Sunday 24th November Reading and Prayer
In this first prayer we are going to pray for ourselves and others…
Let us pray
Lord we come before you this morning with all our imperfections and faults. We recall all the things we know we could have done better if we had followed the example of your son Jesus. You sent him so that we might know the way you expect us to live. Help us to learn from his example and our mistakes so that we may make this world of ours a better place. We know we don’t have that much influence over the big decisions in this world of ours but each and every bit of kindness we show, every bit of help we offer, every bit of love we share matters hugely to those who receive it and if everyone did the same then how powerful would that be?
We pray at this time especially for all those who seek to be elected as our representatives. May they be guided by your hand in the policies they set and the decisions they will make on our behalf. Elections are by their nature divisive and we pray that you will help us, and all your followers, to do what we can to heal the wounds that divide our nation.
We remember also today all those still badly affected by flooding and those abroad coping with terrible fires that rage out of control. We pray that you will comfort them and inspire the help that they will need for many months to come long after they have dropped out of our news reports and our minds and prayers.
Lord we are so fortunate that we live in a country that is at peace, and we thank you for the safe and warm homes we have and food on our tables. Let us never forget those who are not so well blessed, and we pray you will guide us to offer help where we can and as we start to approach the Christmas season we especially ask you to bless the work of local groups and charities who will be working hard to provide extra support for those who need it.
We pray for those close to us. Those physically sat close around us this morning and those others also close to our hearts who are struggling with daily life and need our prayers and support. Let us take a moment’s silence to bring them through prayer to you.
We ask all this in the name of your son Jesus Christ our saviour and our friend.
The first reading this is from the book of Genesis chapter 18 verses 20-33 and can be found around page 18 of the Old Testament section of the pew bibles.
Abraham is visited by God and two other men and is told that despite their old age he and his wife Sarah are to have a son and that his descendants will lead a great and mighty nation. He then goes to a place overlooking the city of Sodom & Gomorrah where he ends up negotiating with God.
Genesis chapter 18 verses 20-33
Then the Lord said to Abraham, "There are terrible accusations against Sodom and Gomorrah, and their sin is very great. I must go down to find out whether or not the accusations which I have heard are true."
Then the two men left and went on toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham.
Abraham approached the Lord and asked, "Are you really going to destroy the innocent with the guilty? If there are fifty innocent people in the city, will you destroy the whole city? Won't you spare it in order to save the fifty? Surely you won't kill the innocent with the guilty. That's impossible! You can't do that. If you did, the innocent would be punished along with the guilty. That is impossible. The judge of all the earth has to act justly."
The Lord answered, "If I find fifty innocent people in Sodom, I will spare the whole city for their sake."
Abraham spoke again: "Please forgive my boldness in continuing to speak to you, Lord. I am only a man and have no right to say anything. But perhaps there will be only forty-five innocent people instead of fifty. Will you destroy the whole city because there are five too few?"
The Lord answered, "I will not destroy the city if I find forty-five innocent people."
Abraham spoke again: "Perhaps there will be only forty."
He replied, "I will not destroy it if there are forty."
Abraham said, "Please don't be angry, Lord, but I must speak again. What if there are only thirty?"
He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty."
Abraham said, "Please forgive my boldness in continuing to speak to you, Lord. Suppose that only twenty are found?"
He said, "I will not destroy the city if I find twenty."
Abraham said, "Please don't be angry, Lord, and I will speak only once more. What if only ten are found?"
He said, "I will not destroy it if there are ten."
After he had finished speaking with Abraham, the Lord went away, and Abraham returned home.
The second reading today is from Matthew chapter 15 verses 21-28 and can be found around page 23 of the New Testament section of the pew bibles.
In this short reading it is a foreigner, a Canaanite woman, as Mathew describes her, who we find trying to change Jesus’ mind.
Matthew chapter 15 verses 21-28
Jesus left that place and went off to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman who lived in that region came to him.
"Son of David!" she cried out. "Have mercy on me, sir! My daughter has a demon and is in a terrible condition."
But Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples came to him and begged him, "Send her away! She is following us and making all this noise!"
Then Jesus replied, "I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel."
At this the woman came and fell at his feet. "Help me, sir!" she said.
Jesus answered, "It isn't right to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs."
"That's true, sir," she answered, "but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from their masters' table."
So Jesus answered her, "You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you." And at that very moment her daughter was healed.
May God bless and help us to understand these readings of his holy word.
Let us once again bow our heads in prayer, let us pray:
We often speak to you in our prayers to seek your guidance and ask for your help and reassurance. We know we won’t always get what we ask for, but we know with absolute certainty that you will hear us and give us the strength to cope and work our way through whatever is troubling us. You will put people in our lives to comfort and support us if we need it, you will help us make the right choices and help us to follow the right path.
If at first, like the Canaanite woman, we don’t hear the answer we need, help us to not to give up on you but to continue asking and praying so we are clear what you would have us do.
You already have plans for our lives, things in mind that you would wish us to do. It is only by continual and regular prayer that we can hope to truly understand your plans. Keep your holy spirit burning brightly inside us and give us the wisdom, strength, courage and tenacity to do our small part in furthering your work here in Alva.
O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers this day and every day.
Let us now say together the prayer that Jesus taught us:
Our Father, who 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, for ever and ever Amen.