St Michael & All Angels, Bishops Cleeve - with Oxenton, Woolstone, Gotherington, Woodmancote, Cleeve Hill & Southam

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Home Inspirations to Prayer

 

Terry is a member of St Michael's with a particular interest in offering his lovely photographs as prompts to consider scripture and focus our own prayers.

Use the articles below as they are, or click on the PDF links for full-size printable versions. 



Mark 9.7 - This is My Son - Listen to Him

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version.

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”


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The author M. Scott Peck once said “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” But before we can listen, we must be able to hear.

We live in a world with almost constant communication: whether its texting, twittering or snap-chatting, we are continually being distracted. We are often reminded in the News of the problems and conflicts of the world. And on top of this, we have the pressures of our everyday lives to contend with. Hearing God’s voice can sometimes be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

As small children we soon come to recognise our parents because we are always in their presence, talking to them, hearing their voices and reading their emotions. I’m sure we have all been given “that look”. It’s all about having a relationship.

For us to hear God it is not different; we need to be and acknowledge that we are constantly in his presence. We must stand before Christ in all we do and pray, not the “Please do this or please heal whoever” but pray as though you were talking to your parents when you were young.

God will listen and he will reply: his reply maybe through scripture, a nudging of our conscience, an image he brings to mind or perhaps through another person. He may even speak so clearly that you hear his words in your head. But rest assured that God will reply, we just need to be prepared to listen.

Father, I pray that I will be blessed with the discipline and desire to constantly stand in your presence and bring all aspects of my daily life to you in prayer. And as I do Lord, I pray for a deepening relationship - and in that relationship may I come to recognise your voice

Amen

Sculpture: Calvary by David Mach

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

The author M. Scott Peck once said “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” But before we can listen, we must be able to hear.

We live in a world with almost constant communication: whether its texting, twittering or snap-chatting, we are continually being distracted. We are often reminded in the News of the problems and conflicts of the world. And on top of this, we have the pressures of our everyday lives to contend with. Hearing God’s voice can sometimes be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

As small children we soon come to recognise our parents because we are always in their presence, talking to them, hearing their voices and reading their emotions. I’m sure we have all been given “that look”. It’s all about having a relationship.

For us to hear God it is not different; we need to be and acknowledge that we are constantly in his presence. We must stand before Christ in all we do and pray, not the “Please do this or please heal whoever” but pray as though you were talking to your parents when you were young.

God will listen and he will reply: his reply maybe through scripture, a nudging of our conscience, an image he brings to mind or perhaps through another person. He may even speak so clearly that you hear his words in your head. But rest assured that God will reply, we just need to be prepared to listen.

Father, I pray that I will be blessed with the discipline and desire to constantly stand in your presence and bring all aspects of my daily life to you in prayer. And as I do Lord, I pray for a deepening relationship - and in that relationship may I come to recognise your voice

Amen

Sculpture: Calvary by David Mach

 

John 3.5 - Born of Water and the Spirit

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version.

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit”.


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As we reflected in our home group on Jesus’s words to Nicodemus on being “born again”, I visualised an image of a butterfly transforming from a caterpillar, into a chrysalis, and then finally emerging as a beautiful butterfly in all it’s splendour, just as God intended.

Our first birth - our physical birth - is like the caterpillar’s. And like the caterpillar we believe that our life depends on what we do. To some degree this is right; but to live life to the full, as God intended, we need to be “born again” - t this time spiritually. 

Before the butterfly emerges, the caterpillar encases itself in a chrysalis and while in this state the world around it has lost its original meaning. It reminds me of the baptisms by John in the River Jordan. As each person is lowered beneath the surface of the water, the world that they have known has also lost its meaning. When the waters run from their bodies as they emerge from the river they are transformed by God’s Holy Spirit. They are spiritually reborn, alive and made perfect in Christ, to one day ‘soar with God in the heavens’.  

As the chrysalis breaks open the butterfly emerges into a new world. It is resplendent in its perfection as its wings unfurl and dry. And when the time is right, it too soars into the world, a world with new and exciting possibilities. 

Father, we give you thanks for your son Jesus Christ, through whom, we can come to you. We give you thanks for blessing us with the gift of faith and filling us with your Holy Spirit. And in your presence, may we see the world as exciting and full of new possibilities. 

Help us Lord to maturity in our spiritual life, so that we may fulfil your wishes for us, that we may live our lives as you intended them to be lived.

