Today marks the start of 10 days of concerted prayer, called Thy Kingdom Come. Millions of followers of Jesus, in the UK and across the world are praying for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our day. We’re praying for the church to be equipped and empowered for mission (Acts 1:8) and that we’d see many put their faith in Christ. In doing this, we’re mirroring what the first disciples did between Ascension Day and Pentecost (Acts 1:14).
Prayer is communicating with God. Talking with him and listening to him. Prayer is a natural and beautiful thing for followers of Jesus to do, as we seek to grow in our relationship with Christ and pray for the world God loves so much (John 3:16). In fact disciples are called to be prayerful at all times (1 Thess 5:17) – but also to make time daily for worship and prayer (Mark 1:35). Sometimes the church calls disciples to a special season of prayer. That’s what we’ve been called to now. That’s why we need to make particular time to pray.
There are all sorts of ways to pray. At The Belfrey in York, St Cuthbert’s House of Prayer are helping us with this, encouraging us to sign up for 24//7 Prayer and also giving lots of opportunities to pray creatively and passionately. What are you doing, in your community, to pray in this season?
One simple way to pray is to pray with the Bible. After reading a phrase or section we pause and turn it into prayer. We can either pick up phrases from what we’ve just read and turn them into prayer, or we allow the thoughts and ideas that come from the Bible to stimulate our imagination and then we speak our prayers. Because the Bible is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), praying this way enables us to pray with great confidence, knowing that we’re praying in line with the purposes of God.
Eugene Peterson, now an elderly pastor in the United States has spent much of his life encouraging followers of Jesus to pray in this way, urging us not to embrace ‘an unfortunate separation of Scripture from prayer, or prayer from Scripture, that is all too common in the Christian way’. He rightly reminds us that ‘prayer is the Word of God assimilated, absorbed, lived.’
If you’ve never prayed with the Bible before, why not start during this season of prayer? Pray with an open Bible next to you. If you don’t know where to start, begin with the Psalms. The Book of Psalms, right in the middle of the Bible, is the prayer and worship book of the Jewish temple – and so the words are already set up for us to pray!
This season of prayer is a wonderful opportunity not just to pray but to learn how to pray better. It’s a chance to have a go. To try new things. To be stretched. The Lord is thrilled to hear our prayers and is longing to meet with us as we pray. So let’s use this season well, and let’s make sure that we don’t separate prayer from the Bible.
‘Scripture without prayer has no soul; prayer without Scripture has no substance.’ (Eugene Peterson).