Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts

25 June 2014

Pray in faith, hope and love

How do faith, hope and love work together in prayer? Should our emphasis be on whisking up fervent faith? Or should we just hope for a good outcome? And where does love come in?


Prayer focussed on Jesus
Prayer focussed on Jesus
Paul writes that faith, hope and love remain, and he adds that the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). And when we think of these three great concepts in their own right we don't have too much trouble agreeing with Paul.

But when we begin to think about faith, hope and love in relation to prayer, we may have a little more difficulty. After all, the New Testament tells us very clearly that we must pray in faith.

James says that the prayer of faith will heal the sick (James 5:15). Jesus himself tells us that if we have faith, we may pray for anything and it will be done for us (Mark 11:24). And Paul tells us that righteousness and justification are through faith in the Messiah (Romans 5:1).

So what place do hope and love have in prayer? We might imagine they have no place whatsoever. But hold on a moment, Paul also tells us that if we have faith that can move mountains but lack love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2). The presence of love in our hearts is worth much more than the most effective prayer imaginable. It's not that we should pray without faith, but we are to pray with faith and love. And the love is greater than the faith.

Have more faith - We are sometimes told that we should have more faith. People may urge us to pray in full expectation of healing or the receiving of whatever we ask. Yet this cannot always be right. Paul asks, 'Do all have the gift of healing?' (1 Corinthians 12:29-30) In context this question clearly implies that some do, but not all. Paul himself prayed repeatedly for his thorn in the flesh to be taken from him. But in the end he had to accept that it would remain (2 Corinthians 12:7-8).

Does this suggest that Paul somehow lacked faith or was unable to believe for healing? No! We desperately need to free one another from the false expectation laid upon us by this kind of thinking. It's true that amazing healings take place in answer to prayer, but they don't depend on a mindless frenzy whipped up by wild enthusiasm or false expectation.

A gift of healing - We should always pray in faith, and in hope - but especially in love. We should not always pray in expectation of a particular outcome, but in expectancy of an answer rooted in love. If we have (or receive) a special gift of healing we will have complete confidence, knowing that we are asking what is in line with Father's purpose. But it's not always like that.

Without that gift of knowledge and faith we may still bring the prayer of love and the prayer of trusting hope as well. So pray often, pray always when there is need. Pray in love to the King of Love for the needs and cares of those around you. Pray in hope of an amazing outcome. [Tweet it!] Pray in faith when that is granted to you as a gift. Pray in expectancy, and live in expectancy until the answer is seen.

Expectancy - Expectancy knows that the Mighty One will always answer out of his great love. Expectancy always decides in advance that the answer will be good and for the very best. Expectancy will receive every answer in gratitude and great joy.

And if you have a gift of faith, or receive special faith at a specific time for any need, pray with rejoicing that your asking is already fully aligned with the intentions and purposes of the Most High. But however you pray, remember that the focus is not on you, nor is it on the person you're praying for, the focus is always on the Father through Jesus.

Questions:

  • Most of us have experienced what seems to be both success and failure in answered prayer. Do you think success or failure depends on how you asked?
  • Or might it be that our expectations lead us to a distorted view of what is successful and what is not?
  • Do you see the difference between expectation and expectancy?
  • Will you be more expectant in prayer in future?

See also:

06 August 2013

Gifts, prayer and needs

Leaders in the church, Part 13
< Some issues to grapple with | Index | No later items >

As we grow in living the way Jesus calls us to, we become examples for those around us, those coming next. If we live wrongly and make bad choices we will mislead others and that would be a fearful thing.

Bread of life
Bread of life
It's becoming clear to me that everything in Matthew's Gospel is of value to all believers and also to all leaders. In other words there is nothing here so far that applies only to leaders or only to followers.

Instead, the pattern is a progression, from new believer to disciple and from disciple to leader. As we learn and grow we should all aspire to guide and encourage and build those around us. Even at the earliest disciple stage we can do what Jesus' followers did; bring more people to Jesus.

We need to learn to exercise ourselves in these activities, bringing people into Jesus' presence, helping them to grow as disciples, and continuing to grow in the process ourselves. In a sense there is no distinction between leader and follower; we are, without exception, called to be both.

Giving and praying - So here in Matthew 6:1-4 we see Jesus speaking about giving to those who have insufficient and doing it secretly without show or boasting. And in Matthew 6:5-15 he tells them that it's the same for prayer. Pray privately, just between yourself and the Father. Nor is it about fancy words, the most striking thing about the prayer Jesus taught them is its simplicity. Even so, each of those simple words is loaded with meaning and significance. This is not a prayer for those who do not mean business!

Again, fasting is not for show but to be done secretly (Matthew 6:16-18).

Focussing on heaven - Matthew 6:19-24 shows how Jesus wants us to focus on heaven, not earth; to be full of light, not darkness; and to serve the Almighty, not material things.

And we are not to be anxious about food, drink, clothes or time (Matthew 6:25-34). Instead we must search for the kingdom of the Most High and for his righteousness.

By doing all these things we will become living books that people can safely follow. 'Do what I do' needs to consistently bring people right into the places where Jesus is present.

Questions:

  • If I do not give to those in need or those who ask, how will this affect my friends' understanding of Jesus?
  • Can you list some ways in which secret prayer is better than public prayer?
  • Now list the ways in which public prayer is better than secret prayer.
  • How will this affect the way you pray in future?

See also:


< Some issues to grapple with | Index | No later items >

24 February 2013

On the Market Square

We offer 'Free Hugs' in St Neots Market Square and get a variety of responses from the local people. Along with those who disregard us and won't engage there are some who want a hug and others who want a conversation as well. One conversation went considerably deeper. Hearts were touched.

Cold day on the Market Square
Yesterday I met Mark and then Tendai for coffee and prayer at Cornerstone. We were joined briefly by Steve from New Street Baptist Church before heading out to the Market Square to offer 'Free Hugs'.

I quickly discovered that there are two kinds of people on the streets. There are those that behave as if you are completely invisible. And there are others who smile, engage in a brief conversation (or even a lengthy one) and sometimes accept the offer of a hug.

Some people want to know why we are offering hugs, or what the catch is. Some are not especially interested in those questions. Some accept a brief prayer or a blessing as well.

Relatively few younger people are interested in hugs, many seem quite embarrassed by the idea (perhaps because we are older than they are or their mates are watching). But there was one notable exception.

A guy was approaching on a skateboard and I waved my 'Free Hugs' sign and smiled at him. He jumped off his skateboard, beamed at me and said, 'Why not?' I had perhaps the warmest hug I got all day and he enthusiastically told me I'd made his day. 'More people should do this sort of thing', he said, jumping back on his board and heading off to the local skate park.

