Month of Prayer
January 9th to February 6th 2022
Prayer is the engine of the Church. We believe that God listens to us and we believe that God speaks.
As we find ourselves still on this rollercoaster of pandemic churches all over the world are praying for God to lead and direct in a season of change. The Walton Team Ministry and indeed the Walton Deanery were already in a season of change as the Rector of Walton post is being fulfilled by an Interim Minister. So how can we best meet both the known and the unknown challenges of 2022 and beyond? How can we best be equipped to live like Jesus and love our neighbours?
For The Walton Team Ministry in 2022 a key part of that question is how we structure the leadership of the Team; both in terms of Priestly leadership and lay leadership, worship and governance.
We don’t want to answer this question out of our own plans and preferences. We want to ask what God wants.
LISTENING TO GOD.
Throughout the Bible we find God speaking to people in a variety of ways – through the written word, through strangers, through an audible voice, even through a burning bush. Christians today also experience God speaking in a variety of ways. Often this happens most directly through the Bible, but people also experience God speaking in nature, in music and in silence. God can speak to us through other people. Sometimes, especially in prayer, God might bring a word or picture into someone’s mind, or they might recall a song lyric or scripture. Sometimes people describe a sense of peace or a feeling that they are being prompted to do something.
The Bible teaches that we should not dismiss these things, but that we should ‘weigh and test’ them carefully. This means checking this is actually God speaking. This is sometimes called “spiritual discernment” and it’s not only for particular people, it’s for everybody.
Here is how we can ‘weigh and test’ what we are hearing:
• What God speaks will never contradict anything God has said in scripture.
• What God speaks will always be strengthening, comforting and encouraging
• God will often confirm a message by repeating it in a different way.
• A sense of ‘rightness’ in your spirit. In the same way the our conscience tells us something is wrong, even if we want to do it – we can also feel that something is right, even if we don’t want to do it. For example, God can call you to do something outside your comfort zone like talk to a stranger or move country – your body and your mind can be very uncomfortable, but it can still ‘feel right’ in your spirit.
Finally, even as we expect God to speak we acknowledge that we do not always get it right. Paul writes: “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)Often we don’t hear God perfectly through all the noise of our lives. That is why we never share a word from God with someone as though it is definite. If God wants us to share something with someone else it will always be in line with scripture and will be strengthening, comforting and encouraging. We should offer it gently saying something like: “I could be wrong, but I think God might be saying…”
God speaks differently to different people at different times. As we pray through this month our goal should be to draw close to God and to listen.
HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE.
This resource suggests different areas of focus for prayer. There will be a scripture, a suggested activity, a song, and some words you might find helpful as a jumping-off point to talk to God using your own words or spending time in silence.
Find a rhythm that works for you for the month. You might want to set aside a few minutes to pray for one of the areas of focus each day. If you already have a prayer list, just add the areas of focus on when it suits you. Alternatively, find a free slot and spend an extended time of prayer working through all the areas of focus. If that’s not going to work for you, keep this resource with you and grab a few moments in the car, in your lunch break, or whenever you can.
Keep a note of anything significant that comes to mind when you are praying. You may wish to share this with Church leaders or others.
AREAS OF FOCUS
• Scripture: 1 Kings 19:9-12
• Song: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Often, our lives are full of noise and our minds are full of thoughts. It can be difficult to hear the gentle whisper of God.
Get a piece of paper and a pen.
Write down all your thoughts about the future of The Walton Team, St Luke’s, the area of Walton : your plans and preferences; your longings; your worries and concerns.
Keep writing for as long as you need to until you have finished.
Look at the list.
God knows your heart.
God sees your longings.
Sometimes God speaks to us through our own desires.
Sometimes God speaks to us in spite of our own desires.
Fold up the list and set it aside for now. You can return to it later if you wish.
In setting the list aside, we declare our intention to listen for God’s gentle whisper.
Pray the words below then spend some time in silence.
Speak O Lord, your servant is listening.
Scripture: Psalm 37:3-4
“God will give you the desires of your heart.”
The more time we spend in God’s presence, the more our desires align with God’s desires; the more God’s priorities become our priorities.
Spend time praying for the needs in our neighbourhood. Pray for those who don’t have a community to belong to. Pray for those who are suffering. Pray for those who use our food bank. Pray for those who need the family of the Church.
Loving God, you care for the whole world. You care for each of us. You care for our neighbours. You know every heart. You hear every cry. Guide us as we pray for the needs of our neighbourhood. Bring our hearts in line with yours.
Song: I see the King of Glory (Hosanna)
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:4-7
When God’s people were in captivity in Babylon they were called to focus on blessing the people and places where they found themselves.
In your mind, take a walk around the place where you live – your street; your neighbourhood; the town centre. What buildings do you see? Houses? Shops? Many families and businesses are struggling following the pandemic. Pray that God would bless them with good business and good relationships.
Creator God thank you that you created human beings in your image. You made us creative like you and you long for us to be productive and prosper. We ask for your favour and blessing on the place where you have called us to live. We ask for the success of families, businesses and government.
Song: God of this City
4. ONE ANOTHER
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:10
When Paul instructs the church “there be no divisions among you” this doesn’t mean we cannot hold different opinions from one another, but that we do not allow those differences to lead to conflict. There will be a range of views about how The Walton Team and wider area should look in the years to come. Pray that these differences are not allowed to lead to conflict. We surrender our will to God’s will.
Sometimes the possibility of change is frightening and it can cause people to act in destructive ways, gossiping, forming factions, spreading division. Pray that we will all be kept from any negative behaviour as that we surrender our will to God’s will.
Pray that God will improve our relationships with one another throughout this process of praying and discerning together so that, whatever the outcome, we will love one another more. We surrender our will to God’s will.
Words: Say these words in time with slow breaths. Pray each as many times as you like.
Cast all your anxieties on him
Because he cares for you
(1 Peter 5:7)
Let go of all bitterness, wrath and anger
Be kind to one another and tenderhearted
Song: All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord
Scripture: Revelation 2:29
In the book of Revelation Jesus speaks to different churches about their past and about their future direction. To each he says: Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
As you have prayed that you would hear God, pray for everyone else in Walton, that they would experience the same thing.
Call to mind the names and faces of others who belong to The Walton Team Ministry and St Luke’s. Pray specifically for them and ask that God would speak to them and guide them.
Words: The Prayer of St. Columba:
Be a bright flame before me, O God
a guiding star above me.
Be a smooth path below me;
a kindly shepherd behind me
today, tonight, and for ever.
Song: Speak, O Lord.
Scripture: Hebrews 13:17-18
Activity: The Parish Church Councils and Deanery are seeking God’s direction for the future of the Church in Walton. Pray for them as they listen, discuss and discern. Ask God to make the way clear. Pray that each one would keep their focus on Jesus. Pray that each one would know how deeply and desperately they are loved by God.
Words: Lord, as you speak to the leaders of this church may they hear you clearly. Bless them as they seek to serve you and listen to you.
Song: The Heart of Worship (When the Music Fades)