Introducing Kathryn

You may have noticed recently that 24-7 Prayer Scotland has our first ever intern. And she is smashing it! We thought you should all get to know her a bit better as you will be seeing her around more and quite likely receiving some emails from her. Here she is.

Hello, everyone,
I thought I’d officially introduce myself. I’m Kathryn and over this coming year I am interning with 24-7 Prayer Scotland. 

What does that mean? It means I spend one day a week working alongside Crystal in our office space in Edinburgh: organising, doing admin, helping with our social media platforms and helping to tell your stories about prayer. I also get the privilege of traveling around Scotland, seeing what is going on with prayer in this beautiful country.
Apart from interning I am also a postgraduate student, studying Career Guidance at Napier University.

I first got involved with 24-7 Prayer four years ago when my church in Edinburgh sent a two-week Mission Team out to work with 24-7 Ibiza.
24-7 Ibiza is a missional expression of 24-7 Prayer in the heart of the clubbing community of San Antonio. The work partners time spent in the prayer room with offering prayer and night time street assistance to those on the streets of the West End.

I cannot say I loved that first year in Ibiza – it was challenging and pushed me far out of my comfort zone. However, after a few months back home I could not shake Ibiza from my mind, and I found myself drawn back, not for two weeks, but rather for two or three months at a time.
Like I said, I really did not love that first year. I was probably the least qualified person possible, with a fear of vomit and not even confident in praying out loud in front of other people.
However, and far more importantly, during those two weeks I learned how to pray, how to intercede for what was going on around me and I was hearing from God for myself, the island and back home. Praying for strangers on the streets was not an occasional occurrence, rather it was the norm and so was God answering prayers and moving in the situations around us. It has made me come to the conclusion that prayer is pretty important; in fact, it is the bedrock of my faith. I began to think, how can anything come to be if we are not on our knees petitioning for it, spending time with our Father or listening to his gentle stirring voice?

After getting back from Ibiza last year I heard of a new community group at my church centred on the values of 24-7 Prayer and I immediately joined. What I found was family; a family with a desire to learn and pray together for anything and everything under the sun. Through this I met Crystal and learned more about 24-7 Prayer outside of Ibiza, specifically in Scotland. I realised that the God I saw moving so powerfully in Ibiza was the same God in Scotland and He appeared to be moving here too!

In its most simplistic form I am interning with 24-7 Prayer Scotland because I’m pretty fond of Scotland, it’s my home, and its beauty and brokenness has a tight grip on my heart. I also love prayer, as prayer connects us to the heart of God. And when mission and justice are centred first and foremost in prayer – there is a shift in the atmosphere. And when this occurs in the arms of a praying community, united in faith and hope – well, breakthrough is likely to be right around the corner!

My House Shall Be A House Of Prayer

There is a beautiful statement from the revivalist of the 1800’s, Charles G. Finney, that says, “Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.”

We were privileged to be witness to this truth while with two different prayer communities last weekend – one in Irvine and one in Dundee.

Jill Weber, Director of Houses of Prayer at 24-7 Prayer and Global Convenor of the Order of the Mustard Seed, made her way north to join us at 24-7 Prayer Scotland in visiting these two incredible communities.

If you were at the 24-7 Prayer Scotland Gathering this past February, you would have a heard a bit from both of these communities. We will also be sharing more of their stories and vision for the future on this blog site later this year so watch this space!

But in this story, we want to focus in on the beauty of the relationships within these communities.

The Irvine team are from different congregations, even different denominations, but for a good few years now they have been praying and working together to serve the local churches through facilitating some of the most creative prayer rooms you will ever see (one even included an actual boat!) and teaching others how to run a 24-7 prayer week. They have facilitated unity in prayer time and again amongst the churches in Irvine and they are able to do this because of the unity in which they walk with one another.
For this team, the task, the vision is not the most important thing but rather relationship – relationship with God and with one another. They care for one another, look out for one another and they draw near to God in prayer before stepping out into anything. As a result, their hearts are overwhelmed with God’s love for one another and for their community, especially for the young people and for those without community to look after them. They are actively seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the lonely, broken and hurting in their community and are now dreaming around some new ideas and ways to engage even more.
One of those ideas is what could it look like for Irvine to have a House of Prayer, thus Jill’s little visit. And we are so excited to be asking that question with them as we reflect on these words from Scripture, “and My house shall be a house of prayer.”

Prayer Space Dundee began asking that question a while ago and the answer is beginning to take shape, though it is still very much like a part-finished picture on an artist’s canvas.
Again, what was beautiful to see was the interweaving of relationships – some new, some old but each with a sense of call into this network of relationships known as Prayer Space Dundee.
Some are local church leaders, some are in the medical profession, some are involved in schools, some in counselling and play/drama/art therapy, some in social enterprises – like providing jobs for people while teaching them to bake bread. Sound like a modern day monastic community? You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that! And to top it off, they meet for prayer in the wee chapel of Dundee’s old Franciscan Friary!
As we prayed and ate together, God’s presence and delight was palpable, as well as an overwhelming sense of hope and expectation for Dundee.
While waiting for the train that would carry us back home, our attention was captured by a wee paper with the words, “The Dawn of A New Era for Dundee” – we couldn’t agree more!
And we are convinced that this dawn has been brought about by the fervent, persistent, unified prayers of the ordinary, everyday saints of Dundee as they have responded to His call and allowed Him to begin building them into His House of Prayer.

*If you would like to connect with one of these communities, they would be happy to connect with you. For Prayer Space Dundee simply go to their webpage and for Irvine contact us here at 24-7 Prayer Scotland we will connect you.

