Archive for the ‘Pray with us’ Category

liturgy for now and not yet

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Our daily prayer rhythm includes a different characteristic every day. Alongside scripture, this leads the focus of our worship and – very often – shapes how, or even what, we intercede for that day too. We’ve found this approach to be rich and transformational, magnifying our God ever more as we follow it day by day. But of course some of the characteristics are more straightforward to respond to than others. And sometimes the trickiest ones are surprising because they take us right into the prayed and lived tension of the now and not yet of the kingdom…

Friday’s characteristic  was one of these. A real wrestle when we started honestly responding to God in worship and intercession with it. This characteristic was our God is our Healer (Jehovah Rapha)

The thing is there are widely different views and emphases held in the church about healing, and our own personal experiences can be so formative that it can be difficult for each of us to see past them to what scripture sets out about how, to what extent, and when, our God heals.

But it’s important isn’t it, that we root ourselves in the truth of who God is, else we quickly start to come unstuck as we offer up situations breaking our hearts, or simply come face to face with our own disappointments.

So in Friday’s worship we decided to go step by step; to tread carefully, thanking him truth by truth with some shared liturgy, in the dear hope that as we prayed this together, we would see our HEALER more clearly, and experience more freedom, joy and praise in our worship of him for being this both in the essence of who he is, and in his relationship with us and the world he so completely loves.

We found it really helpful, and freeing and – as it plays so centrally into the now and not yet of interceding for situations of brokenness and suffering – thought we would share it with you as a resource for wider worship and prayer too:

Thank you God that you are both our HEALER and completely for our healing
Thank you that you made us.
Thank you that you value us more than anyone else does – that you knit us together in our mothers’ wombs and we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Thank you that you know how we work, how we get broken, and how to re-construct and repair us – and that you want to do this however we got to where we are now.
Thank you that you long for our full healing, wholeness and flourishing so much more than we do.
Thank you that you are always generous to the point of being lavish with your care.
Thank you for sending Jesus – whose life and death demonstrated your passionate desire to see us healed and restored.

Thank you God that you do heal – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – both directly, and indirectly in this life, and still today.
Thank you for all the examples in scripture – Old and New testament both, but especially in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit’s work through the early church – of you healing body, mind, soul and spirit.
Thank you for all our experiences of your healing touch in our own lives, in the lives of others around us, or through the testimonies we have heard resound from both the global and historic church.
Thank you for the Holy Spirit in us and with us, and the supernatural gift of healing whenever and wherever you, our HEALER, wisely and lovingly choose to give it in this life.
Thank you for all the natural healing resources you laid in place on the earth, and in people, to help bring transformation, ease pain and suffering, and re-train the body, mind, soul and spirit through doctors, medicines and wholesome therapies.

Thank you God that you are making, and will make, all things new, in your perfect time.
Thank you that we neither need to cling on to any particular specific healing having to come in this life. Nor do we have to give up on expecting that it might. Neither, most of all, do we have to be resigned to living with it forever – for you do heal in part today, and one day those who follow you will all experience full and complete healing.
Thank you that our ultimate hope of healing is in you yourself, in our restored relationship with you, and in eternity; and that it is absolutely, completely unshakeable because of this.

Thank you God that you never change, and that you never break your promises about healing, or anything else.
Thank you that Jesus’ ministry on earth is totally consistent with who you are now – you physically healed/heal many, but not all who were/are alive, and none who experienced/experience your miracle healing lived/live forever in this life.
Thank you that the counsel of your living word makes it clear that some of our healing – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – comes in the now, and some in the not yet, of the kingdom.Thank you for both.
Thank you that your offer of full healing in eternity, and some healing now, is open to everyone – even though the latter looks very different in different people’s lives as you work on different things, in a different order for all of us, in pursuit of the same aim for all of us – that we would respond to you, and grow up in you.
Thank you that you never make promises you don’t keep; never speak empty words that don’t have substance; and never raise and dash our hopes.
Thank you that you are endlessly merciful with our tendency to get confused about what you have and haven’t said, to give up on your promises, or to hold you to ransom over words that were never really yours or which we misinterpreted somehow.

And so God, our HEALER, we ask you…
Come now, and heal our expectations and perspective of you as HEALER so we might love and worship you more truly, and more fully for who you are, what you have done, what you are doing, and what you will do.
Restore our vision and hope where we have lost them; redirect our vision and hope where we have misdirected them; re-form and recapture our hearts and lives to be set above all on you, and on eternity,
in your name – Jehovah Rapha – and for your glory,
Amen.

intercession inspired by God’s character

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

We’ve just published a newly updated and extended resource: creative prayer ideas for intercession inspired by God’s character.