Good conversation - Towards the end of our time in the Market Square I had a long and lovely conversation with a local trader. She told me some things about her life, how she sometimes knows about things before they happen, and how she'd once been told by a pastor that she was cursed. Why do people say unkind things like that?

As we were about to leave I asked her if I could pray for her and bless her. She was OK with that and accepted a hug as well. I thought I detected tears in her eyes afterwards, unless it was just the bitter wind.

But it's not just the wind that can bring tears to our eyes. Bitter events in our lives can bring tears within our hearts as well. They blur our spiritual vision and prevent us from seeing what is right before us. We all need to know we are loved by a Father in heaven who truly cares about us.

Giving people a hug is always a good thing. But Papa can give us all the inner, spiritual hugs that we so desperately need, even though we sometimes don't know it.

Questions:

  • Are you connecting with people in the area where you live?
  • If so, how? Tell us about it, leave a comment.
  • Take a look at Chris Duffet's website, are there ideas here you could use?
  • Can you think of similar ideas for engaging people? Leave a comment to share them.

See also:

15 January 2013

Cornerstone - Unexpected meeting

< 8th January 2013 | Index | No later items >

Meeting up again to think and pray about a house of prayer, Chris and I were pleased to meet another friend unexpectedly. Although we didn't spend the time as we had intended, there was a sense that we had spent it as Father intended. And that is far better!

Unexpected, yet glorious light
Chris and I had agreed to meet at Cornerstone again for more focussed prayer towards the goal of a house of prayer for St Neots.

I arrived first, ordered a coffee, and sat reading, praying, and chatting with the staff. After I'd been there a while I noticed someone coming from the healing room. It was Tendai.


She joined me for a drink and we exchanged news for a few minutes. Then Chris arrrived and I introduced my two friends. As I did so I felt there was something significant in our meeting like this, it seemed just right, perhaps even prearranged, as if we were here for a greater purpose. When I mentioned this later it seemed that Chris and Tendai both felt the same. Sometimes the light in our lives can be quite unexpected, yet glorious.

Exchanging information - She told us about some of the encouragement they are getting from offering hugs and a listening ear on the street in town. People are sometimes asking for prayer now. This idea comes from Chris Duffett and is a wonderful way of engaging with everyday people in everyday ways, reaching deeper into their hearts and minds meaningfully, making people smile, encouraging them and making the most of fleeting moments.

We in turn told her about the house of prayer idea and about Ffald-y-Brenin and The Grace Outpouring and the idea of speaking a blessing over people, places, and organisations.

After Tendai had left, Chris and I chattted a little longer and blessed Cornerstone and even the pavement as we walked back to the Market Square.

Questions:

  • Are there times in your life when the unexpected has been better than the expected?
  • How important is it that we network with one another?
  • Are you praying for the place where you live? If not, could you?

See also:


< 8th January 2013 | Index | No later items >

08 January 2013

Cornerstone - Prayer for St Neots

< 27th May 2012 | Index | 15th January 2013 >

Two of us met at Cornerstone to talk about a Ffald-y-Brenin style house of prayer in St Neots. That's not going to work well with just the two of us so we're interested to meet anyone else who is like-minded. Meanwhile we plan to meet weekly to talk and pray further.

Part of the river front in St Neots
A friend (another Chris) and I met at Cornerstone for coffee yesterday to consider the way forward for a house of prayer for the town. We've discussed this before, last time we met at Costa some weeks before Christmas.

Chris feels quite strongly drawn to the Ffald-y-Brenin approach to the house of prayer, I'm feeling that I'd like to be involved but can't offer a large amount of time as I'm already so busy. We agreed to meet weekly for a time and see how it goes. Today we spent quite a while chatting about the situation and finding out a bit more about one another's views.

We prayed specifically that Father would send workers into the harvest here in St Neots and the area around it. In particular we asked for more people to be sent initially to join us in prayer. We also prayed for blessing on our local area and for protection for Cornerstone in the midst of some difficulties they've faced recently, for the manager Paul and his wife Michelle, for the staff and the volunteers, and for the customers.

Others in the area - If you're reading this, and you live in or near St Neots, and you feel called to pray for the town, please drop me an email - chris@scilla.org.uk . We'd love to meet you!

We also thought about visiting other groups of believers around the town, the Baptists, The River, Open Door, and two of the three Anglican congregations got a mention. I'd like to visit every group in the town. There are at least a dozen of them.

Chris and I plan to meet in Cornerstone again next week, and after that we'll probably decide what to do as we go along. It's going to be an interesting journey of discovery in praying for St Neots.

Questions:

  • Have you read the book about Ffald-y-Brenin ('The Grace Outpouring', link below)?
  • Are you involved in praying for the area where you live?
  • Can you pray out of blessing and call blessing down on those around you?
  • Are you in touch with other groups of believers in your area?

See also:



< 27th May 2012 | Index | 15th January 2013 >

04 January 2013

SOAP Bible reading

Keeping a SOAP journal may help make your Bible reading stick. Dave deVries posted about it recently and I want to share it further. Scripture-Observation-Application-Prayer (SOAP). Give it a try and see if it will help you stay spiritually fresh and clean!

Liquid and bar soapsDave deVries, writing at 'Missional Challenge' a week ago, recommended SOAP Journaling. It seems like a good idea that might help many of us read and digest the Bible more effectively, so I thought I'd pass it on.

Not only that, SOAP can help with discipling others and if you are doing that (and you should be) it's a technique you can teach them so that they in turn can teach it to others.

Like all simple ways of doing things it's easy to understand, easy to learn, easy to describe and easy to teach.

There is a caveat, however. Like all methods it's what you make of it that counts. There is no benefit or value in going through the motions; methods are tools, not an end in themselves.

So what is SOAP? How does it work? You can read about it in more detail in Dave's article. A brief outline and my own thoughts are below.

SOAP - The acronym stands for Scripture - Observation - Application - Prayer.

Begin by consciously clearing your mind. As with CO2's Virkler, one way to help with this is to jot down in your notebook every intrusive thought about things you need to do. Write things down as they occur to you and dismiss them until later.

Once your mind is clear and calm, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you, then read the Bible passage from a version that flows easily for you. Consider what you are reading, ask the SOAP questions and write down the thoughts that occur to you.

The questions are listed in Dave's article, he provides several for each letter of the acronym.

Scripture - the questions focus on the context. When it was written, who wrote it, why they wrote it and to whom. Write down verses that speak to you strongly and personally.

Observation - Look for commands and promises. Consider anything concerning the nature and actions of the Father, Son and Spirit. What questions arise in your mind?

Application - What effect does this have, what changes are necessary, what will you do today as a result of what you have read and considered?

Prayer - Aim to cover your needs for help and forgiveness. Be thankful. Write them down as a prayer.

It's easy to read in a vague way and remember almost nothing later. Using a method like SOAP will help you lock in some of the things you read. Writing things down (or sharing them with someone else) are effective ways of getting them to stick in your own mind and heart.

