Archive for January 2011
By SANDY ROGER
Over the years I have become much more cautious about saying to people “I’ll pray for you”. I came to the realisation one day that so often it was merely a glib promise and once the conversation had passed, the intention also evaporated. Instead I now tend to say, “I will pray for you as often as I remember you”. That leaves the Holy Spirit free to bring people and events to mind at times which are in line with His purposes. Adapting this method has produced some remarkable results. It is very encouraging to meet up with or contact people for whom you have become particularly burdened only to discover that just at the time you strongly felt led to bring them to the Lord in prayer was when they were in great need of prayer support.
But side by side with this there has also developed the habit of creating a prayer list. The human memory is very unreliable at times and with the best intentions in the world it is impossible to carry around with us all the time everything that needs to be brought to God in prayer. There are great advantages in having a list to which you can regularly refer.
It is impossible for any one person to carry a prayer burden for every eventuality in the world. There is only one Person all-powerful and all-knowing who is able to carry the whole of humanity in His heart. But that does not mean we cannot have a share through prayer in what God is doing.
That is where my prayer list comes in handy. It is just a little notebook in which I jot down things that I want to remember regularly before the Lord; and over the years it has proved a very valuable tool.
It ensures that the things God has laid on my heart have a prior call on my praying. Well aware that I cannot pray for everyone and about everything, I trust the Lord to put into my mind the things that should take up my attention in the place of prayer. As situations change then so too does the priorities.
Tracking Answers to Prayer
It is always a great help to go back to the lists, perhaps weeks or months after they have ceased to be a prayer priority, and discover how the Lord has answered. I find that a great incentive to keep on praying, reasoning that if He has granted these requests then He will do the same for the things that are my current concern. There is nothing like concrete answers to prayer for encouraging you to pray all the more.
Specific and Structured
Like all Christians my mind sometimes wanders when I am praying. When that starts to happen then my praying becomes rather haphazard and lacking in focus. Having a list is a great antidote to that happening. The sheer discipline of working through a regular listing of concerns means that I can concentrate better and focus my prayers like a laser on the thing in hand. I have also discovered that the more specific I am in prayer the more easily I recognise the answers. Prayer is both asking and receiving, and the more definite we are in our asking the more definite God seems in His answering.
Discipline, Duty and Delight
When we come before the Lord in prayer the awareness of His felt presence is not always experienced by us. That does not mean He is not there. It is far more likely that we will fail to keep our regular rendezvous with Him than that He will break the appointment. There is a cost and a discipline involved in praying regularly for others and we must not expect always to be on cloud nine. I find it helpful to realise my responsibility to pray for others by remembering that if I fail in this area there may be no one else to bring that person before the Lord that day.
A friend of mine talks about this kind of praying as dynamic flexibility. It is more than merely working through a list and feeling that you have done your duty. It is a waiting on God in order to be swept up into His purposes. I read recently of Norman Grubb, the first General Secretary of WEC, saying at the start of every new day, “Good morning, God! What are you doing today? I want to be part of it. May I?” Surely there is nowhere that we demonstrate we are co-workers together with God (2 Corinthians 6:1) more than when we are on our knees before Him on behalf of others?
Dr Sandy Roger is a former principal of the Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh. He is presently minister of a church in Coatbridge.
This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine January/February 2009
By Lin Pearson
Winter sports can be exhilarating and at times scary—a bit like the Christian life! There are elements of “risk” when we follow Christ. There are no guarantees of trouble-free life; being a Christian is no insurance against experiencing difficulties and hardship.
Waiting for the call of God
Knowing the call of God can seem like being at the top of a ski jump, waiting for the clear “go ahead”. Then, when the time is right and you abandon yourself to God’s purposes, you are propelled forward.
Fear of failure
It may at first feel like a slippery slope. “What if I’m no good? What if I fall?” Ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards didn’t let fear of failure stop him from competing in the 1988 winter Olympics—even though he came last! His spirit of adventure has been an inspiration to many.
Following God’s plan is definitely not going to result in you careering down a slippery slope, your life out of control, though it may at times be a bumpy ride. You may be misunderstood. Many a Bible College student has been told that they are “throwing away a good career” or “wasting their education”. You will face challenges on every level—spiritual, emotional, financial or otherwise.
Step out – go for it!
But, like the disciple Peter, who stepped out of the comfort-zone of the boat and onto the deep water, you will not be alone. What appears to be a risk is total security when Christ is with you on the stormy waters. There is no safer place to be than in the will of God.
When you obey God, adversity can become adventure! Whatever he has asked you to do—go for it!This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine January/February 2009
By Virginia Kremer
WHILE waiting for something to finish cooking, my eyes absently came to rest on my kitchen timer. The last time I had really looked at it, it was shiny new. That was 30 years ago! I picked it up thinking how old and worn it was. Its imitation wood sides were scratched and there were a couple of marks left in haste by buttered fingers. Nicks on the plastic rim were the results of falls, and its face had become cloudy. As I turned it over, the decorative gold-coloured cap in the middle slipped off as usual, reminding me that although I had planned many times to glue it back in place, once the timer’s work was done, I had not thought of it again. Who thinks about an old kitchen timer as long as it works? And why not replace it by a new, modern version?