Amen                                                                                                                                     

Swallowtail © Terry Richer

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

The author M. Scott Peck once said “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” But before we can listen, we must be able to hear.

We live in a world with almost constant communication: whether its texting, twittering or snap-chatting, we are continually being distracted. We are often reminded in the News of the problems and conflicts of the world. And on top of this, we have the pressures of our everyday lives to contend with. Hearing God’s voice can sometimes be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

As small children we soon come to recognise our parents because we are always in their presence, talking to them, hearing their voices and reading their emotions. I’m sure we have all been given “that look”. It’s all about having a relationship.

For us to hear God it is not different; we need to be and acknowledge that we are constantly in his presence. We must stand before Christ in all we do and pray, not the “Please do this or please heal whoever” but pray as though you were talking to your parents when you were young.

God will listen and he will reply: his reply maybe through scripture, a nudging of our conscience, an image he brings to mind or perhaps through another person. He may even speak so clearly that you hear his words in your head. But rest assured that God will reply, we just need to be prepared to listen.

Father, I pray that I will be blessed with the discipline and desire to constantly stand in your presence and bring all aspects of my daily life to you in prayer. And as I do Lord, I pray for a deepening relationship - and in that relationship may I come to recognise your voice

Amen

Sculpture: Calvary by David Mach

 

Philippians 3.14 – I press on toward the goal to win the prize

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


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When I was on a train making my way to the London marathon, I watched and listened as the runners excitedly discussed past races, their training routines and their ‘target’ times. A while after the official start the ‘fun runners’ began to arrive and the supporting crowds cheered them on. The runners seemed happy and in good spirits as they passed by en-masse.

Hours later I made my way to the finish line, where it was a different picture. The runners were no longer together, they looked tired and in some cases exhausted. But the roadside spectators gave constant support to them, all shouting words of encouragement and calling them each by their name. Encouraged by the crowd, they continued towards the finish line. 

As you consider Pauls’ words and read about my day in London, take some time and reflect on your Christian journey. 

Like the runners, we have to be prepared for what lies ahead.

How prepared are you? How do you maintain your levels of Christian well being?  

These marathon runners would have made sacrifices In order to find the time to practice running long distances.

Christ tells us that we must give up our old lives to follow him. What changes have you made that help you follow Christ?

I’m sure that towards the end of the marathon some runners questioned their ability to finish.

God knows you by name and He will not ask you to do something that you are unable to do. With Gods’ help and the support of the Christians around you, do you find the encouragement you need to carry on? 

Some happy runners finished in their ‘target time’, some were happy just finishing and a few, sadly failed to cross the line.

There are many distractions and temptations that can stop us reaching our ‘Christian goal’. God knows this and that is why He sacrificed his son Jesus. This means our sins, our failures if you like, are forgiven and with this knowledge we know that we can continue on our Christian journey regardless.

Father, I pray that I as I run the race, that I may change my life as you require so that I may also have the prize that Paul was called for.

Amen.

 

Psalm 107.29-30 - He stilled the storm to a whisper

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version

Psalm 107.29-30 - He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. 
They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

tn_300_Psalm_107.29-30_-_He_stilled_the_storm_to_a_whisperPsalm 107:23-28 tells of a ferocious storm at sea. We hear too that the sailors’ doubts, fears and anxieties come to a head as the storm rages: they are dispirited, and their courage and hope leave them. But God reveals his power over all as He calms the storm and the waves in an amazing transformation and safely guides the sailors to their destination.

There are times when I find myself ‘at sea in a storm’ and my spirits low, sometimes through the actions of others. Perhaps somebody falsely accused me, undermined me and ridiculed me; perhaps they took something from me, insulted me or abused me in some way, or perhaps the real reason is long forgotten and I just cannot ‘let it go’.

As the Father quelled the tempestuous seas, His Son, through his death on the cross for the sins of man, quells our tempestuous hearts. I pray that through my faith in Christ and my love of God I can forgive those who have ‘wronged’ me. If ‘they’ continue to cause me heartache as they carry on doing the things that hurt me, I pray that I can keep forgiving them for as long as it takes.

If my pain is deep and my heart is hardened, I pray for a softening of my heart, and in time, that I can find it in my heart to forgive. I pray too for those that I have ‘wronged’ and that they can find it in their hearts to forgive me. It is through the act of forgiveness that Christ will guide us to our desired haven in Him.

Amen.

