Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 12 September 2021 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers. Deacon Burton owns the copyright to this post. We reprint here with her permission.
My Brothers, Sisters and Friends, we are hoping that you are well. However, if not, please let us know. Just a reminder that if you or anyone you know needs prayer, please let us know. You can post your prayer request here on our website.
I am extremely grateful to God Almighty that He is a God of solutions. You know something, He sees and knows my weaknesses. He knows how to save me from temptations and support me in trials. Yet, He can save me from trials that are not on His allowable list. I am so grateful that I have a God who is all-knowledgeable, all-powerful, all-mighty and ever-present. He is awesome! He has my back better than anyone else at any point in time.
You see, I serve a God who sees beyond my faults, my inadequacies. He does not throw me out or write me off but takes the time to empower and endow me to become sufficient because He is an all-sufficient God. God finds the time to show me the way, and He walks the way with me. He does not leave me in the seas of life to swim even when He knows that I may be able to swim, He swims with me.
If I cannot swim, He stretches out His hand of protection and guides me to the shore. I love Him and I need Him so much. He is my compassionate Father and though I am not the perfect child, His love for me never dwindles so I am dependent on His presence and sustenance. I rely on His unmerited favour, His grace, to take me through every minute of each day.
Let me tell you something, I went walking on the hill recently. As previously indicated, I walk on the wall that is built to separate the road from the mountainsides, among other reasons. I walked on the wall as a way of exercising my brain, my mind which involves balance etc. At times, people may say that I should be careful. I agree with them but it has become much easier because I have been consistently practising the walk.
During my last walk, one of the groups of people who were walking exchanged pleasantries with me as normal. However, one of the men decided to take the wall and walk opposite to me and indicated that he was not going to stop. Take note that the wall is narrow and no two persons can pass each other on the stretch of it at the same time. I kept walking and he was coming towards me so we were facing each other. Then we both reached a point where there was a separation in the wall so you either jump across or get off and rejoin.
I usually jump across the wall where it breaks but it is not that simple if you do not practise or have the skills to do so. The person laughed and jumped off. The other guys laughed and I blessed them and continued on my walk. While I walked away, I heard the Spirit telling me that “For every temptation, there is a way of escape.” The break in the wall was an escape route so that man could not reach me.
I remember a few years ago someone was trying to get my attention but the Lord already showed me that it was not His will for my life. I went to a seminar and saw the person. We chatted and exchanged pleasantries. At the time of leaving, he started getting into an intense conversation with me as I was trying to leave.
Then a man who was also at the seminar came up to him and asked for a ride to the closest place he could get a taxi because his taximan was scheduled to pick him up much later than required. Immediately, I grasped the opportunity and told him to give the man a ride. He hanged his head in disappointment and left with the man. When I was driving out, I heard the Spirit saying to me, “For every temptation, there is a way of escape.” The thing is that my friends were looking at this man’s wealth and status but the Lord eventually showed me and them the man’s heart. I will leave it right there.
As my thoughts roll, I remember Jesus’ experience in the wilderness. The scripture tells us “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 1:4, NIV). You may note that it was the Spirit of God who led Jesus to be tempted by Satan. He took the opportunity to tempt Jesus because, after forty days and nights (Matthew 1:2), He needed a meal. Satan tried to test the power of Jesus by telling Him “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 1:3, NIV).
Jesus’ response was not to appease the devil so, “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”” (Matthew 1:4, NIV). Jesus used the moment to remind and teach the devil about the value of the word of God.
The persistence of the devil progressed. “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple, “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: and they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” “He will command his angels concerning you.” (Matthew 1:5-6, NIV). Even then, Jesus was not about to appease the devil, He hit him with the word of God. “Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 1:7, NIV). Here the devil attacked Jesus’ identity and tested the power of God but he was hit by the Word of God in return.
Still, the devil tried another way of temptation. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 1:8-9, NIV).
Yes! Jesus hit him with the Word of God again and rebuked him this time. He was offering to Jesus what was already His. One could say that Satan got an uppercut hit. Jesus was no longer accommodating him so he realised it and left. Amen! “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:10-11, NIV). Jesus’ support was in waiting.
