Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Intercessory Prayer for 30 August 2020.
My Brothers, Sisters and Friends, we hope that you are well.
I have been thinking about the multiple series of occurrences such as the lockdown due to Covid-19 virus, the new wave of the Virus that many countries are experiencing, hurricanes, flood, civil unrest to do with injustice, national elections, devastation by locusts, loss of loved ones, and the list goes on. These issues are in our space of life, staring us in the face but I am very concerned about the way people have been responding in recent times.
This leads me to a trail of thoughts. God created humans for relationship with Him, our fellow humans, and other creatures. Our lifestyles are more or less organised in a particular manner. When there is significant impairment in our relationships, and abilities to function within the range of life’s happenings, we fall way off balance. It is highly likely that this will result in disturbances, giving rise to our response. In so doing, our thoughts, attitudes and behaviours may conflict with social norms and expectations.
Brethren, my thoughts are rolling and I am seeing a conflict. We have been told to isolate ourselves. Yet, there is a strong desire in us to relate with our fellow humans and God. Remember, we are built for relationships. When that desire is not satisfied, what happens? I suggest that people can become tormented and act silly, unreasonable and irresponsible, and even lose hope. Even then, there are those persons who are trying hard to stay balanced. Having mulled over my thoughts, I find two prominent issues emerging, that of torment and conflict.
Let us talk about torment. Vine and others used the Greek word Basanos to give us an idea of what torment meant. They indicated that Basanos is a touchstone that is used to test metals. Torment is associated with punishment; of disease (Mark 5); or some form of constant lengthy suffering; and judgment (Revelations 9; 14; 18).
If I were to describe my feeling of physical torment, it would be like insect bites that leave stings in you. Last December, I was attacked by wasps while in St. Mary. It was an awful feeling. I recalled having itches that sent shivers through my body for days. It felt like I was still being stung though the wasps died. It also caused swelling. Some of you may guess, I am allergic to insect bites. I also had to contend with spots which came quickly but took their own sweet time to fade.
King Saul had an experience with torment but was advised to get a musician who could play and he would be relieved.
Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”1 Samuel 16:14-16 (NIV)
Of course, the gifted musician, David who was anointed to be the future king (unknown to Saul), was ideally fit for the job.
David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him”. Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.1 Samuel 16:21-23 (NIV)
We may say that the Lord allowed Saul to be tormented. David was asked to assist by playing music for him. He felt peace during those times. Saul liked David. So he asked David to stay in the palace and work with him. Saul built a relationship with David. Some may say that God allowed Saul’s torment to happen to accomplish His purpose.
Saul’s life was significantly thrown out of balance when his relationship with God became impaired. Saul was disobedient to the Lord’s command. He took on the role of offering a sacrifice to God instead of waiting on Samuel. Samuel told Saul that he was going to lose control of the kingdom. (1 Samuel 13:8-13). Saul recognised and admitted to his sin but God rejected him (1 Samuel 15). Saul was not a happy man. He tried to stay the balance on his terms but he experienced disturbance.
David’s presence in the palace was his opportunity to be trained and exposed to the life of a king. He assisted Saul and treated him with loyalty but Saul became jealous and relentlessly tried to destroy David (1 Samuel:19). You see the conflict. Saul’s relationship with David, his fellow human, became significantly impaired. You may note that it started with Saul’s impaired relationship with God.
You may recall the encounter between Jesus and the impure spirit, legion, as accounted for in the gospel.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”Mark 5:6-8 (NIV)
You may note that the spirit recognised Jesus and asked that He not torture him. Yet he was torturing the man who was at the time possessed. You see the conflict. Some persons suggest that the man was tormented by the unclean/evil spirits. The man was restored but this brought on the fear of God among the people. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.” (Mark 5:15, NIV). Jesus told the man to; “…Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5: 19, NIV). God used this experience for His glory, and kingdom building.
Let us return to my wasps encounter. I was cleaning out an area when wasps stung me multiple times. My mother frequently used the same area but was unaware of the two nests. Although it was difficult for me, it could be more devastating if she was stung in a similar way because she is diabetic. I have an allergy but was allowed to suffer, to experience torment, to protect my mother. Do you see a conflict? Some may say God allowed it to happen so that in it He accomplished His purpose. Some people said that it was a good thing that I was stung on my feet and not my face.
Brethren, we are made for relationships but isolated. We may say that some persons are experiencing physical and mental torment because of this conflict, and their responses are questionable. However, the bigger issue is to know why God is allowing this to happen.
