October Prayer Thought from Wendy
Counselling is a word which we frequently hear in our everyday speech, or in broadcasts on the media. A few years ago an article appeared in The Guardian Newspaper reporting that 1 in 5 people consulted a counsellor. How that figure has increased with the advent of the Covid 19 pandemic. The virus is having an emotional, physical, mental and financial impact on so many, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. The NHS provides a counselling service, as do many other voluntary organisations, like The Samaritans, NSPCC, Mind, Relate, Victim Support, Cruse, to name but a few.
Trained counsellors listen quietly and attentively. They help people to evaluate, and deal with their situations and conditions. Their clients may be suffering from past traumas, like members of the military services who may have post-traumatic stress as they remain in service, or in retirement. Many fire-fighters required counselling after the Grenfell Tower disaster, as did its residents. It has been the same for many in the wake of the Manchester Arena Bombing. These are exceptional events, but people also need help in dealing with circumstances arising from daily living. Lawyers often receive counselling when dealing with cases which involve distressing circumstances. It is available for pupils, in schools, colleges and universities, when they become anxious or depressed. In fact the service is more widespread than we imagine.
Christians have an inestimable treasure in Jesus, whom the prophet Isaiah foretold, would bear from birth, the Name WONDERFUL COUNSELLOR. The word ‘wonderful’ in the Oxford Dictionary is described as; full of wonder, such as to excite wonder or astonishment, marvellous. The Hebrew word is used in the sense of being mind boggling, beyond human explanation, a miracle. David uses the same word in Psalm 136:6 when he speaks of God’s knowledge of him. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is so high that I cannot attain it.” The Message simply reads “This is too wonderful – I can’t take all this in.” The One beyond words is Jesus. He, Himself is the wonder! The Oxford Dictionary describes ‘counsellor’ as the one who counsels or an advisor. The Hebrew word implies, to advise, to reflectively deliberate or resolve, to guide. It has the added sense that the instruction or guidance offered is from one who has authority. That power was invested in kings, who were divinely appointed by God. They gave counsel to the people. King Solomon was even approached by people from many other nations, when they heard about his wisdom. 1 Kings 4:34.
When we pray, we are doing so before Jesus who is a wonder of a counsellor. This means we can be sure He is all ready to listen. He has our interest at heart, because He loves us. “We love because he first loved us.” 1John4:19. He is filled with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, just as Isaiah proclaimed he would be. Luke affirms this by noting that “The child grew, and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favour of God was upon him.” 2:40. Jesus is able to give us help, guidance and deliverance through His perfect wisdom. He is not remote. He journeys with us, and listens with compassion to all our fears, hurts, anger, and complaining. When we pray, we don’t need to hold anything back, for He already knows what we struggle with; the depth of our souls, the emotions of our hearts, the questionings and confusion in our minds. John writes, “He knows what is in man.” 2:25. He saw the faith of the 4 friends who brought their paralysed friend for healing. Matthew 9:2. He was aware of Martha’s anxiety, as well as the hurt she was feeling as she busily prepared the meal. Luke10:38. Jesus understood people so well. He accurately predicted Peter’s denial. Mark 14:26.
Not only does Jesus know us and listen to us, He is able to guide us. We are not left alone to solve our predicament. Scripture wisely advocates, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your insight. In all tour ways acknowledge him, and he will make smooth your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6. God knows the way things should go for us.
Never be afraid to turn to Jesus in prayer. He is “the wisdom of God” 1 Cor:1:24, a most Wonderful Counsellor.
Wendy’s November Prayer Thoughts
God who created us in His image is ever present with us. He intended us to experience His nearness, for we read how Adam and Eve heard the sound of His walking in the garden “in the cool of the day,” and they tried to hide from Him because of their guilt. .Genesis 3:8. In Leviticus 26:11 He stated, “I will also walk among you, and be your God.” God is with us, not at a social distance, but beside us, each moment. He talks with us and we can talk with Him. I grasped the wonder of this in a new way, as I began a walk on one of our sign posted foot paths. Little did I realise it would be a prayer walk. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, and I was soon treading on a path across a cornfield, which had already been harvested. Only the stubble remained. I stopped to take in the scenery. A red tractor was at work in the distance. The hills looked medium blue in the distance. A stone farmhouse stood sentinel, tall trees beside it. I took in a deep breath, and then uttered words of praise. “How awesome You are God.” Nature was crying out that God exists! ” You are such a mighty Creator. Thank You for giving me eyes to behold such beauty.” The first camera click!