SOAP is more than an acronym, it's an idea. What do you use soap for? To help release the dirt when you wash your hands, to stay fresh and clean. So remember, using SOAP regularly will help you stay spiritually fresh and clean! But as with ordinary soap it's of no value unless you use it.

Questions:

  • Are there ways you can improve your Bible reading? Might SOAP help?
  • What do you think of the SOAP questions? Can you add more of your own?
  • Have you some experience using SOAP? If so, please leave a comment below.

See also:

21 November 2012

A Baptist in Kolkata

We take a look at Chris Duffet's visit to India and track the first four day's events. The visit to the area around Kolkata is proving very interesting. Chris has been communicating without language, healing without medicine, and travelling where there are no roads.

A flower market in Kolkata
Chris Duffett is the President of the Baptist Union here in the UK. He lives in a village not far from me, I've had the pleasure of meeting him several times, and I can report that he is a most extraordinary and special chap.

At the moment he is visiting India with an international group, they're in the region around Kolkata in the north-east, in the state of Bengal, not far from the border with Bangladesh.

Prophetic words - Before he left home his eleven-year-old son told him, 'Dad, you don’t have money and things to give but what you do have is Jesus.'

These words would soon be shown to be prophetic; pure truth and life coming from the mouth of a child. Jesus told his followers (and tells us), 'Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'. (Matthew 18:3)

Day 1 - Here are a few recent quotes from his blog, 'Be the light'. The first extract is from his first day in the country.
The poverty is overwhelming and not being able to communicate using the language humbling. A woman walked with me for half a mile or so carrying her baby. She asked and asked and asked some more for money. I didn’t have anything to give. It was humbling as she stuck so close and glue-like walked with me thinking I had money to give. In the end I simply looked at her and prayed over her and her child. I had nothing else to give.

Day 2 - On the second day he was invited to speak at a meeting and afterwards he invited people to come for prayer. He was overwhelmed by the numbers.
I prayed for so many people: the ones that stand out are the lady with a painful, possibly broken wrist, but I couldn’t work out whether it was broken or not. Her wrist was completely restored and she was able to bend it- she then joined me in prayer for healing for a young girl who had painful legs. Afterwards with a big smile the girl told us that the pain had gone.

A lady also had pain in her legs and as I prayed for her she spoke of the pain lifting.

Day 3 - On the third day in a very remote village where nobody had previously shared Jesus, Chris was invited to a woman's home.
We sit outside on a straw mat amongst the chickens and ducks and I am introduced by Benjamin. I share the story of Jesus and how he never turned people away, how he welcomed all kinds of people and healed them. I spoke on the story of the 4 friends bringing their friend on a mat and because there wasn’t any room on the house, they lowered him through the roof!

They loved the story. Benjamin added some more and then I asked if I could pray for the lady who couldn’t walk. I don’t know whether she was healed or not, but my goodness she loved being prayed for. She was so thankful. Humbling. As we prayed I sensed the most beautiful peace coming to her.

Day 4 - On the fourth day, Chris visits Serampore College and writes...
Students throng everywhere on Campus and it feels mega crowded. I learnt that Theology isn’t just for ministerial training and the Vice Principle of the Theology department Rev. Dr. Pratap Gine explained that many people who wouldn’t consider themselves Christian also study alongside those who are training to become pastors. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this and kept thinking of some of our baptist colleges in the UK and how that couldn’t really happen.

I hope this has whetted your appetite! If you want more you will need to visit Chris's blog again over the next few days to see what happens next.

Questions:

  • Is there something special about meeting simply? Have we in the West lost something by making it more complex and structured?
  • What is your attitude to extreme poverty? The poor are all around us where we are, how can you reach them?
  • Are there advantages or disadvantages in allowing unbelievers to study theology?
  • Why do we need to be 'like little children'? Is faith simple or complicated?

See also:

01 October 2012

Powerless!

A power cut was soon solved once the engineer was called. At first he arranged a temporary fix, then he brought in a team to make a permanent repair. Even in this ordinary event there's an analogy for a spiritual issue.

Power engineers at work
Yesterday was an interesting day. I was working on a blog post when I became aware the laptop screen had dimmed and I'd lost the internet connection. It dawned on me that we might have had a power cut and when I checked, sure enough we had.

Donna headed off to an all-day meeting and I began work in the garden where I'm dismantling our old greenhouse. Coming back in later I found the power was still out... hmm... Nearly an hour now, on the very rare occasions that we have a cut, it usually comes back within ten minutes or so.

I went next door to ask if they had power - they did! This might be bad news, perhaps something was wrong with our distribution box. I went the other side and they told me that yes, they had lost power too. Not just us then.

I phoned the distribution company and they took my details and said they'd send someone out. The engineer quickly confirmed that the problem lay with the main supply in the street. It was going to take some time to fix so they brought a generator, set it up in my neighbour's garden, powered up the system and connected both houses. What a relief, life could continue as normal.

During the afternoon a team arrived to dig up the grass verge outside the house, after some effort they found the faulty section of cabling and replaced it. I admire the way they work with live cables - rather them than me! We were soon back on mains power and the generator was removed.

I'd also like to say 'Thank you' to all the guys involved. They came out promptly on a Sunday morning and stayed much of the day to get the problem corrected. They were friendly, efficient and worked hard. From my initial phone call to replacing the turf everything was done well.

The incident made me think about living with power and living without it. They are very different experiences! Almost everything we do in our daily lives requires electrical power, from the mains, from a vehicle outlet, or from a battery. Without electricity, modern life would simply grind to a halt.

As so often, physical truth illustrates spiritual truth. Without the power of Jesus in my life I would be ineffective in every spiritual endeavour. Like electricity, it's easy to take him for granted. Like electricity, we soon remember our need of him when he seems to be not there.

There was power in the mains cables in the road, but it wasn't getting as far as my house. Church life can be like that - the power is out there but it's not getting as far as my house. This is a fault condition. It needs fixing.

Is power sometimes missing in your spiritual life? What do you need to get reconnected? Maybe a prayer is like a spiritual phone call, maybe the first thing is to ask for help. Until I phoned, nothing was going to happen and the power would still be down. It takes an expert to solve electrical power loss. It takes an expert (Jesus) to solve spiritual power loss.


29 August 2012

Prayer meeting at Cornerstone

It was exciting to meet with others today to pray for the town where I live. We met at a local bookshop/cafe and talked and prayed over hot drinks and a light lunch.

My friend Jim invited me to a prayer meeting at Cornerstone. I was excited to discover this is another example of people obeying Jesus across organisational boundaries.

Ros had suggested meetings to pray for St Neots, and in particular for the business people in the town.

