Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 22 August 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 grateful to God Almighty for giving me hope. I am grateful for the hope of eternal life and the hope of abundant life. I am grateful that each day I can look forward to His hand at work as He establishes the work of my hands. You know, hope is wonderful! It illuminates peace, joy and happiness.
Think about it! Hope is something to look forward to, it is tomorrow. I believe that hope is more profound when life seems empty; when we just cannot logically mark the path of our travels through life; when we feel like there is nothing left for us to do. Yet, there are those people who feel like hope is slippery. There are those people who feel like hope can no longer be relied on so they abandon it and give up.
I know, I have been there many times with my back against the wall wondering whether or not my breakthrough will come. I have believed but the beliefs seemed to disappoint. I trusted but the trust seemed wasted. I hoped but the hope seemed to have taken me nowhere. Oh yes, I have been there! Then, I evaluated my circumstances and believed and trusted again and again and many times things seemed to worsen. Oh my God! Does anybody know what I mean? Things literally got worse! Yes!
I know that I serve a God with whom nothing is impossible. I serve a God who has proven Himself. So I prayed, I read the Bible, I attended Bible study, I sang praises to God. I give up everything at times in service to Him. Then, I go into fasting and prayer. I bawled out! I bawled until my throat ran dry, I prayed and I bawled until my eyes were sore. There were times when I felt like my bones were in pain. This is for real! There were those people who mocked, jeered and distanced themselves. I felt bruised and battered at times. Yet, there was no significant breakthrough in my circumstances. I heard the promises from God and through my fellow humankind but no breakthrough.
Then, in the process of my wrestle, I surrendered it all in the hands of God knowing that it is always better for Him to establish the work of my hands. I told God that the devil cannot help me so I do not feel like there is a better choice but to trust Him even when life does not seem to make sense. Does anybody know what I am talking about? It is in those times, I discovered that there has to be hope even when through my limited eyes all seemed lost. My circumstance may not change in the immediacy of time but I have hope.
What cemented my discovery of hope? I knew but gained greater insight into the fact that my life is really not about me. I surrendered all to God Almighty! It is about what God wants to accomplish through me. Aah! Yes! Got it! It still does not mean that I am not a beneficiary of His blessings. The more I gained that insight, the greater my increase in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All of these things help to form the heart and mind that God loves. Yet, I have not fully attained such things. I keep working through each based on my experiences.
Oh! One more thing. I still need to do the prayer, Bible readings and studies, fastings, songs of praises, carry out the services, etc. I also discovered that my physical discomfort does not cancel hope. It should help me to embrace hope. Aah! Then, a hush entered, creating a space in my thoughts….
The question of the cross arose in my mind. I took a step back. What about the cross? Jesus died for me. He came to save my soul from being lost. I am reminded of the victory. The victory over death, the grave, and hell. Ooh! What a victory? I also know that absolutely nothing can separate me from His love. Nothing in the past, present nor what is to come, not even death! Hallelujah! What a victory! I am a beneficiary of that victory. Hallelujah!
I am reminded of the prophet Habakkuk as he processed the circumstances that he faced. He was so caught up in distress to the point of apparent anger. He was focused on his circumstances and what he wanted to be done within his time. Habakkuk cried out to God for a breakthrough but nothing was happening in the immediacy of time. He confronted the Lord because after crying out for a time there was no response. Then the Lord gave an answer.
Habakkuk cried “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:2-4, NIV). The Lord’s response: “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Habakkuk 1:5, NIV). This provided Habakkuk with hope.
God made His promises known, and Habakuk was provided with hope. So why a second complaint? Time passed, you think maybe beliefs dwindled, and trust was tested. He told the Lord “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Habakkuk 1:13, NIV).
The Lord’s response to Habakkuk’s second complaint took a different format. It seemed Habakkuk needed to be told not just through speaking but through seeing and reading. He needed to carry out his service to God as a prophet. The revelation that he received was not just for him. Here goes. “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” (Habakkuk 2: 2, NIV). In our informal language, it sounded like “Guh write dung di revelation!” “Look pon eh, and mek di people dem know.”.
Critical to Habakkuk’s understanding was the fact that the promises of God had to happen though it seems all hope was lost. It would have happened in God’s timing, it would not be delayed. It was truthful, therefore, believable and trustworthy. “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2: 3, NIV).
I believe Habakkuk surrendered after further processing His thoughts, reminding himself of the God he served, the power of God and his role in the scheme of God’s plans. Then, he prayed a powerful prayer including “…Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine; though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3: 17-19, NIV).
One could say Habbakuk recognised that his physical circumstances should not cancel hope. It should not negate his ability to worship God. Although all seemed lost, he recognised that there was a source of strength. Even when initially with his limited eyes, life seemed too hard for the journey. He later gained insight that the strength he needed was beyond him. His life was not about him but what God wanted to accomplish through him, in His time. It was God who would equip him as he took the journey.
Are you tired? Are you losing hope? If so, remind yourself of who God is, who you are, and the purpose you are called to serve. Even when your purpose does not seem to be defined in the way you and others expect, start by going to the word of God and do what is instructed. What say you? Think bout it, chat bout it.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we honour, praise and adore You. You are awesome. Lord, You are majestic, full of glory and might. We acknowledge Your infinite greatness! Lord, Your power is above all else and cannot be diminished.
Lord, all of our inmost beings praise Your holy name. We forget not Your benefits, for it is You who forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases. You redeem our lives from the pit and crown us with love and compassion. You satisfy our desires with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle.
Lord, You work righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. You will not always accuse, nor will You harbour Your anger forever. Lord, You do not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth so great is His love for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so You, Lord, have compassion on those who fear You, for You know how we are formed, You remember that we are dust (Psalm 103).
Lord, we come in the name of Jesus Christ, asking that You have mercy on us as individuals, families, communities, Churches and related bodies, businesses, government and our country as a whole. We ask that You cleanse us from all unrighteousness, forgive all of our sins. Help us, Lord, to forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from all forms of evil.
Lord, we continue to set our eyes on You for deliverance and restoration as we take this unusual path with many different occurrences such as earthquakes, hurricanes, the Covid-19 pandemic, crime and violence (domestic and otherwise); reduction in economic growth in most sectors etc. Although these things are happening, Lord, cause it that we will praise You, knowing that there is hope.
Even then, Lord, take away our hearts of stone and give us hearts that are obedient to Your will. Renew the right spirit in us, grant us the right spirit to sustain us.
Lord, we present to You all of the countries in the world, asking for Your divine intervention in the lives of citizens and government worldwide. We pray that those who do not know You will experience an encounter with You; those who claim to know and represent You will receive an encounter with You and gain true insight into what You represent.
We pray for the citizens who are losing hope, the civil unrest, emotional disturbances and physical losses. Lord, You came to save a lost world. Help us to reach those who are lost and losing hope. Strengthen our feet as we take the journeys through this life. Grant us Your blessings and favour so that others can be blessed.
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 remember also, the judges in our congregation, Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie.
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, 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); Sister Stacy-Ann Zodge’s brother and any member or family member who is in need of healing and comfort. Lord, grant healing, strength and peace.
We pray for those who are in distress, mourning losses of different kinds especially the Sisters Campbell, Dinald and their families. Lord, have mercy and help. Fill us with Your peace, Your presence and Your power. Comfort us and grant us victory in our circumstances.
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.