One Weekend, Forever Changed

It was Thursday 7th October 2016. I found myself sitting in Edinburgh airport waiting to board my flight to Geneva with my fiancé to a conference that, admittedly, I didn’t know much about. Andrew (the aforementioned fiancé) had been reading some book that seemed to really impact him, and so he was keen to attend the European gathering of the organisation the book was about.
He told me it was a movement about prayer, mission and justice, and that the gathering that year was in Geneva. I had a look at the Facebook page and website, prayed about it, and thought “Why not?” And so it was that I found myself at the 24-7 Prayer EuroGathering last year.

Sitting at the airport I had a sense of expectancy and anticipation. Despite not knowing much about what I was in for, I felt that God was going to use this weekend to impact my life significantly. And man, He sure did!!

Geneva was a truly wonderful experience of big talks, seminars, worship sessions, chat and banter. It was especially wonderful to meet the rest of Team Scotland!
I learned so much in those few days I was there that it took me literally months to process all that God had been saying. To go through all that I learned would turn this blog post into more of a novel.

I was so encouraged by 24-7 Prayer’s tag line – ‘The Vision is Jesus’.
Often we can get so preoccupied with how to go about the Christian life that we forget the main focus.

The final night of worship in Geneva was in St Peter’s Cathedral, the adopted home church of the reformer John Calvin.
I know that we cannot even come close to imagining what heaven will be like, but that night it felt like what I imagine it will be.
The place was packed with people from all over the world, many different church backgrounds, all singing praise to the glory of God. It was amazing.

At the end of our time there I was tired mentally from all the mind-shattering things God had been showing and teaching me, but spiritually so fired up for whatever God had for me.

Upon returning from Geneva, I proceeded to read Red Moon Rising followed by Dirty Glory, both by Pete Greig. These books continued to encourage me immensely in my prayer life through stories of the power of God at work all around the world. The stories of ordinary people with an extraordinary God.

I can’t wait for this year’s International Gathering in Birmingham in just two weeks time! I am excited to see what God has in store for us this year and to meet up with Team Scotland again (hopefully as many of us as possible)!

This testimony is written by the lovely Steph Rooney, a Pharmacist in Glasgow and the more beautiful half of the aforementioned Andrew, now Steph’s husband and newest member of the 24-7 Prayer Scotland Team.

It’s not too late to join us for The Gathering in Birmingham – there still some tickets left! We would love for you to be there with us! For details, go to http://bit.ly/2xtxTCS.

Balance in busy-ness

Students have a tendency to cram. I say this as one who has often found himself on next to no sleep in a brave last-minute attempt to try and finish off some piece of coursework due the next day. But when I say “cram”, I mean more than just the usual night-before emergency revision session.
Timetables full of academic activities including but not limited to lectures, seminars, tutorials and self-directed study. The rest of our time is engaged with the social life that equally defines what ‘studying’ at university is all about – parties, pints, lunches, brunches, hang-outs, night-outs – an endless barrage of activity that can make even the most gregarious of extroverts wince a little inside. And even those of us who align ourselves more with the introvert end of the spectrum can often find joy in the busyness.

There is a risk, however, to equate busyness with usefulness. Whether we are supporting those who are closest to us or making good use of our time by completing tasks, life can take on…well…a life of its own.
The real danger is that our faith can become inextricably tied up with ‘doing’ and that, I daresay, can be found particularly in Christian student communities. It’s not long before the regular gatherings, socials, prayer meetings and outreach events can start to wear us down if we haven’t figured out a healthy spiritual balance in our lives. Even friendship evangelism that is meant to stem from a natural overflow of love can become contrived. Our one-on-one time with the Father gets relegated to the thing we ‘do’ in order to ‘do’ all the other things of life, rather than being the Source and focus of each day.

For me personally, “New Monasticism” is positively counter-cultural to the fast-moving society around us, especially within the bustling student universe.

Creating space and giving ourselves permission to reflect, contemplate and to just ‘be’ with Jesus is imperative to running the race set before us.

I find that following a daily rhythm of prayer isn’t another thing to add to my To-Do List but is instead what my To-Do List is structured around. It’s in those scheduled moments of prayer I get the chance to catch my breath, refresh in the Father’s love, and realign with His purposes before diving back into work again.
It is partly a disciplinary process as well. So even though sometimes during these check-ins with God I may not ‘feel’ or ‘hear’ anything from Him, I choose to believe that He is present with me. This then fuels me the rest of my day.

These appointed times are then not something I need to get ‘right’ but instead they serve as reminders to me that Christ’s grace is a constant flow that is well and truly sufficient.