Our prayer rhythm’s daily characteristic of God in focus is highly formative for us. And all these ideas started as live worship within it first. So it’s wonderful to be able to share just some of that richness with you in this collection of creative prayer ideas.

You can use the ideas individually, in small groups, or adapt them to use in services, or as part of prayer stations.

 

wild worship field guide

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

We’ve just uploaded a brilliant new creative prayer idea to our website; perfect for summer and holidays. Download our wild worship field guide now or read on to find out more about what’s inspired it and how it works…

What’s inspired this resource?

Most of Jesus’ teaching was conducted outside… on hillsides, next to lakes, in boats; he filled it with metaphors, pictures and stories about the landscape around the people he was speaking too.

And Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 are just two of the scriptures that re-enforce this reality of creation’s ability to communicate who God is and to help us connect with him and learn more about how to relate to him.

But sometimes we end up losing the richness of the connection between creation and worship… perhaps we enjoy being outside but don’t find it naturally prompts worship; or perhaps, in mostly thinking about scripture’s rich natural metaphors when we are inside buildings, we miss the real depth of revelation they have to offer.

Being based in the Yorkshire Dales, many of the Sanctuary’s team feel like we’ve come to a new understanding of scripture because of living in such close connection to so many metaphors used in it.

And we’ve found our prayer rhythm’s occasional wild worship times have made both creation – and scripture – come alive more; leading us into deeper worship full of wonder and joy.

We’ve also found they have further increased our commitment to creation care and good stewardship from the inside out; the more we love, wonder and connect to God through his creation, the more natural it becomes to take better care of it!

We wanted to share a taste of this approach we’ve found so helpful, so we’ve created this field guide; a fun, interactive way, to explore worshipping in the wild!

How does the field guide work?

You can:

  • use it individually, or as a group or family;
  • use it in the garden, or on walks in the countryside;
  • take it out with you on a specific trip or holiday, or keep it close to hand and tick off things as you discover them over a longer period of time; using each one as a gateway to prayer or praise.

The different elements for you to find outside vary from easy to hard; and of course, in a number of cases will only be visible in some seasons, but they’re all alphabetised like a glossary… so you can choose whether you find things and check the glossary… or use the glossary for inspiration of what to look for.

But however you choose to use the field guide, you’ll find reading the scriptures and reflections while actually looking, touching, hearing or smelling the element of creation they focus on, makes them powerfully memorable… don’t rush each one though, spend time thinking about different meanings, and asking God to show you more.

If you are using it on one specific occasion, you might like to prepare for your outing using the special prayer we’ve included (also copied below)… and/or use some of the reflection questions at the end of the resource, after you’ve come back:

A wild worshipper’s prayer

God of the wild and wonderful –
of arcing skies and miniscule, jewelled wings –
set my worship free to explore beyond these walls.
Re-ignite me, excite me and creatively delight me
as your word comes newly alive
through the colourful witness of your world.
Re-tune my senses, sharpen my mind
and quicken my spirit to your presence
as I look, hear, smell, touch and taste more of your goodness
and lead me out into greater adventures
of discovering you and caring for all you have made.

(If you’re interested in more resources like this, take a look at our God revealed in creation prayer walk)

interceding with the psalms

Friday, May 18th, 2018

We’ve just published a collection of creative ideas for interceding with the Psalms featuring more than 20 fresh and powerful suggestions initially developed through using our daily prayer rhythm’s cycle of psalms…

One of the major stimuli for the Sanctuary’s daily prayer rhythm is the Psalms. We cycle around them, taking a different one each day, and as a result – after several years of doing so repeatedly – are getting to know them better and better; and to receive them more fully as the rich gift to the church that they are.

They are not only helpful in leading us into worship and praise, but also often in inspiring or framing our intercessions. Sometimes it’s the whole Psalm that resonates, sometimes just a part of it – but we’ve found that praying with the Psalms brings a depth and freshness to our intercessions that helps us press into God’s truth for many of the key issues in our world that we’re praying about.

In this new resource – creative ideas for interceding with the Psalms we’ve gathered together a number of examples and ideas from our daily prayer rhythm emails and previously published blogs or resources so you can dip into our growing collection of ideas inspired by the psalms in one place, and at any time.

We’re expecting it to expand in the future, and you will have additional ideas about how to use many of them as it’s designed to model an approach rather than be an exhaustive commentary – but we hope you will find the ideas so far a really helpful start.

(If you find this resource helpful and/or would like to think more about the Psalm’s place in our worship and prayer, you might also like to read this article: www.thesanctuarycentre.org/resources/article-psalms-as-our-worship-school.pdf)

praying for the church and its witness

Friday, May 11th, 2018

We’ve just published a new collection of heart-felt written prayers for the church and its witness, expressing our heart for Christians to grow and flourish in authentic and wholehearted love for God, each other and the world… and to demonstrate this in their witness to him individually and collectively.

