Daily Bible readings and Prayer points
Daily meditations by Sam Macdonald on the Lord’s Prayer using extracts on Biblical themes by the late Selwyn Hughes in his booklet, Every Day with Jesus. Prayer points by Ann MacDonald
Continuing with thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer.
Wednesday 1st July
Romans 12:1-2. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices—be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
When we pray the words ‘Thy will be done,’ are we saying that God will banish our ways and prevent us from having our own enjoyments, no, this is due to the error in our hearts of self-centredness. Our lives must be transformed by God, who will overcome our thoughts of self, into an attitude of relying on God’s will. It is clear that Jesus knew how difficult it was going to be, for His followers to pray that God’s will would prevail over their own, and that is why He made sure the phrase was added to His instructing prayer that God’s would be done. Let us make every effort that as we come to present our prayers to our loving Heavenly Father, that we ensure that God’s ways always takes precedence over our own desires and that our prayers will become more acceptable to Him.
Give thanks as we begin a new month that we can see life returning to a new normal after months of enforced lockdown, we thank God that many have selflessly put their lives on hold, staying at home and relieving pressure on the health service. We pray that people will be sensible in the way that they plan what they would like to do, as opposed to what is sensible to do. We pray for those who have to impose rules on those who blatantly travel without thought for the consequences, pray that people would not flock to beauty spots and place locals in danger of infection.
Thursday 2nd July
Psalm 40:8. I desire to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.
When God gives us His Spirit to dwell in our hearts, it enables us to know that God’s will is in our lives, to take precedence over all the things we might wish to happen. When this is the case, we can rejoice that God’s will becomes the goal for which we should be aiming. If we can cultivate acceptance that this attitude is in conformity to everything that happens around us, then the storms of life, as they overtake us all, will find that they are answered by our loving Lord. It is so easy to adopt different attitudes to accepting God’s ways, for so often we think His will might allow our thoughts to say, ‘Your will be done,‘ but at the same time say that we are not too happy having to submit to what God wants us to do, and we want to rebel and do what we would prefer. May we have hearts that will ever give thanks when we can truly accept the phrase, ‘Thy will be done’ and rejoice in doing so.
Give thanks for the wonderful weather we have had in first half of this year and for the peace and time we have been afforded to sit and take time to listen and watch the birds singing, nesting and now feeding and bringing up their young chicks. We pray for the many people who are recovering from illness and surgery that their strength would return and that they would be able to enjoy a greater measure of health. Pray too for those who struggle with long term conditions like Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s and cancer and for those who can often feel weary caring for those they love.
Friday 3rd July
Romans 8: 22. The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth, right up to the present time.
As we view the whole phase, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ we see that Jesus was teaching that His prayer of instruction would help us to pray that God’s will would win over the minds of men, but also would destroy the evil powers of disunity that prevails over all this earth. Paul got it right when he spoke of all creation groaning at all times, but, at the same time we are to pray for the coming of His new Kingdom, when everything will be made perfect. When God made the creation, He pronounced that each part was good, but sin crept in and everything became subject to disease and decay, nevertheless it pleases us that God has promised that in His new Kingdom, everything will be returned to the standard of His original perfection, No wonder Jesus told His disciples to pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom to be ‘as it is in heaven.’
Give thanks for those who dealt with addictions and have managed, up until today, to resist the temptation which will ultimately destroy them. We need to acknowledge organisations who have kept supporting people through difficult days. Pray for those who are still in the vicious cycle of addiction that they would find the courage to reach out and make the first move to break the hold on whatever imprisons their day to day lives. Pray that God’s people would be given the insight and compassion to extend God’s love and assistance to souls like these in need.
Saturday 4th July
Philippians 2:13. It is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose.
There is coming a day when the will of God is to be freed from the effects of sin, and for that day we must ever be in fervent prayer. It is clear from this first sentence, that we should always have in mind the more we pray, the more quickly God’s purposes for the improvement in this earth will be achieved. The question is what is our commitment to furthering God’s purpose? Do we promote or hinder the progress of His plans? We should remember that one day, (which may be near or distant) the earth will be populated by those who work for their Lord alone and do so with great rejoicing. When God brought man to dwell on the earth, His purpose was that we would praise Him and honour Him. Sin has spoilt this great plan; however, we can take confidence that having destroyed all His enemies our Lord will return and His Kingdom will be restored.
Give thanks that even though we haven’t been able to meet as a congregation, the work and love of the East Church people has continued in simple phone calls, shopping deliveries, sewing wash bags for Carers and prayer meetings on Zoom and the Easties group on WhatsApp. We pray that the preaching delivered during lockdown on websites, and YouTube would bring people to search for God who provides the only way for the emptiness in lives to be filled. Pray earnestly that God would use the time when Covid-19 has been uppermost in many minds to turn our sin torn world around and that Churches would be ready to welcome and pastor new Christians.
