For Such a Time As This

There are many reasons the annual 24-7 Prayer Gatherings are special and one of the main highlights of the year for many us. Those reasons largely have to do with relationship – the opportunity to reunite with friends from around the globe who feel like family even though we typically only see each another once a year at the most. And it is opportunity to make new life-long friends.

This aspect will be quite different at this year’s Gathering as we will be gathering online rather than shoulder to shoulder in a Spanish monastery, old theatre or breathtaking cathedral. And though we all lament this, there is something else about these yearly Gatherings that makes us not dare miss our online time together here in a few weeks. These Gatherings are always prophetic and more relevant to the times than we can fully grasp in that moment. And often without realising it, we come away equipped with tools and a word from God that take us into the coming year and all that it holds with a readiness that only the Spirit of God could orchestrate.

I have shared here below our blog post following last year’s Gathering in Belfast to demonstrate what I mean. I think you will agree that this message from Alain Emerson of 24-7 Prayer Ireland was a readying for what was to come in the new year and is still poignantly relevant.

And I would encourage you that if you haven’t already, register here for ‘For Such A Time As This’ – the Online Gathering the end of this month!

Sleep, Eat, Repeat – Last year’s blog post
24-7 Prayer Gatherings – they are always fun, always inspirational, encouraging, challenging and renewing. Always a special time of prayer, worship, learning and being together as a tribe. But every few years one comes along that feels significant to the life and direction of the movement.

This was most definitely the case for Belfast ’19 a couple weeks ago. There was and is now a sense that we are beginning a new chapter in this story God is writing. Yes, some of that will be related to the transition of leadership that happened – and what a deeply beautiful, joyful, celebratory transition it was!

But this sense of entering a new chapter is deeper and more far-reaching than just this transition of leadership. It is more akin to further out and deeper in.

Alain Emerson spoke the first night from 1 Kings 19 where Elijah, after a major victory, flees into the wilderness, exhausted, frightened and discouraged. This passage has been reverberating within me ever since and the sentence “Arise, eat, for the journey is too great for you” feels particularly significant for this moment in time.

God is speaking something to His people across the globe and it has to do with preparation and where He is to be found.
There are small but encouraging signs that the prayers we have been praying for many years for revival in the Church and in our own hearts, for spiritual awakening in our nations, have been heard. The signs may be small, like the “size of a man’s hand” to quote Elijah’s servant, but they are there.

But are we ready?

How many of us would admit to being exhausted right now, maybe discouraged, maybe even frightened? Are we truly in the best health, the best state of mind, the right posture of heart to receive and take part in a move of God in our world?

God told Elijah in the cave that He was about to pass by. But when He did come, it was in the quiet whisper.
Are we in such a place that we will be able to hear Him when He does come in that quiet whisper rather than the noise and hype we often associate with “revival” or “awakening”?

From this place of being renewed by God and meeting with Him in that quiet whisper, Elijah impacted the roles and positions of influencers and those in authority, he gathered those who were still devoted to God, he rewired an entire culture and history.

So what do we need to do to get ready?

Sleep, eat, repeat. Sleep, eat, repeat. “Arise and eat for the journey is too great for you.

We need to learn rest. We need to feed on God’s goodness and presence. We need to posture our hearts, minds and bodies towards Him in such a way that our ears are trained to hear and recognise the quiet whisper and every part of our being is ready to run long and hard in a sustainable way without burning out.

This sleeping and eating may in reality look like middle of the night prayer slots and fasting for some of us. It may look like a letting go and stepping back into a place of quiet and hiddenness for a while for some of us. It may look like a pruning of activity and more time given to waiting on God for others of us. And for some of us it may look quite literally like rest and feeding ourselves on the things that will renew and refresh us physically.

But for all of us, it is about preparation and posturing ourselves for when that quiet whisper comes and changes everything.

24-7 Prayer Scotland Puts Down Roots

We have been fairly quiet the past two months. Partly to give ourselves a much needed break and also because we have been quietly working away on some things behind the scenes.

We are now delighted to share with you that 24-7 Prayer Scotland is now its own Scottish charity!
We have finally been granted charitable status by OSCR!

This is largely due to the hard work of some fantastic people that we will introduce to you here in a minute, as well as the wonderful support of 24-7 Prayer GB director Carla Harding, 24-7 International Prayer Director Brian Heasley and the 24-7 Prayer International trustees.

This event deeply excites us for many reasons. However, the greatest point of excitement for us is that this means we are more firmly rooted in Scotland, for Scotland! It will help us to establish and develop 24-7 Prayer Scotland in a way that makes us more sustainable as well as more contextualised for Scotland.

It also means that for those of you who would like to give financially towards the work of 24-7 Prayer, specifically within Scotland, you can now do so more easily and with the confidence that you are truly investing in your own nation. We love this and hope you do too!

We will be sharing more with you in the very near future around our vision, hopes and plans for 24-7 Prayer in Scotland; but for now we just wanted to share the celebratory news and introduce you to our fabulous board!

Watch this space for more to come!

