Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 21 March 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 but if not, please let us know. Just a reminder that if you or anyone you know is in need of prayer, please let us know. You can post your prayer request on our website.
I am thanking God for His love. He has a perfect heart of love for me because He gave me the opportunity for salvation (John 3:16-17). The Old Testament (Isaiah 53, for example) scriptures enunciated for us that there would be the promised gift of salvation, a sacrificial gift. It is a gift that I have come to truly and gladly receive. The truth is that for a long time, I really did not realise or understand the meaning of Jesus Christ’s sufferings and death. Not to mention the fact that God demonstrated His power by raising Jesus Christ from the dead. Now, I am at a different place with Him so I appreciate His love. I am in awe of His power, and I am grateful. Lord God, I am so grateful for the gift of salvation.
I pray that you will truly receive the love of God, knowing that love comes from the heart of God. You know, it just crossed my mind that He personifies perfect love. His love is immeasurable. His love is unconditional, freely given. He is not looking for any underlying benefit in the back of His mind, to see what He is going to get out of a relationship with you. His disposition commands trust.
Many may waiver, or become easily swayed from Him. I pray that you will renew your personal connection with Him, and truly open your heart aiming to love, as Christ loves. I pray that our love can be trusted. Let me add that for those who have not received the gift of salvation (God’s love) at all, you can do so right now by accepting Christ in your heart, asking Him to cleanse and forgive you. May God bless, favour and keep you all, always.
As I reflected on the heart of God, I am reminded of a number of experiences that the Lord has been taking me through to show the hearts of some persons. Yet, He has also encouraged me to continue loving but be aware of the heart. This has also prompted me to become more aware and alerted to my own heart towards people. I have to assess whether or not I am demonstrating the love of Christ in all of my relationships, in all of life’s experiences. I know that my assessment may be subjective. So I have been calling on the help of the Holy Spirit.
I spoke about the Shunammite woman in the last posting as it relates to her receiving a favour, that is, the gift of a son. She did not ask for this gift and was hesitant to receive the promise of a son. Her doubts were calmed when she got pregnant and had a son. Low and behold, the pickney dead. She went into distress. Lord, have mercy! Yet, her family was later restored. The prophet Elisha prayed for the child and life returned to his body.
How did she get the gift of a son? She had a true heart of love for God and His people. In consultation with her husband, she built a place for Elisha to stay when he passed through her area (2 Kings 4:8-10). One may say that she would have seen how the work of God took a lot out of that man of God. The work of God in Elisha’s life was not administrative. It had an intense spiritual focus that had the potential to sap every aspect of your being. It called into existence, a posture that was constantly attuned to God, communing with Him. A posture that carried through with the will of God, connecting with the people of God.
Elijah who Elisha emulated showed us how exhausting and discouraging the work of God can be for the Servant of God. After one of his powerful experiences on Mount Carmel, he was threatened by Jezebel (1 Kings 19:2). Elijah, “… ran for a day’s journey deep into the wilderness. He found a juniper tree, sat down under it, and prayed that he could die. He asked God, ‘Enough! Lord! Take my life, because I’m not better than my ancestors!’” (1 Kings 19:4 NIV).
The Shunammite woman was moved with compassion to provide some cushion to ease Elisha’s discomfort. Elisha was moved by her kindness and wanted to favour her, so he declared on her a promised gift of a son. Her son died and this brought her to a state of quiet anger (2 Kings 4:18-20). She sought out the man of God. In His grace through Elisha, God raised her son from death (1 Kings 4:32-35). Some may have thought it was the end for the woman’s son but she thought otherwise. She became hopeful (2 Kings 4:30). Initially, this same woman had a desire but feared to hope for it (2 Kings 4:28). She temporarily lost her son but gained hope by not giving up.
You know, I am thinking that many people do not appreciate the gift of salvation. Some may think that they did not ask for it in the first place. Is that what makes it a gift though? The gift of God’s promised Son, Jesus Christ, suffered and died. He who came to set the captives free was bound and buried (“…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives….” (Isaiah 61:1, NIV; Luke 4:18)). Some thought it was the end. They mocked, jeered, insulted and crucified Him (Mark 15:29-32). Yet, God raised Him from the dead (Mark 16:5-7).
Christ took victory over death, hell and the grave! (2 Timothy 1:10). Yes! Triumphantly He arose and later ascended to be with His Father (John 20:17). Now, we have hope. He still makes intercession for us. Thank you, Lord. You are awesome. Hallelujah! He arose! Thank you, Lord, for your grace and mercy. Thank you, Lord, for your heart of love, and that you are love.
How does your heart function in relationships and life’s experiences? Is it demonstrative of the way Christ loves? How do you make such assessments? Who helps you to make those assessments?
As we meditate on the love of God, let us pray:
Lord, God almighty, we thank You for Your sacrificial love so freely given. We stand in awe of Your greatness! At times, we cry out in distress because of our experiences; when we feel drained:
1As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.Psalm 42:1-3 (NIV)
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Lord, as we come in the name of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Cause it that we do not forget what You do for us, and cause it that we praise You. Renew the functioning of our hearts and minds towards You and our fellow humankind. As the Psalmist prayed:
4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul; how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Help us to reflect and meditate on your word. Let us not forget Lord.Psalm 42:4 (NIV)
Lord, though at times we are in distress, help us to speak to our situations and not lose hope.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God,Psalm 42:5-11 (NIV)
for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Lord, give us the strength to remain hopeful during these trying times.
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.
God of grace, we 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, 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, and Lorraine Richards (Brother Cornel Richards’ wife); 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), Emery (in hospital) and other relatives of Brother Cornel who are ill at this time; and any member or family member who is currently struggling with the Covid-19 virus. We pray for healing, comfort and restoration.
Lord, we ask that You comfort those who mourn, especially Deacon Darlene Jones who lost an aunt. We also remember all of the family members who are in mourning and ask that You cause it that they feel the presence of Your banner of love. Fill them with peace.
Give ear, O Lord to our praises and supplications, and grant us Your response. Fill us with Your peace and sustain us by your grace, in Jesus’ name we pray with thanksgiving.
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.