Jim had responded with some enthusiasm, Paul had offered a meeting place,  and this was the third meeting (I was unable to go along last week as I had a dental appointment). Dot also joined us, as did Paul who owns and manages Cornerstone. Jo has been involved previously but was unable to come today.

People and organisations - I'm not part of any organisation, considering myself to belong to the church in the town where I live (although I meet with one of Open Door's small groups). Jim and Paul are involved at the River, Dot meets in Bedford and Ros in Cambridge. Jo is from St Marys, Eaton Socon so there are six of us from five different backgrounds.

For me this diversity is encouraging and delightful and very much in line with what I believe Jesus is doing in Britain today. There is a growing and deepening trend to just do whatever we are shown to do. Our allegiance to One Leader (King Jesus) sometimes causes us to act in simple ways that were less likely in past generations when the denominations acted mostly independently.

Brief notes from the meeting - We had a useful and enthusiastic time of prayer. Ros reminded us of Ezekiel's vision of the deepening stream of water coming from the Temple and the trees on either side. (Ezekiel 47:1-12) Our life depends on this river, if our supply is not from the Holy Place we will be dry and ineffective. We also thought about the Kingdom and our need to live as subjects of the King. We are only in the Kingdom if we are obedient. That's what the Kingdom is, the realm where the King rules and is obeyed.

I'm looking forward to more of these Wednesday lunchtime meetings.

Does anyone have other simple, encouraging examples of working together across dividing lines in the church? We all want to see the Kingdom grow and extend. We all want to reach the lost and encourage our brothers and sisters. How is this happening in your own experience?

04 February 2012

Praying for Britain

Some of us are thinking we should begin praying for Britain, for England, and for our local area. Megan first suggested the idea after reading John Richard's prophecy (item 4 in the list below).

A boat on Galilee, a good place to pray!Recently we've become aware of a series of events related to prayer for Britain. They're listed here in the order in which we heard about them. However, it was item 4 that provoked our interest in prayer.
  1. Prophetic opinion from Clifford Hill that there is a five year 'window of opportunity' for the church in the UK, there would now be about three years of this window left.
  2. Some thoughts from Clifford Hill, Wolfgang Simson, and Peter Farmer in the Millenials Meeting at Moggerhanger Park.
  3. A word from Mark Stibbe concerning the 'seven pillars of society'. There are details of the seven pillars online. It's an idea that goes back to the 1970s.
  4. prophecy from John Richards
  5. A second prophecy from Lance Lambert
As an initial response we plan to meet on Tuesday afternoon, 7th February at 15:00 to consider how we should take this forward. We will review the five items above, consider the practicalities of prayer and perhaps fasting, and decide if and when to meet again and whether to invite others to join us.

My feeling is that we should involve anyone in the St Neots area who feels led to take part. Whatever we do would probably be  non-denoninational, informal and very flexible. If enough people are involved we could consider meeting in a variety of places and at different times. Others may have different ideas and we'll know more after we meet on 7th.

Here are some factors that I regard as especially important as we go forward. There may well be others that we can add as we go along.
  • Love Jesus ever more fully and learn to listen better as the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
  • Love one another so that we can act in unity of heart and purpose despite any differences that might divide us.
  • Recognise that there is only one living Temple and we are all stones built into it.
  • Wholeheartedly give ourselves to whatever he shows us to do, even if it seems very costly or very stupid.
  • Understand Jesus' call to mission in the widest possible sense, and be ready to urgently reach those in our lives who need to hear the good news he has for them.
  • Keep everything as simple as the Father has made it, not adding the complexity that we may find more amenable.
  • Remember that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are in charge and we are not. Give them the glory and honour and praise they truly deserve, and humbly exercise the authority we have in them (which we do not deserve).
  • Our prayer should be to bless (in the manner of Ffald-y-Brenin).
If you are interested in this and live near St Neots perhaps you'd like to contact me. You can comment on this post below or you can mail me (chris@scilla.org.uk). I will pass your comments on when we meet on 7th.

01 January 2012

Grace outpouring

Part 10 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< The abundant results of prayer | Index | Like light on the water >

Behind the prayers for blessing and the abundant evidence of the results, an inner awareness was growing of the need for grace in dealing with people. A new understanding was developing in Roy and Daphne's hearts and minds.

Rainclouds and sunshine over GalileeAs a result of the answers to prayer, it was now becoming clear that the best way to reach people is by first blessing them. Simply confronting people with truth and correction is ineffective and even counter productive.

Roy and Daphne start to challenge the accepted norms where these involve any form of judgement or criticism.
My old ways of giving away my faith were being changed as this understanding of blessing people began to not merely take hold of our hearts but actually bear fruit in our community.

I was no stranger to the 'truth and Scripture' method. This appeal to the mind is valid, good and powerful for many. But for people who don't consider themselves particularly literate and for those who have moved to a more visual, 'discovered in life' knowledge it can often fail to stir their hearts, minds and emotions.

I had started to challenge the 'faith as normal' mindset that I felt many Christians had slipped into. I had already begun to question a culture of faith that places a high value on correcting strangers. For example, we're very good at throwing stones at politicians and the media. Christians seem very keen on petitions. I started to ask people who wanted to publicise their petition objecting to a particular broadcast, for instance, whether they had ever previously commended the broadcaster for programmes that were wholesome. Were they praying for the media or was this simply mud-slinging?

Having a heart to bless will challenge the judgemental mindset that can colour how we look at those we live with and among. We can become a 'grace first' people. We're still asking people to turn away from rebellion against God but we're seeking to be part of the revelation from the Father that his primary desire is to bless those he created in his image.

If we will let the wisdom of God inhabit our thinking, a consistent 'grace first' pattern will emerge in our actions and words. 'Grace first' prayer for healing doesn't search for wrongdoing in a person's life, which needs correcting as a prelude to a miracle. There doesn't seem to be much evidence for that approach in the ministry of Jesus. We simply ask that the power of God should touch that life.

As goodness, grace and mercy are manifest we can remind people to change their ways - they're ready to hear the words of correction when they've heard the shout of love. Jesus, for instance, saved a sinful, adulterous woman from death and then gently suggested that she 'go and sin no more'.

Think for a moment about your experience with God. Sometimes a truth enters your life and you value it. It becomes a thread in your tapestry of faith. Then a season comes when you realise how important that insight is. The idea of blessing people, already growing in our lives, took hold of me in a new way as our life at Ffald-y-Brenin unfolded, despite the attacks that it also released.*
We can all learn from Roy and Daphne's experience. They found that a 'grace first' approach and prayer for blessing is a wonderful way to capture attention, hearts and minds and open the way for Jesus. We can take this approach too.

Why not look for opportunities to bless the people you meet in your daily life? Pray for them to receive a touch from the Lord. Ask him to bless their coming and going, their homes and families and jobs and businesses. And then, when you meet them at the supermarket checkout, in the street, at a school parent's evening or the cricket club or in the local pub, pray secretly in your heart again.

Ask for an abundance of good things for them, and when they start to tell you their stories you will be able to say, 'I asked Jesus to bless your business' - or family, school, garden, or whatever. And another seed will have been sown in a heart.

If we can all change our habits just a little here and there it will make a big difference. Here is one habit I want to cultivate in my own life - to pray for a blessing upon everyone who reads one of these blog posts. It seems such a little thing, but a lot of little things add up. A little habit consistently applied can achieve a lot of bad or a lot of good.

So why not develop little habits that will bring good results? Be like your Father in heaven who pours out the life-giving rain and sun on all people.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< The abundant results of prayer | Index | Like light on the water >

29 December 2011

The abundant results of prayer

Part 9 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< We bless you from... here! | Index | Grace outpouring >

Soon there is ample evidence that trusting, expectant prayer brings results. The community at Ffald-y-Brenin begin to hear extraordinary stories from their neighbours up and down the valley.

A poppy in PembrokeshireRoy and the others at Ffald-y-Brenin have been discovering the value of simply praying for blessing on local people, places and businesses. Now they start to witness the results of this prayer.

There are some remarkable stories and Roy shares from them in the next section of the book.
Before long we began to see the fruit of these prayers in quite miraculous ways. A man who rented a small stable in the community and did agricultural repairs had not been finding things easy. After we began blessing the valley in the name of Jesus his business suddenly began to take off. He had to take on larger premises and employ people and was able to buy his own house.

The lambing season came and more miracles emerged. We had been blessing the ewes to be strong and healthy and productive. One of our farmer neighbours told us how he'd been absolutely stunned by the number of quads and triplets being born to his ewes. His normal hope was for many twins. The ewes were just about coping, but his wife was run off her feet supporting the rest of the lambs with bottle feeds!

He wasn't the only farmer with a story to tell. Another one stopped me in the lane and said, 'Come and look in this field with me.' Just beyond the gate was a massive bull. He carefully walked round the bull with an arm stiffened in front of him as if to ward off an attack. The bull was staring at him and slowly turning and facing him as he walked round. The farmer invited me to join him. I declined. He insisted. I closed the gate and refused again. Now he was stuck in the field with the bull and had an obstinate onlooker.

He managed to divide off a cow and her calf and invited me to consider how excellent the calf's rear end was. Being no expert on bovine hindquarters I merely murmured some niceties. He had to spell it out for me. The calf was clearly, given the breadth of its rear, going to be a superb bull. It seems that farmers pray that at least once in a lifetime they will have a calf like that one.

He still clearly felt I wasn't grasping how good this was. 'I had one like this last year as well. It's utterly unnatural.' I told him that we had been praying that the blessings of God would fall on the cattle, on the herds of the locality. Another seed was planted in another life as God's blessing unfolded in the life of a farmer in this green valley in Pembrokeshire.

But there was more. A lady who lives out in the wilds at the head of the valley runs a farmhouse bed and breakfast. Suddenly she was awarded AA landlady of the year for Great Britain and was busy at awards, on publicity trips and in TV studios. Even now we tease her and tell her we're having a plaque put up at Ffald-y-Brenin, which will claim we are friends of the award-winning Lilwen MacAllister.

This remote valley was seeing material and spiritual blessing. The chapel had not had a baptism for a good few years, but after we prayed the prayer of blessing a dam seemed to break. One very cold day, muddy underfoot, we were able to witness about seven people being baptised in the open-air baptistry, fed by the local stream.*

When we pray in expectant faith we can't second guess the outcome. Our Father in heaven knows what is needed and pours out more than we could ever hope or expect. We often can't anticipate either the direction or the scale of his response.

Roy, Daphne and the others at Ffald-y-Brenin asked only for a blessing on the people, the farm animals, the land, and the local businesses. But they had no idea what form this blessing would take until their neighbours began to tell them.

And I'm quite sure that if you also pray from the place where the Lord lives among you and call on him to bless your neighbours, sooner or later extraordinary stories will reach you in the same way. So don't be afraid to ask. And after you have asked, expect the unexpected!

All too often we pray very specifically for this or that perceived need, usually for ourselves or for our close friends and family. And then we're disappointed when we don't see the results we had expected. I wonder how we often fail to notice the unexpected good things that he does provide?

If you read the whole book you will see that Roy also prays very specifically - not infrequently for healing. But he began with the unspecific prayer for blessing. In the rest of the chapter he explains more about the underlying heart and mind attitudes that help or hinder effective prayer. More on this in the next post.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A pattern of blessing | Index | Grace outpouring >

10 December 2011

A pattern of blessing

Part 7 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< Blessings in the rain | Index | We bless you from... here! >

Roy explains the importance of slipping away to let the Holy Spirit deal with people directly and personally. And a pattern of prayer for blessing is set, not only for visitors but for the local area too.

Looking beyond Ffald-y-BreninLast time we saw how important it was to persevere despite the difficulties visitors might bring with them. And in the end the Holy Spirit would step in and take over. Roy shares why this is important.
This slipping away was an important part of our ethos. I wanted people to have direct dealings with God. When visitors left we didn't want them to feel that there was somebody at Ffald-y-Brenin who had led them and taught them, to whom they must speak when they had difficulties in the future. I wanted people to know that God himself had come and met with them, and that he was able to convict and counsel them, and that they could speak to him directly - they didn't need to be taught 'special words' to pray. If I had been present through these encounters they might have asked how to pray or been scared to admit that they didn't know how to. Afterwards, when people would come to tell us their stories of wonder and weeping, we would explain and encourage, offering them a context for what had happened and suggesting how to find out more about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Several patterns began to emerge in the months that followed. We often did not need to offer to pray a prayer of blessing, as the Holy Spirit fell on people just as they walked around the centre or the grounds. Our job was to go along with what the Holy Spirit was doing and to continue to bless what he was doing, and respond to it.

It was so rewarding to speak blessings on the people God brought along who didn't know him, so we turned our sights outwards and began a pattern of speaking blessings into the local community. Every Friday morning in our chapel meeting we would speak blessings over the neighbourhood. The valley below us has a two-mile section that you could call our locality. It is home to about eighty people scattered across its half-mile width.*

How striking that Roy felt he should walk away once he felt people were sensing the presence of the Spirit touching them. Most of us, I dare say, would have stayed to guide them or encourage them or channel them in accordance with our traditional teaching. How right Roy was to take this line! What the visitors received would come direct from the One who really knew what was needed. And in their hearts and minds afterwards they would know to turn to him again as necessary.

And then there is the turning outward. Am I more likely to turn inward or outward? How about you? When we are inclined to turn inward perhaps we are forgetting the words of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations. Even if this requirement seems strange and difficult to us, we still cannot ignore it. 'Go and make followers' are the words of the King.

