Sam and I are writing a diary entry every day for Lent. It’s a kind of joint journal for 40 Days (or 46 days if you count the Sundays). We’re finding it fascinating reading each other’s comments. Here’s something I wrote earlier this morning.

Prayer is basically communication with God. Talking with him and listening to him. If we don’t pray, we won’t get to know him or his ways, and nothing of lasting significance will happen. If we don’t communicate then our relationship with him will struggle. Just like in a marriage. Relationships experts tell us that most marriages struggle and eventually fail due to a lack of communication. Sam and I know that’s true. When we talk and share and basically hang out, things are so much better. That’s true not just of human relationships but of our relationship with God too. As a nation, and as a region, so many have tried to live without God and neglected prayer and we wonder why God seems distant. Prayer is where it all starts. So I’m teaching that to the people of St Michael le Belfrey, trying to model that and just encourage folk to talk to God. If we do that, then anything is possible.

I asked at last night’s Evening of Prayer what we expected the North to be like in 25 years time – in a generation. What are we praying for? What are we working towards? I am 43 today. So by the time I reach my 68th birthday, what will the North look like? Will the churches be full to overflowing? Will crime be down? Will employment be virtually non-existent and businesses thriving? Will people be much more neighbourly, parks be safe for children to play and old people feel they don’t have to keep their doors locked all the time? Will the bible be respected again as the Word of God and prayer be normal and natural and good? That’s what I’m working towards. That’s what I’m praying for. I know it seems impossible, but you only live once, and that’s what I’m shooting for. Lord, will you do that? In our day? In our time?

For some, thinking that way is unrealistic and nonsensical. If you were to look in from the outside and see some of things we were praying for last night, you might have thought that. In fact at one point I stood back from what was going on, and imagined what it must have looked like to someone who didn’t get what we were doing. But then I thought of Noah building his ark ready for rains that no-one expected (Gen 6). He looked foolish; but wasn’t. I thought of Moses gathering thirsty people in the wilderness to stand by a rock trusting that unseen water was about to be released (Num 20). He looked foolish; but wasn’t. I thought of the widow gathering jars to fill with oil that didn’t exist (2 Kings 4). She looked foolish; but wasn’t. I thought of Jesus standing by the tomb of Lazarus, telling the dead man to come out (John 11). He looked foolish; but wasn’t.
When we pray prayers of faith, we can look foolish. Seem foolish. Even feel foolish. But we’re not. What we’re doing is just praying for that which is humanly impossible. We’re doing what the great saint AW Tozer encouraged us to do – in a phrase I have next to my desk: ‘God is looking for people through whom he can do the impossible – what a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.’ So ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and then pray big prayers. The kind of prayers you find in Scripture. Pray the seemingly impossible. Then live in the light of your prayers. And then watch and see what God does.