Would you like someone to pray for you?

As I mentioned in a previous post, as part of the National Prayer Weekend we at Beverley Baptist Church will be seeking prayer requests from our community in a number of ways.  Some may be sceptical as to the likely response.  We read the stories about Christians being sacked for offering to pray for people at work, and hear the rhetoric of the neo-Atheists, and expect that anyone who does not already have a faith will at best decline our request, and at worst be highly offended that we have even offered.

Two things this week have encouraged me that this is not the case.  The first is a member of our congregation describing the response at a local food-bank when they offer to pray for people, with somewhere up to half of people being willing to be prayed for, and I hope we can hear a little of this during next Sunday’s service.

The second is connected to the Prayer Weekend.  This week I emailed our local MP and 3 councillors seeking their prayer requests.  I was worried that I had left it a little late to get a response out of such busy people in just over 4 weeks, and would they even bother to respond at all.  Within 24 hours I had an email from one councillor and the MP’s office were on the phone, only too willing to be prayed for even though our MP would not claim to be Christian.

Which encourages me that there are others too who will value our prayers, and I trust that as we lift them to God he will answer and lives will be transformed as a result.

Back to University

I still remember the excitement I felt when my first textbook and reading list arrived the summer before I went up to Oxford to read Maths some 16 years ago.  It made the whole thing seem suddenly more real, and somehow I felt more grown up as I got stuck into the pre-course reading and problem sheets.

I experienced that same excitement when the first course books arrived for my distance learning Theology course at University of Lampeter, and when I gave that up after a couple of modules to follow God’s call to preach there was a similar sense of anticipation at the arrival of the Methodist “Faith and Worship” materials.

And now I get to experience it all over again, for my BA in Theology, Ministry, and Mission at St Barnabas, Sheffield.  The past couple of weeks I have been ordering books, and yesterday the first one arrived.  Christianity Rediscovered: An Epistle from the Masai by Vincent J Donovan, telling his story of taking the gospel to an unreached people group in the 1970s, is one of the pre-course reading books for the “Mission and Evangelism” module, and I can’t wait to begin reading.  At the end of my first undergraduate degree I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to being a student again!

What shaped stone are you?

“[You are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”   Ephesians 2:20-22

I love the image which Paul uses here.  I picture a temple made up of all different kinds of stones.  Different colours, shapes, sizes.  And God uses them to build.  Some of the stones need rough edges knocking off, in places there are big lumps of mortar to fill in the holes where a stone doesn’t quite fit, but somehow out of all these uneven stones God builds something beautiful.

This temple has Jesus as the cornerstone, the first stone in which gives the corner which sets the directions of the walls and therefore controls the shape of the whole building.  And in him the whole building is joined together, which suggests he is the mortar between the stones too.  And 1 Peter describes us as “living stones”, each of us having Jesus living in us by his Spirit, so that in fact God does not just dwell inside the building, but permeates the very walls.

And the great news is, somewhere in that building there is a hole in the wall that is shaped just like you.  A place God is keeping to slot you into his temple, so you can become a vital part of the dwelling place of Almighty God.  I pray that he will show you where you fit in, so that you can become part of his magnificent temple.

Prayer

I am firmly of the opinion that one reason we do not see God working in his church and his world more than we do is we don’t ask him to.  Prayer is something that we really seem to struggle with today.  The traditional prayer meeting model doesn’t work as well in our modern society, and we have struggled to replace it both in terms of praying together as God’s people and also encouraging individual Christians in their prayer lives.

So I am hugely excited that we at Beverley Baptist Church are one of over 800 groups and churches who have signed up for the National Weekend of Prayer.  What is particularly exciting is that this isn’t just about holding extra prayer meetings, but about creatively engaging with a local community to pray for them.  We already pray for Beverley, and particularly for the area around where we meet, but in September we will be going out to ask people what they would like us to pray for.  We’ll be distributing and collecting prayer request cards on the estate, as well as seeking requests in other ways, and on 27th September our morning service will be centred round praying for people and organisations in our area.

And hundreds of other churches will be doing the same.  Which is really exciting, as we look to see God answering those prayers, and lives being transformed by his Spirit.  Wherever you are, whether or not your church is involved, please do take the time to pray for those around you, and ask God to meet their needs and bless them at this time.

On the move

For a while now I have had a blog, but the site at which it is hosted is ending their blogging service in December this year.  So I am on the move.  This blog will be the continuation of maninthemiddle.blog.co.uk.  Hopefully I will be able to transfer over the previous posts, but I haven’t worked out an easy way to do that yet, so do go to that site if you want to read what I have written in the past, or follow this blog to see what I may say in the future.