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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples return to Jerusalem as instructed to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit and pray. They would need power for the task ahead.

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas (son of James). They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. (Acts 1 v12-14 NLT)

Here we read who was there at the prayer meeting. All 11 disciples are named (Judas is noteably absent). The great encouragement here is to note that Mary, the mother of Jesus is here, alongside his brothers (James, Joseph, Judas and Simon). This is a huge turnaround as we read earlier:

Mark 3 v21 The family say Jesus is out of his mind

John 7 v5 The family do not believe in Him

But now, after Jesus death, resurrection and ascension, here they are among this small band of believers.

We too may have family members that are resistant to the gospel, perhaps thinking that you too have lost your mind! You may have prayed for their salvation for years. You may have witnessed to them, living your life in a way that reflects Jesus and still they resist.

Be encouraged by these verses. Even those who were closest to Jesus were hostile towards Him, and now they believe. They were meeting together, praying together and standing shoulder to shoulder in unity.

Don’t give up praying for your family and friends but place them daily into God’s hands.

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God, it’s wonderful to have You as our Father in heaven. You are a majestic, holy, personal and loving God and we want to honour Your holy name in every aspect of our lives.

You are very precious to us and we want it to stay that way.

We believe that one day Your son, Jesus Christ will return and Your glory will be known to all the nations. All evil will be destroyed and You will establish a new heaven and a new earth.

We want Your perfect purpose to be accomplished here and all over the earth, just as it already is in heaven.

You are our Sustainer and Provider. We will not worry, but trust that You will provide everything you know we need for each day.

Please forgive us for any wrongs we have done or when we have neglected to do something that we know we should have done. Help us also to forgive anyone who has done wrong against us, help us not hold grudges. If we don’t forgive others, then we are denying and rejecting Your forgiveness of us.

We want our lives to be guided by You. We place our trust in You during difficult and trying times. Help us not to put ourselves in positions where we are likely to do wrong. Keep us safe from the devil and all that is evil.

You are our King.

You are more powerful than anything else and we give You the glory. Everything about You is wonderful and always will be!

Amen.

 

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Praying on your own is a vital and healthy habit. However, it is important to pray with other Christians. Why? Well…

  1. We follow the example of scripture
  2. It increases our faith
  3. God delights in unity
  4. We are enriched by our different understanding and practices of prayer
  5. It helps us to better discern God’s will
  6. It draws more people into becoming the answer to our prayers
  7. We encourage other people to pray

“The prayer meeting is the powerhouse of the church” – how is your church doing? It is interesting that people turn out for all sorts of events and activities in all weathers yet the prayer meeting is often the gathering with the lowest numbers. Surely this is the place where we together hear God’s direction and purpose for our activity?

Image result for prayer image

A few verses to ponder…

1 Peter 4:7-8 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. NLT

Acts 1:14 They (the disciples) all met together and were constantly united in prayer NLT

John 15:7-8 But if you remain in me (Jesus) and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! NLT

(With thanks to Chris Band, author of ‘On our Knees’)

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Product DetailsPrayer is one of those things – we know it’s vital to our walk with God, but we still do not spend enough time talking and listening to God. I have recently read a great book called ‘On My Knees’ by Chris Band. It is a very honest look at prayer – why pray, how to balance prayer and doing and how prayer actually changes the world.

There is a lovely illustration of God’s patience with us – a child is helping Grandpa in the green house to plant seeds. It takes at least 3 times as long as if he did the job himself, but he enjoys his granddaughters company and they work together at her slow pace. This is our God – he is patient with us and allows us time to work things out. Our Christian life is a journey, more like a meandering river than a canal running from A to B. It’s like jazz music where composition and improvisation run side by side to create something unique. If you have a SATNAV, you know that it always gives you the fastest route to your destination. However, if you do head down a different road to the instruction, it re-routes to accommodate you. We have a great God who gives us a healthy mixture of stability and flexibility.

The opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer serves to focus us on God.

Our Father in heaven – our relationship (our), who He is (Father) and where He is (heaven).

Hallowed be Your name (He is worthy of our worship – the name above every name)

Your Kingdom come (therefore…my kingdom go…)

Your will be done (not mine) as it is in heaven (all commands carried out obediently).

Focusing on God fuels the revolution from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. God knows our hearts and thoughts. The Bible helps us to express these in prayer, there are twice as many psalms of lament than there are of praise! God is there with us in all of life’s messiness.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly to you.

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On monday, we held our annual Small Church day conference. Part of the day was spent hearing from Amie Buhari about how to keep our young people in the church. Amie is the Director and Founder of The Hebe Foundation http://www.thehebefoundation.org.uk (a Christian charity) who work with young people. They are funded so can help small churches to engage with projects for young people without money being a major issue. Here is some of the useful advice she gave us:

  1. Identify their gifts and talents
  2. YP must have the trust of the leaders
  3. Pray for the YP
  4. Get them involved
  5. Allow them to express their faith through music, art etc
  6. Let them do a presentation to the church about issues they are passionate about
  7. Invest in the YP – time and money etc
  8. Identify the emerging leaders. Mentor them, train them
  9. Every diaconate should have a person under 25 yrs old on the team
  10. The leadership need to be willing to take risks with YP and to learn from them
  • Give YP responsibility eg set up and serve communion, preach, lead worship etc
  • Listen to their ideas.
  • Be aware of life transitions – junior to secondary school, school to college, college to uni, uni to work (FUSION very helpful)
  • Spend time with YP, listen, be relational, be real and up with life issues
  • Church needs to be a safe place of trust, a place they can talk about depression, self harming etc
  • Be missional – make faith relevant to them, tell them what God is doing in the world not just in the UK.

ENCOURAGE YOUR YOUNG PEOPLE THIS WEEK!

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Chocolate and Brussel Sprouts!

I used the rather weird combination of chocolate and Brussel sprouts in church one day to illustrate that we often get surprises that we were not expecting! I wrapped up both round truffles and Brussel sprouts in wrapping paper. They looked identical as I gave them out to the children. I had a mixture of reactions!

          I asked the congregation what they were expecting as they came to church that day? I had a variety of answers.  There are Christians in many churches who go to church not expecting much. But what should we expect?

 1. Expect to participate – bring something to build the church

Worship is active, not passive as it says in 1 Cor 14:26

“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church”.

Each of us can bring or do something – make the tea, welcome people, play the music, drive the technology, pray etc

  1. Expect God to move

I had the opportunity of visiting a church in India last year. Many people came to church from some distance ready for the 7am (!) service. They arrived with great expectation that God was going to do something. Many people have been converted from a faith where statue gods are worshipped but do not respond. Now they have discovered Jesus, a living God, who has touched their lives with deep forgiveness, His healing power, joy and eternal life. He changes lives and circumstances and answers prayer. No wonder they praise with passion and expectation!

So, why don’t all Christians go to church saying ‘What are You going to do today God?’ Maybe it’s because some haven’t seen God at work in power, so are not sure that He can or will…? Or maybe some are comfortable in their routine and are not used to expecting anything? Do not underestimate the power of praise and worship.

3. Expect the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin

We come to Him, confess our sin (not just saying sorry but saying I did it), receive forgiveness and be free.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Unforgiveness is a major problem for Christians, but forgiveness brings freedom

  1. Expect to be strengthened and challenged by God’s word

Colossians 1:3-6 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints — the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

  1. Expect to have prayers answered

Share answers to prayer with each other and start each day as David did in Psalm 5 v1-3 “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation”.

  1. Expect to be equipped for the week ahead

Gods promise threaded through the Bible ‘I will be with you’ (Ex 3v12) That’s HUGE. Also Heb 13v5 I will never leave you nor forsake you’

What are YOU expecting this Sunday?

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