pperseverence, prayer, presence, priorities, Self Care, sin, Spiritual Dryness, Spiritual Health, Spiritual Warfare, Time, Try?

“Got to pray just to make it today”

If prayer is the most powerful thing we can do as human beings, in fact by is an instinctive response, yet why is it something we all struggle to do?

It is said if you want to make your congregation feel guilty “talk about prayer”.

we all know we should do it, but probably none of us does it as much as we should, or even as we would like.

we claim to be too busy, but in reality that is about priorities, we can always make time, but the truth is we don’t always.

-Made more ironic by the fact that when we actually are able to pray, it often feels good, and I often end up asking myself “why don’t I do this more often?”

The illusion of to busy, or too tired, or a distraction there are so many things that just pull us away for a few seconds, and we never get around to doing that important thing of actually praying.

Intending to pray is not actually the same as praying.

Then as I began to think more about prayer, not only is it hard sometimes to do, we need to make the effort, grasp the moment and maybe even do that unfashionable word of self discipline/Spiritual discipline, to challenge ourselves to do that which we know we should.

Yet I wonder too, how often we don’t pray because we are comfortable and the urgency or necessity to pray doesn’t really grab us, we think we’ll be okay and our comfortable western lives often cushion us to forget our dependence on God.

Even theological truths of lost eternity or human compassion don’t always force us to our knees until God has our hearts fully, and paradoxically, if we don’t pray we never give God our hearts or let him have ours.

I think the real reason the Church in the west is failing is actually because Christians aren’t praying. God says “You have not because you ask not”. Jesus talks about us being like “salt”, the idea is to make us thirty for God, and yet too much of the Church seems comfortable and complacent.

I think too, we struggle to pray because of fear and lack of faith, we fear disappointment, we fear getting our hopes raised -even sometimes we fear God answering our prayer. I remember that terrified moment when I felt “wow, God is actually real” as he answers prayer shocks and shakes us from our complacency.

The pain too of seemingly unanswered prayer, when heaven seems to be silent, and times of suffering and confusion can cause us to struggle too, and ask where are you God.

Too often we think that in the Christian life we will always get a charmed life and always have a parking space, where in reality it is tough, confusing and painful.

Often too our own sense of guilt, apathy, sin, pride can all keep us away from God’s loving arms, these times when perhaps it is easier to run away from God is the exact time we need to instead run to him.

For me, one of the best ways to keep me praying has been personal accountability, over the last 20ish years -sometimes more regularly than others- I have had some great guys who I have met up with too pray, and without that companionship on the journey I don’t think I’d have made it this far.

Also, I need to be reminded that prayer works, that God answers, my soul needs to HEAR the stories of peoples encounters with God, or prayers answered and God speaking. we need these stories to spur us on. Yet we also need to TELL those stories too when God meets and speaks to us, answers our prayers, we need to share it too.

So, the challenge for us all is let’s not just talk about prayer, as though it is a good thing to do.

Let us not even intend to do it.

Let us be people that actually pray.

Absence, presence, Time, visible

Community Suffers Alkaloid Burns.

Acid burns by what is in it (a high + on the PH scale).

Alkaloid burns by what is NOT in it (it is a – on the PH scale).

The Alkaloid burns because of the absence.

I was thinking about Alkaloid burns today at a community event today. It was a event when the community organisers specifically tried to invite the Churches along, and the Churches largely shrugged them off.

As I think of leaving the question I ask is, “will the Christian Community be present in any form?” -I worry that largely not.

An Alkaloid burn.

when we saw Christians engage with Street Pastors in love, service and prayer in our local communities night time economy, crime rate fell, the PH rate rises.

The Church being the Church in our communities is what is needed, when the Church is being the Church, the Kingdom advances, it is justice for the oppressed, it feeds the hungry, embraces the lonely, gives truth to the confused.

The absence of the manifestation and advance of the Kingdom of God is a terrible, terrible thing to inflict on a community, truly evil, and yet we unthinkingly do it when the Church withdraws itself from the lives of those Christ has called us to care for

“The Great Harvest never happened here because the mission community were stuck in a side room arguing about what colour to paint the combine harvester”.

