01 Jul Vicars’ Blog July – Praying People Praying Church
Pete Grieg says: “Every pilgrim gets a stone in their shoe eventually. You wake up one morning and think ‘Is this really all there is to knowing the Creator of 100 billion galaxies?’ you read the book of Acts and ask, why isn’t it like this anymore? Your world falls apart and you desperately need a miracle. You look up at the sky on a cloudless night and gaze at the stars and feel there is something bigger than religious language. Finally, you turn to God and say. ‘Lord, teach me to pray’. And he says ‘I thought you’d never ask!’”
We continue our sermon series on prayer in July. Because, as a church, we want to take our next steps towards accessible spirit-filled worship and confidence in personal faith, we have taken PRAYER as a priority in 2019-2020. This is both praying together as a worshiping community and personal prayer. In this sermon series, we will look at the Lord’s Prayer as a toolkit in which there are a variety of different types of prayer for different occasions, much as we might use a hammer to bang in a nail and a pair of pliers to twist a piece of metal and a saw to cut a piece of wood. So, in Jesus’ masterclass on prayer, we are introduced to Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Contemplation, Listening and Spiritual warfare. What a wonderful tool kit!
What would it look like if we were a praying church? Would we enjoy prayer more? Hopefully! Would we pray more on our own? Yes. Would we pray more together? Yes, we hope so. Would all our prayers be answered? Not necessarily. Maybe it would simply be that our first response in any situation would be to say, “Shall we pray about that?”
Some of us attended a day on Prayer in June called “How to lead a Praying church”. This has inspired us to think about our own prayer life, and more widely, to want to encourage us to be a praying church.
Three questions at the heart of prayer are these:
1 Who is God? If we believe that God created everything in the world including ourselves and raised Jesus from the dead, then God is a God who can answer our prayers and is longing to hear our faltering steps in prayer. Whether he chooses to answer in the way we expect is up to him. Praying is our part.
2 Who am I? If we want something really badly, we will pray and pray with purpose. We may pray heartfelt prayers for family members who are ill, or for ourselves, especially in situations when we feel powerless. What if we prayed like this for the things that are on God’s heart?
3 What is prayer? If prayer is good enough to get Jonah out of the belly of a fish, and to give Hannah a longed for baby, and to help Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in spite of opposition, and to be the heart-felt cries of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, then it’s good enough for me. “Prayer is how God gives us many of the unimaginable things he has for us” Tim Keller.
What would encourage us to pray more? Our church has many stories of how God has answered prayer over the years. We would love to find out more about this. Hearing stories of how God has answered prayer, certainly motivates us to pray. In May, we had a 7.00 pm Healing service and four people that I know of have come back to let us know of some kind of healing in response to the prayers that were prayed that night. One was Emily, whose Mum had been diagnosed with possible cancer on her lung, but when she went back to the doctor, no evidence of the shadow on the lung could be found. Listen to this here.
Would a four-step process help us to pray more? We may have heard of this helpful acronym: ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Pete Greig has another one: PRAY – Pause – be still; Rejoice – worship and praise God; Ask – Ask God for anything for ourselves and others; Yield (or Yes for children) – Give it to God and don’t take it back again!
We would love to hear your ideas about how we can be praying people and a praying church. Meanwhile, let’s pray! Keep it simple, keep it real and keep it up!
Jonny & Cathy