Looking at it in amazement and wondering where the time had gone since I’d received it as a wedding gift, I thought of the person who had given it to me: Anna. Tears came to my eyes. I had never really mourned her death a few years ago. Her passing away had happened when I, myself, was facing the desperate situation of my husband’s serious illness.
I pictured her jolly, smiling face, twinkling eyes, ruddy cheeks, and grey hair, once black and curly, pulled back in a bun. Anna was from a large farming family of Mennonites in Alsace. She had wanted to play the saxophone as a young person, but her very strict father considered that a sin. She had rebelled and gone out into the “world” but early on realized that without God, life had no meaning. She came back to the faith of her fathers and opened her heart to the love of God and to salvation in his Son Jesus Christ. Her life was turned around and she became an ardent witness to his grace and saving power. Her great desire was to serve him as a missionary all the days of her life and she made known her calling to the elders of her church. Anna was a farm girl with minimum schooling and no qualifications. She was sent to work in the home of a prominent Christian family whose vocation was to send out missionaries. There, she was to clean and cook, and in other words, be their servant. She had her little room up under the eaves on the third floor and was on call twenty-four hours a day!
A call frustrated?
She never made it to the mission field. She spent her life up to her retirement doing what she did best: cooking, cleaning and working in the garden. There may have been times when she was a little frustrated; she had had such a clear calling. But wherever Anna went, be it in a shop or at the market or on the train or talking to someone at the door, everyone remarked her beaming face and cheery presence. She always spoke a word for the Lord. She had the gift of evangelism. Even the most defiant or disinterested could not resist her words of wisdom and truth. Not only did she believe, but she also put what she believed in practice. The children in the Sunday School loved to hear her tell Bible stories and several generations called her “Aunt Anna”. Some of them went on to serve the Lord.
Taken for granted
When I was in the home where Anna served, she was such a joy and encouragement to me. Somehow, she made life easier, smoothed out the rough places and made me feel at home. Yet, Anna was only a servant. Everyone took her for granted. She was always there. No one seemed to notice that the years were passing, that time and work were taking their toll. Who cares about an old servant? When she can’t work anymore, she will be replaced.
Faithful and fruitful
Anna has gone home to be with the Lord she loved and served so faithfully. She didn’t get to be a missionary and go to a foreign field as she had dreamed, but she didn’t let that stop her from being a true witness to Christ where she was. Anna served a number of God’s servants. Some of them may not have even taken much notice of her, but it wouldn’t surprise me that when we all stand before God’s throne and the rewards are passed out, Anna might just be up in the front row among the most faithful!
Now when I pick up my timer, I always think of Anna, and thankfully remember that God is not like us. He doesn’t use people and then replace them when they are old or no longer physically useful. He sees and knows the hidden motives of the heart. He does not stop at the outward appearance, the superficial spirituality, the ‘importance’ of the person in men’s eyes, the apparent usefulness or success or education. He looks at the heart, the love there for Him and for others, the humble service where there is no place for self-glory.
I’ve learned so much from my old kitchen timer and from Anna! ■
Virginia lives in France, where she worked for many years with her late husband, Etienne, as members of the Mission-Foi- Evangile.
This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine November/December 2004
At the opening of Edinburgh Convention 2005, our General Director, JOHN TOWNEND, prayed for the convention, for the nation and for us all as individuals. As the meeting was recorded, we are able to print an extract here. This is so that all our readers may have the opportunity to join those of us who identified with John’s words that night, and that together, we may continue to pray for God’s blessing on The Faith Mission, our own lives and on our needy nation. – Ed.
Thank You, Father, that we don’t come before You because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You that He was willing to take in His own body our sin and nail it to that awful cross at Calvary. Thank You that ‘there is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus’. Lord, we are a privileged people. You did not discard us, but You loved us and have visited us with Your grace and mercy.
Father, we surrender this convention into Your hands. Thank You it is not the Faith Mission’s convention but it is Yours. It is convened because You have a work to do during these days. We pray that we would take our hands off and that You may come in Your fullness and in the freedom of Your Holy Spirit to minister to the needs that You want to touch during these days. But, Lord, most of all, come to glorify Your Name; to bring honour to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, thank You that You are a great God. Nothing is impossible with You and as we think of the need in our nation, we thank You that You also see individuals here, who are crying out for You to minister to some particular need in their heart and life. Thank You Lord that You care for us as individuals as well as communities of Your people. Lord, meet with us and have Your way.■
The 2011 Edinburgh Convention is planned for Tuesday 28 June-Sunday 3 July 2011.
For further information contact
The Convention Secretary
548 Gilmerton Road
Edinburgh EH17 7JD
Tel: 0131 672 2149This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine November/December 2005