Gracious God, we ask that you will send your Spirit to help us to open our minds, so that when we read your word we can gain a better understand of your ways. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Our reading this morning is from the Book of Judges, Chapter 6 and verses 11 to 18.
The Book of Judges tells about the life of Israel from the time of the death of Joshua up to the first of the kings. The Israelites had occupied the Promised Land, but once they were in Canaan they quickly forgot how God had led them out of Egypt and then established them in the land.
Consequently they had lost sight of their unique identity as God's people. They had settled down alongside the peoples who lived in the Land of Canaan, and many of them had adopted Canaanite gods and religious beliefs.
At this time also, the Israelites were under constant oppression by the Midianites who destroyed the crops, stole cattle and sheep, and generally devastated the land. The Israelites seemed to be helpless against this powerful enemy.
11 Then the Lord's angel came to the village of Ophrah and sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, a man of the clan of Abiezer. His son Gideon was threshing some wheat secretly in a wine press, so that the Midianites would not see him.
12 The Lord's angel appeared to him there and said, "The Lord is with you, brave and mighty man!"
13 Gideon said to him, "If I may ask, sir, why has all this happened to us if the Lord is with us? What happened to all the wonderful things that our fathers told us the Lord used to do - how he brought them out of Egypt? The Lord has abandoned us and left us to the mercy of the Midianites."
14 Then the Lord ordered him, "Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you."
15 Gideon replied, "But Lord, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family."
16 The Lord answered, "You can do it because I will help you. You will crush the Midianites as easily as if they were only one man."
17 Gideon replied, "If you are pleased with me, give me some proof that you are really the Lord.
18 Please do not leave until I bring you an offering of food." He said, "I will stay until you come back."
Let us all join in prayer:
Lord God we praise you because you are the one true, living God. We know that you are the all-powerful God who has created everything, yet you know, and care, about each and every one of us. Everything that we have comes from you, and we find it almost incomprehensible, that you, the Great Creator, should take an interest in us, and treat us in the way that you do. We know that we can never deserve your love, but Jesus has shown us that you are loving, generous, merciful, and forgiving, and you have sent your Spirit to help and comfort us.
Lord sometimes when you prompt us, and give us guidance, and tell, us what we ought to do, we can be like Gideon. You came to Gideon, and told him that you were with him, and that he would have all that he needed to carry out the task that you had given him, but he had doubts, and he asked you for proof. Like Gideon we can feel so small and insignificant that we can feel that we are incapable of doing what you ask. We forget that with you all things are possible.
Forgive us, Lord, when we let our doubts and fears stop us from doing what you ask of us. Forgive us for not trusting you, and for doubting that you are able to provide everything that we need to do what you ask. Be patient with us and teach us to listen, and to accept, your answers.
Even when we know that we are doing wrong we still say and do the wrong things. Merciful God, forgive us, and let us have a fresh start so that we can do our best to follow in your ways. We ask that you will give us the strength, courage, and perseverance to do our part to further your kingdom on earth. Lord, may we be your hands which bring blessings for others.
Generous God, you have given us literally everything that we have, and our thanks can never be enough for all that you have done. You have given us life itself, and you have placed us in this wonderful world with all its rich resources. We thank you for all these things, and we also thank you for all the people whom you have put into our lives. We easily remember our families and friends, but there is also a huge number of others on whom we rely for many things, and we thank you for them.
We thank you Lord that you are always present with us, and that you do not treat us in the way that we deserve. Your gifts are unlimited, and we find it amazing that, in spite of all our weaknesses and continued failings, you still love and care for us, and that you want the best for each and every one of us.
Father God, we especially thank you that you sent Jesus, who through his teaching and example, showed that you are a loving, caring and compassionate god, who is always ready to listen to us, and to forgive us when we have gone astray.
Lord, everywhere we look in this world we can see much misery and sorrow, some of which is caused by natural events. Today we particularly remember all those who have suffered as a result of the recent hurricane in the Bahamas. Compassionate God, be with them, and comfort them. Support and strengthen all who are working to alleviate the situation.
In many other places too, people are confused and afraid of what the future may bring. Even in our own country there is a great deal of uncertainty, and many people are angry or upset. Lord, send your Spirit to guide our politicians and leaders so that they may focus on the needs of the country rather than on personal, or party advancement.
Compassionate God, we need your help. We are easily overwhelmed by fears of the unknowns of the future. No matter how hard we try, our best efforts seem too small to make a difference, and we easily lose heart and give-up. We focus on all the things that seem to be wrong, and we forget all the wonderful things that you continually give us. Help us to always remember that you have promised to be with us, and that we can trust you for all things.
Father God, we all need your care, and there are many people who are finding life especially difficult. Lord, you know who these people are, and you know their needs, so we ask that you will bring comfort and healing to all those in distress. May we be guided by your Spirit to do our part, to help and support others who are in need.
We offer our prayer in the name of Jesus, and we further pray in the words which he taught his followers:
Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever.