Welcome to the December 2017 Prayer Vigil!
As we approach the time for the celebration of Christmas let us contemplate on the wonderful things about this special time – not on the bright colourful decorative lights or on the presents or greetings we expect to receive, but on the remarkable moment in history when the invisible God, our creator, made Himself visible and accessible to mankind.
The hymn by Walter C. Smith tells us about our invisible God –
invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
Yes, God is invisible, but - “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20). We should have known and praised God because God had all along revealed Himself through the visible things that He created but our sins and the deception of Satan had “veiled” our eyes. Because of sin we have been living lives which were far from the “true” life – eternal life, which God had intended for us.
all, life Thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish—but naught changeth Thee.
Great Father of glory, pure Father
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
But of all Thy rich graces this grace, Lord, impart
Take the veil from our faces, the vile from our heart.
Christmas is a time of celebration of God’s wonderful gift to mankind, his only son Jesus, whom He sent, out of His goodness and love, to restore to us the “true” life (John 3: 16, 17). Jesus himself told us about himself and the purpose of his coming in Luke 4: 17 – 21 by quoting from Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” We, the blinded prisoners of sin and darkness, the oppressed, now have the veil taken from our faces to see God who is in Jesus because “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation.”(Col. 1: 15). And as Jesus told his disciple Philip “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” (John 14: 9). Yes, because of Jesus we can have the veil removed from our faces so that we see the truth and be set free as Jesus promised to those who follow him – “…and the truth will set you free.”(John 8: 31, 32). The vile things that keep us from eternal life will be taken from our hearts – the wounds and hurts inflicted on our hearts over the years will be healed, the lies and deceit lodged in our hearts will be replaced by truth, our desire to sin and the burdens of shame will dissipate. Darkness will be lifted.
All laud we would render; O help us
’Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee,
And so let Thy glory, Almighty, impart,
Through Christ in His story, Thy Christ to the heart.
Therefore let us rejoice and render to God the praise of which He is worthy, during Christmas and throughout the year because we partake in God’s glory through having Christ in our hearts, knowing that he had paid for the full penalty of our sins by dying on the cross for you and me – “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”(2 Cor. 4: 18). Through prayer we fix our eyes on what has yet to be seen (Heb. 4: 14 – 16) and proactively participate in the work of God in people’s lives and in His kingdom (Eph. 6: 18; James 5: 16 - 18).
Items for meditation and prayer –
- Are you always allowing Jesus to be Lord of your life? Is he controlling your life or do you just remember him occasionally only when triggered by circumstances? Are you often controlled by your flesh and not by God's Spirit? Ask for his forgiveness if you have not allowed him to be master of all of your life.
- Do you sometimes forget that you have been saved by grace and not by works (Eph. 2: 8, 9)? Are you trying to go through life relying on your own strength? Is your heart filled with gratitude for all that Jesus has done for you and are you extending his grace to those around you? Are you showing the same compassion, love and mercy which you have received from the Lord to others, even to people you dislike? Ask the Lord to help you abide in his word and give you desire and strength to love him by following his commands (John 14: 21).
- Husbands, do you love your wife as the Lord commanded, and wives, do you respect your husband (Eph. 5: 33)? Are you submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5: 21)?Do you acknowledge the fact that God created you, knows you intimately and has prescribed what is best for your marriage in his word? If you find this difficult to do, ask him to help you with this, and the Spirit to guide you in the truth.
- May the Lord guide IBC through this Christmas season as a time of outreach to people in different communities. Pray for the preparation of the Christmas programs at IBC – the children’s program on 10th Dec., the Christmas celebration on 17th Dec. and the Christmas worship service on 24th Dec. Pray for the non-believing friends and relatives who will be attending, in particular Frederick Chan’s parents who have accepted an invitation to attend the children’s program. Pray for hearts and minds to be opened and touched to seek and receive Jesus Christ.
- May the Lord use the ministries at IBC and our partnership with churches and mission organizations for the proclamation of his gospel and to redeem people for his kingdom.
- - Pray especially for our partnership with the Wah Fu Swatou Christian Church and our joint outreach activities - the Christmas carnival at Wah Fu Estate on 9th Dec.; and our brother Oscar Kwan’s presentation to the Wah Fu Church elderly fellowship on 30th Dec.
- - Pray for our partnership with the Hong Kong Christian Kun Sun Association in prison ministry; may the Lord work through those from IBC who will visit the Pik Uk Prison on 23rd Dec. that the truth of the Christmas message will touch the hearts of the prisoners and the prison guards.
- - Pray for our partners who are reaching out to the Muslim community in Hong Kong. Pray for the Lord’s guidance and protection for his servants who are proclaiming his gospel of truth and love.
- - Continue to pray for the Southmark Alpha which began 11th Oct. and will end on 6th Dec. Pray that many lives have been touched and those who accepted Christ will grow in their faith.
- Pray for Pastor Will and his family; for our deacons – John Ariwi, Frederick Chan, Samuel Lam and James Paul and their families; for the church staff, Candy Ip and Patty Lo; and for Carlos and Analie Spencer who coordinate the youth ministry.
- Pray for those who care for and teach our children each week; and pray for Jackline Chan who coordinates the children’s ministry.
- Ask the Lord with persistence for healing for Beatrice, Y.M. Chen and James Paul. Ask the Lord to comfort and give strength to Jackline Chan’s mother who is suffering from cancer; may the Lord help her to be a good witness to her family members who are non-believers. Pray for others who are in need of care and healing and pray also for the caregivers, that they will not be discouraged. Continue in prayer for Fiona Lee, her mother and other family members following the loss of her father in October.
- Thank the Lord for the wedding of Ruby Fu’s younger daughter, Jacqueline, on 25th Nov. May the Lord bless the marriage with his presence.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1: 17).
[This prayer guide was prepared by Charles Ip]