Last month I attended the Fellowship of Word and Spirit conference for the fourth time. Alistair France, former ministry trainee of our church, was there again and he passes on his regards as well as assurance of his prayers for us.
The theme of the conference was “Abba Father, Illuminating the Gift of Prayer.” We covered lots of ground on the matter of prayer, such as; being free from guilt in prayer, praying for big gospel centred goals and the need to keep praying when we don’t feel like it. We also prayed together lots, as the conference includes worship and prayer times.
There was one line from the conference which God has left seared on my heart. It comes from the pen of Matthew Henry (18 Oct 1662 – 22 June 1714), the English commentator on the Bible and Presbyterian minister.
“When God intends great mercy for His people, the first thing He does is to set them a- praying.”
I realise that there is lots of prayer which goes on at Holy Trinity, in homes, small groups, prayer meetings and so on. Yet we can always engage more regularly and passionately together with God in prayer. Just recently, some folk at church have spoken to me about being moved to pray more. This is a great encouragement. If God is moving us to pray more, then perhaps he intends a great mercy for us.
We do not want to second guess God. Blessings and mercies might follow prayer but then so did the Lions’ den for Daniel and the cross for Christ after much faithful and deliberate prayer. Yet, the hope of blessing or strengthening at this time should move us to prayer. As A.T. Pierson (Mar 6, 1837 – June 3, 1911) an American Presbyterian pastor wrote:
From the Day of Pentecost, there has not been one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined. A.T. Pierson
If God is moving you to pray, then we must make more time to pray together for the mission and vision of the church, for our own vitality and faith in Christ and for God to bless West Bromwich and beyond. And so, for now, we shall meet for prayer on Saturdays at 9:00am before coffee morning and on Sundays at 10:00am before the main morning service. Jesus said to his disciples before he died:
So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:22-24
Jesus has died. Jesus is risen. Therefore, we can ask for his kingdom to grow and peace to flourish in his name. Let us pray.