Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 19 February 2021 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers. Deacon Burton owns the copyright to this post. We reprint here with her permission.
Brothers, Sisters and Friends, I am hoping that you are well but if not, please let us know. If you or anyone you know is in need of prayer, please submit your request to our website and we will pray for you.
I thank God for His goodness, His love, the sacrifice at the cross and His continued mercies. I consider it a privilege to be adopted into His Kingdom, to be His child. And I thank Him for owning me.
I pray that you will feel the love of God and be drawn close to Him. May He bless and favour your life, may your pot never run empty, and may He fill you with the oil of gladness. May His face brightly shine upon you.
Brethren and Friends, I am taking us back on the exercise trail. Oh yes! Usually when I exercise my approach has been to do something different every time so that my mental and physical being does not remain in a normal state. The idea is to push self beyond normalising so as to welcome adjustments or changes. This allows for muscle toning and greater stress relief but may carry different levels of pain. Of course, we are encouraged to do adequate stretches, rest and diet. Trust me, I am still aiming towards balancing it all.
My experience has taught me that it is not just strength that we use in exercise. Techniques must be right for us to achieve good results. Many people can do exercise but not accomplish much because the technique is off. One could cause damage to joints and muscles etc. if the wrong technique is applied. I have even seen instances where persons are at the gym but not adequately working out. They were just in the midst of the sound doing almost nothing, and achieving almost nothing.
I realised that many of us do not take the time to know the area of the body that is affected by a particular exercise technique. We do our exercise based on the direction of an instructor or trainer, or what other people do. I recently asked a couple of persons if they knew the benefits of walking backwards on the hill. One man said he only knows that it protects his knee. However, I noticed that his technique was off, and he was not aware that there are other benefits.
I must add that many years ago I was looking for a gym that would be appropriate for me. One of the personnel at a gym that I visited gave me pictures of some celebrity bodies and asked which one I wanted. I kindly told him none of them. I already have a body and that is the one, shape and all, that I needed to be toned. You know, I did not sign up with them.
As my thoughts dwell on those experiences, I am reminded of the discomfort that we at times endure. I am talking about those things that God has been allowing to happen in our lives. At times they may become intense. Sometimes it is as if they appear in a series. Our response at times is to avoid even to the point of disobedience and not go through the challenges.
You know, when Moses was leading the people of Israel through the wilderness he prayed for God to establish the work of their hands. “May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17, NIV). Moses had a wave of emotions going on in the entire prayer. You may note that he prayed for the favour, beauty, of the Lord to be upon them.
I felt the need to backtrack to the earlier parts of Moses’ prayer. He acknowledged that it is God who sustained generations after generations and that He has not changed (Psalm 90:1-2). He was mindful of God’s power concerning the giving and taking of life. Moses associated the life of humankind with the existence of grass. It is up and fresh at one point, then it withers and dies (Psalm 90:3-6).
Moses’ prayer showed us he recognised that nothing is hidden from God. The sins of the people were in His full view. God was not pleased with the sins. He was aware of the shortness of days and the troubles that accompany the days of humankind. Yet, he spoke to the timing of life, which is not necessarily a must for each person (Psalm 90:7-11). He seemed afraid of what God may do because he was aware of God’s power (Psalm 90:7,11).
Moses appealed to God’s compassion by asking that He teach them to number their days so that they may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). He brought the heart of the people to the fore asking for them to be renewed and alert to the brevity of life. One could say that he asked for hearts that could become aligned with God, operating according to His will. A change of heart, you think? Moses later asked God to change His approach towards the people’s attitudes and their disobedient behaviour. He asked for joy, gladness and rest from troubles (Psalm 90:13-16).
Unlike Moses, Jonah was adamant that the people of Nineveh did not deserve God’s favour. He was fed up with a set of disobedient people who kept on sinning. Do you think that he sinned in his anger by also being disobedient? (Jonah 1). Jonah seemed to have thrown stones but in the midst of that sinned. Nehemiah on the other hand may have thought, I am not here to cast stones so just in case I sinned, my family sinned. I will confess on behalf of everyone including his nation (Nehemiah 1).