Turning out towards the community is always the right thing to do. How hard can it be to pray for a blessing on our neighbours? We don't even need to know what kind of blessing to ask for, the Lord knows what is needed. But he wants us to have a desire in our hearts that they should be blessed and bring it to him to fulfil in whatever way he wishes. And if he does give us specific things to ask, so much the better.

But whether it's specific or general - we can and should ask!

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Blessings in the rain | Index | We bless you from... here! >

21 November 2011

Unexpected visitors

Part 3 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A step forward | Index | A pattern of blessing >

Roy and Daphne show a visiting couple around Ffald-y-Brenin and they are surprised and deeply affected by a sense of the Almighty's presence, particularly when they reach the chapel.

The chapel (left) and retreat accomodation
In the second part of this story, Roy was feeling frustrated that he's not able to do what he feels he was born to do. So he prayed for Father to change something. Then there was a knock at the door and they met two strangers, a married couple. Here's part three.
We sat them down at our table, where we had just finished lunch, and the reason for their trek up our long and steep drive unfolded.

'Well, we were driving along here and we don't quite understand it, but we were compelled to come up your drive.' They had noted that it was a Christian retreat centre, but that meant little to them. We made them a cup of tea, always a good place to start, and then talked in general terms about the centre for a while and finally explained to them that this is a place where lives get changed because God is real.

They liked the idea of being shown round, so we guided them through the garden, with its special rockery, swiftly flowing stream and a beautiful view of the valley and surrounding hills. We took in the stone corridors of the main retreat centre, walked around the grounds and back to the final room, which happened to be the chapel. There they seemed to sense something of the presence of God, although they might not have been able to articulate what was happening to them. They sat down rather speedily, rather heavily, as if their legs had gone a little weak.

I immediately created a new tradition: 'We have a rule here about how we respond to our visitors. We like to bless them before they leave. May I bless you?'

They had no problem with that, so I simply said: 'I bless you in the name of Jesus, to know God, his purpose for your life, and his blessings on you and your family and the situations of your life. Amen.'

They started to weep. The sense of the presence of God seemed tangible. I quietly let myself out of the chapel so they wouldn't be embarrassed by my presence. It was time to let God do what he wanted to do for that couple.

A little later they came and found me, full of gratitude and rather shaken by what was for them the unexpected sense of God's presence. I was able to share a little more of the good news of Jesus before they left.*

On the face of it, this isolated event would not have seemed like an answer to Roy's prayer. But nothing quite like this had happened before and perhaps it should have made him wonder. It turned out later that this was the beginning of the answer to why Roy was at Ffald-y-Brenin - there was more to come - much more.

Roy could not see this at the time. Probably we are all the same, I know I am. I ask for something but don't expect the next thing that happens to be the first stirrings of Father's response. Sometimes I have the faith to ask, believing that he will do something, yet somehow I expect his answer to be within the bounds of my hopes and expectations. How silly!

Often (perhaps always) he does far, far more than we can ever hope or expect (Ephesians 3:20).

So next time you pray for something, expect to be surprised by the answer. You don't know how, or where, or when the answer will arrive; you don't know if it will be in the form you suppose. All you know for sure is that it's likely to be more than you expect, not less. And, like Roy, you may not even notice the answer at first.

Always remember, Papa won't give you what you want, he'll give you what he knows you need. He'll give you what he wants, he'll give you what will further the growth of his Kingdom, he will stretch you and develop your character. He is Love and he is also very wise.

Read a brief review (includes several ways to buy a copy of the book).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A step forward | Index | A pattern of blessing >

14 November 2011

A step forward

Part 2 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A sense of direction | Index | Unexpected visitors >

In this second part of the story Daphne suggests Roy should pray and he demands some action from the Most High. And then there's a knock at the door.

The farmhouse at Ffald-y-Brenin
The publishers of 'The Grace Outpouring', David C Cook, have kindly allowed me to quote a series of extracts from chapter one.

In the first part, Roy was beginning to feel he should leave Ffald-y-Brenin, the Welsh retreat centre he and Daphne were running.

Here's part two.
Daphne, petite and blonde, is always full of incredible wisdom and insight, and she just calmly looked at me and said, 'Hmm. Well, if that's how you feel, and you feel so strongly, it's about time you told God about it.'

Suitably rebuked, I retreated to the upstairs office to pray. Fortunately I wasn't aware that her internal response was actually 'Well you can leave if you like, but I'm not!' That just might have affected my conversation with God, which was going something like: 'Lord, I need to be spending time with people who don't know you. I cannot survive unless I'm doing this, because this is what you made me to be, this is what I am ... somebody who introduces people to you, who connects them, or fans the flame.'

The pent-up emotions surfaced in my jumbled words. 'How can I be whom you created me to be unless I am sharing you with those who don't know you, or seeking to heal the hurting, or fanning flames of passion in those who are on the fringes of walking with you? What am I without you? How can I live unless I obey your call? How can I be someone else? Lord, something has got to happen. I cannot stay here unless you do something.'

My talk with God finished I returned to the everyday rhythms of life at Ffald-y-Brenin. Within hours there was a knock at the door. Tall and middle aged, the couple who greeted us were strangers.

'Hello, I hope you don't mind us calling like this, but I wonder if you could tell us what this place is.'*

Roy knows from experience that communication is fundamental to a healthy emotional life, just as eating and drinking is fundamental to a healthy physical life. On this occasion he communicates with his wife (by listening) and with the Almighty (by speaking). But both have thoughts hidden from Roy. Daphne doesn't want to leave Ffald-y-Brenin. And Father plans to answer Roy's prayer in ways he doesn't expect.

One of the great things about our heavenly Father is that he really is a Dad. It's simply the best description of what he's like. He listens to what we say and ask. But he replies out of experience and wisdom beyond our own, and out of love. He delights in our presence with him. He listens to what we say to him, and if we are listening we'll hear what he has to tell us. Telling him how we feel is always a step in the right direction. But when we're not paying attention he sometimes just shows us.

Perhaps on this occasion Roy didn't wait for Father's reply. But the answer still came - it began with that knock on the door and a question from two strangers.

If you're enjoying the story so far please drop by later for more. Or better still, buy a copy of the book and read it.

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A sense of direction | Index | Unexpected visitors >

11 October 2011

THOUGHT - Missing the best

< Building the church | Making things new >

During the 1970s for some time (maybe a year or two) we met with a group of around twenty friends in our homes. The meeting moved from house to house, every week we would collect in a home somewhere - often at our house, Tony and Faith's, or Paul and Jenny's (also close friends). I remember three or four other homes too. We were drawn from a variety of backgrounds, Anglican, Evangelical, Roman Catholic and more.

