Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 24 September 2021 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers. Deacon Burton owns the copyright to this post. We reprint here with her permission.
Hi Everyone! I pray for God’s favour and sustenance in your life as you continue on this journey during these unusual times. May God’s hand of comfort and love permeate your spirit and cause you to transcend peace. If you or anyone you know has a prayer request, please let us know and we will include you in our prayers. You may post your prayer request here on our website.
I am grateful to God for forgiveness and the opportunity to forgive others because He has forgiven me. Jesus has demonstrated forgiveness of sins even in death. He appealed to His heavenly Father to forgive those who wronged Him. Jesus seemed to have thought that those who wronged Him did not have insight into their actions and the impact caused (Luke 23: 33-36). You may also recall Stephen (Acts 7) asking that the wrong done to him was not held against those who did it.
The scripture tells us, “When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:33-34, NIV). You may note that Jesus was treated as they did a criminal, yet He was not a criminal. He chose to forgive them although He did no wrong. They are the ones who needed to ask Him for forgiveness. What do you think? Yet, even without them asking, He forgave and appealed to His Father on their behalf.
You know what is so amazing? Jesus understands our being. We may assume that the people must know the wrong that they do. They must understand what they are doing and that their actions are so obvious. However, at times they lacked insight and as such operated outside of true wisdom which only comes from God, from truly knowing God and acting within His will. You may note that even in the same breath asking His Father to forgive them, they were behaving like scavengers by dividing up the clothes of Jesus who was in distress (Luke 23:34).
They slandered and mocked Jesus and even the soldiers were not satisfied with what they had already done to Him. They also joined the “choir” in mocking Jesus. “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’” (Luke 23:35-37, NIV).
You may have read it before but just take a moment and picture the scenario. How could He forgive them? Was He not angry? They were killing Him. Can you imagine the amount of pain and discomfort they handed out to Him? Yet He chose to forgive. Oh, God! Wow! Take a moment and think about it.
Okay. So you may argue concerning the humanity of Jesus. But what about Stephen who was stoned to death? The doctor Luke tells us in Acts, “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59-60, NIV).
As my thoughts rolled, I was reminded of the scene of some accidents. A crowd always gathers and many people have their own views of what happened. There are those who behave like scavengers looking to extract whatever valuables they can from the scene. Usually, there is at least one person in distress and destruction of property. I have been there.
At times there are those who gather to mock and slander us (and they do not know you) although the other person did something wrong by speeding, etc., that resulted in physical damage. We may keep replaying the sound of the crowd or just one loud voice shouting at us. We may experience exploitation of self, anger, pain, financial loss, and all sorts of discomforts and inconveniences. Yet there is the need for us to find peace and move on through processing the mental and physical challenges that emerge. I find that the one way I can truly move on is to make a choice to forgive. But even then there is a process.
How do I forgive and move on? I had to figure that out throughout those and many other life’s experiences. Also, I have been repeatedly asked this question during times of assisting others in the process of forgiveness. I realised that the ease at which we make a choice to forgive is dependent on the depth of the hurt. I think that it happened with ease for Jesus, though His hurt and pain could be considered extremely deep. Stephen seemed to have taken a similar approach. However, we do not seem to forgive deep hurts with such ease and there are those of us who do not forgive regardless of the depth of our hurts. Some of us carry our hurt as if it is an asset.
I find that a lot of us carry hurt over time for many years. We may or may not acknowledge that there is hurt. As a matter of fact, I noted that there are many of us who just brush things aside and say that we are okay although that was not the case. I also believe that many times we do not know that we are truly hurting. You know what I mean?
It becomes very difficult to deal with those types of hurts because they tend to be pressed down and like ice become cold and hardened. The feelings towards the people who hurt us and situations can also become cold and numb so there is a lack of connectivity. We may treat it as forgotten and disconnect our feelings but it comes out in our speech, attitudes and actions towards situations and others. I find that some people are angry, sensitive and frequently stressed but do not understand the depth of what is really happening to them. Wow! Yep!
It then becomes difficult to unravel the hidden or repressed feelings. People may say forgive and move on but I discovered that even the choice in some instances is difficult to make. Stimulation of those hidden feelings is required so that we can identify and acknowledge the feeling and discomfort leading to making the choice to forgive. This helps us to bring the situation forward and understand our reason for making the choice.
You know, many times there has to be some catharsis/clearing of the mind, then getting to the feelings and thoughts. It can be very intense. It is like peeling an onion because the deeper we go to unravel the more uncomfortable it becomes for us. At times when we peel an onion, we may push our heads away from it because of the intensity of its impact on our sight and nasal functions. We may continue to peel the onion to complete our task. Similarly, I find that some people may stay and allow the processing of their memory, some may try to avoid it by saying they do not remember. Then there are others who may just walk away, not wanting to deal with the situation. In the end, some people blame the psycho-therapist.
