Welcome to the Oct 2019 Prayer Vigil!
Sheep is the animal mentioned most often in the Bible. The sheep is an important animal in the lives of the people at that time, in the domestic, civic and religious life of the Israelites. People in Biblical times were familiar with the work of a good shepherd and that sheep were led and never driven. When not out in the pastures, sheep were kept in a sheep pen or sheepfold with a guard at the single gate for protection and to keep them from wandering away and getting lost. Sheepfolds were simple enclosures of stone walls with the top of the walls covered with thorns to keep thieves out. Several flocks would spend the night in the same fold and each shepherd knew which sheep belonged to him, by name, and the sheep knew the shepherd who cared for them.
Let us meditate on what Jesus said about himself in John 10 (NIV) –
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Let us pray now and thank the Lord for being our good shepherd because a good shepherd is faithful and compassionate and cares for his sheep. Thank him for being our guide (v.3, 4), saviour, provider, protector (v.9, 10, 11), giving up his life for us, and thank him for his obedience to the Father in laying down his life voluntarily (v.18). Thank him that he is the door through which we have salvation (v.9) and for including us (v.16) in his kingdom as part of God’s chosen people. How wonderful that he knows each of us by name (v.3) and has allowed us to recognize his voice (v.4), to know him (v.14) so that we can have life to the full (v.10) and will no longer be lost.
Let us also meditate on Psalm 23 (NIV), King David’s poetic description of who the Lord was to him and who the Lord can be to us too –
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In v.3 “for his name’s sake” can carry the meaning of “on account of his name” or “because of who he is”; and God’s name represents all of the character of God – his might, glory, love, righteousness, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, patience etc. In the words of one author “’for His Name’s sake’ is our greatest assurance of his presence and love because it is, Who He is!”
Let us go to the Father at this time with our requests and supplications, with thanksgiving, and find peace and rest in him for relief from the noise and turmoil created by this world, with the assurance that he listens, he cares and he is always at work (Matt. 11: 28 – 30; Phil. 4: 6, 7; 1 Peter 5: 7; John 5: 17) –
Giving thanks to God our Father –
• For who he is – our Father in heaven, sovereign, creator, provider, love, friend, our rock etc.
• For bringing us together at IBC as a caring community of disciples. Thank the Father for those who have ministered to you this past month, those who have humbly listened to you, generously forgiven you, or prayed for you (those who have “washed your feet”, as in Dr. Gallagher’s sermon on September 22). Thank him also for the people he placed in your life that you are ministering to, in partnership with him.
• For Pastor Will and our deacons – John, Frederick, Kenneth and Samuel. Also for the ministry leaders and workers, especially those who care for and teach our children; for our worship teams and those who work behind the scene week after week.
• For Yuko Lai’s father accepting Christ in Japan before he passed away in early September and for the family members’ safe travel to and from the funeral at that time in spite of the typhoon.
• For sustaining Lena Lam with treatment for her brain cancer that she can continue her ministry and worship in IBC.
• For blessing James and Latika Paul with the care and support they have received in India.
Supplication and Intercession –
• For the people of Hong Kong that they will see the sins in themselves, that they need to seek God for answers and forgiveness instead of relying on the things and methods of this world for meaning and purpose in their lives.
• For God to allow the veil of deception, rumours, distortions and the works of Satan to be lifted and destroyed and for the truth to shine through, so that struggles and violence will end.
• Pray that God will grant wisdom, understanding, humble and benevolent hearts to the leaders so that they may find a solution to the existing conflicts.
• For ourselves as followers of Christ that we will not pass judgement or condemn people whose opinions differ from ours, but that our lives will create a desire in others to seek and know Jesus. Ask God to help us see and act on the opportunities to point people to Jesus in times of uncertainty and distress.
• For our children and young people that their focus will be on Jesus; may our Lord care for and protect them as they begin another new school year. Pray for those who have gone abroad; may the Lord bring into their lives godly people who will increase their knowledge of Christ and love for him.
• For non-believing loved ones, friends, neighbours or colleagues whose salvation God has laid on your heart to pray for; ask the Lord to reveal to you the person you should invite to Gospel sharing night on October 25.
• For the full time missionaries among us and their families; for missionaries abroad – Kaushic and Dang and their children in the Philippines; Tabitha in South Korea.
• Continue to pray for the gospel to touch lives in Wah Fu, Mui Wo, the Ling Oi Drug Rehab Centre, Pik Uk Prison, among the homeless in Shamshuipo, and in the Care and Share Homely Shelter in Wanchai.
• For Paul Jackson that he will be healed from the adverse effects of the chemotherapy he received; May the Lord’s grace and mercy continue to sustain Lena Lam and her family; For healing and strength for Beatrice Ariwi, Y.M. Chen, Harold Lau, Samad Hashmi, and James and Latika Paul in India.
[This prayer guide was prepared by Charles Ip]