I’m not talking about a snowball fight but our 48 hours of continuous prayer which begins at 8.00 am this morning as we enter Holy Week!
One of our church’s five key values identified in last year’s 2020 consultation as being continuously under threat is our commitment to prayer. There will always a good reason, either for me as an individual Christian or us as a church fellowship, not to pray just now. Procrastination is also the thief of prayer.
And yet prayer was at the very heart of Jesus’ ministry, even (and especially) when he was hard pressed and couldn’t afford the time. So it is no surprise that the church of the New Testament followed his example as well as his teaching. “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests,” writes Paul to the Ephesians.
“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18).
It was Burnley-born Samuel Chadwick who observed: “There is no power like that of prevailing prayer – of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heartbroken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat and blood.”
So how do we pray? The image Jesus wants us to hold onto in our minds is that of a child coming to his or her father. No need to impress, no reason to worry, no point in repeating yourself. Just ask, as if you were asking your Dad for an (Easter) egg. (Luke 11:12).
Hudson Taylor practised this principle in his extraordinary ministry:
“I notice that it is not difficult for me to remember that the little ones need breakfast in the morning, dinner at midday, and something before they go to bed at night. Indeed, I could not forget it. And I find it impossible to suppose that our heavenly Father is less tender or mindful than I.”
So prayer with our heavenly Father is the one thing we may all agree as essential, of the highest priority – but we so often fail to deliver. Very simply here, we need each other.
I was reading only yesterday that the plural of ‘disciple’ is ‘church.’ And our commitment over these next two days to back-to-back prayer expresses this truth. We need to encourage each other to pray. And one way is a prayer relay as one Christian hands over to another.
We find continuous worship in the Old Testament temple. Psalm 134 encourages the temple night shift (well, someone has to do it):
“Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.”
And it is where creation is heading. John’s vision in the book of Revelation is that those who have washed their robes (i.e. us) are before the throne of God and serve him day and night (i.e. 24 hours) in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. (Revelation 7:15).
So how about it, folks? Most of the slots are filled but there are still some gaps, some new ones with some people stuck where they are by the weather. Jonathan and Rachel have transformed the photocopier
room in the Ministry Centre into a prayer room. (For the person photocopying these notices, the copier is in the foyer).
But we still need some willing intercessors (although I will settled for unwilling saints). I have taken one phone call already of someone stranded by the weather.
Can you stand in for this afternoon at 2.00 and then 3.00 pm, this evening at 10.00 pm. Tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 5.00 am, then during the afternoon at 12 noon, 3.00 pm, 7.00 pm, 8.00 pm and 11.00 pm. Finally on Sunday morning at 1.00 am, 2.00 am, 4.00 am and 6.00 am.
Also if you are reading this blog from afar, do email in any prayer requests.
And our core prayer (on the hour, every hour):
Come Holy Spirit, May you refresh, renew, revive your people, so that we may share the love of God throughout our community, in the name of Jesus our Lord, Amen
Off now into the blizzard to start the 48 hours of prayer with Jenny Rawcliffe for the first slot!