It was time to move on and open the gate leading to a lane, rutted by vehicles going to and from the farm. That afternoon there were only a few muddy patches to negotiate. It was not long before I stopped again. What could be more idyllic? Sheep were leisurely grazing, the grass so lush and green. A camera click captured the scene focussed between an oak tree and an ash tree. It was so peaceful and restful. “Thank You Lord for the peace I have in You, for that ‘peace that passes all understanding’.” Philippians 4:7. “Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen; bright skies will soon be o’er me, where the dark clouds have been. My hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free, my Saviour has my treasure and He will walk with me.” A. L Waring.
Only a few yards further, and the Lord spoke to me again. I had turned my gaze to the opposite side of the lane to spot two sheep on a near mound. One was lying down, the other was standing, seemingly keeping guard. It was guarding the other sheep from any danger, whilst at the same time fixing its eyes on me. It was a living parable of the Good Shepherd and Psalm 23. “Thank You, Lord, that You are a good Shepherd to me, guarding my “going out and my coming in.” Psalm 121:6. I stood and gazed. There was the sheep, lying close to the pond with its still waters. It had come from the green pastures and was resting content. “Thank You Lord that You care for my needs. You are by my side, always there for me. Your “rod and staff” are there to comfort me, “and I will trust in You alone.” A click and I moved on.
The track sides became a mass of tall balsam flowers, (impatiens) – mauves, pinks, whites. They were a mecca for the bees who flew into the trumpets to find nectar for us to enjoy honey, as a food and medicinal purposes. “Lord bless the workers who beaver in the world to provide for us, yet gain little recognition.” Click! Nearing the M6, nature’s display drew my attention. A thick twisted stem of a gorse bush perfectly enclosed greenery, to make any flower arranger envious. “Thank You Lord, for those who display their talents.” Click! , followed by two more in quick succession, taking in an apple tree laden with red apples, and a hawthorn tree with hundreds of scarlet berries. “Thank You God for Your promise, that the “trees of the field will bear fruit.” Leviticus 26:4. The profusion of red was by the foot bridge crossing the motorway, and it was another living parable, reminding me of the blood of Christ shed for my/our salvation, and the bridge He formed for us to be united with God.
It was soon time to turn back. The sun was still shining brightly, but things looked different as I walked back, especially when I reached the field where the footpath lay between the stubble. It had completely disappeared! The same red tractor, I had noticed at the beginning, had ploughed in all the stubble, and was still at work in the right hand corner. The dark wet brown earth was broken into small chunks. Could I make it across? Would I stumble, or get my feet stuck? There were no footprints to walk in where the soil might have been more compacted. I was sure the tractor driver hadseen me standing there. I looked ahead to the distant gate where I would be on firm ground again and heard God say, “Keep your eyes on me. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 21:6. With another camera click, I began the unexpected, precarious crossing, watching where to take each step; shoes sinking and twisting. I was sure that the driver in the tractor had seen me. I kept stopping for short rests. It was hard going, and I did breathe a sigh of relief as I released the latch on the gate, and put my feet on firm ground. O, what a sight the shoes!
God had proved to me yet again that afternoon that He is close, walking step by step with us, whether the way be smooth or rough, with us whatever we encounter. Can I challenge you make a Prayer Walk? Simply open your eyes to see, your ears to hear, and your hearts to commune with Him. Walk and talk. God is not distant. He desires to fellowship with us.
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9.
The Prayer Course
In autumn 2019 our sermon series followed the prayer course which is presented by Pete Grieg of the 24/7 payer movement. It is a great general guide to different types of prayer.
Ignatian prayer is a way of praying which sometimes involves imagining yourself in a Bible story and having an encounter with Jesus.
The take time website has some excellent meditations of different lengths which you may like to try. There is a charge on this website after an initial free trial.
United Christian Broadcasters (UCB)
UCB produce a great daily devotional which is recommend by our church. It is a helpful reflection on a very short daily Bible reading which helps readers to apply Biblical truths to their everyday lives. Click on the link below to read or listen to the UCB ‘Word for Today’ They are free to use.
Pause/Pray is a free series of Bible reflections, available as a podcast or download. They include original music, guided prayers and themes related to daily life. A new one is available each fortnight. To stream or download the episodes or subscribe to the podcast go to iTunes or your regular podcast app.https://www.engageworship.org/pausepray
Three Minute Retreat
Do you feel that it’s hard to find time for prayer?
Even a short time spent in prayer can help you to refocus and to connect with God. Rev’d Sue and Reader Diane recommend this website which offers a guided 3 minute retreat. There’s a time to pause, a short reading, two questions to get you thinking and a little prayer. You can get it as an app for different types of mobile phone too.
Our Diocesan Prayer.
Heavenly Father, we embrace Your call for us to make disciples, to be witnesses and to grow leaders. Give us the eyes to see Your vision, ears to hear the prompting of Your Spirit and courage to follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN