Taking the Limits Off Prayer

Crystal shares about something we were involved in recently as part of the 24-7 Prayer GB family.

As 24-7 Prayer, there are areas we know know God has called us to lead the charge in, new frontiers to pioneer, spaces for us to fill. However, we know we are also called to always have a towel in hand, ready to serve like Jesus so powerfully demonstrated for us in the Gospels.

So when Spring Harvest told us that their focus for 2018 would be on prayer with the theme of ‘Unlimited’ and asked if we would support them through bringing our special 24-7 ‘flavour’ to the mix we were delighted to say yes and come alongside them across all three sites at Minehead, Skegness and Harrogate, serving wherever we were best placed.

As part of the 24-7 Prayer GB family, we at 24-7 Prayer Scotland agreed to cover Harrogate since we were the furthest “north.” 😉
Our responsibilities and involvement were significantly less at Harrogate so only I went down for it. Though I was pleasantly surprised to bump into a number of Scots who had braved the long drive.

I went not knowing what to expect and, if I’m honest, a little skeptical as to how we could give four full days to a focus on prayer in every main session and in most every seminar without there being too much overlap and repetition.

But the team had planned it out beautifully and the breadth and width of prayer that was covered was rich. There were passages of Scripture unpacked in a fresh way leaving me inspired by new revelation and perspective. And it was amazing to see people deeply touched by God, healed emotionally, freed from things like fear and shame, weary souls revived – all through messages on prayer!

This time at Spring Harvest established deeper within me the conviction that teaching on prayer in the Church/Christian community is paramount. I met so many people in my own seminars and throughout the rest of the time there who were active, faithful members of their church, many who had been Christians most of their lives, many who were now in the “golden years” of life, yet who had never experienced real intimacy with God in prayer, or had never prayed aloud, who felt so inadequate that they barely attempted prayer, or had been so disappointed in the waiting or the lack of answers to their prayers that they no longer went deep and personal in prayer for fear of the pain, or they had struggled with guilt and shame around prayer because they felt they hadn’t been faithful in it.
Most of us will struggle with at least some of these things at some point in our walk with Jesus – but so many had lived like this for years!
Oh, the joy of hearing these people share how one truth spoken in a seminar, main session or during the morning Bible teaching had unlocked something for them and now they were experiencing a new freedom, boldness, excitement, expectation, intimacy with God or joy in prayer!

It was also incredibly exciting to see so many respond to God’s call to us as his people to stand in the gap through prayer for the world around us, to awaken and to choose to step out of apathy and commit to intentionality in prayer and intercession.

It is always a deep honour to me to be allowed to serve Jesus’ Church, especially through teaching on prayer, and this time was no different as I was privileged to be part of taking the limits off prayer for people and watching them soar to new heights!

24-7 Prayer seeks to resource the Church in prayer and have developed (and are continuing to develop) a number of quality resources to help groups and individuals pray – from the Inner Room prayer app to Pete Greg’s latest book How to Pray. Check out the 24-7 Prayer website for more information on these resources.

And if you are interested in having someone from 24-7 Prayer Scotland come to your community to teach or speak on prayer, contact us at scotland@24-7prayer.com.

Gethsemane: Sitting in Sorrow

Today is Good Friday.
A bittersweet day.

A day of sadness and sorrow.
But also a day of remembrance, realignment, and hope. Because we know what is coming next. Sunday!

However, today, I urge you not to push past the sadness into Sunday.
Rather linger here a little while longer.
Sit in the story of Jesus. Sit with him as he endures torture and humiliation.
Sit with him as he says,
“Father, the hour has come” John 17:1
Sit with him on this day, the day he dies. The day he dies for each and every one of us.

To help you do this, ponder over this poignant poem.
Let it transport you to a garden at nightfall.
Where you’ll find a man on bended knees.
To a night that changes history.

Gethsemane
Brittle leaves and dappled evening light
in Gethsemane
Olives underfoot
Soon to be gathered and crushed to
golden oil

Crickets trill in the hush of nightfall as
he walks alone,
Feet dusty but fragrant with the
perfume of kings.

Tomorrow these same feet will
stumble bloodied through the streets,
then be bound and nailed to a tree.

But tonight they shuffle through the
fallen leaves and sun bleached grasses of
a garden
Free to run or fight;
He comes to pray at the crossroads of
history.

