Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 25 July 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 needs prayer, please let us know. You can post your prayer request here on our website.
I am extremely grateful to Almighty God for His word. I find that when the word of God is in my heart and mind, it provides a cushion that protects me from intrusive thoughts that are set to destabilize my functioning. It holds me up like a brace. It restrains me.
The word of God instructs me in the way that I should think, speak and behave. It reminds me how to respond to situations. For example, the psalmist says, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34: 14, NIV). This always reminds me to try and resolve situations in a peaceful manner, as much as it is possible. The apostle Paul stated the will of God concerning our responses to the bad situations that we may face in life. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:17, NIV). It may at times require a lot of effort on our part to be peaceful. I know, it is not easy.
We are also told that when we take the peaceful approach, it will not be in vain because God repays. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-20, NIV). The idea is that love will prevail, good will prevail over evil. Sometimes in our experiences, it may appear like we have lost out. However, we have decided to trust our relationship with God and that He will do what He says.
You see, there are those people in the world who may deceive us into believing that satisfaction comes from getting revenge. We feel better in getting back at someone who has wronged us. At times, the one who has wronged us may sit in a chair of vindication whilst we are told to sit on the ground, treated poorly. We may feel that justice is not served so we exercise our own justice. We set aside the word of God to do what we feel is justice. Yet we claim to serve a God of justice.
Recently on my hill walk, I had a revelation concerning something that I previously believed. I had written about discovering the Bible, which was opened at certain pages in the books of Kings. The Bible was at a semi-dump on the hill. There was another book underneath it. I assumed that it was another Bible. The truth is that I did not look to ensure that was the case.
A number of things have happened to the Bible due to the wind and rain and apparent human intervention so some pages disappeared but most of them are stuck closely together. I noticed that the Bible was closed and set apart and the other book which was underneath it was opened. I previously assumed that it was another Bible. I did not have my glasses at the time so the following week I walked with a small microscope. I wanted to know what pages of scriptures in this other book were opened but a surprise was in store.
To my dismay, it was not a Bible. Oh Yes! It caught me. It was a book that is similar to a dictionary/thesaurus. I heard the Lord saying to me that there is a lot of deception in the world and humankind keeps setting the word of God aside looking for directions and meanings in other places. Even some of the followers of Christ are deceived, which has led to them bringing forth bad fruit. Many times our walk with Him is not solidified enough so we become easily swayed by the philosophies of humankind and at times our own slight behaviours.
I went back on the hill this weekend. I noticed that the Bible was reopened but the other book was also opened. I heard the Lord saying that there are two books, one representing Him, and the other the way the world brings meaning to life. Many times His followers chose the other things in life instead of pursuing Him. There is a tendency to go for what appears to be more enticing to practice what is more appealing and give more time to what we think brings greater pleasure. We lack the yearning for God and the things of God that allows us to pursue not just a corporate relationship but a personal one that is consistent and impactful.
As I reflected, I am reminded of king Josiah and what he did when the Book of the Law was found. He was operating based on what he was taught and inherited. However, he realised that the path being pursued was not of God. The word of God tells us that “Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.’ He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him…” Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.” (2 Kings 22:8-19, NIV).
King Josiah’s eyes were opened when he heard the words of the Book of the Law. He acknowledged that Judah was on the wrong path. The word of God was absent, there was disobedience in observing the word of God and the anger of God would have burnt against the people (2 Kings 22:11-13). He issued instructions to his officials, “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book. They have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:13).
Guess what the priest and others did? They consulted a female prophet. I mean a woman who was used by God in a significant way. Huh! Ouch! “Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah …She said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the Lord says…Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.” (2 kings 22:14-17, NIV).
King Josiah was promised to be spared through death because he was repentant. Some of us may think that was not a reward but for him to die was gain. The woman prophet further revealed what the Lord said, “…Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord…because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place…” (2 Kings 22-18-20, NIV).
We may say that king Josiah was convicted by the word of God. He was also guided by the instructions of the word of God. The scripture later tells us that he renewed the Covenant between God and His people. He ensured that the people were informed by reading the word in their hearing. This caused the people to pledge themselves to the Covenant (2 Kings 23: 2-3).
Josiah gave orders “…to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts….He did away with the idolatrous priests… He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there….He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving.” (2 Kings 23:4-7, NIV). Josiah continued to purge Judah of the evidence of evil (2 Kings 23:8-25, NIV).
You know, we have numerous access points to the word of God. But like Josiah is it convicting us at a personal level? Or is it convicting us at a corporate level as it did to the people of Judah? Is it teaching us, causing our eyes to be opened to make a distinction between what is of God, and what is not of God? Is it empowering us? Are we properly attuned to the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit in all that we think, do and say? Where do we seek answers for life’s experiences? Which answers do we allow to guide our lives? This begs two more questions. Are we bearing good fruits? Are we achieving our purpose?
“Think bout it, chat bout it.” What are you going to do about it?
Let us pray:
O Lord, O Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth? We acknowledge your absolute, infinite greatness. Lord, You are awesome! We praise You! We magnify and glorify Your name! Lord, You are above all else and Your power has not been diminished. You are the same God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Hallelujah! Hallelujah to Your name!
Lord, we come in the name of Jesus Christ asking for Your mercies on us as individuals, families, communities, Churches, government and a country as a whole. Lord, we ask that You forgive all of our sins, cleanse us from all unrighteousness and make us worthy vessels in Your sight.
Hear, O Lord, the cries of Your servants. Let us not be overpowered by evil in any way or form, and cause it that our prayers and answers to our prayers are not hindered.
Lord, before a word appears on our tongues, You know it completely. Teach us the way of Your word and cause it that we will follow it to the end, Cause it that we will apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Lord, give us understanding, so that we may keep Your word and obey it with all of our hearts. Turn our hearts toward Your word and not selfish gains. Turn our eyes away from worthless things and preserve our lives according to Your word. Lord, cause it that Your Word is hidden in our hearts so that we exercise good judgment.
Lord, never take the truth of Your word from our mouth but instil in us the hope and longing for Your word. Let us not be put to shame and save us from any disgrace that we may dread. Let not our hopes be dashed.
May Your unfailing love enfold us. May Your mercies overflow us, and provide direction to our path. Lord, cause it that Your word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path so that our steps are guided by You. May Your unfailing love be with us even as we put our hope in You.
Lord, we pray for all leaders of 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, we present to you those among us who are on the usual sick and shut-in list, as well as Sisters Nicole Evans, Kadene Stewart, 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; Brother George Gabbidon, Brother Lloyd Trusty, Mr Alan Ashley (Sister Dawn Ashley’s father), Sister Jennifer Japp who mourns the loss of her father, Brother Danville Japp’s father, Mr Isaiah Japp, Mr, Delorn Dixon (Sister Rachael Dixon’s husband),
We pray for Sister Pearl and her family as they mourn the loss of Elder (Hon) Derby; Sister Paula and family as they mourn the loss of her uncle. O Lord, comfort them in a way that each one needs and let Your peace reign in their hearts.
Lord, we ask that You protect us from the wiles of evil in whatever way or form it is manifested. Help us not to lose hope but grant unto us Your peace and compassion. So, Lord, instil hope in us as You comfort our hearts. Hear O Lord, have mercy on us, and attend to our prayers we ask with thanksgiving in Jesus’ name.
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.