Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 5 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 pray for God’s blessings and favour in your life. Though the road may be rocky, I pray you will walk along the path that He has set for you. I also pray that you will become aligned to His purpose and maintain that disposition through His grace and mercy.
I am so grateful to God for His grace and mercy towards me. When I reflect on the way He has carried me through this life I raise my hands in praise and thanksgiving. Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord. You know, I am also grateful because if it was up to some of my fellow humankind in certain spheres of life, I would have been thrown against the curb, left in a land of forgetfulness, treated with disregard and pitied. Yes, the intentions of people at times started out good but become twisted and swayed by the philosophies of humankind. Yet, some intentions are still good.
I realised that behaviours emanate from our hearts and minds, which strike a centre stage in the development of certain appetites and hunger that conflict with the purpose of God. I have come across some hearts that are so hard, the best way I can understand the behaviour is to think of someone who sleepwalks. We can get to a point where we are not aware of the impact our behaviours have on others. We become bent in a certain direction, returning to a place of comfort through self-justification of unhealthy behaviours towards God, and each other. Though we think otherwise, we are not consciously in control of our actions.
At times, what we preach and tell ourselves does not align with what we practice. What we say does not align with what we do. In psychology, we call this incongruence. I remember in math that two diagrams can be similar or the same. Some things may appear to be the same but on close examination, there are differences. If they are the same, there is congruence. If what I say or practice is the same, there is congruence. In our minds, sometimes what we say may appear to be the same as doing but a close look will help us to understand otherwise. The challenge though is that if we do not allow the Spirit of God to examine us, and listen (very critical) we become blinded or lack insight into our behaviours and the impact on others.
I am still reflecting on the passages of scriptures that I found on my hill walk. At this time, I am taken to the behaviour of Elisha’s servant Gehazi. The Bible helps us to understand that after Elisha assisted Naaman to be healed of leprosy, he was offered some form of compensation, which was rejected. Gehazi apparently had a different kind of appetite and hunger that took him running after Naaman, without Elisha’s consent or apparent knowledge (in the mind of Gehazi).
Gehazi went to Naaman and told a lie on Elisha so that he could collect valuables. He was even given more than requested.
… “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.'” “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.2 Kings 5:22-24 (NIV)
Brethren and Friends, Gehazi went to Elisha after his exploits. Elisha asked him …“Where have you been, Gehazi?” (2 Kings 5: 25, NIV). Gehazi responded …“Your servant didn’t go anywhere.” Gehazi answered. (2 Kings 5: 25, NIV).
Do you remember when God called Adam and asked for his whereabouts? “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9, NIV). God is omnipresent so we may say that He knew Adam’s whereabouts but wanted admission from Adam. In a similar way, not the same, Elisha knew what happened between Gehazi and Naaman, through the empowering of the Spirit of God. Still, he asked the question of Gehazi. Could his admission and confession have led to forgiveness?
Gehazi’s denial of his whereabouts led to a damning path.
But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes — or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous — it had become as white as snow.2 Kings 5:26-27 (NIV)
Gehazi had an appetite and hunger that caused him to take on the behaviours of some persons who were swayed and twisted in their thinking. This resulted in him receiving more than he wanted. He not only received double the number of talents but also portions of the leprosy that had inflicted Naaman, which was a curse that went beyond his generation. I really thank God for Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that he made to deliver us from our sins. His grace and mercy. Does this mean that we continue in our sins?
I recalled what Paul said to the Romans concerning the godlessness and wickedness of humanity. “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.” (Romans 1:28-29, NIV). One could say that Gehazi did not do what he ought to but acted in envy and deception. There is also the issue of expectations. As a servant of Elisha, he would have been acquainted with the power of God at work through his master and, you would think, developed a fear of God. Yet one could say that a twisted and swayed mind and heart became blinded, and lacked insight.
Gehazi’s experience showed us that it does not matter who, we all have to be alert and aware of what flows from within us. It is difficult for us to do so on our own but the Spirit of God teaches, counsels, equips and guides us if we allow that to happen. What say you?
A we meditate, let us pray
God of mercy and grace, we thank You for this another weekend. Lord, we are grateful for the sacrifice that You made so that humankind has the opportunity for eternal life. We thank You for waking us up each day, for sustaining us as individuals, families, Churches and associations, communities and as a country in the midst of a Pandemic and many other challenges. Lord, we thank You.
Almighty God, we give honour and glory to your name. You are majestic. You are excellent in all You do and say! Lord, You are above all else. You are awesome. You are an all-powerful, all-knowing God! Hallelujah to your name. We honour You.
Most Righteous God, we come in the name of Jesus Christ asking that You cleanse us from all unrighteousness, forgive all of our sins and make us worthy vessels to carry out your purpose.
Lord, we lift up to You our country and leaders of families, Churches and associations, communities and country as a whole. We thank You for keeping us in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lord, we thank You for your mercies on us, for sustaining businesses and our economies as a whole. We ask that You will grant unto us the wisdom, knowledge and desires to act selflessly, think creatively and pursue our tasks with courage and boldness. Help us to consider the next person and the way our behaviours impact their health, and way of life.
Lord, we pray that the stony hearts of world leaders will be softened allowing for compassion towards vulnerable nations. Help them to give support and be reasonable in their actions as they make decisions that affect not just their citizenry but other nations.
Lord, we lift up our local leaders in particular; leaders of churches and associations and related institutions, 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. In addition, we remember the judges in our congregation, Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie.
Lord, we also present to You the business leaders in our congregation:
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, we pray for those who have decided to sustain themselves through illegal and immoral means. We ask that You help them to become conscious of their behaviours. Help them to develop a dislike for those appetites and hunger that cause destruction and hurt to themselves and others.
Lord, You delivered the people of Nineveh, and the people of Israel so we look to You for deliverance from the Covid-19 pandemic. We lift up to You our health workers who are constantly faced with the Pandemic. Grant them renewed energy, strength, peace and compassion as they carry out their tasks. Lord, cover and protect them and their families.
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; 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, we pray for those who are in preparation for exams. Grant them the strength, courage, wisdom, knowledge and insight that they need to perform at a level of excellence. Help them to stay on the path and not waiver. Lord, instil hope where it is being lost and help them to turn their hearts and minds towards You.
Lord, remember those who are hurting, unwell or losing hope. Help them to know that you will never leave nor forsake them and that your power has not been diminished.
Fill us with your presence, peace, power and surround us with your banner of love 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.