Tag Archives: Prayer

God 52 – Week Thirty Five (27/8/2013)

29 Aug

We all (and by ‘we’ I mean those of us who define ourselves as Christians) want our friends to know the love of God for themselves, right? I trust we’re not so fragmented a body that we can’t all agree on that one.

Yet if that’s what we want, how much of our time do we actually invest in helping that to happen? Perhaps the answer to that is actually ‘a lot’. Perhaps you spend a lot of your time performing practical acts of love for others which reflect God’s love for them. And if so, great.

This week’s challenge isn’t about that though. This week we’re not thinking about what we can do, but how we can pray for those same friends. This week, we’re going to be disciplined to pray regularly for those friends:

35: Write down the names of three friends, and begin praying for each of them to know and experience the love of God.

For some of us, that’s a lot harder than performing practical acts (for others of us it’s a lot easier). Still, the parable of the persistent widow demonstrates that God is persuaded to act when we petition him in prayer. So this week, let’s show some persistence for those who we long to see in relationship with God. Let’s not just talk, think or tweet about praying for our friends – let’s actually do it.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of praying for friends to know and experience the love of God; if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-eight (9/7/2013)

10 Jul

????????????????????????????????So, after a week’s amnesty and a week spent reflecting – God 52 is back with a new challenge, and it’s only (?!) one day late. Sorry about that. Anyway, a lot of the challenges to date have involved doing things, often spiritual disciplines, on our own. And this is all well and good, but wouldn’t it be nice to do something with someone else? Well, as we’re feeling generous…

28: Spend an hour praying with someone else.

Pretty simple this one, but valuable. If you’re anything like me you get far less distracted when praying in a group. You could use the time to pray for an issue or person that you’re both concerned about, praying for each other, or just spending time listening to God. It could be someone doing God 52 already, someone who’s never heard of it, or someone who’d like to get involved. It could be in person, down the phone, on skype. Basically, however you want to do it – do that.

Simple enough. Off you go.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of prayer – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-seven (2/7/2013)

2 Jul

rebootAfter last week’s amnesty – this week we’re going to invite you to make a new half-year resolution – and get back on the God52 wagon.

At the beginning of 2013, Jamie and I made a decision – throughout this year, we’re both going to try to get closer to God, through practicing the Spiritual Disciplines, acts that express Christian character, and mission activities. Every week we set ourselves a new challenge – and remarkably, lots of people have decided to join in. Through the guest blogs, through social media, and in local church and youth group communities, we’ve seen hundreds of people engage with the idea and adapt it for themselves.

However, if you’re anything like us, you’ll have found the consistency of this difficult at times. In recent weeks we’ve noticed that many people (including us, truthfully), have begun to run out of steam. January feels like a long time ago; December still seems a long way away. So we want to encourage you to join us in a half-year resolution – to get back on the God52 horse, and ride!

Why not make a promise to yourself this week to re-engage with God52? Or, if you’ve never got involved before, why not start now? Here’s your first/27th challenge:

27: Spend an hour reflecting on what God has done in your life over the last six months, and your hopes for the six months ahead.

This is a meditation exercise, so find somewhere quiet, without distractions, and carve out some quality time to rest, think and reflect in the presence of God. You might want to take a Bible with you, and a notebook to jot down anything that strikes you. Try to devote a really good period of time to this exercise, and use it as a springboard for the second half of 2013.

Back on that horse? Great stuff. Here’s to 25 more weeks of God52.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of meditation and reflection – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

The problem of consistency, by Ryan Cartwright

28 Apr

A second guest blog on this week’s challenge subject – praying consistently – from web developer and cartoonist (hence the avatar) Ryan Cartwright.

stewI was once told that sport is about consistency. Apparently to achieve greatness at a sport you need more than talent, you need to produce that talent time after time. My dictionary says consistency is “Reliability of successive results or events” and here is my problem with consistency when applied to prayer. If consistency is about achievement, if consistency is measuring results against each other then how can it apply to prayer? What is an achievement or result in prayer? How do we measure prayer and therefore how can prayer be consistent?

As it happens, my prayer life is consistent. It’s a consistent struggle, it always has been and I have come to terms with the fact that it always be. I’ve done the snoring-at-the-sunrise quiet time, I’ve read the books, tried the plans and my personal prayer-life remains like an engine that needs new spark plugs: it refuses to start. Through all this, that scripture has nagged at me: “Pray without ceasing”. I’ve always known it didn’t mean every sentence I said needed to end with “Amen” but still felt the pressure to pray every day. I often feel there’s too much emphasis on prayer. We make it sound like everything God does depends on something we usually forget to do.