In the absence of hope, purpose, freedom and love it provides the presence of God. In destructive and decay we bring healing, wholeness and restoration.

You see we are the light of the world, but too often we enjoy being bright and shiny, with other bright lights, but never go anywhere dark where the light is needed.

The with-drawl of the Church is not just attacking an institution, but rather it is a challenge and an indictment against us all, we all have a personal responsibility to bring the light of Christ to a dark and dying world, we carry the presence of Jesus where-ever we go, the aroma of Christ, the salt of the world. Salt combats decay, what should we do when we see our community decaying -perhaps we ought to up the dose.

Yet, where are Christians protesting to their local MP’s, where are the Christians praying for their communities to be drug free, or free from violence.

James says “we have not because we ask not” so let’s ask, and ask and ask some-more, let us bring the presence of Christ into more and more of our community.

Even our Churches burn people with alkaloid, as they come to us for help, and we feed them, clothe them, listen to them and love them but too often we don’t share with them Jesus who is at the heart of all our human longings. Too often the Church lets the PH levels creep past neutral into minus figures (burning levels) by taking he cash of people who forbid us talking about Jesus and praying with people.

So, let us advance into our Communities rather than withdraw from them, and alter the PH levels of our communities, in Christ’s name, let’s see our communities go from minus to plus.

Economics, Kingdom, Time

Kingdom Economics 3.

At our School Pastor launch we were reminded that one of the most precious gifts we can give people is our time.

I read an article recently which talked of children these days being “possessions rich but time poor” in other words they have may have amazing toys but not have real, meaningful time spent with them.
Often, we value things by how much time you give them…
And the quality time you give them -are you actively listening to them or are you fiddling around on your phone whilst they are talking to you?
Everyone has had that meeting with someone who evidently has an eye on the clock, how unimportant do you feel?
Time is powerful, giving people your time, your undivided attention, especially in a world crammed full of things fighting for your attention, may not feel like a massive gift to give but it can be life transforming for the person receiving it.
As we have been thinking about Kingdom Economics we have thought a lot about money, but I think sometimes in crazy, busy bonkers world the gift of time can say even more than where we allocate our financial resources.

A long time ago in Poole  I was asked for some money by a homeless guy, that the easiest thing was to give him a couple of quid to get rid of him and allow me to carry on on my way…. the more costly thing was to actually engage and talk to him, I wasn’t in a hurry and ended up sitting down with him drinking a coffee… The thing I noticed was that people were reasonably generous, but no one made eye contact, some literally threw money at him. Although in one sense generous  it was somehow felt really dehumanizing and impersonal.

Although this guy was hungry, thirsty without anywhere to sleep, his biggest need was to feel like a human-being again, to feel like he had worth and dignity, he too is person made in God’s image.
Mother Teresa once said “in the poor we see Jesus in his most distressing disguises”.
Shane Claiborne once observed that “the tragedy isn’t that rich folk don’t care about poor folk” but rather “that rich folk don’t know poor folks, rather than just saying “let’s make poverty history” let’s make poverty personal”.
The truth is it is easier to give money than time.
It is impersonal but it by-passes the heart.
Shane Claiborne once said: “I’m just not convinced that Jesus is going to say,”When I was hungry, you gave a check to the United Way &they fed me.”
I regularly go into our local pubs to be available to listen and talk to the locals, first few times I did this, people saw my dog collar and reached to their wallet…
The thought was something like “give the vicar a £5 and he’ll go away”…
We need to have a Kingdom economy that cares more about people than cash.
Someone once said the “greatest tragedy is that people were meant to be loved and things were meant to be used, unfortunately we have used people and loved things”.
In a Kingdom Economy money matters less than people, and time is the most precious gift we share.
Our model for giving time has to be Jesus himself, some of his greatest conversations happened with no bodies, who Jesus made feel like somebodies, and who 2000 years later we still read about today… talking to the woman at the well, or an undercover Nicodemus or the guy by the pool of Bethesda
Today at our School Pastors training we challenged to give our time but also the love of God, can bring transformation to our area and world.