Sunday 5th July
1 Timothy 2:1. I urge then, first of all, that prayers, thanksgiving, and intercession be made for everyone.
We come now to another section of the Lord’s Prayer. The first main division focussed on God’s dealings and plans, ensuring that God takes first place in our thoughts, while this next part focusses on our spiritual and physical needs. So, the next phrase ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ is the first mention in the Lord’s prayer of our physical needs. Though many in affluent areas of the world view this phrase as inappropriate because they live in plenty, millions of others across this earth wonder where they might get their next mouthful. In lands which have plenty, we overeat, while many others face starvation. Should we not take heed of those who plead that we care for the resources which God has given us and think of those in need by giving to charities who help them and always be in prayer for those in need.
Give thanks for the older people in our congregation who witness to us all day by day in their faithful walk with God. Let us be grateful for their wisdom and tenacity in facing so many difficult situations in life and rejoice in the example they have set. We pray that as these dear folk get older, that they would be cared for by family and by their church family and we pray that many will be encouraged by them to keep on keeping on. We pray that today we would be motivated to help someone with a visit, if possible, or phone call, go and get shopping for them, or just let them know that they matter and we care. Pray especially for those in hospitals, homes, and the hospice unable to hold the hand of a beloved one, Lord be their very near comfort.
Monday 6th July
Philippians 4:6. Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Jesus said that people should ask each day for their food because when we say these words in sincerity, we are reminded to show gratitude for the provision that God has given us from the bounties of His creation. May this feeling of gratitude be always with us, as we experience living under the guidance of our bountiful God, and we can trust that our needs are known by God before we ask Him. We may therefore wonder what is the purpose of praying a list of what we would like, therefore we must understand that prayer is not to be our shopping list to God, but it is rendered to continually be reminded of our attitude towards God. It is quite evident that if offering prayer becomes spasmodic, a spirit of independence will develop in our minds and we will lose our close contact with God and the joy we feel when we worship Him.
Give thanks for so many people in our church family who are willing to share their talents to serve their Lord and Master. We must give recognition and appreciation for Sheila our church secretary who has been working from home, and alone in the church in order to keep business going, producing the Easterly and coordinating delivery and pick up of pillowcase wash bags for Carers to name just a couple of things. We pray too for Donald our Session Clerk that he would be sustained in the responsibilities associated with providing ‘pulpit supply’ in our vacancy. We pray Lord for everyone who has done their bit during the pandemic to help and protect people who are working to keep things going in the health service and supply services.
Tuesday 7th July
Psalm 92:5 How great are Your works, O Lord, how profound Your thoughts!
We pray because we have need to tell God about our circumstances, so when we forget to pray to ask for our food and offer our worship to God, we will lose our contact with Him and we will begin to take the blessings we receive for granted. The result will be that gradually we will come to think that we can satisfy all our needs, without the help of God. It must be constantly on our minds that all we have comes from our Lord. When anyone receives a gift, it shows good manners when they reply to thank the giver, so when God supplies our every need, He requires our thanks and what better way to do so than in daily prayer. Let us never lose contact with our loving God who has provided this great creation for us to dwell in, and although sin came to separate us, He had already devised His wonderful redemptive plan to defeat His enemy Satan on the cross at Calvary.
Give thanks for Jesus, for all that He did for humanity and in obedience to His Father’s plan for mankind. Today let us concentrate our thoughts on the amazing mystery of His coming to earth as a baby, His ministry, His compassion towards the poor, sick, and unacceptable in His society, and his cruel, unjust death on a Roman cross, but let us rejoice that the story doesn’t end there, He rose, defeating death and hell and He is coming back. Pray that we will live our lives each day awaiting His second coming and living lives worthy of the sacrifice He paid for our sins.
Wednesday 8th July
Psalm 37:19. In times of disaster they will not wither, in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
The act of communicating with God means that our needs are truly satisfied, and it is greatly encouraging to realise that we have been in touch with the Lord of the whole creation, who is infinitely Holy, yet He cares for all our needs and will deal with anything that concerns us. We are told that if ‘we seek first the Kingdom of God; all other things will be added to us.’ This is the basis of coming before God in earnest prayer, and if we speak to God believing that He will care for our physical needs, then we will be in good shape when days of flood or famine come, confident that the God who loves us has everything under control. This is why we should have no fear for the future, for however man may poorly manage the earth’s resources, we can be sure He will provide for all our needs, according to His promise that He will not forsake us.
