Pray and never give up

 

Dear friends 

It is always encouraging to hear stories from one another of how earnest prayer has proved effective. Recently in our services we have heard such stories of those who have prayed and never given up, even though it may have been years before they have seen the answer to their prayers. 

Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow as an encouragement to us to ‘pray and not give up’ (Luke 18:1). And yet how easy it is for us to become disillusioned, disappointed and discouraged when despite fervent prayer nothing seems to be happening. It is then that we are tempted to give up, slow down and lose hope. This is when we need one another to bring encouragement to us, to keep going in the race. Who are those who encourage you; members of your cell group, prayer partners or close friends? 

St Paul encourages us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Smith Wigglesworth, a man greatly used by God said, ‘I never pray for longer than half an hour, but then I never let half an hour go past without praying’. Too often I find that prayer gets pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do in any given day and yet prayer is really the most important activity of the day. It was said of Martin Luther that the busier he became, the more time he spent in prayer. The more responsibilities he had to shoulder, the earlier he got up in the morning and the more time he spent with God. For us it can be the opposite, the busier we become the less time we spend in prayer. 

A good way of measuring our relationship with Jesus is by considering how much time we spend with him in prayer. Like in any relationship you can only get to know someone by spending time with them. So it is with Jesus. that comes down to time in prayer.

 

The first disciples’ primary call was to be with him, before they were to work for him. So also with us. Our primary call is to be with Jesus before we do anything for him and that comes down to time in prayer. 

The Lord himself is our primary example. Many times the disciples could not find Jesus. Often there were lots of people waiting to speak with him and hear him preach, but he was up the mountain, spending time with God. ‘First the mountain and then the ministry’ as Alex Buchan writes. 

It was so encouraging to see so many of you attend our quarterly prayer gathering the other week – we used all the chairs in the hall and had to bring some in from room 2. This reinforces the view that prayer really is the life blood of the church. Every revival that has ever taken place started when people began to pray. We have to pray continually and if we have a relationship with the Lord it should not be a hard thing to spend time in his presence. It should be as natural for a Christian as breathing in fresh oxygen. 

When you listen to someone speaking on the phone, you know immediately whether that person knows the caller intimately by the tone of the voice, the way the conversation goes, the familiarity of the subject matter. You can tell immediately whether it is a tele-sales caller on the other end or an old friend. Let us remember that Jesus is our best friend and he delights to converse with us in prayer. So whatever is lying heavy on your heart, persevere in prayer and never give up. 

Youth Ministry update

We are very much in earnest prayer for our ministry to young people in the church and in the local school. With Emma leaving us to work in Hong Kong, we are seeking the Lord to provide us with a successor to take forward this ministry. During this interim period, Simon Holdsworth will be providing the leadership oversight of the Youth Cell that meets on Tuesday evening. There is already in place a good team of youth leaders to continue with that ministry and all the plans are well advanced for the trip to Soul Survivor in August. However, we do continue to seek a coordinator to oversee the Sunday morning 11-14yrs small group (Grid) and are praying for the right person or couple to emerge. With volunteers from the churches in Tewkesbury attending the CUs at Tewkesbury School, we will be able to provide on-going input to that aspect of ministry. Please make this a matter of urgent prayer as we trust in the Lord’s provision. Do join us for Emma’s farewell on Thursday 12th July, bring and share supper, so that we can send her off in an appropriate way! 

Every blessing in Christ, Stephen