As I am writing this letter, many of you know Paul and I are on leave from church at the moment, Paul is due to have an operation but it has been postponed. At this time we can only Pray, but isn’t that the very foundation of what we can do because of who we are.
In my Christmas letter I wrote about Bishop Paul calling us to a Rule of Life? Well you may be thinking, oh yes remind me again what it was all about. A Rule of Life was first introduced to the church through St. Benedict some 1500 years ago and is still followed by the monks of that order today and it shows us Christian disciplines that will help us on our faith journey.
In that vein, Bishop Paul is asking us as the church here in Liverpool Diocese to explore and live a Rule of Life ourselves. Bishop Paul has based our rule of life around six words that we are all called to do. Pray, Read, Learn, so that we may Tell, Serve and Give. (If you are techno savvy, the diocese have developed a mobile phone app which we can access at www.ruloflife.org.uk, which will give lots of advice and resources to support your discipleship journey.)
Over the months to come I would like us to look at each word in turn beginning with prayer.
I am present reading a book the works of E. M. Bounds. It is a compilation of five books written by Rev’d Bounds, beginning at the end of the 1800’s all about prayer. Rev’d bounds was a lawyer, army chaplain and pastor and he devoted the last 17 years of his life reading writing and rising before dawn every morning to pray. Even though I am only in the first chapters, I am gaining such amazing insight into an activity that should be at the very foundation of who we are. Here are some things I would love you to consider.
Jesus give us amazing insight into prayer.
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24-25 (NKJV).
So the underpinning of prayer is faith. It is one of the hallmarks of being a Christian. You see when we have faith it creates powerful praying and who do we centre it on? That great person of power, God’s own Son, Jesus. Bounds writes “Faith in Jesus Christ to do great things is the faith which prays greatly”
We see it in the Gospels, “A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2) it was the man’s faith, centred on Jesus’ ability to do it, that gave healing power.
And what about the blind men? After Jesus had entered the house, the blind men came to Him. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” He asked. “Yes, Lord,” they answered. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” (Matthew 9:28).
So the question we have to ask is, “Do we have faith in Jesus power?” People of faith have said that looking back over their life, they have seen that the greatest blessing has been where there has been sincere heartfelt prayer. Have a think, do you pray?
In the letter of James he says , “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)
So, we see that we are to pray with faith and openly telling God of all our needs.
And then, in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Paul, tells us to persevere. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2.)
The bible is full of amazing examples, of faith, of devoted unending wrestling prayer. So how about it. If you are not doing it regularly already why not try it, let me know how you get on.
Occasionally I meet a Christian who, because of age or infirmity tells me that there is not so much they can do these days, they can only pray. Only pray? I want to give them a hug! It’s because of you that great things are done. It is because of the likes of you that in God amazing things happen. Never ever underestimate the power of prayer.
From Ascension Thursday 30th May, when Jesus returned to heaven, to Pentecost Sunday on 9th June, when just as Jesus had promised the Holy Spirit came upon those who believed. During this period churches throughout the whole of the world are opening up to pray. “Thy Kingdom Come”. “Come Holy Spirit, thy will be done”. We believe that the Church coming together in prayer will lift her to a greater work of evangelism, healing and peace and that God will bring a greater power through the Holy Spirit, to bring about change in our lifetime and will transform our cities, our towns, our villages and our very lives. At St Marks from Ascension Day between 12.00 noon and 1.00pm the church will be open. Would you be able to come along and pray?
So why not take upon yourself, the first step of Bishops Pauls first Rule of Life and devote time in prayer to God.
Rev’d Eileen Heaney