Give thanks for the wonderful achievements made in science and technology. Today, if we can hear properly we need to be grateful for that sense, but we are so blessed to have hearing services to help with hearing aids as hearing fades with age. If you look on YouTube there are tear jerking clips of people hearing their loved ones voices for the first time after being fitted with cochlear implants or hearing aids. It will probably bring a tear to your eye. Pray today for those who are awaiting surgery to improve their quality of life or relieve pain, grant them patience and calm as the time for procedures and operations comes around.
Thursday 9th July
Genesis 1: 29. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
In giving thanks to God for supplying our daily food, it must be understood that everything we have and all we own is sent by Him. Let us consider what a wonderful way creation has been formed by God, for it was done in perfect order. First, from the empty earth He separated light and darkness, then sky from darkness, followed by sea from land with plants to grow on the land, sun and moon to give light, creatures to inhabit the seas and the sky. Now all was ready for the countless variety of animals which would feed on the plants provided, and lastly man was formed to rule over all that had been made and to be the Creator’s companion. His great plan was ruined by Satan, who used his evil plot by persuading Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit and so sin entered the world. What a blessing that our God had a redemptive plan which has defeated the power of Satan and offered us true salvation.
Give thanks for answered prayers. Prayers that a long prayed over person has at last come to know their Saviour, prayers that a situation that looked dark and foreboding is turned around and things improve more than expected. Today let us concentrate a prayer on one person or situation which is close to our hearts asking that God would hear our prayer and answer it according to his will and plan for everything. Help us to accept His answer even when it appears that it is not the response we requested.
Friday 10th July
James 1:17. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Heavenly lights.
It is astonishing when we think of the capability that God requires to supply the needs of all the world from His bounteous storehouses but the difficulty is not that the earth is unable to supply enough food to feed all its people, but the distribution has been poorly arranged. Mrs Indira Gandhi said, when she was prime minister of India, that the country had enough food to supply the entire population using only a third of what was available and have the rest available for export, and yet in India thousands were dying every year. How wrong it is to hear people blame God for allowing millions of people to die of starvation every year, while tons of food are put to waste dumps because too much is produced, or the excess is not arranged to go to areas where there is need. May an answer be found in the hearts of leaders of countries all over the world for this problem to be solved.
Give thanks when brothers live together in unity. As we become a more diverse society there is a danger that prejudice and racism will creep into our thoughts and we must be careful to love everyone, no matter their ethnicity, their politics, or their status in society. Lord today we pray for all areas of the world where one race suppresses another. Pray that hearts and minds would be enlightened and that hate for our fellow human would be overcome with love and understanding. Pray that autocratic and ignorant leaders would change their attitudes or be swept out of power.
Saturday 11th July
Psalm 33: 18. The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.
We spend another day considering the bountiful provisions from the Lord by which we are blessed. Many philosophers and politicians will tell us that the world’s problems are physical and can be solved by human means, while those who know God will understand that our problems are spiritual. If people would seek the Lord as their Saviour, they would get wisdom from God, on how to use the earth’s resources correctly. It is obvious that among the advice we would receive, would be our willingness to labour hard to obtain a good harvest. Again we stress, that we must give thanks each day for the gift of food which God has supplied for us, and since so many people in this evil world never utter a word of thanks, let us be sure that we never miss one day. Now when we recite the words ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ may we realise just how true these words are.
Give thanks for preachers and teachers who continue to deliver God’s Word in its entirety, and we in the East must be grateful that this has been our heritage over the years and up until the present day. Lord we pray that You would convict those who have departed from the teaching of Holy Scripture, that they would repent and turn again to spreading the Good News to all people and all nations. We pray for our national Church, and those who lead it would reconnect with its aim of winning hearts for Christ. We pray that God would lead the planned reorganisation of church headquarters and presbyteries ensuring that resources are used efficiently and the church can advance as a streamlined God driven body.
Sunday 12th July
Psalm 32: 1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven; whose sins are covered.
Let us consider the words of the phrase which follows, ‘And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’. You may have noted that this time, I have used the word trespass instead of debt, this is because trespass is nearer to ‘sin against’, than debt which in these days has links to money. Whichever word is used it is a plea that we forgive our neighbours when they do wrong against us, just as we would hope that they would show us no ill when we did something wrong to them. We give thanks for this wise advice which Jesus has included in His Lord’s Prayer, and may our prayers follow His wise thoughts. and may we expand on His advice while preparing our prayers that they would be effective. In this world which full of evil, may our lives follow the pattern which has been given us so that will be drawn nearer to you.
Give thanks that for the majority of us were able to endure lockdown with relative ease and that it allowed many to slow down, rest and relax more, work from home, and enjoy exercise in lovely weather. We pray on for those who are still suffering from Coronavirus, for those who are anxious about their loved ones, for those who are still shielding due to their own health situation, for those traumatised by abuse suffered but having to stay in a dangerous household, for those whose hearts are sore due to the death of a dear one, and for those who have been preyed upon by devious paedophiles who used this time to hunt down innocent children and young people.
