Congratulations on making it to the end of our week of prayer & fasting 2017. Just so you know, our week of prayer & fasting 2018 will be w/b 25 June!
If you have been fasting through the week, remember to be gentle as you break fast. It’s is tempting to sit down to a full plate of your favourite meal, but I would be quietly confident that you’ll regret it! Your system needs some TLC coming out of a fast. Yoghurt, soup, soft fruit – that sort of thing will make re-entry an altogether less traumatic affair.
I hope you have been encouraged in your own spiritual life as you have engaged with our Church’s week of prayer. I hope too that the last few days have stimulated a renewed joy and passion in your own life of prayer (& perhaps now, fasting?). I have been struck a number of times this week by the poise of prayer, and how often it straddles seemingly irreconcilable realities. We come as children to a Father, full of joy, confidence and intimacy; yet simultaneously before the Lord of Glory, a Consuming Fire, with reverence and awe (Heb.12:28-29). We eschew nonchalance yet embrace familiarity. In prayer we work as we rest in Him; take initiative as we follow Him and serve Him even as we are served by Him. We are caught up in the life of God: coming before the Father, in Christ, by the Spirit; the Spirit praying in us, while Christ prays for us.
We have stood on holy ground. It makes you wonder why we don’t do it more often? Why are we so reluctant to pray, and to pray with one another? As this week draws to a close, for many of us there may be an opportunity to reflect on what has stopped us from sharing in this privilege. For some, the reasons will be entirely legitimate. But for others, fear or anxiety may have proven a barrier; or perhaps we’re just not sure why this has been such a big deal in the life of the Church. It would be great if we could clear some of those issues up before our next Day of Prayer on 29th September. We’d love to have you join us.
In the months that lie ahead, with our recruiting of a Youth Minister, Who Cares? and P:18 in the months ahead, Church-planting, and key decisions to be made that will shape the foreseeable future of our parishes, I suspect this week has played a far more significant part than any of us realise. Thank you to those who have joined with us – either in our central prayer meetings, or in other ways.
Our prayer meetings today are at 7.00-7.45 (St John’s); 12.00-12.45 (St John’s) and 7.30-9.30 (Deep Church at St. Andrew’s). This evening’s Deep Church session will include prayer, worship, and (as part of our series on Creation) some teaching that might help us navigate how we interact with the idea of evolution.
If you can’t join us today, here are some ideas for prayer:
- That the Lord would meet us in new ways as we seek to draw near to Him, and grant us a much deeper sense of His presence as we gather together in worship. That we might learn again to worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’ (Heb.12:28-29)
- For the Holy Spirit to indwell the structures of our worship… pray for our services of worship to be places where we know the presence of God at work in our midst.
- For skill and sensitivity for those who lead us in worship, and for a prophetic insight for those who preach and teach in the life of MIE.
- For more of our congregations to grasp a vision for the benefit of homegroups, and for our homegroups to increasingly become places where we can share life, enjoy fellowship, and find the pastoral care and common prayer that is so important in the life of a Church family. Currently about half our congregation are not in home groups.
- For a deep dependence on God that articulates itself in prayer throughout the life of MIE; that this week will have inspired and encouraged many to a deeper life of prayer and fasting.
- For a growth in holiness in those who are involved in the life of MIE. That we would be increasingly characterised by a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and a willingness to repent when we are confronted with our sin. Pray for a profound likeness to Jesus to be cultivated in our character and in our relationships with one another.