When Life is Blowing a Hooley

Kathryn shares some encouragement with us around what to do when life is feeling too big for us.

How do you feel when you come back from a weekend of training and equipping? Do you return exhilarated by the plans you’ve made and all the things you’re now going to do?

I recently returned from such an event and I did not come back filled with hope, passion and ambition for the next year here in Dundee.

Now, let’s be clear – the weekend I was at was incredible. Filled with amazing people and times of connecting with like-minded leaders in 24-7 Prayer from all across Europe, which was poignant on such a significant day as this past Friday was. We had teaching from wise leaders who have gone before us. We ate great food and spent time sharing our stories around the table. We sat with our teams, both reflecting on the past and dreaming for the future.

But when I got home it wasn’t the usual exhaustion I have when I go to such events. Spending a night curled in bed watching Taylor Swift’s new documentary on Netflix wasn’t going to fix the kind of weary I recognised in myself.

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t physical exhaustion at all – but rather a hopelessness. Hopelessness at the scale of what God has placed on my heart. Hopelessness that everything is too big, too far gone, too dark for light to break into. Asking God questions of “what difference can I make?

By chance I was working from home the day after I returned from this training weekend and so I went for a walk up Dundee Law on my lunch break to clear my head, take in the panoramic view of the city and talk to God.
I stood at the top and, though it was bright and dry for once, it was blowing a gale. So much so that I was forced to stop, plant my feet and lean against the wall of the viewpoint.

So how do we stand when we feel like we are being knocked down?

As I leaned on the wall, gazing out over the city and the Firth of Tay, between gusts of the piercing cold wind, I realised that I have to lean on God. When I’m not leaning into him, remembering that he’s bigger than me, my worries, and my doubts, it’s no wonder I’m left feeling depleted and hopeless.
Leaning against the wall meant I had a support. I was better equipped to withstand the wind. Yes some gusts hit me harder than others, as too shall the challenges of life, but I swayed and was resilient to the punches. I wasn’t knocked down.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2

As I stood, I noticed where the sun hit the city, lingering on the hills of Fife, and the way the river glistened as it crossed under the Tay Bridge. Choosing to see the beauty.
We need to share our stories, the stories of what God is doing. We need to share the beautiful – and we equally need to share the difficult times. It helps to build our faith, it helps when life gets tough.

So what are you going to do the next time life blows a hooley?
Lean in to God, rest on him.
Share your story and seek the stories of others.
Then we may all stand a little taller and be a little stronger for whatever comes our way next.

Kathryn Ritchie is part of the 24-7 Prayer Scotland Team where she helps to bring clarity and definition. She is also part of the Dundee Prayer Space community where she lives – and where we will be holding our annual 24-7 Prayer Scotland Gathering on the 22 February! Kathryn is passionate about Scotland and a good cup of tea!

Your Invitation…

Since Advent our blog site has slightly resembled a duck – all quiet on the surface but furious activity going on under the surface!

Some changes are currently being made to it because some fun changes are happening within 24-7 Prayer Scotland! There will be more to come on that soon but for now we wanted to share wee bit about the 24-7 Prayer Scotland Gathering happening on 22 February in Dundee and make certain you know that you are invited!

24-7 Prayer International is very much a global family and our annual wider Gatherings reflect that.
Here in Scotland, it is our desire that our annual Scottish Gatherings provide the same sense of family, of “tribe” for all who join us for that day.

We host these Scotland Gatherings for the three-fold purpose of encouragement, relationship and prayer.
Encouragement happens through story-telling, bringing glimpses of what God is doing across our world and across our own nation of Scotland. And it happens through someone each year bringing a short word God has given them specifically for that day and gathering.

Relationship happens through conversations over tea and coffee and lunch, and hearing one another’s stories. This year there will even more opportunity for relationships to develop at our evening ceilidh!

And then we always conclude our day together with a good time of worship and prayer for our beloved Scotland and praying for one another as well.

Much like the wider 24-7 Prayer Gatherings hop around various European cities, we have been hopping around as well – Perth, Edinburgh, Glasgow – and this year Dundee. Next year, you ask? We are asking that question as well.

We have had some great times together. But this year feels especially significant. There is something significant about being in Dundee at this time. We have some exciting changes and updates to share about our Scotland team and to celebrate.

Yet there is something more. There is the sense that something is stirring in the land, God is moving. Within 24-7 Prayer we have been talking about “rising tides” of prayer and unity globally. In the midst of so much chaos, brokenness, upheaval, division and even despair – there is a sense of hopeful anticipation rising and steadily, quietly spreading across the globe. And across Scotland.
Along with that sense of hopeful anticipation is also coming a rising seriousness, focus, consecration even. A sense that it is time to get ready for the things we have half-heartedly been praying for by praying whole-heartedly. And also by making way for greater unity in the Church, removing those things that have been barriers to relationship. We are seeing the more and more churches coming together and embracing, repenting, forgiving and celebrating diversity rather than fearing and judging it then seeking God’s presence and face together.

I was privileged to be at a prayer gathering of ministers and ministry leaders in Dunblane two weeks ago. Over one hundred of us came together and wept over and sought God for our beloved nation of Scotland, among other things. There has not been this number of ministers from across such a wide variety of expressions of Christian Church come together simply for prayer and fasting since the 1980’s.

God is doing something.

So on 22 February in Dundee, we want to invite you to join us for a day of story-telling, increasing this hopeful anticipation; of learning through various seminars; of relationship and pushing deeper into unity through eating, worshipping, praying (maybe even dancing in the evening) together ; and a time of prayer and worship over our nation and for one another. And then if you want to stick around, a time of fun and celebration in the evening with food, dancing and creativity.