Monday 13th July
Psalm 51: 10 and 14. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Then my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.
Today we ask a simple question, which we will face as we go through life. Some may say that our greatest problem is poverty, some illness, and others fear of the future, but it has been reported that the worst inward worry we face is guilt. When we are bound down by a sense of guilt, only God is able to set us free, for it certain that no one can live comfortably with a burden of guilt. In times gone by, preachers would make sure that they emphasised that only God could release guilty sinners from the burden of their sin, but sadly nowadays that message is not welcomed although it may be proclaimed from many pulpits, it is not counted acceptable to modern thinking, but if we are to be sure of entering God’s Kingdom, we must accept His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. Don’t let us allow Satan to get away with his evil ways.
Give thanks for those who have shown courage and positive leadership of their counties during the Covid-19 crisis, those who have put the needs of the people above their own propaganda and public perceptions. We are grateful also to those of the medical profession who have been able to communicate the facts clearly over the weeks and months and for those who have employed their organisational skills to establish sufficient ICU beds and testing centres. We pray that the source of this pandemic would be discovered so that a similar outbreak can be prevented in the future and we pray that those working on identifying the characteristics of the virus, its means of infecting some people causing catastrophic disease whilst others remain symptom free would be blessed by God.
Tuesday 14th July
Romans 3:25. In His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished to demonstrate His justice.
We will continue to think about the problem of our lives being burdened by guilt, what we can do about it and also what we must avoid. It is fairly clear that we must realise first where our guilt comes from, does it arise from our disobedience to the ways of God or from wasting our time with things which are worldly. If it is the former we must confess our wrong doing to God and plead for His mercy to forgive us, but if is the latter the only way available is to recognise our wrong, give up the activity which has drawn us into evil ways and beg pardon from our merciful God. Many psychiatrists will try to convince us that we should think of guilt as being dangerous to one’s personality and therefore we should eliminate it by thinking that no harm will come from it. Let us be sure that we don’t wander into such thoughts which draw us away from God’s teaching.
Give thanks for all the ways that we glean news of events happening worldwide on a minute by minute basis. We pray for all journalists that they would be guided by the truth and not by sensationalism. We ask that the ‘media fever,’ which has become so prevalent during the pandemic, and Brexit in recent days would be replaced with a zeal to publish the facts and that the power of the press would no longer be able to make or break the health or career of anybody, layman or celebrity. We especially pray for Christians working in this profession that they would be protected from discrimination and given the courage to declare what is right and true using whatever media platform they work on.
Wednesday 15th July
Luke 12:2. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known.
Our text for today tells us that we cannot get away with guilt, it cannot be hidden and only the blood of Jesus can erase it from our souls. How full of gratitude we should be, when we confess our guilt to our loving Lord, and know with certainty that all is forgiven, and this is done in an instant. Remember that Jesus said, ‘Ask and it shall be given you,’ and so relying on that promise and in faith, we must not delay in our asking, and it will genuinely surprise us what our Lord can do. If, in our hearts we can build up a strong belief that any troubles or cares we have, are able to be made right when we give their solution to God, then our lives will be at peace because our troubles have passed into His care. Without this God- given peace our lives become consumed by the guilt within, like Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare being unable to clean the blood from her hands.
Give thanks for people who have volunteered over the last few months to help those who are shielding, those on furlough who have delivered food, collecting, and delivering prescriptions, or changed the way that they work rather than making staff redundant. Today we pray for the many charities who have suffered catastrophic loss of funds when events like the London Marathon have been cancelled. Help us to be mindful of the charities which we would normally support so that we would seek up to date information on any appeals they are asking support for, and prayerfully consider what we can do to help those who are struggling at this time.
Thursday 16th July
Luke 23:34. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’
Let us think for some time on the subject of God’s forgiveness, for as Jesus prayed, while in agony on the Cross, for those who were crucifying Him, that they would receive full forgiveness from His heavenly Father, so must we be willing to forgive those who do us wrong. Paul in Ephesians 1: 7 tells us that ‘In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, by God’s Grace’ and it is by this Grace that we become worthy to be saved. It is the gift from God for all who honestly believe and for which we have nothing to pay except to offer praise for His wonderful goodness. May we ever be ready to forgive when someone has offended us, for if we fail to do so, we will break the link between God and our commitment to always follow His ways. This forgiving feeling helps to develop the peace our hearts yearn for as we feed on His word.
Give thanks today for the faithful witness of Shaun and Ryan MacDonald who, for 66 days faithfully played their pipes and drum tunes in response to a lockdown challenge. Their marathon performance is available on YouTube. Search for ‘Pipe & Drum lockdown’ to watch a wonderful selection of traditional and modern tunes and brilliant praise items for every Sunday during lockdown. Pray for all our young people as they complete their school and university year in such a weird way and without formal exams and celebrations before the normal summer break. Lord we ask that You calm all their fears regarding the next steps in further education and career prospects.