My prayer and hope for my generation is that we know more of the gentle loving-kindness of God through the gift of His son Jesus, where our identity is ultimately found, and that nothing else is worth more than living life with Him.
To finish, a quote from the Philokalia that I came across recently sums things up aptly: “Stillness is not simply silence but an attitude of listening to God and of openness towards Him”. So although God didn’t necessarily create all of us to be deep-thinking contemplatives nor calls many to live as modern-day monks, each and every one of us is greeted with the friendly whisper from our Daddy in Heaven to “Be still and know that I am Lord”.

This was written by student Grant Holden who is studying Animation at Edinburgh College of Art. He attends St Paul’s & St George’s Church where he can sometimes be found boogieing when playing electric guitar during worship. He is passionate about the arts being combined with Kingdom values and has a heart to see contemplative prayer embedded more within society.

The Haven

We chatted recently with Stella Campbell, formerly of Northern Ireland, now happily residing in Aberdeenshire where she is a Church of Scotland minister. We thought you might find her journey with prayer encouraging and inspiring.

Stella’s first encounter with 24-7 Prayer and the concept of a “prayer room” was in 2008 during a city-wide 24-7 prayer week in Aberdeen.

This encounter opened up new ways of praying & thinking about her spiritual walk and began her journey with creativity in prayer. The thought that there was creativity within her was a new thought and these new ways of praying were developing and releasing that creativity in an unforced way.
24-7 Prayer also brought her into contact with a more holistic way of praying, introducing her to other traditions & practices, such as contemplative prayer. This journey into prayer paralleled with her ministry training where she was coming into contact with similar practices, but she felt it was 24-7 that made her more receptive to what was given in the training.

One of the other, less expected results of that first prayer room in Aberdeen was meeting a small group of people who formed community around their shared heart for prayer and for the city and that community would become a lasting source of support for Stella.

Stella eventually became minister to two congregations in Aberdeenshire, where she didn’t wait long before introducing the idea of a 24-7 prayer week. She remembers with amusement that first prayer room she planned completely alone, working late into the night to get it finished in time, nervous and excited by turns as to how her people would respond.

Four years on, and Stella’s church just finished a week of 24-7 prayer in their now-dedicated space for prayer called ‘The Haven.’ What’s more, Stella had nothing to do with that week of prayer other than attend because the team made it happen themselves. They are now hungry to and asking how to encourage their people in their individual prayer lives and spiritual growth.

Stella has loved watching her congregation grow in confidence in prayer and openness to trying new ways of praying. Many members have gone from, “How will I ever fill an entire hour with prayer?” to the words prayer rooms are known for inspiring, “An hour just wasn’t enough time!” And as a result, the congregation has also become more open to the prophetic, to healing prayer, to creativity in prayer.

This past Sunday before the service, Stella went into ‘The Haven’ and was immediately aware of the sense that the room had been “steeped” in prayer, testament to just how much God has done through prayer in the past four years in a little church in Aberdeenshire!

A Tapestry of Prayer

You may have at some point heard of, if not seen, what is known as The Great Tapestry of Scotland. It is an incredible project – an artistic portrayal of the (hi)story of Scotland through the weaving together of panels that have been hand-stitched by residents of cities, towns and villages all across Scotland and was inspired by the beloved Scottish story-teller Alexander McCall Smith.

Storytelling has been a central aspect of community throughout the history of the Celtic peoples, taking a role in many parts of society such as community decision making and community cohesion, not just in history keeping and entertainment.
The Seanachaidh (storyteller) would seek, through the telling of their stories, to weave the listeners together, to give the people a sense of who they were, where they came from.

This is our heart as 24-7 Prayer Scotland for this blog site, that as we tell the stories, your stories, of what God is doing through prayer across this land, we will be woven together, reminded of who we are, where we have come from, and Who it is all for and about.

Over recent years we have heard stories of healings of bodies and of hearts, restoration of relationships, life-transforming encounters with the tangible presence of Jesus. And most recently, we are hearing and seeing a deep stirring, a growing hunger in God’s people across the land, from ages 8 to 80, for prayer, for greater unity, to come back to the main Vision, to the simple yet powerful truths that have time and again awakened and set on fire the hearts of this nation, for Jesus Himself.
As people are responding to this gentle, persistent drawing of Holy Spirit, stories are being written.
Leonard Sweet says, “The future belongs to the storytellers and connectors” and we believe this to be true.

24-7 Prayer exists to ‘Revive the Church and Rewire Culture’ and we seek to do that largely through inspiration, equipping, resourcing and connecting – relationship-building. And we are convinced that one of the best gifts God has given us to inspire and to connect with one another is the gift of story. So this blog is our gift to you. We hope you enjoy it and even more, are set alight by it.