Shell Beach, North Wales © Terry Richer 

 

 

Psalm 8.3 – When I consider the heavens

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version

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Psalm 8.3 – When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

As I stood watching out for the Perseids meteor shower I was reminded of Genesis 1:16 ‘God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars’. It’s as though the stars ‘were an afterthought’, yet on a cold clear night the true majesty and enormity of God’s creation can be witnessed.

When I think ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Where do I fit in God’s creation?’ I realize I am surrounded by the gracious works of God; and as part of that creation I am not left alone to my own devices to figure out who I am, but am given a place in relation to God, His world and his people.

Father, I praise you for your wonderful creation in all of its glory. I give you thanks for your mindfulness and the relationship that we have together. I know that you love me, not for what I do or do not do but for who I am.

I pray that my relationship with you remains strong and I give you thanks for the gift of faith, so that when I do submit to my sinful nature I know that through your sacrifice of your son Jesus Christ, all of my sins are forgiven and our relationship is made whole once more.

Amen

Watching for meteors on Cleeve Hill © Terry Richer 

 

2 Peter 1.2 - Grace and Peace be yours in abundance

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version

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2 Peter 1.2 - Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

It’s that time of year again, when schools, colleges and universities are closed for the summer holidays. For some it’s a chance to ‘get away’ for a while, whether it’s going for an afternoon walk, going to the seaside for the day or holidaying abroad for a week or two. Others who are not so fortunate have to find some way of filling their time, which can be up to 6 weeks. 

Holidays are, or should, provide an opportunity to escape the pressures and busyness of life. The reality however is often different. Parents and guardians are often faced with the new pressures of having to entertain the kids and this in itself can be cause financial difficulties. For those who cannot ‘get away’, family tensions can rise and relationships be damaged. 

We think of all those on holiday and we pray that they feel the release from the pressures and busyness of their normal daily lives; may they find the time to stop, look and reflect on your world. And as they see your creation in all of its beauty, bless them Lord, with your peace. 

We pray for St Michael’s Holiday club and ask for your blessings on Sallie and all her team of helpers. Fill them with your Holy Spirit and bless them with the gifts they require in entertaining and supporting the children whilst telling them and showing them your amazing love. 

We pray for all the children attending the holiday club: bless them too Lord, open their eyes and hearts to the joy of coming to know you. And whatever seeds are sown in their hearts may they be blessed by your grace and peace. 

Amen

Oyster-catchers at Borth-y-gest near Porthmadog © Terry Richer

 

2 Corinthians 1.3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version

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2 Corinthians 1.3-4 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.


I was recently walking through Bishop’s Cleeve and was struck by a tarmacked garden drive that had recently been done. Parts of it looked as new as the day it was laid. But in some places weeds that had been trapped beneath had grown and broken through the surface, looking like open wounds. And in other places the weeds had died and withered away, and cracks now permanently scar the surface.

It was a reminder that however things may look on the surface, if we have issues within our lives, for whatever reason, they may find their way to the surface, possibly open old wounds and potentially leave scars in our lives and the lives of those we love.

Father, we pray for all those living in our community who have issues in their lives; these could be financial, physical, mental, spiritual, health, relational or bereavement.

We pray that you will turn our weakness into strength, suffering into compassion, sorrow into joy and pain into comfort to others. We pray that we can use our experiences of your love to provide comfort and support to those in need.

Amen

‘Shibboleth’ (aka ‘The Crack in the Floor’) at Tate Modern © Terry Richer 

 

Isaiah 64.8 - We are the Clay, You are the Potter

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version

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Isaiah 64.8

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

As we grow up and progress through the education system and on into the ‘big wide world’, we find that we are better at some things and not so good at others. This is because we all have natural abilities: inter-personnel skills of leadership, artistic skills, writing or language skills, or even mathematical skills…the list goes on.

The Bible tells us God takes our natural abilities and enhances them through the Holy Spirit. The book of Exodus reveals to us how God blessed Bezalel so he and his craftsmen could make the Tent of Meeting; and by being open to God’s word and will, Bezalel was being moulded for Gods glory.

As you reflect back on your life you may be surprised by some of the decisions you have made and how ‘it turned out’. You may not have been aware at the time, but God was playing his part in your life, as by doing so he was ‘moulding you’ to be the person that He created you to be.

Father, I pray that we can be open to your word and blessed with the courage to follow your will, wherever that may take us and whatever we are asked to do. Bless us with the gift of faith, Lord, to use our natural abilities for your purpose. And may we, like the potters clay, be moulded by your hand, so that we can be vessels for you.