The truth is we can’t measure prayer anymore than we can define what makes a good tune and of course God doesn’t depend on prayer: he cares that we do it but it is we who have made it a necessity. If we free prayer from the shackles of duty and measurement we are free to pray. Realising this changed my life. I am able to tell people I will pray for them without feeling guilty for a start. That’s because I am no longer promising a stream of regular incantations but offering to remember them to God. I find I best do this by bringing God into my thoughts when I suddenly remember them. This can happen at any time of day, at the traffic lights, in the bath, walking the dog, watching a movie. Yes I try (and fail) to spend dedicated time with God most days but I no longer put such an emphasis on it because I know I can stay in touch with him through the day. Funnily enough I realised recently that this is something I can be consistent at.

Ryan Cartwright is a web developer and cartoonist who has been blogging since before the term was invented. A Father of two and youth worker based in Essex, he has a passion for freedom and a weakness for Haribo. You can find him at http://www.crimperman.org and @crimperman

Carefully and Thoughfully Attentive, by Tim Bechervaise

28 Apr

Writing in response to this week’s challenge, this guest blogger reflects on the struggle and the joy of regular, disciplined prayer.

timmybechEver since I became a Christian, the discipline of prayer, particularly in the morning, has been encouraged by my church, the example of my parents and, of course, Jesus (Mark 1:35). Initially, seeing it as boring and simply another ‘religious’ exercise, I was a reluctant follower, but gradually I have come to treasure the 10-15 minutes I spend praying each morning – sometimes a little wearily. Normally I wake-up and proceed to have a shower, get changed and eat breakfast with a myriad of anxious, rushed and tired thoughts – ‘Oh no, I need to do that today / How will I get everything done?’ But at that moment of stillness, I have come to realise that Jesus sits with me, not only hearing my requests, but also prompting me to hear from Him through the Bible or directing my prayers in a way that my focus turns from me and onto Him.

As time wears on, however, I have found it easy to get lost in the demands of the day, to the extent that I sometimes forget about the prayers offered and thus lose an appreciation of how God has answered them.

So, at the end of each day, I am now attempting to sit on my bed for a few minutes (I used to pray lying down in bed, but too often I never finished my prayers, something which I am sure God smiles at) and recall those early morning prayers. And what’s amazing is the way I realise the way in which God has been so carefully and thoughtfully attentive to the cries of my heart.

I prayed God would open my eyes to the needs of others. I now recall bumping into the same person three times today. Perhaps God wants me to pray for/reach out to them in some way.

I prayed God would help me have a hospitable attitude. I now recall a few people came and spoke to me whilst I was working. Perhaps God is prompting me to be hospitable when I least expect or want to.

I prayed God would make me aware of His love for me. I now recall the quiet walk I enjoyed earlier in the sun and the coffee my colleague bought me. Perhaps God was showing His love for me, not through grand gestures, but in life’s small details.

Whilst I understand that some answers to prayer aren’t always as straightforward, reflecting on the answers I can see reminds me that each day has been held together by Jesus, who was carefully and thoughtfully attentive to the cries of my heart. And for that, I am very thankful.

The discipline can be hard, but catching a glimpse of its effect in my life each night inspires me to begin the next day in prayer.

Tim Bechervaise is 26 years old, works in the finance industry and heads up his local church’s 18-30s group. He is passionate about coffee, doughnuts and Spurs. He is even more passionate about Jesus. He tweets at @TimmyBech

God 52 – Week Seventeen (23/4/13)

24 Apr

First of all, an apology – things are a little flat out for me at the moment, and I’m really aware that I’m writing this about 30 hours than a lot of people expected it. Sorry. I’ll try not to let this happen again.

15-minutesDiscipline. It’s not a very nice word, is it? If you’re subject to it, then there’s likely to be some degree of pain or discomfort to you as a result; if you’re required to practice it, then you’re likely to be attempting something counter-cultural.

Because of course, we live in a world of short-cuts, short attention spans, and short tempers. We pace in front of the microwave; we get frustrated if BBC iPlayer takes too long to load. And in that cultural context, it’s sometimes hard to behave consistently. To return to the same behaviour, day after day, because doing so is good for us. It’s much more intuitive for us to flit around, to jump from one activity to the next, to follow distractions and pursue whatever interests us.

