In our own homes – let us pray that the Lord will give us His strength.

“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me” (Daniel Iverson). Lord, it’s Your Spirit who makes the difference. He changes us. We lose heart. He gives us new strength. We feel like giving up. He keeps us going on. Thank You, Lord, for Your Holy Spirit. Lead us out of our emptiness and into Your fullness.

Often, Lord, we feel like David – facing Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Everything seems too much for us. Was Goliath too much for David? He wasn’t too much for You – and You were on David’s side. We’re not alone. Help us to remember this. When we feel weak, help us to remember that You are strong – and Your strength has been given to us. Thank You, Lord.

What a difference there is between the love of power and the power of love. The world is all about the love of power. You, Lord, are all about the power of love. Your power is never power without love. Your love is powerful love. Fill us with Your power – and help us to give glory to You, the God of loving power and powerful love.

What are the most important things in our lives? Why are they so important to us? Everything revolves around ourselves, Lord. We forget about You. Call us back, Lord – back from the brink, back from “the broad way that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). Call us into “safety, certainty and enjoyment” (George Cutting) – saved by You, assured of Your salvation, enjoying Your salvation.

Where does true love come from? It comes from You, Lord. It comes from Your love. Give us real love. Give us Your love. When we know that we are loved by You, our love will grow strong – our love for You, our love for one another, our love for people who need You.

Deliver us, O Lord, from religion without compassion. We don’t want to be Pharisees. We want to be followers of Jesus. Give us compassion – but may it always be compassion without compromise. Help us not to sacrifice truth and righteousness for the sake of relevance. Help us “to be the best that we can be for truth and righteousness and Thee.” Help us to see what relevance really is. Help us to see where relevance really comes from. It doesn’t just emerge out of our own minds, our own creativity. It’s based on truth. We didn’t create truth – and we don’t create relevance. “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). Your Word is relevant – because it is truth: truth unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. Lord, help us to be faithful to Your truth – and help us to care for people who need to be set free by Your truth, set free by Your Son (John 8:32,36).

Help us, Lord, to be honest with You. Do we want to get our own way or to do Your will? Set us free from the self-centred illusion that You will always support us  in everything that we decide to do. Help us to see that there’s a great difference between ‘what I want’ and ‘what You want.’ Teach us to choose Your will rather than our own will.

Help us, Lord, never to imagine that we can ever hope to be fruitful for You if we are not committed to being faithful to You. Help us, Lord, to be more than people who serve You. Help us to be people who love You. May we serve You because we love You. May we love You because “You first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Life is full of surprises. Sometimes, Lord, these surprises come from You – blessings that fill our hearts with Your joy. Sometimes, the surprises come from Satan. He’s trying to catch us off guard. He’s trying to trip us up. He’s trying to lead us away from You. Help us to turn Satan’s surprises into Your surprises. When Satan comes to tempt us, to draw us away from You, help us to face him in Your strength. Help us to tell him that You were there before he arrived on the scene. – You are the eternal God. Help us to tell Satan that You are still here – the God who is with us to bless us, the God who is living in us to give us Your victory over Satan.

Lead us, Lord, in the way of true wisdom – “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). How foolish we are when we choose to go our own way rather than walking in Your way. Help us, Lord, to choose Christ every day – “O happy day, that fixed my choice on Thee, my Saviour and my God … That vow renewed shall daily hear.”

What a difference there is between fear – “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul” – and faith – “The Lord will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine” (1 Samuel 27:1; 1 Samuel 17:37). Sometimes, fear, sometimes faith – this was the story of David’s life. It’s the story of our life. How, Lord, are we to overcome fear? How are we to grow strong in faith? It’s Your “perfect love that casts out fear.” It’s Your love that makes us strong in faith and gives us the victory (1 John 4:18-19; 1 John 5:4-5). Lord, fill our hearts with Your love. May there be, in us, more faith and less fear.