In trying times, we may be tempted to do things that fall outside of the Word of God, outside of the will of God. We may even forget or question our identity in Christ. We may forget what we have access to as children of God. But the apostle Paul reminds us that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).
Jesus was faced with repeated temptations but He stood the test and passed. It was not just for passing sake but “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18, NIV). “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV). The fact is sin entices us in many ways especially during challenging times. If Jesus had a need and did not sin, He demonstrated that we can do the same. Yet, we do not have to do it alone.
The truth is, there are times when we may be surrounded by things that can tempt us and lead us on the wrong path. Some of them are just in our face but I am encouraged by what Peter said, “and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.” (2 Peter 2:7-10, NIV).
At the end of the day, when we would have stood the test, we become refined, maturing in our faith and our value only increased, yet for the glory of God. Amen! Here Peter tells us, “In all this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 16:6-7, NIV).
One of the key solutions that Jesus gave His disciples to deal with temptations was prayer. It does not matter how hard life gets and how we may become tired and weary, we have to find it in ourselves to pray. Here, He taught them to say in prayer “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13, NIV). He also reminded them in their weariness, “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”.” (Matthew 26: 40-41, NIV). Even then, He not only spoke of a solution. He demonstrated the need to carry the Word of God in our hearts so that we will not sin (Matthew 4:1-7).
Are you facing temptations of all kinds? Think bout it, chat bout it. What are you going to do about it?
Let us pray:
Almighty God, most righteous and adorable Father, we come in the name of Jesus Christ, thanking You for this a new day, a new week. We are so grateful for Your continued hand of sustenance in our lives and the life of our nation as a whole. Lord, we are thankful.
Lord, You are such an awesome God, great in might and power. Your understanding has no limit. Hallelujah! Your works are wonderful. It is You who determines the number of stars and call each one by name. You cover the sky with clouds, You provide rain and food for us. We praise You for it is pleasant and fitting to sing praises to You, our God. It is You who built us up. You understand our brokenness so You heal our broken hearts and our wounds. You sustain the humble and cast the wicked to the ground. Awesome are You, Lord. Hallelujah!
Lord, we ask for Your continued mercy, cleansing and forgiveness of all our transgressions and iniquities. Let not evil dominate our lives but cause it that Your glory be seen in us. Help us to forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation.
Lord, we pray for Your hand of healing upon us as a nation as we continue to grapple with the increased rates of deaths and illnesses. God, You are our only hope. Instil hope in the hearts and minds of our citizens and people as a whole. Cause it that we will hear and experience joy and gladness instead of despair. Renew our thoughts and attitudes and let Your name be on our lips for praise and thanksgiving. Lord, help us not to lose hope but strengthen our minds to deal with the challenges of each day.
Lord, as individuals, families, communities, Churches and associations; government and a country as a whole, we ask that You save and protect us from threats, abuse, bloodguilt, poverty, chronic and other kinds of illnesses, as well as natural and man-made disasters. Rid us of irresponsible behaviour and help us to find ways of being constructively productive.
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, let not evil rule over us. Grant to our leaders the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, courage and strength to do what is in the best interest of our country. Grant creativity and strategies that will help us to manoeuvre through these unusual times. Protect, provide for us, and continue to guide our path.
Lord, we remember those among us 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), Sister Stacy Ann Zodge’s brother; Brother George Gabbidon, Brother Lloyd Trusty, Mr Alan Ashley (Sister Dawn Ashley’s father), Brother Danville Japp’s father, Mr Isaiah Japp, Mr, Delorn Dixon (Sister Rachael Dixon’s husband), Brother Cornel Richards and family; and any member or family member who is in need of healing and comfort. Lord, grant healing, strength and peace.
Lord, we continue to keep in prayer Sister Jhenelle Black who has left for the United Kingdom (UK) to pursue further studies in Dentistry. We pray for safe passage and Your favour as Sister Jhenelle and her mother Sister Ruth travel to the UK.
Lord, remember our children, youths and others who are heading back to school. Build a fence of protection around their minds and sustain them. Lord, keep them focused and steer them away from the wrong internet sites. We pray that You will envelop us with Your love and surround us with Your power in the name of Jesus, 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.