Now, meet the 24-7 Prayer Scotland Board:

Thomas Dean – Co-Chair
Thomas leads Stenhouse Baptist Church in Edinburgh alongside his wife Claudia and some other friends.
They love sharing their lives and faith with their neighbours in Stenhouse, and they love 24-7 Prayer Scotland too!

Debbie Meehan – Co-Chair
Debbie lives in Ayr, where she serves on the leadership team at Southside Church.
She began the 24-7 Prayer Scotland team in 2010, carrying the leadership of it and Prayer Spaces in Schools in Scotland for six years.

She has recently retired from teaching maths but keeps busy alongside her husband Stevan babysitting (playing with) their grandchildren. She has recently developed an interest in gardening – though her first love will always be a good book!

Kenny Roy – Treasurer

Kenny is a qualified Accountant, previously worked in business and latterly full time for a large church in Edinburgh where he lives with his wife Tricia. He now runs his own practice mainly supporting charities in Scotland.
He was an active member of his children’s secondary school board and charitable trust and part of a group from his church that intentionally sought to pray for and serve the staff, pupils and parents of their local school in practical ways.

Andrew Rooney – Secretary

Andrew is Minister of Kirkmuirhill Parish Church in Lanarkshire where he lives with his wife Steph and dog Bluebell.
Andrew first got involved with 24-7 Prayer after reading Red Moon Rising and Gatecrashing, which he read via streetlight on a bus in Germany. He and Steph then met the 24-7 Prayer Scotland team while in Geneva for the 24-7 Prayer EuroGathering.
He has since continued to attend the gatherings, was on the 24-7 Scotland team for a while and is now excited to help the work of 24-7 Prayer Scotland continue to grow and flourish!

Phil Togwell

Phil leads the Prayer Spaces in Schools teams, as well as the Anglican Diocese of Durham’sPrayer Project.
He’s worked in a wide range of Youth and Community settings and also served at 24-7’s UK Director for 7 years.
Phil lives by the North Coast of England with his wife, daughters and dogs Jack & Ollie.

Pam Lyall

Pam is one of Scotland’s most experienced commercial mediators. Previously part of another mediation service, she has since December 2014 been operating as an independent, full time mediator, coach & facilitator and was named Mediator of the Year (Scotland) 2014 by Lawyer Monthly. She also leads training courses in mediation & negotiation and is a regular contributor at conferences.
She and her husband live in Edinburgh where they are part of the Central Church family.

Prayer Everywhere

Creator God, who formed us from dust, breathe in me again. Give me a new imagination to perceive new possibilities today.” Prayer of Approach from Lectio 365, week commencing 6th July.

Many of us have had to be creatives and innovators in recent months, including those of us who would have never considered ourselves to be creative. Normal methods and usual routines have been interrupted and disrupted, making us feel like we are walking down literal rabbit trails, not just proverbial ones.

But the beauty of disruption is that it often facilitates creativity and innovation.

As restrictions ease slightly, there is understandable frustration that we are still unable to gather as church congregations in the same way. But maybe once again we can allow God to turn our frustration into innovation. Maybe we can come to him as his tired and frustrated and even sad children and allow him to do as the lovely prayer above suggests – to breathe into us, giving us new imaginations and eyes to see new possibilities where we saw before only obstacles.

Prayer has been googled more than ever during these past several months. People have been worried, frightened, stressed, even grieving and have been searching for a way to process all that they are feeling and experiencing. How can we as the Church help them in this? How can we, as the children of God, visually demonstrate the hope and peace found in coming boldly to a Father whom we know to be good, kind, wise, loving and powerful?

What could it look like to facilitate prayer for those searching, needing a safe space to process? What could it look like to guide them in reflection, helping them to express their thoughts and emotions?
Do we really need our church buildings to do this?

Scotland is filled with beautiful outdoor spaces and though our Scottish weather is a bit unpredictable, still, it is summer and people are outside as much as possible right now. And through the ancient Celtic Church, we in Scotland have a beautifully rich heritage of prayer, even worship and devotion, being held outside, utilising our natural, beautiful surroundings and resources.

What could it look like to set up places and spaces of reflection and prayer in outdoor spaces where social distancing can still be easily maintained?

We love what Blantyre Old Parish Church have been doing. They have opened their church garden up to the community and provided various, changing reflective “prayer stops” to help people pray and process without the need to touch anything, making it completely safe and stress free to engage with.

Our friends at Discovery Church in Dunbar gained permission this past Advent to create a labyrinth in the local park to help their community engage reflectively with Advent. They created it with simple branches, twigs, rocks and logs gathered from the nearby forest and beach.

Other churches have been dreaming up and implementing similar things just recently.

What could this look like where we live, for our local communities?

Creator God, who formed us from dust, breathe in me again. Give me a new imagination to perceive new possibilities today.”

If this is something that gets you excited and you want advice and inspiration, give us a shout at scotland@24-7prayer.com and be watching for “Hope Spaces” resources soon to be released!

* Photo creds: Jon Tyson