Friday 17th July
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
There are many things we should avoid if our aim is to be like Jesus and here are a few of them. Bitterness in the way we deal with those around us, for it brings us to think of them with anger in our hearts. We must refrain from brooding in our minds over insults received, for it will cause us to react with bad temper. How better do we feel when we do our best to adopt the opposite attitudes, and we care for those in need, or we view our neighbours with kindness and accept those we meet at work or during leisure periods with the same gentleness. We should stop shouting at one another and develop quietness in our voice so we become more like Jesus who should be our pattern in the way we live. Let us always strive to forgive because Jesus has fully forgiven us by his atoning work of salvation and He has given us in the Lord’s Prayer the same advice, ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who sin against us.’
Give thanks for those who hold office in the Church in the Kirk Session and Deacons’ Court who have attempted to keep everything ticking over in the time when we have been unable to meet for public worship. We need to acknowledge those who have set up and conducted online meetings so that church business and the work of the nominating committee and the local church review (LCR) have been able to continue and enabled the LCR paperwork to be completed and signed off by Presbytery. Pray that there will be a way for us to meet again safely in the church building as no amount of technology can replace the family of God gathering in true worship of our Lord and Saviour.
Saturday 18th July
Genesis 41:51. Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, it is because God has made me forget all my troubles.
Joseph had, with God’s help, developed a calmness of spirit so that he had no bitterness for the evil done to him by his brothers and others and again God guided his future to full authority over the running of the whole country of Egypt. What an example this shows to us when we are considering which way we might take in the future, and it is certain we must ask that God will show us the route we should follow. We must adopt the ability to fully forgive, whoever or whatever has hurt us for no matter how we feel, never forget that God has totally forgiven us when we commit sin and He has declared in Matthew 6:15, ‘But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins’, so those who say that they forgive but cannot forget what someone has done, is not obeying the way of God.
Give thanks for the beautiful part of Scotland we live in and for how easy it is normally to be in the midst of God’s created grandeur. Perhaps at this quiet time we can really appreciate the clarity of the air, the scents in our gardens and countryside, and animals venturing into areas where they wouldn’t normally be due to the lack of traffic noise. Continue to pray for the national health service (NHS) as the emphasis on treating virus victims is replaced with a return to dealing with elective surgery lists whilst still being ‘on call’ should there be a recurrence of Coronavirus. Help us all to adjust to restrictions which may become our new normal.
Sunday 19th July
James 1:13 God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.
It is time now to move on to the next section of the Lord’s prayer namely, ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’, and by using these words, Jesus asks that we should pray that our spirits would be protected when evil is near and is leading us astray. We are told that when we are tempted, we should treat the experience as a stepping- stone rather than a stumbling block. It is only how we deal with trials and temptations that we will come to know our strengths or our weaknesses, for we will come to know which is the right or the wrong way. By choosing the right way we will be become more like Jesus, who defeated His enemy Satan when He was tempted in the desert. We are assured that every one of us will receive temptation as we go through life and it is a measure of how we cope with it that shows us our strength.
Give thanks for those who have had additions to their families over the last few months, a new baby is always a joy to parents but there would have been extra stress regarding the delivery with the restrictions that the virus and lockdown produced. We pray for all families who have not as yet been able to meet and cuddle their grandchild for example and ask that the hurt and longing that scenario has created would make the first introductions even more memorable. Pray also for families who have lost parents and grandparents before they were able to see these precious children.
Monday 20th July
Matthew 26:41. Watch and pray so that you will fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
Here we are asked to pray that we will receive help from God to save us when we are tempted. Yet in the previous meditation we are told to treat temptation as a stepping- stone on our progress through life. Why then should we ask God to help us deal with temptation which is able to do us good? If we are successful in the way we deal with whatever is tempting us, it will build up our spiritual strength. The answer to this question may be that Jesus was speaking about temptation which we cannot recognise, for evils which we know about can be resisted. There is one thing which is sure, we will be stronger in dealing with a temptation if we have firmly resisted it when we have encountered it for the first time. Let us always be on guard to recognise when we are being tempted, and deal with it by power and spiritual strength from God.
Give thanks for people who have found their ‘life partner’ and whose marriages, and their mutual friendship has withstood the passage of time, despite many rough times and heart breaking situations they have been able to support each other to get through stronger than before. Pray for many for whom a happy marriage has not been to outcome they longed for. For many where divorce has turned their lives upside down, we ask that God would bind up their broken hearts and lives and prevent bitterness from clouding their feelings and beliefs. Pray too for single people as they journey through life dealing with everything by themselves that they would draw ever closer to the ‘friend’ who promises to never leave or forsake them.
