The Prayer of Encouragement for 28 February
Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 28 February 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 hope that you are well but if not, let us know. Remember to submit your prayer request on our website.
I am grateful to God for His presence in my life, His delivering and restorative power. He is acquainted with all of our ways. He knows the state of our lives. God knows what each of us can endure. Although we have seen troubles, many and bitter, He restores us. Hallelujah! God is Awesome! He reigns! Yes, He reigns!
As you walk with Him, may He pull you closer each day, and may you experience His presence. May you open your heart to receive His love. May you open your mind to receive His peace (Shalom). May you know that He is ever-present, and He is your banner. May His favour and blessings be upon you now, and always.
In the last post, I spoke about God restoring the people in Samaria after a tough time of famine (2 Kings 7). We looked at the way God used Elisha and four lepers in His plan of restoration. As I further reflected on the passage of scripture, my thoughts took me to the way God used lepers for His glory.
Who is a leper? A leper is a person who has leprosy. Leprosy is a skin disease with symptoms ranging from white patches on the skin to running sores, to the loss of digits on the fingers and toes. Persons who have the disease were considered to be ceremonially unclean and were not allowed in places of worship (Leviticus 13:3). They were required to isolate themselves. Anyone who came in contact with a leper was also seen as unclean, even houses and garments could have leprosy on them (Holman, 2015).
Leprosy in a house showed up in a greenish or reddish colour on the walls of the house. When this is discovered, the building is purified/sanitised or ordered destroyed, depending on the severity of the spread. Garments with leprosy would also have greenish or reddish spots. The garments were either purified or burned. Once leprosy is discovered, they were reported to the priest who played a critical role in deciding what needed to be done (Nelson, 2015).
My thoughts are running all over the place right now. I am thinking about the Covid-19 Virus and the way it has been affecting nations. It operates like an unseen foe. Unlike leprosy, the Virus can be on clothing or in a house but not seen. Some persons may have the symptoms but some persons are asymptomatic so they do not experience the symptoms. We are also required to sanitise. Leprosy is more severe as it relates to a person’s physical appearance. There does not seem to be a cure for the Virus just as in the case of leprosy. Yet, leprosy was better controlled, and as a result, it was less widespread than the Virus is today.
When we consider leprosy and the Virus, in both cases persons are seen as unclean. It does not mean that persons did not have a bath/shower or clean themselves. If they become contaminated, washing hands or bath/shower cannot help them. However, it is a preventative measure. We have been trying to keep ourselves clean and protected by wearing masks, etc. I noticed that this has caused many people to feel rejected, scorned and unworthy. Some people have gotten used to it but not everyone is handling it well.
Some people have ignored the precautions because they do not wish to isolate or be isolated. They may think that doing so would be too devastating for their mental well-being. This has led to an increase in the spread of the Virus. Some people who had the Virus kept it a secret because they fear rejection, being seen as unclean or contaminated. Some of them still mix with other people leading to further spread of the Virus. In some instances, the measures are enforced but in others, it is not possible to enforce so some moral influence is required.
When I think of leprosy and the Virus, I am reminded of passages of scriptures that speak to people who were unclean because of their forms of worship and the groups to which they belong. At some point in time, the Jews could not mix with the Gentiles. The Samaritans and the Jews operated on boundary lines. They should not cross each other’s space.
Let us go back to the four lepers (2 Kings 7). They went to the camp of the enemy and took food and other valuables and stored some for themselves. Afterwards, they decided to share the good news with the nation that was experiencing some serious famine. They were not even allowed inside the gates of the palace in delivering the news. I am thinking that based on the behaviour of leprosy, they would have contaminated the food etc. Yet, there was no account of that being the case. It was enunciated that the people were actually restored from a period of famine. This is really interesting. God is so beyond me.
My thoughts just linked aspects of Peter’s vision to what happened with the four lepers. Do you recall it? Peter was praying and felt hungry but during the preparation of the meal, he went into a trance. He saw heaven opened up and “… all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’” (Acts 10:12-13, NIV).
Peter objected because this was not his lifestyle. He was a man who spoke his mind. His response: “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:14, NIV). The Lord responded to Peter’s objection. “The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’” (Acts 10:15, NIV). Something just popped out at me. “God has made clean.” Could it be that the four lepers were made clean while going through the food and valuables so they did not contaminate them? Interesting!
