Pray Without Ceasing
January 15th 2017
This week, please pray
- For all those across the country who have been adversely affected by the weather, those whose homes have been damaged or who have had power cut off. Think particularly of elderly and disabled people, many of whom are confined to their homes when snow is on the ground.
- With thanksgiving for the joy which, in spite of its accompanying problems, the snow brings to children (and adults too) with snowmen and sledging and snowball fights
- For the work of churches within SENEA, thinking this week particularly of Bedlington Trinity and Blyth United Reformed Church led by Revd Greg Thompson, and of Blyth Central and Cowpen and their minister, Revd Ann Shepherdson
- For those within our church family who are unwell or recovering from illness.
- For the peoples of the United States as a new President is inaugurated on Saturday 20th January. Pray for wisdom, compassion and tolerance for Donald Trump, his Vice-President, Mike Pence, and for all of the new team coming into office with them.
- As we begin the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity we give thanks, in this year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, for the justification of humanity through grace alone and repent of the deep divisions afflicting the universal church in its ministry of reconciliation:
Grant, O God that, as there is but one Spirit, one Lord, one faith and one hope of our calling; so your church, being one body, may draw all nations to the one baptism as children of the one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all, now and evermore. Amen (Methodist Recorder, P10, based on Ephesian 4: 4-6)
January 8th 2017
As we begin a New Year, please pray:
- Giving thanks for God’s promise of a new beginning for each of us fulfilled in the gift of salvation through Jesus.
- For wisdom for all those in positions of power in the governance of our country: members of the Westminster Parliament and of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. Pray that decisions affecting the future of each country within the United Kingdom will be made with humility, prayer and concern for the long term, common good and not merely for short term gain and prestige for those who make those decisions
- For ministers within SENEA that they may have the health and strength, both physical and spiritual, which they need to guide and lead the churches within the area into the future in both traditional, ‘inherited’ ways and in ‘new ways of being church’, so that more people may come to know the love and forgiveness of God
- For all those working with young people: teachers; leaders of Scout, Guide and Brigade organizations; Junior Church leaders; sports group trainers; volunteers running Duke of Edinburgh schemes; foster parents and those caring for ‘looked after’ children; people running after school clubs - all those working to help our young people grow into the responsible, independent, caring adults of tomorrow
- For all those for whom the beginning of a New Year may not bring any relief from fear or pain or sadness: those in mourning; those who are sick in mind or body; refugees from war, poverty or persecution; those with no home to call their own; those living on the breadline trying to choose between heating their homes or feeding their children. Pray that as individuals and as a society we may not stop working to relieve such suffering.
December 25th - Christmas Day
This Christmas, please pray:
- With penitence for the evil being done in the world, much of it in the name of religion, idealism, freedom - but in reality for the human flaws of greed, hatred, fear, intolerance and the lust for power
- With compassion for those for whom Christmas will be a dark and fearful time this year thinking especially of those in war torn Syria, Yemen, East Chad, Iraq, Afghanistan
- With friendship for those who are remembering loved ones lost recently or longer ago and are feeling lonely and bereft, pushed aside from celebrations which seem to have little to do with them
- With practical help for those who are cold and roofless this Christmas and who are dependent on the help of food banks and refugee assistance for their next meal
- With admiration and support for those who are working on the front line of all these situations as God’s hands in the world to comfort and heal and feed and clothe and love as the hands of Jesus did 2000 years ago and remembering, with humility, that we are God’s hands in our own neighbourhoods
- With joy and wonder and thanksgiving for God’s gift of his Son to us and the depth of the love for us which brought him to us:
“Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man”
In this Advent Season,
Lord, we light Advent candles and Christmas lights but, as we look out from our decorated, cheerful streets, we see darkness in so many places around this world. We need the light of your presence in so many places and situations:
- In Aleppo where atrocities are being committed by both sides on civilians, men, women and children caught in the middle without food, without water, without medicine, Lord, bring the light of your hope
- In Yemen where millions have been displaced by fighting and millions more don’t know where their next meal will come from, Lord, bring the light of your peace
- In Africa, where drought has resulted in famine in many places (and where we remember particularly our friends in Uganda), Lord, bring the light of your Living Water
- In our church family where many face the darkness of bereavement and illness, Lord, bring the light of your Comforter
- In our divided society where people can be abused and hated for their colour, creed, sexuality, gender, disability or difference, show us the light of your image shining in every human person
Lord, while we see the darkness all around and many fight to combat it, from governments, through Aid Agencies, Charities down to individuals, teach us to rejoice that
“ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
John’s Gospel vs 1 -5
In this Advent Season please pray:
- For those of our church family facing difficult times through illness and bereavement remembering particularly Chris McPhillips, Mary Kendall, Alex Robinson, Maureen Robson, Caroline Weldon and Tom Smith.
- Giving thanks for scientists and doctors working patiently, year on year, in research into possible treatments and cures for conditions which can blight the lives of many people, remembering particularly the work of Cancer Research, Action Research for Children, and the Alzheimer’s Society.
- For our sister churches in SENEA, thinking particularly this week of churches in Alnwick and Amble under the guidance of Revd Lynda Coulthard, and of Bedlington Colliery whose minister, Revd Adel Moorhouse is currently unwell.