From Prayer Lists to Prayer Boxes

I have never been a list person. I have friends who delight in lists. I make to-do lists only out of a desperate attempt to stay organised and not forget important things. And I have to admit there is a certain satisfaction in crossing things off that list that have actually been accomplished.

But I still don’t like lists.

However, there is an extensive and, at times, growing list of people and situations that sit heavily in my heart. And I do pray for them but it tends to be sporadic.

In the mornings I typically use this fantastic little book called Celtic Daily Prayer and the Morning Prayer it provides, which gives a space of time to “pray for others”. So you would think I would use that “pray for others” time to pray for those things sitting in my heart, right? The problem is, at that time of the morning, blurry-eyed and coffee not kicked in yet, my brain is blank. Correction – not blank exactly, but my thoughts seem to sleep walk of their own accord down a myriad of random corridors rather than focusing.
So I tried the prayer list thing and it worked – for a couple of weeks. Somehow the list caused me to feel overwhelmed by all that I wanted to pray for – especially at six-thirty in the morning!

Recently I had an idea. And it has worked! A prayer box. I took a wee gift box I had saved, wrote all my prayer topics on bits of paper, folded them up and dropped them in the box.
Each morning during the “Pray for others” bit of the Morning Prayer, I take out a bit of paper, unfold it and pray for what is written there. I pray for as many as I have time for, write down anything I feel God speaks to me about or for those people or situations and continue on with my morning. Amazing! Who knew a wee box and some scraps of paper could transform my morning prayer time!

Maybe you can relate? Do you struggle to pray consistently for the things and people you carry in your heart? Ask Holy Spirit for some inspiration and be open-minded as to what creative strategy He might want to give you. And learn from others. 24-7 Prayer is doing a blog series right now on ways of praying and 24-7 Prayer GB has been sharing some creative personal prayer time ideas on their Facebook and Instagram. Check these out – there just may be something that works for you!

A Freely Chosen Expression of Determined Love

Some people are lists people, people who delight in organisation, thrive on routines, are lost without perimeters and flourish best when living within a certain set of rules. I am not one of those people. Never have been.
I make lists for my memory’s sake and they get lost in the myriad of other notes. I try to be organised and succeed on the surface but don’t look in the drawers or the file box!
I’m fine with rules and am happy to embrace them as long as they make sense and serve a good purpose. If they don’t…
And I have attempted routine again and again and fail every time because I get bored and restless, feeling boxed in, suffocated.

So embracing a ‘Rule of Life’ or ‘Spiritual Practices’ is not necessarily my natural inclination.
But I have experienced something incredibly satisfying, life-giving and surprisingly freeing in choosing to consciously live according to a set ‘Rule of Life’, implementing different spiritual practices within the various seasons of my life.

Often when talking with others about this, the inevitable questions will arise around how to keep a Rule of Life or spiritual practices from becoming legalistic or all about our ‘hard work’ and good performance.

In his book Heart Fire, Johannes Hartl shares some deep insight and helpful wisdom around this very question. He says:

It is both worthy and wise to lead a spiritual life that is ordered by certain structures. Structures can become legalistic and turn into a form of self-imposed slavery. But they don’t have to. They can be a freely chosen expression of determined love. And over the months and years they expand the heart. They make the heart wide for the great beauty of God.
…the objective here is not slavish adherence to a set of religious rules! And even less about…performance mentality…
The goal here is practice, training the spiritual sense of taste for the noble wine of the love of God.

I love the line ‘a freely chosen expression of determined love.‘ Because, do we not put disciplines and routines and practices into our lives to express our love for someone or something, to participate in what we love, to care for our bodies the way they deserve to be cared for so that they can go the distance, to ensure that the relationships most important to us are being nurtured? Why would we treat our spiritual lives and our relationship with God any differently?

And then the line ‘training the spiritual sense of taste for the noble wine of the love of God” – this is truly what spiritual practices are about!
I have a friend whose sister began working for a micro-brewery last year. A year ago she was happy with a bottle of Corona (apologies to any Corona lovers out there) but now she can only really enjoy quality beers and ales and can tell you quickly if one is too hoppy etc.
And this is what the spiritual practices do for us – they train us to no longer settle, to no longer be content with the cheap and easy that doesn’t truly satisfy, rather to give ourselves to what does satisfy and brings life.

Johannes goes on to share some quite practical wisdom around implementing spiritual practices:

If you would like to give new impetus to your spiritual life, make a decision, something concrete. “If the fire is about to go out, you should put another log on”, teaches Thérèse of Lisieux. By concrete, I mean a definite decision, a new step of surrender. It could be to get up a bit earlier and start a daily prayer time… For things like this it can be of great help to set a specific time and place…
A new step of surrender might also mean trying something new in Bible study, fasting and worship, something that jolts my heart out of its state of apathy. It’s important to set clear, realistic goals so that this does not remain just a pious wish. In all of this it is never a case of trying to impress God with my performance; the point is to make my heart available to enjoy his beauty through collaboration with his grace.’

‘Something that jolts my heart out of its state of apathy’ – I think we all need this at times. If you are anything like me, you might need it fairly frequently. But not because you need to look or act a certain way or be a certain type of person to please God. Instead it’s about living life, true life, to the full, the way He intended, because you have freely chosen this way of life due to determined love.

And the beauty of all this lies in that last statement – ‘the point is to make my heart available to enjoy His beauty through collaboration with His grace.’

If your heart resonates with this, join me now in praying this beautiful prayer by George MacDonald from his famous The Diary of An Old Soul:

‘When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; when I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire – O, be Thou then the first, the one Thou art; be Thou the calling, before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.’