24-7 Prayer (2012)

This past week we had another time of 24-7 prayer at church.

24 hours a day for a week there was someone in our prayer room, keeping watch like the watchmen of Jerusalem, worshiping and interceding without ceasing. (Well, almost. I think we lost a few hours on Tuesday afternoon, but, you know, near enough).

The week arrived at the perfect time for me. There’s been all sorts going on in my head and my heart in the past month but it’s been one of those situations where it just seems to big to actually pray about, when you don’t know where to start. So to have a week where I was “forced” to come before God with it all was amazing.

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
(Exodus 33:11 ESV)

The week was like a crazy journey for me. Every time I went in to the room it felt like God was showing me the next step along the way.

It started with just seeking Him, asking that He would meet us all like He met Moses. Then I spent a couple of hours reading through Song of Songs and just catching something of God’s love for the church and for me individually.

You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
(Song of Solomon 4:9-10 ESV)

Then I was drawn to consider the person of Jesus and his work on the cross. I’ve been struggling with this for some time, wrestling with what precisely took place there, what it achieved and how. I looked particularly at the sacrificial practices of the Old Testament and the language used around Christ in the book of Hebrews, then to the more well known passages in Paul’s writings. It was good just to sit with these things for a while, to let the scripture settle in my head and grasp something of it all just a little more firmly.

My next slot focused more on how I see myself, how God sees me and the discrepancy between the two. But then on Thursday, I realised how much my prayers and my whole God focus had been about me in the past few months. Even when I had been trying to focus on God it had been for my satisfaction, understanding and fulfillment. It was time to return to intercession, to standing in the gap, to praying on behalf of others, because in that place we gain a unique understanding of who God is.

If we fully comprehend who God is, intercession and asking Him for things will be our natural response. When we realise that His character is not a static one, that He is more than power and glory, that He is also love and justice, that He is active, we should no longer only want to praise His divine attributes but should also feel compelled to ask Him for change and transformation. As we do so, because intercession is not one way but changes us too, we understand more of who God is and praise Him all the more for it!

To finish our week we went up to the Crags (the cliffs that over look the city) and prayed for it all. I wondered as we walked up there how many others had gone before us. How many thousands of people, in hundreds of years, have climbed that hill and prayed over our city? What a mighty cloud of witnesses! And we continue to build on their work, in prayer and action.

I’m sad that the week is over, but excited to see where the fruits of it lead us as a church in the coming months. God is on the move.

Advertisements

Walk of Witness

I did something I’d never done before this morning.

On Monday evening the members of the Christian Union small group which I lead came to me and said they wanted to do a walk of witness. They weren’t sure how to conduct it or how they would get enough people together to do it. Once I had figured out what a walk of witness was, we made plans: utilise our church, CU and facebook contacts and keep it all as simple as possible.

This morning we gathered outside the refectory of Pollock Halls of Residence – where 2000 first year students live – and read out from the Scripture the truth of Christ nailed to a cross. We declared before them all that God, through Christ, has reconciled us to himself, that our trespasses may no longer be held against us. We awoke them from their beds with singing, “See, from his head, his hands, his feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down”.

Then, carrying a cross – about 5ft tall – we walked from Pollock, down Nicolson Street, past buses of people, early shoppers, students and workers, to the central university area and around to the meadows in front of the library. I carried the cross for less than five minutes but the pain in my shoulder has lasted the day. How much heavier was the burden which my Saviour carried?

And then, before a library full of students studying for impending exams, we sang and prayed and read and shared in bread and wine.

11 of us.

11 faithful disciples walking for their crucified King.

We got messages later from people who had been in the library and heard us singing “Till on the cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied”. And that cross was seen by many more.

An act of faithfulness, an act of worship, an act of witness.

For a God who is already well pleased. And uses the meek and meagre to do mighty things.

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
(Isaiah 55:12 ESV)

SF2011: The Walk (3)

We did it!!

It was a beautiful day. Mainly sunny, a light breeze, not too warm and far better than the snow we had last weekend.

We set out at about 10am and those of us walking the 10miles made it in about three and a half hours (including a quick pit stop in Marks and Spencers and a wee break outside the parliament and then in the middle of Marchmont) which we were pretty pleased with.

I think we’re all pretty shattered. There are a few blisters and one toe nail falling off but other than aches and pains (mainly on my part, to be honest) we all seem to be holding up extremely well! Praise God!

So a HUGE shout out to Amy, Amy, Anna, Alasdair, David, Katrina, Nicola, Nicole, Jane, Rachel and mum and dad. You guys are AMAZING.

And here are some of them before we set off:

Huge thank you to all walkers and sponsors – wouldn’t be going to San Francisco without you and I think you’re wonderful 🙂

SF 2011: The Walk (2)

Well, tomorrow is the big day. About 12 people and 120 miles.

Most of us will be walking a 10 mile route through the streets of Edinburgh.

I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored us. If everyone honours their pledges I’ll have raised enough to cover all my living expenses in San Francisco! I’ve been blown away by people’s generosity and humbled that they would direct that at me. I thank God for all of you!

In all honesty I’m dreading the walk a little. It’s going to be painful. The dodgy old knees have been playing up a lot recently and I’m not sure that any amount of pre-emptive ibuprofen or my new “knee support bandage” is going to be able to detract from the inevitable agony. But, you know, miracles happen and I’ll trust God for energy and resilience and he’ll be as faithful with that as He was with the funds. And I can’t really complain – four friends ran 52 miles from St. Andrews to Edinburgh in 12hours last weekend. They are allowed to be incapable of walking!

I’ll let you know how it all goes, prayers appreciated 🙂

Brett

This evening I met a homeless man called Brett. I’ve seen him before, almost everyday I walk past him on the way to lectures as he sits outside Tesco, but tonight I stopped to talk to him.

His story was quite amazing, full of pain and sadness, but also some hope in him having become a Christian in recent months, started going to church and recently getting in touch with his family again. We spoke for five minutes or so and then, in front of the doors of Tesco, I was privileged to be able to pray with him.

Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matt 25:40

The toffee apple bakewells (his request) which I bought for him were nothing compared to the blessing and challenge he was for me tonight. It’s true what they say about seeing Jesus in those you least expect too and being blessed when you’re the one trying to be a blessing.

He has faith in the face of real adversity, hardship I can’t even imagine. He’s led a difficult life but lives in faith in God’s redemptive power. He needs what I could afford to throw away.

I walk past him, and many others like him, everyday. Jesus loves them all. Jesus would stop for each of them.

The world casts a huge chasm between us – rich and poor, educated and uneducated, safe and vulnerable. But tonight I was praying with a brother in Christ. A brother loved as I am loved. A brother worth as much as I am worth. We are not so different – any set of circumstances could have led to us being in opposite positions – God sees us just the same.

Hebrews 13:2 “some have entertained angels unawares

Road Trip

I had an amazing weekend of banter!!

On Friday, with Faye at the wheel, Pamela riding shotgun, Ruth, Stef and I nice and cosy in the back, we left the overcast ‘deen for the wet and windy Edinburgh!

Having navigated the horrendous traffic and roadworks in the centre of Edinburgh we dumped our stuff at Stef’s very lovely flat and headed out for dinner, stopping for tea/coffee and then again for cake, along the way. It was a very good cup of “Chocolate Flake Tea” from Teapigs, which I shall be hunting out again (also quite fancy their popcorn or organic honey bush and rooibos teas . . . the latter primarily for the funny name!). We had a lovely meal at the Vittoria Restaurant before returning to the flat (ice cream to go in hand) for some late night debates on creation, heaven and predestination!

After those very late night conversations it was up and out just a little too soon for “Gingers! The Musical”, one of the fringe shows: Eight gingers, one room … a hilarious portrayal of trials and tribulations this genetic minority face. After all, beauty’s in the heart, not the hair! It really was hilarious, as we heard each of these poor gingers stories through music and dance.

S6002883

We then headed to Musselburgh (“The Honest Toon”) to see Carolyn and Owen and after lunch with them (including some brilliant Irn Bru sorbet from the legendry Luca’s ice cream parlour) we took a walk down the beach. Much amusement was found on the skate ramp (minus skateboards, obviously) – what is it they say about simple things please simple minds?!

It was then back on the road to go to Galashiels to stay with Ruth’s parents for a night. As with almost every occasion we are together, there had to be Gilmore Girls involved, so we watched another few episodes where very little happened, but that is the joy of the programme!

It was a bit of a rush the next morning after an even later night led to some of us sleeping in but we made it to church on time. It was a lovely service in a beautiful building at Old Parish and St. Paul’s Church. I learned some new hymns and Rev. Steele preached a challenging message about conformity to society and the importance of remaining faithful to God’s commands.

After lunch it was unfortunately time to return north again, but we made good time and were back at church for the evening service.

It was a great weekend. Really good fun with amazing people. Thanks guys!!

Inspired Bicycles

Tom posted this the other day but I wanted to post it here again because you have got to watch it!!

Firstly because it’s awesome. Secondly because it’s a great advert for Edinburgh. Thirdly because this guy has some incredible skill. 

Just watch it. You will not regret it. Especially the bit at 3:08. Gets me every time.

Pray for the city

I posted this verse from Jeremiah a wee while ago:

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare. 
(Jeremiah 29:7)

It has been thoroughly stuck in my head since and I think God’s saying something.

At first I just thought it was a great verse, one I’d remember and use in future when talking about praying for Aberdeen or something, but there’s more to it than that.

I was in Edinburgh last week, that city which, in 6 months/ 25 weeks, I’ll be “exiled” to. The city who’s welfare will determine my welfare. It’s about time I started praying, for Edinburgh itself and for whatever my life there will be.

Too often, prayer becomes a last minute – “oh I suppose I ought to . . .” – thing. We’ll make every other preparation necessary and then think about praying. Well I don’t want that to be the case with this. Now is the time to pray – not the month, week or day before, but now.

And less, “do I really have to go”, more “what do you me to do when I get there”. Less, “I can’t leave them behind”, more “look after them when I do”. 

Time to pray for the city I’ll soon call home.