Tuesday 21st July
1 Corinthians 10:13. God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
We are still thinking on the different ways we can decide on how we interpret the phrase ‘Lead us not into temptation’. The earlier meaning dealt with our protection from the powers of evil, while now we are told to ask for help when we encounter temptation of any kind. What a blessing is ours, to read in our text for today, that God will not permit us to be tempted beyond our ability to successfully deal with it. So, let us commit our ways to the Lord and we will be able to have our paths directed by Him, and will not have to deal with temptations we are not able to bear. It is a blessing to know that all who firmly believe in our Lord and the provision He has secured for us on the cross, are able to ask for His guidance and are assured that He will show us the way that is right, even as we are worried by the present coronavirus.
Give thanks for the East Church building, in the heart of the city, may we have the people of the city in our hearts. We rejoice in the faithful history of evangelical preaching from the time the church was established on its site. Lord we solemnly pray that You would guide us forward. There are many changes in the city, new buildings, alterations to streets and traffic planned and we ask that You would grant us wisdom to discern the best way to serve as a body of Your people. Help us to remember the many transformations and schisms the East has undergone in the past and rely totally on You for help, direction, and leadership.
Wednesday 22nd July
Hebrews 2:18. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
This is another view of how we might look into the phrase, ‘Lead us not into temptation’ as it is a natural reaction when we are faced with imminent danger is to seek escape, or at least have someone to be close to us in the time of trial. Let us look how our dear Lord Jesus’s dealt with the horrors He knew were fast approaching in the Garden of Gethsemane, for He prayed ‘May this cup be taken from me but not my will but yours be done’, for He knew that only by going to the cross would full redemption be won for God’s people. We are glad that in this study, we have been able to view all aspects of the statement, ‘Lead us not into temptation’ which Jesus included in the Lord’s Prayer. One is that we will be delivered when we are tempted, two that we seek spiritual help to recognise when temptation comes our way and lastly that when we face danger, we admit our human weakness and cry to the Lord for His guidance.
Give thanks for those who have been in dark places struggling with depression and anxiety and who have been raised out of the ‘mud and mire’ that has trapped them. Help us to be especially understanding of this awful disease and never use phrases like, ‘snap out of it,’ or ‘O, get on with life,’ would we say that to someone with a plaster cast on their leg? We pray today for MIND the charity which aims to support those with mental illness. Lockdown has had a major impact on mental health and MIND has been supporting more people than ever. Pray that they will receive the extra contributions they require to operate the Info life phone service to support in every local area.
Thursday 23rd July
Hebrews 4:15. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses.
Our high priest of course is Jesus, for by his atoning sacrifice He replaced the old covenant with a new one, so that the daily sacrifice of animals was no longer required. By the shedding of His blood once on the cross He rendered the old position of the high priest surplus to requirements, but took over that duty in His new covenant. It is obvious that Jesus gave us a framework in the Lord’s Prayer that when we are tempted, no matter how well we are able to handle the situation, we will be stronger when we have asked our God for His help, just like we are glad when a good wise friend is close by when we need help to solve a problem. Also, if we bottle up our fears that we won’t be able to handle the difficulty of any temptation, it will develop feelings of weakness in our ability to handle life in general. That is why we are urged to pray without ceasing.
Give thanks that God’s work in spreading His Work isn’t stopped by anything and that missionaries remain true to their calling often in extremely difficult circumstances. We ask for their protection and encouragement when things get tough and especially in areas where Covid-19 and many other deadly diseases are rife. We continue to pray (as the Easties have been) for the Mogogosiek baby home in Kenya established by Katie MacKinnon. The current manager Priscillah plans to retire in January 2021 and the home will require a dedicated person or team to continue the amazing work of caring for these precious little children.
Friday 24th July
Psalm 42: 5. Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
In thinking about how our minds view the feelings which rise within us, when we are tempted or are enticed by evil, we must acknowledge that they are present. If we deny that we have been bothered by them they will fester in our minds, but if we acknowledge that they are present, we rob them of any power to upset our emotional state. When we accept our mental anguish, we then have to release thoughts and fears to God knowing that He has the power to dispel our anxiety and is willing to deal with all that brings us concern. How we should rejoice when we say these words of prayer that Jesus left us, because He recognised that we would have fears and doubts but that He has the power to calm our feelings of dread. When we read the text for today, we can answer that we really have no need to be downcast, since God is always available and we can call on Him for help and guidance.