People at a partyWhenever we met we would pray and sing, praising and worshipping the Father and the Son, feeling the presence of Jesus amongst us, reading the Bible with renewed minds and hearts, and expecting his Spirit to sweep through us releasing us in the use of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, visions and so forth. They were rich times of abundant blessing; we were encouraged and instructed by the Master. We knew that as long as we listened and did as we were told we would stay on track.

Going pear shaped - But eventually tensions and pressures developed and we were drawn in several new directions. We were unable to hold it all together and our focus shifted away from the one thing we had done together to a range of new things that we did separately. Some were drawn into a new home church and others to various larger new ventures further afield.

We had been drawn from many different backgrounds and traditions, gelled as one body for a while, and then were pulled away into myriad other new projects and groups.

Judy and I wanted, I think, to carry on as before - one big happy family of Jesus followers. But soon we were left pretty much isolated and alone. I tried hard to stay in touch with some of the things others were doing but it wasn't the same. I felt I could only take a peripheral and occasional part while Judy really wanted no part of it at all.

I don't think we were alone, I suspect we all wanted to move forward together, and perhaps we all felt we were doing the right thing and just wished the rest would come with us.

With the benefit of hindsight I can see that our focus shifted. We became muddled in our thinking, often following teachings about Jesus instead of following the Teacher himself. It was a trap and we fell right into it! Good teachers have an enormous responsibility to teach wisely (James 3:1).

And it wasn't just us. Others across the nation were being pulled this way and that resulting in many new 'streams' of church life. In some ways these groups have done well and have been mightily used. Our Father is patient and full of grace. But we are further than ever from the goal of one body, one church. There are more divisions now than ever before!

It could happen again - This same trap remains ready and open today wherever people are listening to Yahshua. Stephen Covey once said, 'The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.' And for us the main thing is listening to the Spirit of Christ and obeying him in everything. The moment we put more store in what is being taught than we do in the Teacher (Jesus), we are undone. And this can happen with the best will in the world, it can happen even while we sincerely believe we are following Jesus most closely.

Don't follow the teaching about Jesus, follow the Teacher who is Jesus! Earnestly and zealously following the teaching has a feeling of holiness about it. But the Son himself is the only one worth following; only he is life and light. He is our bread, our wine, and the very air we breathe. So cling to him and let go of everything else.

What I am not saying - Please don't hear what I am not saying. Some examples may help.

Peter Farmer teaches valuable things about making disciples and planting churches. John White teaches valuable things about listening to one another and to Jesus. Frank Viola teaches valuable things about the nature and history of the church. And of course we could easily extend this list.

All of these teachings are good, all are useful, all are helpful. But they are not the 'main thing'. If any one of them became more central and more important than Yahshua himself it would cease to be useful and instead turn into a burden and a stumbling block.

I'm not saying that such a thing has happened with the teachings of Peter, John or Frank - but I do know that it can happen. It happened all too easily in the late '70s and it could happen again today. We need to guard against that! I think it is a danger that arises every single time there's a fresh move of the Spirit drawing us into another new thing. And make no mistake, that is how Jesus builds his church, restoring one thing after another.

Can you share stories of Jesus building his church? Do you have cautionary tales to tell? If so please leave a comment and/or send me your contact details. Mine are on the 'Chris' page, scroll down part way to find them.

< Building the church | Making things new >

08 August 2011

SOCIETY - Riots in the cities

If you live in Britain you will be aware of the rioting going on in London and Birmingham right now. What are we to make of this, we know what is happening. But why is it happening? And why is it happening now?

Fireman dousing the flames
Last Wednesday a man was shot by police in Tottenham, London. He was travelling in a mini cab at the time of this incident. He died. The details of what happened are unavailable because the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating.

Bizarrely, I know the victim's cousin. This gives me an unusual perspective of the whole affair, I feel more involved personally, I can sense something of the family's pain.

Is there any link between this death and the current riots in various parts of London and in Birmingham? I think the link is extremely tenuous. As I understand it, following the shooting there was a peaceful demonstration in Tottenham. But the peaceful demonstration was overwhelmed and swept aside by other people wanting to cause trouble. Many of these people were not from the local community and had no interest in the shooting or in helping the man's family.

There is a pattern here. Similar disturbances have followed other peaceful events such as the student protests last November.

The people acting violently seem to be either angry or feel they have no future, sometimes both. They are almost entirely young, ranging from late teens to late twenties. They seem to be detached from the rest of British society. They lack empathy towards others and don't appear to care about harming people or property.

I believe most of these young people feel overlooked, discarded by a society that doesn't care about them. There are not enough jobs to go round, there is a squeeze on benefits, they have no chance to create a home or build a family or a career. They're trapped and the reaction of some is to hang out in groups with nothing useful to do and too much time on their hands.

Is it their fault? No, I don't think so.

What can be done? That depends on the rest of us. Are we prepared to spend the time and money and emotional energy to get involved? Are we willing to give up whatever is necessary to make it happen? If we just sit back and say, 'The government should deal with it', things are likely to get a good deal worse. The government will do their best, but it will be an impersonal and not very effective best.

Those of us who follow Jesus should be taking the initiative here. If you are one of his people you can begin by praying for your country with renewed vigour and asking him to reveal the practical things you could be doing in your local area.

Ask him to redeem the young people of Britain, to rescue them and give them hope and fresh opportunities.

Pray for the government, ask him to guide them and give them wisdom.

Pray for the rest of society, that they will realise the need for real change in their attitudes, words and actions towards the young and disenfranchised.

Pray for families, for fathers and mothers who care and love their children.

And pray for yourself, that you will hear and see what the Spirit is doing and saying in our day. Pray for a renewed spiritual life for yourself and others in the church, for a deep recognition that turning up on a Sunday morning and 'being a good person' is nowhere near enough.

And if you don't believe Jesus is the answer to Britain's dissolving society may I suggest you get to know him a little better. Begin by buying a good, modern version of the Bible and take a look at the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. Ask yourself if the Jesus portrayed there and his followers portrayed there might make a difference in Britain in 2011. Could you use some of those ideas? And while you're digesting those books, consider how you might help the hurting people all around you. Begin with your next door neighbours and also with the kids that hang out around your area. Are there things you could involve them in that are constructive and fun and will meet some real needs?

Think hard and if you believe pray hard. Then act. If significant numbers of us don't do this things could get a lot worse - and nobody wants that.

(Related post, 'SOCIETY - The London Protests')

05 April 2011

RESPONSE - Obedience matters!

This is in response to a brief post on the Nomad Blog. By being obedient the team were able to do exactly the right thing without even knowing there was a need. Yahshua is, frankly, awesome!

A bouquet of flowersHere's an extract from the post on Nomad.

We felt God prompting us to go into a local housing estate, but we all felt a bit discouraged at how quiet things were. Two of the team felt God draw their attention to a certain house. They knocked on the door and asked the lady who answered if they could pray for her. She began crying and said that her husband had died a few weeks before. The team spent the rest of the afternoon listening to her story and praying with her.