Help us, Lord, to take sin seriously – “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Help us to take Your salvation even more seriously. Help us to believe that the story of our life is more than the story of our sin. It’s also the story of Your salvation. When we are deeply aware of our sin, may we become even more deeply appreciative of Your promise of salvation: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

When, Lord, things are going badly, we start feeling sorry for ourselves – when we should be getting strengthened by You. You are “our strength and our shield.” You give us Your “strength” and Your “peace” (Psalm 28:7-8; Psalm 29:10-11). Give to us the peace that comes to us from knowing that we are not alone. May we not fall down in our weakness. May we stand up in Your victory.

Far too easily, Lord, we accept defeat – when You’re leading us on into Your victory. What’s wrong with us? It’s sin. That’s our problem. It never goes away, this problem of ours – but we don’t have to fight against it in our own strength. Our sin may seem to be inevitable – “That’s the way I am. That’s the way I’ve always been. That’s the way I’ll always be.” Our sin isn’t invincible. Jesus triumphed over sin. That’s what He did when He died for us and rose again. Jesus won the victory for us. He gives His victory to us. Help us, Lord, to receive His strength, to walk in His victory, and to say. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).

So often, Lord, we start out well – and then something goes wrong. Our heads go down. We lose our way. We fall away from You. Where does this spirit of defeat, this spirit of giving up, come from? – It comes from Satan. He sweeps in. He sweeps us off our feet. He sweeps us away from You. When Satan attacks us, help us, Lord, to remember Your promise: You are “able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24-25). Help us to hear Your Word: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

There are times, Lord, when we need to start all over again. We need to make a new beginning with You. We’ve wandered away from You – and we wonder if You’ll have us back again. Help us, Lord, to know, in our hearts, that You never lose patience with us. Your love for us remains constant, even when we’re “in the far country” of our sin (Luke 15:13). You’re always waiting for us to return to You. Our returning to You is not insignificant. It is important. How can we enter into Your blessing if we refuse to return to You? When we think about our returning to You, help us never to forget that it is never any more than a response to Your coming to us – “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

Our sin is sad. Our sin is shameful. Can anything be done about our sin? When, Lord, we think about our sin, help us to remember this: You have done something about our sin. Our sin threatens to overwhelm us. We feel like we’re going down. We don’t have a chance. We can’t do anything about it. We can’t – but You can! You can – because You have! When Jesus died and rose again, He triumphed over sin. He won the victory for us. That was a long time ago – but it’s still the reason we believe that Your triumph can become real in us and through us. What You did then, You can still do now. You raised Jesus from the dead. Give us Your strength to “walk with You in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Lord, there are bad things happening to us, things that we wish weren’t happening. Sometimes, all of this gets us down. We wonder, “Who really cares about us? Is there anybody out there – anybody who’s really interested?” We thank You, Lord, that there is an answer to our question. It’s not an answer that comes from the human side. It’s an answer that comes from above, an answer that comes from You. It’s the answer of Your love. You love us in the good times. You love us in the bad times. Thank You, Lord.

Give to us, Lord, Your joy – “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). When the devil tries to tear away our joy from us, help us to remind him that Jesus died and rose again so that we might have true and lasting joy. Help us to remind him of Jesus’ words: “In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

At the beginning of the lockdown, Jack McHugh, the Moderator of the Presbytery of Greenock and Paisley, wrote a letter to the members of our Presbytery. For several months, I have been including Jack’s letter in these times of worship “in our own homes.” In this letter, he calls us to pray. Although our Presbytery, now, has a new Moderator, we continue to include Jack’s letter.

Keep on praying!

As you read Jack’s letter, pray for the people he mentions – and don’t forget to pray for him, giving thanks to God for his much-needed and much-appreciated spiritual leadership.

Call to Prayer

Jeremiah 33:3

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we face the uncertainty surrounding the present coronavirus pandemic and the fact that we cannot see, feel or touch the problem, it can lead us to become either sceptical about its seriousness or terrified of what it could do to us or our loved ones. There is no doubt that we face the greatest test that our nation has faced since the end of the Second World War. It proves, once again, that we really do not have all the answers to life’s problems.