We will look at the essence of Peter’s vision another time but the issue is the way we respond to what is clean and unclean. The display of God’s sovereignty and power even in the midst of tough situations. He can make all things new. He can restore and renew. He can protect us even when we go into the midst of people with diseases. He can use people with diseases.
Brethren and Friends, I am still asking the questions previously asked. What will the righteous do? What will the follower of Christ do in the midst of Covid-19? What is the mind of God in our current situations? Is the will of God being accomplished through us? Are we open to that will? Are we seeking God concerning that will?
I recalled some years ago when I was looking forward to doing the certificate to practise law, having completed a law degree. The Lord showed me a different path, that is, to do counselling. I completed a masters degree in counselling psychology. A number of people were really mad at me. One of the comments was that I had no sense of direction. I never did the certificate in law. I have the same job and a career in counselling with unrecoverable costs. Now, people really think that I am disconnected from life. Nonetheless, I believe that God’s promises for me still stand.
I must say that the Lord showed me a number of things. One of them was that my knowledge and experience in counselling and other things were going to be critical in the future. The Lord pointed out that some things were going to happen and as a result, the need was going to be great. I shared it with a friend of mine at the time and recently reminded her of it.
Now, I still go out and do counselling, of course observing the protocols. We found that persons age 18 years of age and under are more effectively counselled in a direct setting. A number of our youths and in some instances, adults have been having suicidal thoughts. Some have threatened to kill themselves and have been adamant about it because of the stress associated with the changes due to the Covid-19 Virus. Brethren and Friends, we are in a pandemic. This brings emotional and physical problems, and not many people are managing it well.
I am not sure what God wants you to do. I am not suggesting that you should be careless. I am suggesting that you diligently seek God on the path to take for His will to be accomplished through you, especially in the midst of a pandemic. He has the power to protect and direct our path but we need to stay in His will. Tell you the truth, I am still seeking Him, trying to do His will with the hope that I get it right for His glory. Yes, as you know I have been experiencing some problems too but trying not to allow them to get in the way of what God wants to be accomplished. At times…it is hard but I am still trying. What say you?
As you meditate, let us pray
Our God and Lord, we thank You for this another week, another day and new hope. Lord, we thank You for sustaining us, for refreshing us as we take the tiresome journeys of life. Lord, we acknowledge your sovereignty, your power and love. Lord, we honour You for your greatness. We adore You and bless your holy name. Your excellence is beyond measure. Yours is the kingdom, power and glory. Be magnified, be thou glorified, O Lord.
Most righteous God, we come in the name of Jesus Christ asking that You cleanse us from all unrighteousness and forgive all of our sins. It is against You Lord that we have sinned and done wrongly in your sight. Hear our cry for mercy as we present ourselves, and stand in the gap for our families, churches, communities, leaders and nations.
Lord, we pray for the leaders of our families, churches, communities, leaders and nations. We ask that in the process of our thoughts, attitudes and behaviours You cause it that we exercise soundness of mind, compassion for our fellow humankind, an understanding of your will and pursuit of your will. Lord, grant us insight, wisdom, knowledge, discernment and understandings for the 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.
Lord of Armies, You are our rock and our refuge. Do not let evil rule over us but rescue and deliver us in your righteousness, turn your ear to us, and save us. Protect us from harms and dangers, and diseases (especially Covid -19 at this time). Lord, we ask for your continued provision and sustenance. Help us to act responsibly with honesty and integrity.
God of compassion, remember those who are mourning or hurting. Grant them comfort, healing and peace. Lord, be a banner of strength around them and cause it that they feel your presence.
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, Sister 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, Ethlyn Atkins, Cherrie Lee, 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), Mr Lyn Cook (Sister Marcia’s husband) and any member or family member who is currently struggling with the Covid-19 virus. We pray for healing, comfort and restoration.
Lord, help us as a church to be drawn close to You. Open our eyes to see what You are showing us. Open our minds to accept and renew our will to conform to your directives. Lord, renew in us the joy of thy salvation and grant us a willing spirit to sustain us. Lead us to the path that we should go and cause it that we walk in it. Grant us the boldness and courage to take the journeys ahead. May your favour and blessings be upon us, as you establish the work of our hands, 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.