Hi, it’s Mick here – hope your week is going well. It’s Wednesday of our Prayer Week at STC and we have an amazing bible reading today, Acts 1:9-14 – it describes the Ascension, the time that Christians believe Jesus left this earth and went to be with his Father in heaven. Always remember, there is a man in heaven – the risen Jesus – praying for you right now. You can hear the whole passage after today’s prayer but our focus verse today is v14: ‘They all joined together constantly in prayer’.
The original words of this verse mean this ‘they constantly devoted themselves to praying’. Three things to reflect upon today.
Firstly, it’s good to pray. It might seem obvious if you are a Christian, but sometimes it’s good to state the obvious! Prayer is how we connect with God.
Prayer is a discipline we have to develop; question – what is your personal prayer rhythm? This is when we start to feel a little (or a lot!) guilty as most of us struggle to get any kind of space for prayer in our busy and hectic lives. Don’t feel guilty, just get a little more organised! Top tip here, keep it simple, keep it real and keep it regular! (three top tips in one! – simple, real, regular). When it comes to prayer, slow small steps are much better than quick giant strides! At the end of this short reflection is a prayer, so listening to this daily Podcast is part of a regular cycle of prayer. Remember, it’s good to pray.
Secondly, it is good to pray with others. Having your own prayer time is vital – just you and Jesus – but, it is also so important to pray with others. This week at STC is our Prayer Week, it’s the week leading up to our Vision Sunday. Our process at STC is to watch and reflect in midweek communities on the Vision video in the preceding weeks but then hear again on Vision Sunday at all our Gatherings the Lord’s purpose for 2019 and make our commitments on that day of time, talents and money to support this missionary endeavour.
We spend lots of time praying here at STC; we gather as team and church family at 9am and 3pm for staff led prayers Monday to Thursday and again at 9am on Friday. As a staff team we are disciplined to leave our desks/our work to do the work of prayer at these times. However, during this annual Prayer Week we spend even more time encouraging each other to pray! Today is Prayer Wednesday, a day in the middle of this Prayer Week when we raise the bar on prayer. We begin praying in church at 7am for 30 mins with many joining us on their way to work (coffee and pastries to go!) – lots of opportunities to pray in church, at home, work etc during the day and then come together this evening at 8pm with an inspiring two hours of prayer and worship – it’s always an amazing time when we know that the Lord is with us and leading us as a community. Remember, it is good to pray with others.
Thirdly, devote yourself to prayer. Sounds a bit radical! Not really, because the word simply means ‘persist’ in prayer – make your mind up what to pray for and then stick to it. Praying with others happens all the time at STC in our mid week communities. Week by week doing what those early followers of Jesus did, praying for the everyday ordinary things which make up our lives – family, friends, finances, work, healing, future. Our call is to persist in prayer; it’s not always easy in our busy lives to do this, that’s why we need some kind of discipline to pray by ourselves and with others because we know it’s good to pray and as a church we have seen countless answers to prayer because we have persisted in prayer! Remember, devote yourself to prayer.
God always answers prayers but not always in the way we expect. Sometimes it’s yes – hallelujah!; sometimes it’s no – God our Father knows what’s best for us; sometimes it’s wait – yes but not yet! Keep praying, don’t give up, stick at it – it works!
Remember, ‘They all joined together constantly in prayer’.
Lord, thank you for the gift of prayer. For the gift of praying with others. Thank you that the Holy Spirit helps me to pray – even when I’m sometimes not quite sure how to pray. Lord, in this Prayer Week and on this Prayer Day at STC help me to persist in my prayers. Thank you Lord. Amen
READING: Acts 1:6-8
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.