However, even in the uncertainly and the need to listen carefully to the scientific and medical experts, who are seeking to help our nation get through these difficult times, I believe that there is One who does have all the answers, and we can pray to Him.

I have no doubt that we have all been earnestly praying in these days, but I have been led to believe that, although we cannot come together as a Presbytery, we can still pray together. I would like to suggest that we, as a Presbytery, endeavour to set aside time each day at the same time if possible to pray about the present situation; and I would suggest 11.00 a.m.

It may be that for some that is not possible, but let us pray every day at whatever time is suitable for each one of us.

Let us pray for doctors, nurses, scientists, emergency service workers and indeed all who would seek to respond in these difficult days. Pray for the vulnerable folk in society; let us pray for those who have had to self-isolate, and for folk who contract the virus that they will make a full recovery. Let us pray for families with children who are at home because our schools are closing, that they can cope with the need to keep the children interested and occupied.

Let us pray for our congregations and the folk in our Presbytery and nation. Pray for folk whose employment and income is adversely affected by not being able to work.

Pray for our politicians in Westminster and Holyrood that God will sustain them and inspire them with His Holy Spirit that their decisions will be in accordance with His will and purposes.

Let us all remember that God is Sovereign and that he has shown the depth of his love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, into our world to be our Saviour and our Lord. He will not abandon us now in our time of need.

God bless you all.

Jack McHugh

Life isn’t easy. Sometimes, it seems like there are nothing but hard times. There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s the way it feels – but it’s not the way it is! Our feelings will lead us away from You – if we let them! Our feelings can run riot over us. They can wreck our lives. Help us, Lord, to look beyond the chaos. Help us to look to You. Sometimes, it feels like You’re far away. That’s the way it seems to us – but it’s not the way it really is! You are with us – now and always (Matthew 1:23; Matthew 28:20).

“The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went” (2 Samuel 8:6,14). Help us, Lord, never to forget where the victory comes from. It comes from You. It’s Your victory – and You give it to us. You direct our attention away from ourselves. You direct our attention to Jesus. He says to us, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This is a warning to us. We must not try to live in our own strength. Help us to look to Jesus – and to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

“May the Lord do what seems good to Him” (2 Samuel 10:12). Lord, this is the way it should be. We should be saying, “Not my will but Yours be done” (Matthew 26:39). It’s the way things should be – but it’s not the way things are. Often, we make wrong choices. We choose our own way rather than Your way. Help us, Lord, to stop trying to get our own way. Help us to start walking in Your way. Help us to say, “As for God, His way is perfect” (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30).

You, Lord, convict us of our sin – “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). We confess our sin to You – “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). Conviction of sin always comes before confession of sin. How could we confess that we are sinners, if You do not show us that we are sinners? You forgive our sin – “the Lord has taken away your sin” (2 Samuel 12:13). You lead us in the way of Your salvation – “washed … anointed …. changed, he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped” (2 Samuel 12:20). What blessing comes to those who confess their sin. You lead us to confess our sin. From there, You lead us into Your forgiveness. You lead us into the fullness of Your salvation. Thank You, Lord.

Sometimes, Lord, it seems like You have left us. We feel like we’re looking for You, but we’re not finding You. We ask, “Where have You gone?”, then we start thinking, “Have you really left us?” or “Are we the ones who have wandered away from You?” Call us back to Yourself, Lord. Show us where we’ve gone wrong. Lift us above our changeable feelings into Your unchangeable love. Show us that You’re beside us every step of the way – especially when we find it difficult to feel that You’re really with us.

We thank You, Lord, that You love us – and You forgive us. What a difference that makes! There are times when we feel unloved. We wonder, “How could You possibly forgive us?” When we feel like this, help us to remember that Jesus died for us. When we see ourselves in the light of the cross of Christ, our great Saviour, how can we keep on feeling unloved and unforgiven? Take us, Lord, to the cross. Show us Your love. Show us our Saviour, suffering for us. Show us our Saviour, praying for us: “Father, forgive them …” (Luke 23:34).