Give thanks for how easily we can obtain food to eat even in recent times. The simple task of going to the local shop or supermarket became a bit more of a challenge but apart from notable selfish actions, there was plenty to eat and we are thankful that people shopped for neighbours and elderly who couldn’t go out, and for online shopping, we have so much! Lord forgive us if we waste food or worse still discard it because it is ‘past its best before.’ We pray for the work of The Trussell Trust and many other organisations who look after foodbanks, pray that they would receive sufficient donations to be able to meet the increased demands by people who have been made redundant following the pandemic. Ask that those having to use the foodbanks wouldn’t feel stigmatised and pray that, in time, employment levels will return to normal.
Saturday 25th July
Romans 12: 9. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
We will now think about the phrase ‘Deliver us from evil’ which is joined to ‘Lead us not into temptation’ and note that it does not identify what evil, for Jesus viewed all kinds of evil as being evil, to Him good was never evil and evil was never good. It is said that non-Christians discover how to live without the fear of God and are satisfied follow a life of their own choosing. Some however will find an emptiness in their souls, filled only when they turn to seek the Lord and discover that the evil which they considered good was in fact abhorrent to God’s ways, and found that in Christ they had someone to turn to, when trials and troubles came into their lives, and, praise be, they joined the brotherhood of believers. So, let us decide to avoid all kinds of evil and follow the prayer which Jesus left us that we would not be tempted by evil but that we would be delivered from it.
Give thanks for our homes, for a comfortable bed, facilities to wash etc, take a moment to look around all we have and acknowledge before God that we have all we need, and more. We pray for those who are homeless but who have been given accommodation during lockdown and are now looking at perhaps being evicted back onto the streets. We also remember those whose circumstances have been altered recently when lack of wages has meant inability to pay rent, and homelessness is the consequence. Pray for Crisis UK who at the moment are dealing with people recovering from Covid-19 or who have lost their homes ensuring that they obtain all the essentials for good personal hygiene and mobile phones to contact the NHS if they become unwell.
Sunday 26th July
Revelation 11:15. The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.
We come now to the final section of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, forever. Amen.’ Note that as the prayer began with giving Glory to our God, it ends with a repetition of praise to the same God who rules over all that has been created. How it gladdens our hearts, that even in these days of anxiety, we can rejoice that our minds have hope when we pray to God. There are so many aspects of life that war against God’s ways, such as greed, poverty, hunger, unemployment, drink, drugs etc, but we know that, He who reigns over all, is in control and that the list of evils will one day be destroyed when God will establish his Kingdom, so we pray for that day when Jesus will come again and we meet Him in that land where sorrow and crying are no more and we will dwell with our Lord forever.
Give thanks for our families, for those who look after us, or who we look after. Help us to appreciate our extended set of relations complete with all their idiosyncrasies! Over the last long time we have been denied the basics of meeting and greeting each other with even a handshake, let alone a hug and kiss. Lord today we pray for families who try to sustain normal life when someone is missing, folk like the McCann family always wondering what happened to their daughter Maddie and many other families in similar circumstances. We pray too for families where someone has left or run away that both parties would be reunited or brought back in touch if that is appropriate.
Monday 27th July
2 Thessalonians 2:8. The lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow and destroy by the splendour of His coming.
As we think on these last words which Jesus called on his followers to use when proclaiming the Lord’s Prayer, we must keep in our minds that anything that is contrary to God’s ways is certain to be rejected. Jesus showed this, for as He was tempted by His enemy Satan in the desert, He used excerpts from Holy Scripture to refute each approach. We declared in our thoughts yesterday, that despite the ways we see that most people have sought to ignore the ways of God, our Lord is in ultimate control of the affairs of the world. We believe that the kingdoms which do not follow God’s ways will fail, for as we hear in Philippians 2: 10, 11 ‘At the name of Jesus knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father’. How we long for that great day when we can declare, Our God reigns.
Give thanks for the many parents who have stepped up and taken on the role of teacher as schools were closed during lockdown. Juggling working from home, the responsibility of running a house and all the tasks that entails, and dealing with the needs of children whilst keeping their education going is no mean challenge. We pray for the new normal which will evolve from this crisis which may allow parents to be a greater part of their child’s learning process as employers review just how little time employees actually require to travel to the city to work in offices etc. Today we pray for children with special needs like autism who struggle with variations to their routine, asking that facilities would be available to provide the regularity that makes life bearable for the child and parents.
Tuesday 28th July.
Romans 11: 36. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the Glory for ever, Amen.
Let us have courage to declare that God reigns, especially when we are in the company of the modern society, and so many of the worlds’ ways call to be altered to ways acceptable to God, for we must not fail to fight against the evil ways which have been allowed to develop in recent times. As this time of isolation has come upon us let us pray, that as we see a marked rise in prayers being offered, it might grow into a time of revival and when this time is over, our country will have developed better morals and many more will seek their Lord. It is certain that many people spend their time of contemplation waiting for God to come to them, when all the time God is waiting for us to come and worship Him and accept the truth that He reigns over all creation, even as we moan that all the earth has turned away from Him.