- With thanksgiving for the overwhelming outpouring of donations for refugees coming into the local area. Pray that the families who have already arrived, and those who are soon to join them, will find that this is a place where they will feel welcomed and safe, and where they can make new friends who will help them to rebuild their lives in peace.
- In spite of the commercial hype and secular schmaltz which surrounds us, seemingly inescapably, give thanks that the “count down to Christmas” affords us an opportunity to talk about our faith to many who might not listen at any other time of year and ask that we may have the confidence to speak out when we can.
- Give thanks too for those working to make sure that children hear about Jesus as well as Santa: our Junior Church leaders; Jackie Laidlaw (and helpers) working with our Uniformed Groups and with local schools.
A Prayer for Advent
To you O Lord we bring our lives
Troubled, broken or at ease
A sacrificial offering
For you to use.
Take away our selfishness
And teach us to love as you loved.
Take away our sense of pride
And show us the meaning of humility.
Take away our blindness
And show us the world through your eyes.
Take away our greed
And teach us how to give as you gave.
Show us your ways,
Teach us your paths
That we might walk with you more closely;
Our hand in your hand
Our feet in your footsteps
From the baby in a stable
This week, please pray for:
- The people of New Zealand in the aftermath of last Sunday’s earthquake.
- Too many people sleeping rough on our streets as the nights grow dark and cold, a number which has more than doubled in the last five years. Pray that solutions can be found which help those affected - rather than criminalise them using PSPOs
- Members of our church family who are unwell particularly Nancy Smith, Christine Nuttall and Mary Kendall remembering too the families supporting them and giving thanks for the skill and dedication of medical staff caring for them
- To celebrate the courage of independent candidates attempting to stand in China’s elections this week and to pray for their safety and that of those who support them and to pray for people everywhere who risk their lives for freedom and justice and to make their voices heard
- To thank God for those working, at home and abroad, to make life better for children who are suffering through poverty, disease, loss, illness, disability, loneliness, fear - all the myriad causes which can steal childhood from a child, thinking particularly this week of the work of Children in Need.
- On this ‘Women Against Violence Sunday’, pray for all those, of either sex, who live with domestic violence and for the work of agencies such as Refuge which, together with Women’s Aid runs the National Domestic Violence Help Line working to provide refuges and assistance to victims. (www.refuge.org.uk)
- As we approach the beginning of Advent, pray that we will take time amongst all the hype and commercialism and busy-ness to give thanks for what it’s all about: For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given. (Isaiah ch 9 vs 6 - 7)
On this Remembrance Sunday and throughout the coming week:
- Pray for peace in the world, for wisdom for its rulers, strength for those who work for peace, courage for all individuals to stand up for justice, tolerance and kindness
- Pray for all whose lives have been disrupted by war, both civilians and combatants: those who have been injured or disabled, physically or psychologically and their families; those who have lost loved ones; those who have lost their homes; those who have seen and experienced events which have made them lose their faith in God and in humanity
- Pray for healing and reconciliation in the United States as its people try to find their way forward together after such a divisive election campaign, in the hope that those who are disappointed or upset by the result will accept the peaceful transfer of power and work for a united future. Pray for wisdom and guidance for the new administration as it seeks the best solutions for all the people and problems of that divided country
- Pray for the success of a WHO vaccination programme starting on Tuesday trying to reach a million people to avert a threatened cholera epidemic in Haiti.
God of wholeness,
God of Grace,
to you we bring our thanks and praise.
To a world that searches you are a lamp that shines,
to a world that is hungry you are food that sustains,
to a world that suffers you are hope of release,
to a world that’s broken you are one who restores,
to a world full of hate you are love that forgives,
to a world that denies you are truth that endures.
To you we bring our thanks and praise,
God of wholeness,
God of Grace.
This week, please remember:
- The people of America as they elect a new President and Vice-President on Tuesday praying that, whoever wins, he or she may be able to unite the country to work for justice, peace, and a better future for all its peoples without fear or prejudice.
- For refugees and immigrants being moved from camps in France that the future may hold more certainty and security for them, and less fear. Remember particularly children trying to cope alone with what is happening and in need of protection and comfort. Remember too the first families arriving in Cramlington this coming week.
- Members of our church family facing their own ill health, or that of a loved one, thinking particularly of Tom and Nancy Smith.
- To pray for our local community as it tries to balance the preservation of its traditional way of life with the need for new homes; the preservation of its green spaces with the demands of ever-increasing traffic; the desire to retain the individuality of its shopping centre with the need for national chains to increase employment and footfall in the town. Teach us that we may disagree with each other but remain a community working together for the good of all.
- To give thanks for the work in the SENEA area done by ministers - in appointment and supernumerary, lay preachers, stewards, volunteers who clean and make coffee and arrange flowers and shake hands at doors and all the invisible people who work faithfully for the furtherance of God’s kingdom
- To praise God for the beauty of November; for skeletal trees, dark nights with countless stars, the sparkle of the year’s first frosts, the smell of damp leaves and the rustle of dry leaves to kick through, for birds over-wintering and visiting our gardens, for the joy of mushrooms (and toadstools) springing up overnight, for woolly jumpers and cosy socks:
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God” (Gerard Manley Hopkins