Amen

Water station at Mount Popa, Myanmar © Terry Richer

 

Mark 1.35 - Jesus went off... to pray

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version (which shows the stars beautifully!)

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Mark 1.35

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

The Bible makes a number of references to Jesus going off alone to pray. This let him spend quality time with the Father, away from his closest friends, his disciples, away from the questioning of his authority by the Pharisees, and away from the crowds making demands on his time for teaching and his energy for miraculous healing. Mark tells us in 5:30 that Jesus realized that power had gone out from him when He was touched by the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years but was healed upon touching his cloak.

Some Christians do not fully understand or appreciate the power of prayer and only resort to it when they have ‘no practical solution’: it’s an afterthought. Jesus proves that the truth about prayer is just the opposite; pray about something and a ‘practical solution’ will present itself: by his example, Jesus demonstrates the importance of preparing ourselves, through prayer.

Our relationship with God is no different to our relationship with our friends, families or work colleagues. To get the most from any relationship we have to communicate to be heard, to listen and perhaps to act accordingly. And this is what prayer is all about - a two-way communication with God.

We may be forgiven for thinking that we can't find time to pray: after all Jesus did not have to contend with 24-hour television, mobile phones, emails, Facebook, texts or tweets and on top of all of these distractions we still have to go to work, to school, look after our children… But Jesus didn’t just 'find' the time to pray: he 'made' the time and the more time he spent in prayer the stronger his relationship with the Father was.

Spend some time alone with God in prayer.

If time is short, simply acknowledge his presence.

It you are not sure what to pray, use the words that Jesus himself gave to his disciples, the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be your Name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those
Who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
And the glory are yours
Now and for ever.

Father, I pray that our relationship grows stronger as I acknowledge your presence each day in all things things I do.

I give you thanks for your forgiveness when I fail to recognize you; and I praise you Lord for all of the prayers that have been answered in your name and to your glory. 

Amen.

Night Sky over the Cotswold Way © Terry Richer

 

John 8.12 - I am the light of the world

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version.

tn_300_tn_1536_John_8.12_-_I_am_the_Light_of_the_WorldJohn 8.12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

As we open our curtains and see the summer sun, we quickly forget the darkness of the winter months and are filled with the hope of a good day. It’s as though the presence and radiance of the sun play an active part in the ‘kind of day we’re going to have’.

The summer sun, our physical ‘light of the world’ is short lived as the seasonal cycle continues and the darkness of the autumn and winter nights gradually return. But there is a presence and a radiance that really does play an active part in the ‘kind of day we will have’.

To live in a world of total darkness where nothing was visible would be to live in confusion wandering through life aimlessly, not knowing in which direction to go. When the Israelites were wandered in the desert for 40 years, God showed his presence with a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day. This light not only brought them assurance of safety and care, but literally guided them through a trackless wasteland.

Jesus is promising us not just salvation from those who oppress us, but salvation from all of the forces that rebel against God and that lie behind all the evil in the world today. And unlike the summer days which slowly fade into darkness, the light of Christ remains bright and true, bringing light and life to the world by setting it free from the bondage of sin.

Father, we give you thanks for sending your Son to shine upon us and within us. May His light glow brightly within our hearts and illuminate the recesses of our bodies expelling not just the darkness within us but healing us physically, mentally and spiritually. And may we, with our paths now lit by the light of Christ, shine upon those known to us who are living ‘in the dark’.

Amen

The Weather Project at Tate Modern © Terry Richer

 

1 Peter 1.24-25 - All flesh is like grass

Click here for a printable PDF file, or on the photo for a full-size version.

tn_1_Peter_1.24-25_All_flesh_is_like_grass1 Peter 1:24-25

All flesh is like grass and all its glory is like the flower of the grass.
The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.

Father, we give you thanks for the sacrifice of your son Jesus Christ who died for our sins and that everybody who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Your Holy word tells us we are all blessed with spiritual gifts and natural abilities: help us Lord to recognise what these may be. If we do not recognise them Lord, guide those known to us to tell us and encourage us to use the gifts that they see we have.

We pray by your spirit that the gifts we have may be used to bear witness to you and your glory; and may our actions and your grace bring others to believe in Christ, so that they too, like your words, will live on forever.

Amen

Dandelions at Pittville Park © Terry Richer

 
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