Give thanks that the finances of the church remain in credit despite the fact that we have been unable to hold services and prayer meetings where offerings are normally uplifted. We are grateful to God for the way that He has sustained us and prompted many people to continue to contribute. We pray for those in our country whose financial world has been turned upside down because of lockdown which has resulted in furlough or redundancies. Many people who thought that they wouldn’t ever have money worries find that the bottom has fallen out of their world. We ask that this would be a time when God would be working in lives to reveal that we have to rely on Him only and that nothing in this world can fill the hole in our lives but Him.
Wednesday 29th July
Psalm 93:1. The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; and He is armed with strength.
Although we are waiting for the second coming of Jesus who is King over all, we must recognise that He is reigning even now, so we can declare with certainty, ‘Our God reigns’. We do not have to have to wait for the second coming of Jesus, when Jesus will be crowned King, as God has said He wants to reign now through all who believe in Him. So, may we continue to serve Him, worship Him and be loyal to all that He has taught us in Holy Scripture, and keep us earnest in prayer during this time when we are kept apart from our friends, family and neighbours and help us to keep in touch those who lack contact to get things they need. The increase in care for our neighbours and the willingness of people to volunteer to see that those in need are not forgotten, is surely a sign that God has aroused people out of their previous greedy and thoughtless ways.
Give thanks for those who are seeking God all over the world, for those who are abandoning false gods and religions and finding Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Pray that they would have the Word of God available to them and we give thanks for the Bible Society and other organisations seeking to supply this Bibles in the correct language. Lord today we bring before You those in positions of authority in Church of Scotland Headquarters that they would make Bible based decisions that will allow the church to progress as a credible organisation. Help them to realise, as many organisations have learned during lockdown, that much of the administrative work and meetings do not require expensive buildings and endless committees.
Thursday 30th July.
Psalm 96: 9 &10. Worship the Lord in the splendour of His Holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth, say among the nations, the Lord reigns.
We are to proclaim by our actions, how we live and how we talk about God, that we genuinely believe that God, in three persons, reigns in His Kingdom with power and Glory now and at all times. We must tell our neighbours, our friends and all that we can contact, that the God is King and will remain so for all eternity. Let us always show how much we love Him by following His ways and bringing things that trouble us to the Lord, since we are convinced that He is able to guide us through all these difficulties. Having carefully considered each part of the Lord’s Prayer, it is clear that we must come in a spirit of trust in our God and when we sing the words of the great hymn by Isaac Watts, ( MP379 ) which contain the words,’ Blessings abound where’re He reigns’ we may declare our total belief and reliance on God who is over all.
Give thanks for the work of the Red Cross which at the moment has been partnered with the National Emergencies Trust (NET) in order to distribute donated funds to local charities and grassroots organisations where they can provide vital support to those who were or are affected by the pandemic. Pray for the NHS C19 appeal. The NHS as an organisation cannot accept charity monies but this appeal allows funds to be collected to support staff and volunteers by providing ‘wellbeing packs,’ helping with travel and parking costs, and in some cases providing accommodation for NHS staff to protect their families at home.
Friday 31st July
Ephesians 4: 22-24 You were taught to put off your old self, and put on the new self, and be created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
This is our last day of looking at prayer as it is presented by the Lord’s Prayer. When prayer is presented to God, we must be sure it flows from hearts which are committed to God. Let us gather our thoughts on how we might be tempted to compare our views, in ways so different from the Lord’s Prayer, and as they were written by an unknown author. ‘We cannot say ‘ our’ if we only think of ourselves, we cannot address God as ‘Father’ unless we obey Him as children , we should not say ‘ who art in Heaven’ if we have not laboured to gather our treasures there, we cannot ask that your Name ‘would be hallowed’ without making efforts to be Holy. We may not utter the words ‘Thy Kingdom come’ if we do not do all in our power to hasten that day, we cannot ask for ‘Our daily bread’ if we do not work for it, we are not to say ‘Forgive us our debts’ if we hold a grudge against someone, nor can we plead that ‘we will not be led into temptation and delivered from evil’ without our making every effort to evade those things. The full purpose of prayer is to give God all honour, and He will guide us in return.
Give thanks that we have been brought to the end of July despite restrictions, isolation, fears, and for some worry, sorrow, and hardship. Father God we rejoice that we can trust all things to You for You are good and You do good. There is nothing that we face or experience that Jesus has not faced during His earthly pilgrimage and we give thanks that we can bring all our burdens to Him. Teach us Lord to be faithful to You through this time of global crisis and so to witness to others of Your life changing love for all sinners. Equip us Lord with all we need to be about Your business every day that you afford us on this planet, but we long for the day when we can be triumphant in Your presence for eternity. We pray all things in Jesus Name, Amen.