered further challenges and ended up in prison (Genesis 39-41). He was eventually released and became the governor of Egypt because of his gift to interpret dreams (Genesis 41). Joseph’s brothers and family needed food and sought to get some in Egypt. Guess what happened? His dreams came to light! They bowed down to him. Here goes, “… So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.” (Genesis 42: 6-7, NIV). They did not know to who they were giving reverence. ooh!
He tried to get back at his brothers. It involved him trying to deal with them harshly. “As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” (Genesis 42:7-9, NIV).
Joseph sent his brothers on a trip back home to Canaan for Benjamin (a brother from his mother). He kept one of them in prison and tricked them into believing that they had stolen from the palace (Genesis 42: 18-38). All the backing and forthing did not satisfy Joseph. It was what I call the reunion/reconciliation that showed the power of forgiveness at work.
It was time for the revelation but the brothers were gripped with fear! Wow! Even though Joseph was highly emotional after years of pain, hurt and longing for his family, it was a moment to live for. He bawled.
Oh God, imagine the scene. “Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.” (Genesis 45:1-3, NIV).
Joseph longed for the presence of his brothers so he invited them closer into his presence. “Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! He told them what they had done to him but with apparent kindness.” (Genesis 45:4, NIV).
The power of forgiveness was released. He did not ask for an apology. They did not initiate an apology but he forgave them. Hear what the scripture says. “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 43:5-7, NIV).
Then love flowed. Joseph showered his family with love. He offered his brothers and father safety and provisions. He said, “You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise, you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.” (Genesis 45:10-11, NIV).
You know, the power of forgiveness encapsulates a beautiful scenery that creates an aroma of love. A love that transcends joy and peace and assurance. Such is the love of God. He has forgiven us and once we receive that forgiveness we experience the beauty of love. It is a love that we pass on to others, which requires us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Sit tight, think bout it, chat bout it. What are you going to do about it?
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, hallowed be Thy name. We acknowledge Your infinite greatness. We bless Your Holy Name. Lord, we are grateful that You are a forgiving God. We thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. We thank You for being a God of compassion who hears and attends to our prayers. Lord, we are so grateful.
Most Righteous God, in the name of Jesus Christ, we ask that You have mercy on us as individuals, families, communities, Churches, businesses, the workforce, government and our country as a whole. We ask that You forgive all of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil. Out of the depths of the earth, Lord, we cry to Thee. If You, O Lord, kept a record of sin who will stand? Lord, with You there is forgiveness. Thank You, Lord, for forgiveness. Lord, help us to forgive those who wronged us. Ignite the power of forgiveness that is in us and heal our brokenness.
Lord, we ask that You visit the minds and hearts of those who continue to cause havoc in our country in one way or another. We pray especially for those people who continue to steal, kill and destroy within our country. Lord, turn their hearts and minds to You and help them to seek You as Lord and Saviour. Let Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Lord, we lift up to You the leaders in our country. We pray especially for our church leaders, the Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, Minister of Health and Wellness, Christopher Tufton, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Nigel Clarke, health workers and support staff, Minister of Education, Youth and the Environment, Fayval Williams; Minister of National Security, Horace Chang and his team, Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, and the leader of the opposition Mark Golding and his team. We also remember the judges in our congregation, Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie.
Lord, turn the hearts and minds of our leaders to You. Help them to understand that it is only through You that we can be successful and protected. Let not evil rule over them. Grant unto our leaders the wisdom to make the right choice; creativity and strategies that will help us to manoeuvre through these unusual times and the boldness and courage to do what is required. Lord, protect and continue to provide for us.
Lord, we remember those who are not well, especially Deacon Loy Evans, Sisters Nicole Evans and Kadine Stewart. We also present to you those among us who are on the usual sick and shut-in list, as well as Sisters Iris Lawrence, Merle Braham, Valerie Smellie, Mary Clarke, Cherrie Lee, Lelith James, Jennifer Nicholson, Virginia Muir, Marville (Cherry) Murray (Sister Iris Lawrence’s daughter), Janet Chen-Young, Joyce Bailey, Lucille Alexander, Jhada Graham, Cherrie Lee, Merlena Hartley Roberts (Sister Nicole Roberts Mother); Brother George Gabbidon, Brother Lloyd Trusty, Mr Alan Ashley (Sister Dawn Ashley’s father), Brother Danville Japp’s father, Mr Isaiah Japp, Sister Rachael Dixon and family, Brother Cornel Richards and family, Sister Jennifer Chin-Young and family, Sister Debbie Chin Young, Sister Fay Archer and family; and any member or family member who is in need of healing and comfort. Lord, grant healing, strength and peace.
We lift up to You the family of our late Sister Marlene Ellis who left us this past Friday. Lord, we ask that You comfort them as they grieve a significant loss to their family. We pray especially for her husband Lascelles, sons and families, Sisters Paula and Joan (also our Sisters in the Lord).
Lord, we continue to keep in prayer Sister Jhenelle Black who arrived in Wales to pursue further studies in Dentistry. We thank You, Lord, for taking her mom, Sister Ruth, safely back to Jamaica. We pray for Your continued favour and success, protection and covering for Jhenelle.
Lord, we ask for Your divine covering and protection over our children, youths, teachers, and workforce as a whole, especially those who are venturing outside of their homes. Lord, cover their minds and comfort their hearts as You grant them strength and peace. Help us to act quickly so that we do not lose those who seem to be losing touch with being educated.
Lord, we ask that You instil a sense of hope in us. Fill us with Your peace. Cause it to transcend beyond our understanding and cause it to dwell in our hearts and minds. In Jesus’ name, we pray with thanksgiving.
Our Prayers of Encouragement are for everyone. Therefore, if you also need prayer or comfort, please contact us with your request. We would gladly share with you.
Grace Missionary Church is a member of The Missionary Church Association in Jamaica.