So regular, disciplined prayer is perhaps a different proposition in the age of distraction. In simpler times, with less things and individuals competing 24/7 for our attention, it was arguably easier to set aside regular time to pray and reflect (or maybe it was just difficult for other reasons). To do so today requires discipline; an effort of the will. So here’s this week’s challenge:

17: Pray for 15 minutes a day, at the same time for five days.

It’s a little exercise in discipline and consistency – but it also might yield some exciting results. This idea has slightly been stolen from Jackie Pullinger – and look what she’s achieved!

Pray about whatever you like, although I’d suggest you make it the same topic or situation.

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on disciplined prayer, please read our writing guidelines, then drop me an email.

If we listen… by Frances Gabriel

25 Mar

One final guest blog on this week’s prayer challenge, as we prepare to share faith with our friends and family in the week ahead. In this post, Frances Gabriel gets honest about praying for opportunities.

FrancesGabrielIt started with a conversation in the kitchen, off the staff room. A throw-away line (from her) about my hair looking ‘religious, nun-like’ because I had it swept back from my face (bad hair day). And just like that, I’m into a conversation about God.

I pray for opportunities like this.  Well, actually, I don’t, because I don’t always think / remember. But I do always hope that if the opportunity arises, I will have the right words and the guts above all, to answer with the right words. As Peter says in his first letter: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” And then he continues: “but do this with gentleness and respect.”

We weren’t having a deep and meaningful conversation. Break time, with resources to prepare and people to talk to, as well as the obligatory cup of coffee, isn’t conducive to major conversations.  But I dared to admit that yes, I was someone who had a faith (she was amazed that anyone does) and when she followed up with a question about my background, I had a chance.  Not to give a full exposition.  But just a window onto a world that for her, where she is right now, offers a very different perspective from that of a purely secular worldview. I will pray for opportunities to build on this conversation next week.

I don’t want to make excuses.  I would love to have the confidence to just launch straight into a conversation about God.  But maybe what I did was enough.  Maybe the key thing is to be ready and to be listening.  Maybe that’s not earth-shattering – but it’s true nonetheless. If we listen, really listen, to those around us and hear what they are saying, pick up on the undercurrents – we can offer just the right amount that they are ready for.  And although I worry about how people will see me sometimes, yesterday I worried more about how she would see God through me.  But I know that God is big enough to cope with that Himself – all I have to do is speak and He’ll do the rest.

Still scary, though!

Frances Gabriel is a wife and mother of two, works in a school and attends both of her local churches – helping out with kids and music where she can.  She is far too obsessed with Les Miserables right now, regularly sings along to ELO and drinks too much coffee.

Sowing seeds, by Lynn McCann

25 Mar

We’re in the midst of a deep and profound challenge right now in the God52 community – as we pray for and then share the gospel with a friend or family member. Here Lynn McCann reflects on an important truth that this challenge has helped to remind her about, and on an amazing answer…

LynnMcannPraying for others is about sowing seeds; it’s God who makes them grow. Sometimes we don’t share the gospel out of fear of rejection, sometimes we do and there seems to be no response. Sometimes we do and the person seems enthusiastic at first but then falls away. Sound familiar? The parable of the sower tells us to expect this. Jesus knew that people would respond in different ways, but he also said that some seeds would fall on good soil. Yes! Some people will believe and follow him… that’s why we share the gospel, and who are we to say who will believe and who won’t? Often God surprises us.

Our church is having a mission week this week and when I saw the God52 challenge I was ‘challenged’ as I realised I had been procrastinating about inviting people to the week. I mean, it wasn’t even difficult, all I had to do was invite someone to an event – someone else was going to tell them the gospel. But like so many of us… I was held back by fear.

“What if they say ‘no’?”

I’d forgotten it is God who changes hearts to receive the gospel.

Anyway, a quick prayer ensued and then I took the easy way out and Facebook messaged a few friends asking them if they’d like to come to one of the evenings. One messaged back almost immediately – yes they would come.

This is a friend who two years ago I had invited to a gospel event, at which she had even responded with enthusiasm. But then she stopped coming to church and seemed to fall away because she was angry with God. Her family had suffered a real tragedy and she struggled to understand it in the light of God’s love and grace. So she seemed to have turned away.

I did not stop praying for her though, knowing that God is big enough to make the seed grow. I needed to wait and trust.

