12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:12-13 NLT)
Dear Friends and Family,
We have been experiencing God’s generosity in so many ways lately. While writing and reflecting on Jesus’ feeding of the multitude, a friend came by to give us a couple of beautiful mangoes. What a great reminder of God’s love! Graham was well looked after during his time in the US, he has felt your prayers for strength and stamina during his time away, and we have only 2 more sleeps to get through until we are reunited. Ellie has been well-supported in his absence, with people checking in on her, shopping with her, taking her to church, and allowing her to feed them (which always makes Ellie happy :-)).
God is so generous to us. We are so grateful for how his generosity flows through you. And it has long been our prayer that God will work in us the kind of generosity that reflects his heart.
Don’t you just love the story of Jesus feeding the multitude? When you have a moment, we encourage you to read John 6:1-13 and reflect on it with us. Is there a particular part of the story that particularly speaks to you at the moment?
We usually identify particularly with the boy who brings his lunchbox to Jesus, expecting that Jesus can do more and better things with it than he can. We often feel like we wish we had more we could offer to the Lord. And whatever we have to offer him, we know he is worth so much more.
Sometimes we identify with Philip and the other disciples. We can be so overwhelmed by the needs around us that it makes us very aware of what we lack. We can feel tested and unsure of how to respond. And yet Jesus already has in mind what he wants to do. He has ways to surprise us and provide for us beyond what we might even imagine.
Lately, we’ve been thinking about the twelve baskets gathered after the multitude had eaten their fill. How amazing is this! When we bring to Jesus what we have in loving faith, he blesses us beyond what we give. We worship a God of abundance who is extravagantly generous!
We are also struck by the phrase ‘nothing is wasted’. As we reflect on our lives and the experiences and challenges that God has walked us through, he invites us to gather the pieces that are left over so that he can show us how he has provided and how much we can trust him to continue to provide. These experiences that he puts in our paths are useful to nourish, comfort and encourage others, testify to God’s goodness and faithfulness, and deepen our faith.
How is God speaking to you as you reflect on this story? What is he offering you in this season of life? How might this inspire your prayers?
Most of us are now entering what can be considered a season of generosity. Our friends and family in the US will soon be generously giving treats to the children in their neighbourhoods. In the southern hemisphere, we can clearly see God’s extravagant goodness as trees and flowers burst out their beautiful colours, and this is the perfect time of the year for sharing bbq’s with friends. Many of us also will be starting to plan our Christmas celebrations and gift-giving.
As we enter this season of generosity, we invite you to join us in praying that our generosity will reflect the abundant and extravagant love of our Provider, our trust in Christ, and the freedom God gives us to bless others. We have found it helpful to use Scripture passages like Matthew 6:9-34, 2 Corinthians 9:6-16, and Ephesians 3:16-21 as a basis for such prayer. Below is a prayer Ellie wrote based on these passages. May God use this to bless and encourage you in your own prayers during this season. And we do pray that God’s extravagant love, goodness and abundance will be made known to you.
Graham and Ellie
A Prayer for Generosity
(based on Matthew 6:9-34; 2 Corinthians 9:6-16 and Eph 3:16-21)
Our Father in Heaven, may your Name be kept holy.
You alone are our Master. And in serving you, we discover true freedom.
May our love and devotion to you give evidence that we are your followers, Lord.
Treasure of our hearts, may your Kingdom come soon.
We thank you for the privilege of being able to invest in your Kingdom causes as we follow Jesus.
And we praise you that from your glorious, unlimited resources you strengthen us to experience your love.
As we seek your Kingdom, we pray for those who do not yet know your love.
Empower us by your Spirit to share with others the endless treasures available to all in Christ Jesus.
Enable us to become rich in good works, generous to those in need, and always ready to share with others.
Creator King, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Help us to trust you above all and live as you wish.
Guide us in doing what is right, teach us to love mercy, and show us how to walk humbly with you, Lord.
God of the Nations, we pray for those in leadership around the world.
Conform their hearts to your will so that justice may be done, kindness extended, equality cherished and peace reign throughout the earth.
We pray also for Christian leaders in your Church and in ministry throughout the world, in Australia, and in our community.
We pray that they will serve you faithfully and do your will with all their heart.
Gracious God, enable us to follow your will as we use the gifts that you have given us for your purposes and glory.
Work your generosity in our hearts.
Grant us the wisdom we need to discern how much to give to your work here at church and around the world.
Fill us with joy as we cheerfully share what we have.
Enrich us to bless others in ways that cause their hearts to overflow with thanks and praise to you, Lord God.
Open our eyes to see the richness of your abundant harvest as we plant seeds of love, justice, faith, hope and the Good News about Jesus.
Generous God, give us today the food we need.
We look to you in trust and bring before you all of our needs.
We bring before you those among us who are struggling financially, who are underemployed or unable to find work.
We lift to you those who are sick, or grieving, or troubled.
We bring to you those who are feeling lonely, weary or weak.
We lift to you those who are burdened by stress, doubt or difficult relationships.
Faithful Provider, you know what we need before we even ask.
Show us your kindness once again.
As you share freely everything we need, produce a great harvest of generosity in us and deepen our trust in your goodness.
God of Grace, forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
We admit to you our faults and frailties.
Forgive our clenched fists and hardened hearts.
Forgive our worrying tendencies, our jealousy of what others have, and our fear of not having enough.
Forgive us for allowing other things to take your rightful place in our lives, God.
Gracious God, you are wealthy in compassion and rich in love.
As we freely receive your mercy, empower us to extend abundant compassion and kindness to others and to renounce anger, turn away from bitterness, and let go of all desire for revenge.
Light up our darkness by the power of your Word and Spirit.
Almighty God, don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
Keep us from loving money and indulging worry and fear.
Whenever we worry, prompt us to ask you for whatever we need and deepen our trust in you.
Giver of good Gifts, lead us in your life-giving paths.
Remind us of how precious and valued we are in your sight, God of Love.
May your loving care for us fill our thoughts and cause us to rejoice in you.
May our joyful gratitude overflow in generosity because of the wonderful grace you give us.
All glory to you, Lord God!
Through your mighty power at work within us, you are able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
In the precious and mighty Name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen!