Pastor’s Thoughts – March 2019

Dear friends, 

Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by remembering Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness near the beginning of his ministry. In our tradition we’re not always big on celebrating the ecclesiastical calendar but there does seem some sense in using some time to focus. Over the next few weeks we are going to be focussing on prayer. There is nothing more natural, more important or more challenging than prayer. We find it essential and we often find it difficult. 

As we looked at ways to mark our 200th anniversary, prayer seemed to be an obvious place to begin. We have so much to give thanks for, and so much to look forward to in the years ahead. Prayer is a vital part of every good thing that has happened and will be essential to enable future growth and blessing. No good thing comes without prayer. 

So we want to encourage everyone to be standing together in prayer. Our weekly ministries need prayer. Our brothers and sisters need prayer. The Bridge needs prayer. Our leaders need prayer. Every part of what we do needs to be soaked in prayer. Our nation and our world desperately need prayer. As a church we have long sensed that we need to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our nation and on our town. 

So when we decided to pursue this as the opening theme of our bicentenary year we turned to 40 Days of Prayer. We have been blessed by using the Saddleback 40 Days campaigns in the past and have seen great fruit from them. Rick Warren has a way of encouraging people to grow in their relationship with Christ that is very helpful. His approach to prayer is equally helpful and he wants to help us to get to grips with what the Lord intends for our prayer lives. 

If you have not yet joined a Life Group then please do so as this will enable you to get the most from the series. 

There are handbooks available and we have some that are free if you’d really like one but it doesn’t fit into your budget. Please don’t be shy about asking, we’re family and we want to make sure everyone can have one if they’d like. 

The call to us is to hear the word of the Lord to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 

I want to leave you with Isaiah’s prayer in Isaiah 64:1-4. It seems to me to be the kind of prayer that I want to be praying for our nation: 

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

It may be that our nation is not waiting for him, but it certainly needs him. This is where we have to stand in the gap for our fellow citizens and lift up holy hands and cover them with prayer. 

Yours in Christ,
John