For details and to register for the day part of the Gathering ( it is helpful if you register so that we can make certain the soup is ready for you ) click here.
And for details and to book your ticket for the evening ceilidh click here.

We hope to see you there! And if you can’t make it but you still want to connect in with 24-7 Prayer Scotland more in some way, just give us a shout at scotland@24-7prayer.com.

Out of the Silence

Vicky Allen brings us this beautiful poem for our final post in the Advent series ‘Into the Silence.’
On this Christmas Day may your heart swell with the same hope of those shepherds long ago whose silence was broken by “tidings of great joy.” And in your own places where silence seems now to pervade, may you know the reality of Emmanuel, God with us – the presence in the silence.

Merry Christmas from all of us at 24-7 Prayer Scotland!

Night did not quite hide
the wonder
as constellations scattered pin-prick lights
and human hearts gathered stories, songs
from their gleaming trails

far-off wise ones
gazing at far-off stars
plucked the strings
of history and hope

Night did not quite hide
the ordinary
cold damp air of a quiet hillside
sheep huddled ghost-like
in starlit gloom

Shepherd-guardians trading tales
low-voiced around sputtering fire
then rubbing tired, disbelieving eyes
as light, song displaced dark, stillness

Night could not quite hide
the transformation
a child, a family
an old, old story made new
for a fracturing world

the quiet of the night
cracking with cries
the stomach-drop of love
breaking fear into fragments

Night could not quite hide
the wonder, the ordinary, the transformation
the mundane birth-miracle
wrapped up in story
and promise

an unwrapping of hope before our eyes
and eternity turns upon
a child, a hillside, a star, a song

night is where silent surprises wait
and laughter comes like stars
singing Glory

Vicky Allen is a communications consultant for a small Scottish children’s charity, with a parallel passion for creativity in general and writing poetry in particular. She’s part of Discovery Church Dunbar, a young church plant which loves to meet in the wide open spaces of East Lothian’s coast and countryside as much as possible.

With Us

In part four of our Advent series ‘Into the Silence’, Rachel shares with us her own personal journey with knowing the Presence in the silence.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t’ mean to cry. This is so embarrassing.”

Tears stream down my face as I lay in the dentist’s chair.
I am mortified. I am a grown woman crying at the dentist for no apparent reason.

That’s okay, Rachel.” My dentist gives me an understanding smile.

“Thanks.” I grab a tissue from the tray next to me. “I’ve just been feeling very anxious lately. All of a sudden, I just felt very claustrophobic. Like a wave of anxiety hit me.

Fifteen minutes and one scale and polish later, I exit the dentist and immediately step into the world frantically unfolding around me: commuters busily making their way home, taxis honking their horns at the cars in front and the crisp December air blowing through my puffy down jacket.

I feel overwhelmed, overly-stimulated and anxious beyond belief.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19)

I remember the verse I read in Psalms one morning when I was felt the pressure of life’s present demands and future what-ifs. In fact, over the last several months I have felt weighed down by the heaviness of anxiety. But it’s greater than that; I have struggled to hear my Father’s voice, and I’ve been desperately trying to fill the silence.

Ironically, I have just finished co-teaching a prophecy course at my local church. For the first 4 weeks, I felt like a complete and utter fraud. How in the world was I supposed to teach others to ‘hear from God for themselves’ when I could barely make out what He was saying to me?

But that’s the good news of the Christmas story – Jesus did not come to be with us on earth because of anything we do, have done or will do in the future; He left heaven’s glory and took on the flesh of humankind because He simply couldn’t help Himself. He loved us too much.

He loves us too much to leave us in a state of fear. To be shackled by the chains of anxiety. To be living in the soul-crushing state of poverty. To be homeless on the streets with nowhere to go. To be denied equal opportunity because of the colour of our skin.

‘God with us’ means that we are never fully alone even when we feel isolated in our anxious thoughts; Emmanuel is here in our poor mental health.

‘God with us’ means that our prayers do not fall on deaf ears even when all we hear is a distant echo; Emmanuel is here in the silence.

I do not know what challenges you are presently facing this Christmas season, but I can assure you of one thing and it hit me square in the face upon heading home that afternoon.

Like so many times before whenever I’ve felt paralysed by anxiety, I turned to worship music. Worship is my ‘sweet spot’. It’s where I hear God speak most clearly to me and therein I long for those few sweet moments of revelation. I turned on my Spotify worship playlist and “Nothing to Fear” by the The Porter’s Gate filled my living room. In the silence of my unanswered questions, God spoke to me through that melody.

“There is nothing to fear, nothing to fear, for I am with you always.”

Dear friends, if there’s anything I have learned over these last few months, it’s this: fear often gives a small thing a big shadow. Although we may feel afraid, we have nothing to fear because we are not alone.

God is with us always.

God is Emmanuel always.

He never changes and He won’t start now. No matter how uncertain the road ahead of you looks right now; we can trust in His faithfulness that God is who He says He is. He is Emmanuel.

I can’t think of more hopeful news than this as we celebrate this Christmas season.

Happy Advent, friends!

Rachel Moreland is a US expat, content creator and writer living in Edinburgh. She is the Media and Marketing Lead at homeless charity Bethany Christian Trust. When she is not working, she is on the hunt for the best cup of coffee and planning her next travel adventure. Read more from her blog With love from Rachel.