God showed Jonah that it was either going to be His way or he would be out of commission. Wow! The Lord caused it that he recognised the need to do His will or else face the consequence of not doing so (Jonah 2). He submitted to the Lord in prayer.
Do you realise that it was after the confession and repentance, dealing with the heart and submission, that the work began? The pace was set. Amen! Moses went on to ask for God to firm up what they should do, His purpose. Not what they have established or framed in their minds. They wanted Him to create that framework for them. Of course, he needed God’s favour.
You know, using the right techniques for exercises, understanding what each exercise does for the body, finding the right gym, getting the right tone are all good. We are called to care for our bodies. Indeed, it is the temple of the Lord. However, critical to our existence is an awareness of the shortness of days, the physical nature of humankind and the need to be aligned with God so that His purpose can be accomplished through our lives.
We can choose to be like the persons at the gym who are just in the centre of the music but not allowing for a work to be done to obtain a gain. On the other hand, we can choose to allow for God’s work to be done through us. Like the exercises, the latter approach may bring pain and discomfort but it can set us on a path to build spiritual muscles and establish God’s power. What say you?
As you meditate, let us pray:
God of Grace, we thank You for sustaining us as individuals, families, Churches and related associations, communities and as a nation. We are grateful that it is because of your compassion that we are not consumed. Great is your faithfulness. Lord, we thank You for our workforce, businesses, economic stability, our health and associated workers. Lord, we thank You for your mercies. We thank you, Lord, for your shed blood, your death on the cross, which has paid the wages of our sins and paved the way for eternal life.
Most Holy and Righteous Father, we come in the name of Jesus Christ admitting that we have done wrong in your sight, in thoughts, attitudes and actions. We have hurt each other; we have ignored the needs of each other. Lord, we have put each other at risk; we have taken what does not belong to us, and we have shed innocent blood in one way or another. We have been disobedient to your will.
So we ask that as individuals, families, communities, Churches and related associations, communities, workforce, businesses and as a nation You have mercy on us. Lord, we ask that You cleanse us from all unrighteousness and forgive all of our sins. Lord, our iniquities are ever before you. It is against You that we have sinned and done what is wrong in your sight so You are proved right when You speak and justified when You judge.
Lord, save us from bloodguilt. Take away our hearts of stone and grant us hearts of flesh that are obedient to your will and way. Out of the depths I cried to You, Lord. If You O Lord kept a record of sin who can stand. But with You there is forgiveness. Therefore, You are feared. It is You Lord who forgives our sins and heal our diseases, and You save our lives from destruction. Lord, You crown us with your loving-kindness and the multitude of your tender mercies. You satisfy our desires with good things.
Lord, as leaders of families, communities, Churches and related associations, communities, workforce, businesses and as a nation grant us contrite hearts. Lord, cause it that we seek and follow your will. Establish your framework in our minds and hearts and cause it that your work is accomplished in our hands.
Lord, as health and related systems in our nation we ask that You fill us with compassion for those who are hurting and treat each other equally. Help us to be selfless in our duties, and cover, bless and strengthen us while we do so.
Lord, take every criminal mind and transform it to your will. Nullify every plan and throw them into confusion. Lord, let every resource, physical and human, run dry and block any attempt for replenishing. Let every heart bow before you.
Lord, we lift up regional and international nations and ask for your mercies. Lord, turn the hearts of nations away from selfish gains and towards You. Cause it that nations unite in the fight against the Covid-19 Virus.
Lord, we ask that You heal our physical and emotional being. Comfort those who mourn, cloth those who feel hopeless and bear with the garment of praise; and instil hope. Surround us with your banner of love we pray with thanksgiving in Jesus’ name.
Our Prayers of Encouragement 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.