You know, more and more I have come to realise that many people need to have an understanding of forgiveness in order for them to be healed. However, I find that there is an urgency to avoid getting to the place of unravelling our thoughts and feelings. This results in a lack of insight as to the reason for making a choice. It is with this experience and subsequent understanding that I am positing a theory that making the choice is also a process and not just the healing of hurts. Think bout it, chat bout it. What are you going to do about it?
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness, mercy and love. Lord, we thank You for Your continued sustenance, favour and blessings upon us. We glorify and magnify Your name. You are an awesome God. We shout for joy to You, our God! We sing glory to Your name. Hallelujah! How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power that Your enemies cringe before You. All the earth bow down to You. They sing praises to You, they sing the praises of Your name. Great are Your works, O Lord and Your awesome deeds for humankind! You rule forever by Your power.
Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ we come to You as individuals, families, communities, Churches and related entities, businesses, workers, government and a country as a whole. Lord, we all commit one sin or another, day by day, so according to Your loving-kindness and the multitude of Your tender mercies, cleanse us from all unrighteousness and forgive all of our sins. Help us to forgive those who have wronged us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil.
Lord, from the depths of the earth we cry to You. Attend to the prayers of Your servant. You are our shield, our glory and the lifter up of our heads. You are our Rock, a place of Refuge, our Hiding Place. Lord, You are our Deliverer and Protector. You are a God with whom nothing is impossible. You have done great and mighty works from generation to generation and Your power has not been diminished because You are consistently God of all gods and Lord of all lords.
Lord, we are truly grateful that You have kept us as individuals, families, communities, Churches and related entities, businesses, workers, government and a country as a whole. Yet, there are those among us who have decided to steal, kill, abuse and destroy people and property. Lord, we ask that You visit the mind of every citizen in this country and uproot and unplant the input and invasion of evil.
Lord, let not evil rule over us but take every home, community, business place, government from the east to the west and from the north to the south and turn the hearts of people to You. Cause it that they will come to a knowledge of Christ. Lord, remove the cloud of evil from every geographical location and cause it that we live in peace and righteousness. Heal our brokenness, provide for us, protect us and cause it that your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Lord, we pray for the education system, the political and other leaders, teachers, administrators and students. We pray for resources that will help to equip them to effectively and efficiently carry out their daily tasks. We ask that You cause it so that we identify and help those students who are experiencing a gap in their education. Help us to know what to do and grant us the resources and courage to do it.
Lord, 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, grant them wisdom, knowledge, creativity, strength, courage and understanding to conduct their work in the best interest of those they serve. Help them to act with accountability and transparency. Provide for and protect them and their families.
We lift up to You those among us who are in business: Ewan and Maxine Oliver; Lanna and Desmond Bennett; Warrick Bogle, Carol and Leroy Blake, Marcia Leair, Robert and Bevelin Smith, Paulette Dixon, Kemorine and Karl Henry, Ava Comrie, Catherine Barkley and husband, Cornel Richards and family, Everton Lewis, Pauline and Mark Garvey, Brother Astley Hall, Maxine and Benedict Ranger, Melva Knight, Nicole Fender, Sharon Baldie, Karl Jones and others. Lord, cause it that they are sustained even in these deserted times and let Your blessings and mercy be upon them.
We also pray for the frontline workers connected with GMC: Medical Doctors: Asana Anderson Wilks and Rohan Wilks, Kahlete Falloon, Tina Kong, Vernon Jones, Leighton Logan, Emily Reynolds; trainee doctor (, Gabrielle Channer); Dentists: doing emergency cases; Jhenelle Black, Dania Jones, Eleanor Reynolds; Pharmacists: Sandra Bucknor-Jones, Viveen Watson; other doctors and nurses from GMC or in connection with members and adherents of GMC who are working on the frontline (for example Dr Richard Reynolds) and their families. Lord, grant them physical and mental strength. Protect them from all forms of diseases and fill them with extraordinary bowels of compassion as they carry out their daily tasks. Lord, we also lift up for Your healing and restoration to those who are hospitalised or experiencing physical and mental hurts.
Lord, grant us insight and help us to exercise good judgement. Help us also to operate with the soundness of minds and compassion in all that we say and do. Saturate us with Your peace. Hear, O Lord, and answer in Jesus’ name we pray with thanksgiving.
Our Prayers of Encouragement are for everyone. Therefore, please contact us with your request if you are also in need of prayer or comfort. We would be so very happy to share with you.
Grace Missionary Church is a member of The Missionary Church Association in Jamaica.