There are questions for us to consider. Am I in God’s picture plan? Where do I find myself in God’s picture plan? How does God want to use me for His glory during these times? How do I treat the conflict? How do I help the broken?
As we meditate, I pray that the Lord will open our hearts and minds to listen, hear and see what He is saying to us. I pray that He will grant us a willing spirit to be obedient to His will and way with courage and boldness.
Let us pray:
Lord, we thank You for Your grace, goodness, kindness and love for us. We thank You for Your brokenness. We honour You as God, Lord and Saviour of our lives. Lord, we worship You. We adore You and we praise Your Holy name.
Lord, You are Awesome. You have been so good to us in the midst of Covid-19 and everything else that we face. There are many who wonder where You are in the midst of Covid-19. Some even take credit for recoveries and deny Your power.
Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, we ask that You have mercy on us and forgive our wrongful-thoughts, attitudes and behaviours. Renew the right spirit within us and make us worthy vessels for Your glory. Out of the depths we cry, O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to our cry for mercy. If You kept a record of our sins, who could stand? Yet, with You Lord there is forgiveness. Thank You Lord.
Heavenly Father, we face this monster, Covid-19 that has taken on a community spread. Many people are not observing the protocols. O Lord, let evil not overpower us but rescue and deliver us in Your righteousness. So give the command to save us. Turn Your ear to us and save us. Be the rock of refuge to which we can always go.
Lord, we lift up our communities, citizens, leaders of every government sector, private sector, institutions and churches. We seek Your help, maker of heaven and earth. Keep us O Lord, we ask.
Lord, You who do not slumber nor sleep, we ask that You grant courage and boldness to our leaders. This week people are going to the polls to vote. So let there be peace among us. Let it dwell in our hearts, and let it spread throughout our nation. Lord, let there be peace. Let only Your will be done.
Lord, we call by name, The Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, Minister of Health Christopher Tufton, Minister of Finance Nigel Clarke, health workers and support staff, Minister of Education Karl Samuda, Leader of the Opposition Peter Philips, and their families; Jamaica Defence Force and Jamaica Constabulary Force personnel and Security Guards, all other leaders of government and their support staff.
Also, Minister of National Security Horace Chang and his team, as they fight the good fight to overcome the challenges we face each day. Lord, we put to You and ask for Your blessings on the Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck. We also remember the judges in our congregation: Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie
Lord, we place the issue of crime and violence in Your hands and ask that You expose criminal minds and hearts; every set-up of criminal activities from the man who hands a gun to a youth to the corrupt government or private sector employee. So Lord, protect, cover and sustain us in these troubled times.
Our Saviour and Lord, as one who has suffered brokenness, we ask for Your divine application of comfort and healing among Your people. Give us the strength and courage to continue this journey of life, Lord. So to those who are in financial need, grant provision; to those who need physical healing, grant healing; for those who are in need of comfort, grant comfort; to those who need mental healing and peace, grant it we pray.
Lord, so many students are confused and have become despondent but You are El Shaddi, the God who is All-Sufficient. Therefore Lord, instil hope, hope in You. Turn their ears and eyes to You Lord and order their steps.
Help us to be filled with bowels of compassion, and that our conversations empower and uplift rather than tear down. Grant us instructive tongues so that we may know how to speak in seasons of distress and pain. Help us to be good keepers of our neighbours, even when they do not deserve it.
We pray that You guide and direct our Sunday services and Bible Studies. So grant us as leaders, a spirit of love; unity in discussions and decisions; and obedience to Your way.
Lord, we present to You those who are mourning: Sister Jehan Johnson who lost her mother (to be buried); Brother Andrew Getton who lost his mother (buried); and Sister Arlene Tomlinson who lost a brother (lived in the U.S.A); Sister Melva Knight who lost an aunt; and Brother Orville Beckford and Sister Ann Beckford who lost a Sister and Sister-in-law respectively.
Lord, we now mention our families who are ill: Sisters Iris Lawrence, Jennifer Nicholson, Virginia Muir), Marville (Cherry) Murray (Sister Iris Lawrence’s daughter), Janet Chen-Young, Joyce Bailey, Lucille Alexander, Jhada Graham, Ethlyn Atkins, Cherrie Lee, Brother George Gabbidon, and Andrew Robinson (Sister Claire Robinson’s son), Brother Danville Japp’s father, Mr. Isaiah Japp.
Lord, fill us anew each day with Your presence, Your power and Your peace, in Jesus’ name we pray with thanksgiving.
Our Weekly Prayers are for everyone. Therefore, if you are also in need of prayer or comfort, please contact us with your request. We would be so very happy to share with you.