Who are we trying to please? Are we trying to please You, Lord? or Are we trying to please other people? Are we more interested in getting what we want or doing what You want? These, Lord, are searching questions. They call us to be honest with ourselves, to be honest with You. Help us, Lord, to see ourselves the way we really are. Help us to pray for change, real change, change in our hearts, change in our lives, change that brings blessing to us, change that brings glory to You.

‘He’s a great guy.’ We like it when people say this kind of thing about us. It makes us feel good about ourselves. What do You think of us, Lord? Yours is the one opinion that really matters. What does it mean to be truly ‘great’? Do we want to be called ‘great’? or Do we want to give all the glory to You? We know, Lord, that we’ll never love You with a perfect love. Your love is the only perfect love. Help us, Lord, not to get discouraged, when we let You down. Lift us up, Lord. Make our love for You more real and more true, more life-changing and more pleasing to You.

What do we do when everything seems to go wrong? Do we start complaining, blaming You for everything that’s happening to us? or Do we start asking the question, ‘Where is the Lord in all of this?’ Help us to challenge our negative thinking – “Why are you discouraged, my soul?” (Psalm 43:5). Help us to rise above our negative thinking. Raise us up, Lord, for You alone can lift us out of our defeatism and into that special place with You where we know that we are truly blessed – because You love us, and will never stop loving us, even when our love for You is very weak.

Often, we wish we could look into the future, and see what’s going to happen to us. We can’t. The future belongs to You, Lord – not to us. Help us to wait on You, Lord – to wait patiently for the time when Your future becomes our present. Our ‘tomorrow’ can never become our ‘today’ – until our ‘today’ becomes our ‘yesterday.’ Help us, Lord, to forget about gazing into some kind of ‘crystal ball.’ Give us the grace to walk with You in faith – one day at a time.

The closer we get to Your servants, the smaller they become. Jesus is different – very different. The closer we get to Him, the bigger He becomes. Help us, Lord, to make less of Your servants and more of our Saviour. We speak about this one, and that one. Sometimes, we say good things. Often, we say bad things. Help us to speak more of our Saviour. Help us to say nothing but good things about Him.

Our words can do a lot of good – and they can do a lot of harm! Lord, help us to watch what we say. May our words be words that heal – not words that hurt. May they be helpful words, words that will help others to love You more – not words that will lead them away from You.

What are we to do when our whole life seems to be one problem after another? We’re to pray – and, when we pray, we’re to believe that You will hear and answer our prayers (2 Samuel 21:14; 2 Samuel 24:25). What are we to do when the going gets tough? We turn to You, Lord. It’s not about how tough we are. It’s about how trustworthy You are. You are absolutely trustworthy, completely dependable, utterly reliable. You are the faithful God. Those who trust You fully find You wholly true. Help us, Lord, to trust You – to know that You are faithful.

Some things are worth repeating! Help us, Lord, never to tire of praising You, We can never praise You enough. You are greater than all of our praise. Help us, in our worship, to lift up our hearts to You. Help us to think of how great You are. Help us to rejoice in the greatness of Your love for us. Help us to remember all that You have done for us.

Lord, we thank You for Your amazing grace. What we are, in ourselves, is nothing compared with what we can become through the power of Your love. Your love reaches us. It lifts us up – out of our sin, which drags us down, and into Your salvation, which renews our strength and makes us new men and women.

Less pride and more praise – That’s what we need, Lord. Less taking glory for ourselves and more giving glory to You – May that be the story of our life. Less living in our own weakness and more living in Your power – Lead us, Lord, into a life that is becoming less centred on ourselves and more centred on You.

God bless you all.


2 thoughts on “In our own homes – let us pray that the Lord will give us His strength.

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