Sunday, 9th August

Together in Prayer

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall declare you praise!

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.


As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.

Preparing our hearts
Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.

Reading: Matthew 14: 22-33
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Thought for the week: Nigel Hughes
Have you ever noticed that it is often in the most challenging times of our life that we sense God’s presence most clearly? Now, whilst I am not saying it should be this way, or that God only appears when we most need Him, I do believe there is something about facing significant challenges that helps us to clarify our priorities and cut through the many distractions of everyday life that enables us to see God more clearly. I believe this is what is going on with the disciples in today’s Gospel reading.

If we consider that, after feeding the thousands who followed him into the wilderness, Jesus commands the disciples to head across the sea without him. Jesus would often do that as it gave Him time to be with His Father. Of course, you know that trouble is not far away, and it is whilst the disciples are crossing the sea that a storm arises that threatens to engulf them. They spend the better part of an anxious night navigating the waves and, in the early hours of the morning, Jesus strides across the water to meet them.

It is understandable that, in their tiredness and terror, they would mistake Jesus as being an apparition, a wave-walking ghost, whose appearance only served to alarm them further as he draws near. Jesus reassures them that it is He who is coming to them and His encouragement works as Peter asks if he might join Jesus out on the water. Having been given his Lord’s assent, Peter is confident but soon remembers the height of the waves and depth of the sea and loses heart, whereupon Jesus reaches out and grabs him, remarking on Peter’s lack of faith. However, it is at that very moment that the lights suddenly seem to go on and the disciples see Jesus as if for the first time, confessing,
“Truly you are the Son of God.”

And yet if we consider that, only a few hours earlier, Jesus had fed several thousand helpless and vulnerable people then it tells us something about our humanity and that the disciples are not alone when it comes to missing the obvious. I know that I have frequently overlooked God’s presence in the peaceful and pleasant portions of my life only calling out in earnest when my life took a difficult turn. I am sure that you can all thing of the times when this may have happened to you.

But this story does not only tell us about ourselves, it also tells us about God. No matter what it is that reminds us of our need for Him, we can be certain that He will respond. Just as Jesus reassures the disciples and reaches out to grab hold of Peter, so God responds to us with the compassion and support that we often need. However, like Peter stepping out of the boat on the lake, God also invites us to be more adventurous in our faith as well. God wants more for us than simply safety and stability. He calls out to us to stretch, to grow, to live the life He has promised us by trusting that He is with us always.
What do you think of the scripture reading? If you are with others, maybe discuss the passage and include anything that inspires you or raises any questions for you.

Collect for the ninth Sunday after Trinity
Almighty God,
who sent your Holy Spirit
to be the life and light of your Church:
open our hearts to the riches of your grace,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Lord, in the storms of life, bid us come to you,
that we, who are aware of our weakness,
may be strong;
through the power of Christ our Lord.

Lord we ask that when we are in danger of being overwhelmed you increase our faith.
When troubles beset us, let us hear you say,
‘Take heart, it is I: do not be afraid.’
Give to your church at this time a new vision of yourself and of your saving power. Go with us as we go out to proclaim your love.
We pray for those areas where the church is struggling or being overwhelmed, for all evangelists and pastors who are overworked or in danger.
We pray for all who reach out in faith towards you.
Show us your mercy, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.

We pray for all areas of the world who are struggling with outbreaks of the Corona virus or other natural disasters,
for all who are swamped with poverty or hunger,
for all who are battered by wave after wave of oppression or violence,
for those who have no freedom,
for all who are sinking beneath a load of care and anxiety.
Show us your mercy Lord.
and grant us your salvation.

We give thanks for all who have worked tirelessly throughout these times of trouble and distress.
We pray for all those families and friends who are in need at this time.
We pray for all who have lost family and friends, who are struggling with grief and heartache.
We pray that your love and compassion will provide some comfort and the strength to go on.
Show us your mercy, O Lord
and grant us your salvation.

Open prayer for God’s world, our communities, the church and for our lives.

We ask that you accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
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.

Lord, set your blessing on us
as we begin this day together.
Confirm in us the truth
by which we rightly live;
confront us with the truth
from which we wrongly turn.

We ask not for what we want
but for what you know we need,
as we offer this day and ourselves
for you and to you
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour
Let us go in peace to serve the Lord