Kneeling, deathly sorrow weighs on
his limbs and echoes in his words;
“Father… may this cup be taken from
me”? This bitter cup the heavy cost of
grace
“But not my will but yours be done” he
prays
As his feet point towards the cross
To be pierced, crushed and poured
out for love.
Poem by the lovely Kelsey Johnston

Rhythms of Prayer – Justice

‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ Amos 5:24

We long to see justice roll, yet upon hearing of the 8-year old boy enslaved on a fishing boat, the prisoner illegally detained, the child held in prostitution, we feel completely helpless. I am no lawyer, investigator, social worker. Maybe not, but the work of justice begins with you and I – to seek justice means to first seek the God of justice.

The great mystery of God is that he calls us into what he is doing. He could proclaim the gospel to the entire world in a breath, feed a nation with five loaves and two fish, calm any storm with a word, release captives by his angels. Yet he invites us to join him – a global movement seeking justice, moved to stand with the prisoner, with the child… moved to pray.

What does this look like? How do we pray that justice would roll on like a river?

Water looks different depending on where it is in a river’s watercourse – the brief, powerful, tumbling flow of a waterfall; the narrow, steady meander around a bend in a valley; some times a wide, slow current. There will be times of brief and powerful intercession and times of steady, rhythmic and prayerful petition – the roar of thousands in a stadium, the whisper of a boy in his bed.

At International Justice Mission (IJM), daily rhythms of prayer are written into each day, every staff member spending one hour of their contracted daily time in prayer – half an hour in stillness and silence and half an hour corporately. Aware of our human limitations, before each lawyer steps into court, investigator goes undercover, social worker begins a session, or speaker stands on a stage, we pray, ‘God, let justice roll.‘ Sometimes we see a miraculous provision, a rescue of scale beyond belief, other times months are spent relentlessly praying for breakthrough in a case – justice seemingly a steady, slow trickle. Like a river’s watercourse, prayer looks different each day, but it happens faithfully, rhythmically, in the knowledge that justice begins and ends with God.

In his book Good News About Injustice, IJM’s CEO Gary Haugen writes about ‘compassionate permanence – a courageous and generous capacity to remember the needs of an unjust world even when they are out of our immediate sight’. Just as an infant loses interest in a toy when it is removed from sight, so too is it easy to lose interest in the reality of injustice in our world. There have been times that my heart has been powerfully moved to stop and fight in prayer for a person or situation, only to then so quickly forget. It is through rhythms of daily prayer that I am beginning to cultivate a remembrance of those suffering abuse and oppression in our world. Only by the steady, never-failing stream of prayer, will we see breakthrough – people rescued and healed, systems and nations transformed, a world meandering towards justice.

Every river, every rhythm, starts somewhere – join the global prayer movement and see justice roll on.

Don’t know where to start? Sign-up for IJM’s updates and pray with us.

Zoë Anderson is part of the International Justice Mission (IJM) team; working throughout Scotland to mobilise volunteers, students and youth in championing the work of justice within their own spheres and according to their own strengths. IJM is a global organisation made up of lawyers, social workers, investigators and community activists who protect the poor from violence. Since being founded in 1997, they have grown to become the world’s largest international anti-slavery organisation, partnering with local authorities around the world to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems.

For further ideas and inspiration around how to pray in times of crisis and in situations of injustice, check out the Prayer page on the the 24-7 Prayer website.

Reigniting the Light of Christmas – Walking in Darkness

The final blog post of our “Reigniting the Light of Christmas” comes from Kelsey of Edinburgh.

Shivering,
I open my eyes.
The dark leaps to fill my vision as
Deepest night yawns ahead of me.
I am alone.

Straining to see,
Neon spots flicker across my sight,
rotating in a dizzying mirage
Until I let go of looking
And embrace the unknown.

Tentatively,
I reach out a hand
And catch a whisper of wind.
Cool air rustling dry leaves to my left
And whistling along a stone wall to my right,
Calling me forward.

Fingertips feeling
And breeze at my back
I make my way through inky black
Until sudden singing catches my breath
And breaks over my head in waves of euphoria;
“Glory, glory, glory!”

My shuffling steps quicken
And soon an intriguing waft of spices
Mixes with the rust of earth and leaves,
Until the bitter tang of ammonia
Takes my nose by surprise.

Then empty air meets my right hand
As I reach the end of the wall;
I turn to face the light revealed,
spilling from an open door.

Gathered in the glow
A jumble of bodies
Drawn out of the dark
To the light that has come.

Breath and song rise into the cold night
Mingling with the earthy scents and hubbub of humanity.

Hands still outstretched, unsteady,
I walk in to a welcome,
To a babe in the straw.
A small room awash with light
My fingertip held in a tiny clasp
No longer alone in the dark.

Kelsey is originally from New Zealand but is very much at home in Scotland, where she works in textiles in a weaving mill and spends her free time creating other beautiful bits of art and poetry.