The next day someone gave the team an undelivered bouquet of flowers to use. As we prayed a number of us felt God saying to give the flowers to the lady we’d met the day before. So two of the team went back to her house and told her that Jesus wanted to give her the bouquet. She began crying and told us that it was the day of her 40th wedding anniversary and her husband’s birthday! Again the team was able to spend the afternoon praying with her. God’s perfect timing!

There are several things to notice about this.

  • The team were prompted in a general way - to go into a housing estate. We may not get the guidance all at once. If we begin to follow, more will come as and when it's needed.
  • They felt discouraged as nothing much seemed to be happening. It's easy to feel discouraged, but it's important not to give up.
  • Two were drawn to a particular house. There's no certainty about these things, but they went prepared to see what would happen. We all need to learn to do this.
  • They knocked on the door. We have to take the initiative, we have to go for it! There's no point in wimping out; if there's a door knock on it; if someone comes smile and speak to them. People are unlikely to approach us; we must approach them.
  • They asked if they could pray. Bless people, don't discuss the Bible or tell them they are on the path to death or that they need to repent. Bless them! How simple can this be? Pray, listen, care, love - those are the things we are called to do. God is love. If Jesus lives in me love will leak out everywhere I go.
  • They listened and prayed with her. Nuff said.
  • Someone gave them a bouquet. Expect things like this to happen. Don't take the flowers home and put them into a vase. They were given for a purpose, ask Jesus to reveal it.
  • They asked Jesus what to do and he told them. How important to trust him like this. He will not let us down. He is teaching us to trust and expect.
  • Two went back and delivered the flowers from Jesus. Not from us - from him. We need to invite him to live and act and speak through us. Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
  • More prayer, more listening, the right time. HalleluYah!
More? You want more? Good! Also read this Nomad item and then ponder a couple of questions.

Yahshua sent out the disciples in pairs and told them to share the good news, cast out demons, and heal the sick. In other words he told them to do what they had seen him do. (Luke 9:1-6)

Q1 - What does he want you to do?

Q2 - Oh, and while you're at it why not listen to some of the truly excellent stuff on the Nomad Podcast?

28 February 2011

Brampton - An easy prayer turned hard

< 22nd February 2011 | Index | 3rd March 2011 >

Meeting with Sean this evening provided an unexpected dimension to prayer and faith. What began as a simple prayer for children to be happy turned into a deeply significant personal challenge. Life with Yahshua is full of surprises.

Whatever our age, we are all childrenI suppose by now nothing should surprise me! Here's what happened.

We sat drinking coffee and I wittered on for a while about the situation in North Africa, and Libya in particular. Not particularly illuminating stuff, but something that has preoccupied me over recent days. Sean listened but had little to add as he's been busy with other things of his own.

The prayer - Over the weeks and months he has been working his way through prayer circles on a T-shirt. Here's Sean's explanation. Read what he says and then come back here. If you don't, what follows may be a bit of a mystery.

I asked how this process was going, and wondered if it would be OK to pray about one or two of the circles together. Sean thought that would be a good plan and picked one out at random. We looked at it together, someone had written, 'For all children to be happy'.

What a lovely prayer request; simple, pure, and certainly worthy. I thought, 'What an easy thing to pray for.' Boy, was I wrong to think that!

The problem - As we began to pray, this 'simple' prayer challenged me more and more about my own faith. Perhaps the words 'all' and 'be' are the main problem. Do I have the faith to go to Father and ask, in Jesus name, that all children will be happy? All children? There is so much pain and suffering in the world and children are not immune. Here are some of the issues faced by children every day in our world - hunger, pain, sickness, abuse, no parents, uncaring parents, poverty, dirty drinking water, isolation, bullying, loneliness, fear, violence, self doubt, abandonment, loss... The list could go on, add some more yourself.

How can I ask for all children to be happy? It's easy to say the words so let's rephrase that. How can I believe that such a prayer will be answered? It seems easier to pray for one child with a particular known issue to be met. 'Father, please bring happiness into the life of {name goes here}'. But all children?

Yahshua loves children. He told his disciples not to prevent the little ones coming to him. He told them that unless they themselves came like small children they wouldn't even enter the Kingdom of heaven! (Mark 10:13-16)

Challenged - Whoever wrote that simple T-shirt prayer could not have known that they were setting me such a mighty challenge! The Holy Spirit didn't make it easier for me; he told me, 'If you can't pray for such a simple thing, how will you be able to ask for anything more difficult?'

I recognise that the Creator and King of this universe truly loves every child and certainly has no wish to keep any of them from happiness. Jesus himself walked through this same broken world and saw (and felt) the suffering and pain for himself. Love is the answer, but it's an answer he wants me to live out in practical ways as part of his body. I may be an ear, an eye, a foot or a hand. I must play my part by hearing or seeing suffering and going and reaching out in love.

I've rarely felt more challenged. What about you? Do you have views or thoughts about prayer and faith? Why not leave a comment? Let's have a discussion.

You can see more of Sean's T-shirt prayer circles on his 'Children in Need' Prayer Spot. The photo is image 54 from a collection on the recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

< 22nd February 2011 | Index | 3rd March 2011 >

22 December 2010

St Neots (Cornerstone) - Being in the right place

Tonight we met at Cornerstone as there was a group using the Meeting Room and I had agreed to open the shop and lock up afterwards. We spent some time over coffee talking about the year ahead.

David Wilkerson TodayJim told us about a Derek Prince book* he's been reading about prayer and fasting, and he shared some of his thoughts about it and how it had impacted him. We prayed together for Father to have his way in our lives - the things we feel we should do, things he has for us that he has not yet shown us, as well as projects, ideas, and possible new openings we can see.

I had a picture of a waterfall coming over a cliff. It was not a particularly large waterfall (not a Niagara Falls, more like a large brook shooting over the cliff edge). But it was a very high waterfall. And the Lord told me that if we stand in front of it we can see it but we won't get wet, and if we stand behind it (between the waterfall and the cliff) we'll see it and hear it but we still won't get wet.

But if we stand in the right place we will be drenched by the water. This is what Father wants us to do, to stand in the place where the water falls and to be truly affected by it.

Sean explained that the picture confirmed for him something he had read in a David Wilkerson blog post, 'Undefiled in the Midst of Wickedness'. Like Daniel and his companions, we need to stand in the right place, a place of purity. 'Seek first the Kingdom of the Most High, and all these other things will be added.'

Sean followed up this meeting with an email to Jim and me pointing us to another David Wilkerson item and commenting that it chimed well with some things Jim had mentioned.

Isn't it encouraging when things come together and link like that!

* If you live in the St Neots area you can buy a copy of this book from Cornerstone.

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