As I met her this week her face was full of light. She told me a wonderful story. This is what had happened…

The week before, her dog, which was such a part of the family, became seriously ill. The vet had told them to prepare for the worst.  Unable to console her youngest daughter, she had offered to pray with her.  Devastated they prayed, “Lord, please make our dog well and if you do we will go back to church.”

Well, the next morning she shook with fear as she rang the vet. Feeling certain the news would be bad she made sure her daughters were out of earshot.  The vet spoke to her with tears in his voice… “I can’t quite believe this, but when I came in this morning, your dog was standing up wagging her tail as if nothing was wrong at all!  She’s going to be ok!”

So, here was my lovely friend, back in church, hearing the gospel again. This time with a heart open and grateful to a God who did all the work and never let her go.  Thanks for challenging me, God52.

Lynn McCann is a wife, mum to two teenagers, and an ASD teacher who loves Jesus with all her heart. She blogs at http://includedbygrace.wordpress.com about faith, life, and sharing the gospel with people with learning disabilties and ASD.

What if it doesn’t work? by NinjaaMonk

21 Mar

Over the next two weeks, we’re praying for – and then preparing to share the gospel with – a non-Christian. In today’s guest post, blogger NinjaaMonk reflects on how a similar exercise didn’t quite work out as planned…

As a Christian this really is quite a scary prospect, praying for another person to find God. What if God asks you to do something really big like actually talk to this person about God? How on earth do you do that? How can you explain this feeling you have of total and all-encompassing love?

I’ve known people who have been so close to God that they have walked up to complete strangers and told them that God loves them and they need to find Him. My story is a little bit closer to home.

I have a colleague; he’s an ex-catholic, a nice guy, a man who constantly questions me about my faith and is happy to argue about the existence of God all day long.

I have prayed for this guy on and off for the last 18 months, because he has known God and I’d go as far as to say in his quiet moments he probably would accept there is some validity in God. But right now he has no relationship with God.

And God has tested me with this person, God has pushed my faith and knowledge just to reach out to this guy.

My biggest step came recently when I felt compelled to talk about grace to my colleague, hoping and praying it would have an effect. It did have an effect but not what I was expecting. His response was one of horror at the content of what I said, claiming it was angry, apocryphal (I had to look that word up) and deeply concerning.

I felt totally lost. In my belief God had given me this opportunity as a way to reach him – and it didn’t work. I was convinced my actions would lead him to God. However, we must remember in these moments that it isn’t about us or the other person – it’s about God.

I will pray this week for this man; I will ask God to reveal himself to him, to perform miracles in his life and to open his heart and mind. As I’m sure many of you will for your colleagues, friends and family.

My encouragement to you is this, pray and pray and pray again. Do what God asks you to do for those you know are not saved and leave the response and the outcome up to Him.

Because in reality their response isn’t for you to worry about.

Follow NinjaaMonk on Twitter @NinjaaMonk, or read his blog: http://ninjaamonk.wordpress.com

God 52 – Week Twelve (19/3/12)

18 Mar

CandleLast week was a quiet one on God52. Perhaps that was much-needed. Perhaps it’s because you all instinctively knew that something big was coming. Well here it is…

For the first time, we’re going to do a two-part, two-week challenge. The two elements of it are separate  but as you’ll soon work out, very tightly linked. Over the next two weeks, we’re going to identify and pray for someone with whom we feel compelled to share the gospel. Then – you’ve guessed it – we’re going to find an opportunity to do exactly that.

That might sound excruciatingly terrifying, but here’s the first bit of good news: the week 12 challenge is simply about identifying that person and praying for them.

12: Ask God to draw your attention to someone who is not a Christian, and spend time praying that they would come to know him.

Easy, right? Staggeringly so,  unless you live in the Bible Belt. As you read that challenge, you may instantly know who that person is – a good friend who you’ve been plucking up the courage to talk about God with; a family member; someone you met on Twitter. Or it could be that you know lots of non-Christians, or none at all, and you need a bit of guidance. So pray about it – I’m pretty confident God will quickly draw your attention to the right person.

Try not to think or worry about next week. Instead, simply spend as much of this week as you’re able to carve out, praying for that person – that God would reveal himself to them. That, after all is how people find faith – not through our leading, but through God’s own revelation of himself.

That’s this week’s challenge: pray. Next week, we’re going to take some risks! If that isn’t an incentive to pray, I don’t know what is…

Want to write a guest blog this week about praying for friends, family members or others to find faith? Check out the writing guidelines, then drop me an email!