They are written in love with a desire to serve and bless, but are charged with longing as they address a number of key areas of our mutual discipleship and mission which we all hunger to see pursued and representing Jesus more fully.

But they are also written as much for ourselves as for the rest of the church… because we need the transformation they seek too.

You’ll find prayers in this collection about lots of vital areas of concern to the Sanctuary such as growing in generosity and authenticity; enlarging our worldviews; loving the global church; developing listening lives; and being braver and free-er in our witness…

If you find some of these prayers helpful, you might be interested in exploring this collection of powerful written prayers and reflections on the theme of church unity too.

Peter speaks up this Easter

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Over the last few years, the Sanctuary has been building up a growing family of meditations written from the imagined ‘inside’ perspectives of key people in the biblical accounts of the Christmas and Easter stories. This latest one gives a voice to Peter as he looks back, particularly focusing on the events surrounding his betrayal of Jesus… (You can explore the full set on our seasonal resources page)

“Have you ever wished you could turn back time?

Not just idly, mind you… not just in passing. But with every sinew of mind and muscle straining to travel back to the past. As if raw longing could somehow re-write your history if you could only regret it hard enough, and you could somehow rub out what you said then, and ink in a new reality to shout out loud what you should have said – what you would say now – if you could just have your time over again.

This time, my time over again, I get it right. This time, my time over again, I speak up for him.

While he’s being led like a lamb to the slaughter, this time I speak up for him.

While he’s living out love incarnate, this time I don’t lie and excuse my way out of the greatest friendship I’ve ever known.

************

Jesus of Nazareth? Yes I know him. I’m proud to know him. I’m still getting over the Son of God associating with the likes of me. Because that’s who he is you know. He’s the Light of the World; the Way, the Truth and the Life; the one we’ve been waiting for that the prophets promised. All these empty centuries and now he’s here! Messiah walking among us… Messiah walking with me!

No, no; you’ve got it wrong. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Nothing at all. He’s the only one among us who hasn’t… the only one who could cast the first stone at someone else. Not that he would, mind you. No. He’s always on at the Pharisees about stopping putting law above love. That’s why they hate him. That’s why there’s all these trumped up charges against him.

Yes absolutely, you’re right.  I was with him in the garden. Yes that was me you saw. You’re right about my accent. I’m from Galilee – that’s where Jesus found me and called me and made something of me and my life. Really quite something out of absolutely nothing mind you. Me and my brother Andrew, well we left our nets by the lakeshore and followed him. And we’ve been following him ever since…

Three years of mercy and miracles and mind-bending parables and teaching. Three years of life turned upside-down and made into life you never knew was possible. Real life; true life; life to the full. Three years of transformation… but you’d need to meet him, to get to know him, to actually follow him yourself, to really understand what I mean.

But no…

That’s not what I said at all.

************

Instead, just like that, I threw those three beautiful years away. In less time than it took a rooster to crow twice, I’d drawn a line through it all. I’d betrayed him completely; denied him repeatedly. With every single syllable that came out of my mouth.

And so in agony I rewind the clock still further; yo the night before. And there we are, sat together with the others for the Passover dinner again. And then, it’s with searing heat then piercing chill that I hear him say again what he said that night. That that’s exactly what I would do – betray him before the cock crowd twice. And I swore I wouldn’t.

But I did. I swore again. Only this time it was to not knowing him, never having known him…

I just keep going over it all over and over again.

And then I let the clock run forward and he does what he does for me still – does what he does for all of us inspite of ourselves.

I denied him to protect myself… and he went and died in place of me.

I only looked out for myself. But he bore the weight of all of us. He bore the weight even of this.

It’s too much. He took it all. And I couldn’t even own my tiny part.

That black Friday got darker and darker till night fell before sunset and the whole created order seemed turned on its head. And in the midst of this cosmic battle, where was brave Peter the Rock then?

Hiding on the sidelines, skulking on the edges, sobbing when I realised what I’d done, but still doing nothing, nothing to speak up and say any different. Why didn’t I run through the streets shouting the truth? Why didn’t I force my way in front of the officials to plead for his life? Why didn’t I go and find the women and stay with him in his last hours at the foot of the cross? Even if it was just to weep, no matter…. why didn’t I go back and stay with him?

I know why. I was ashamed.

************

And yes, time has moved on forwards again and I’ve walked the whole path of it now. I’ve seen resurrection joy. I’ve breakfasted with my risen king. I’ve received his pardon for this, my worst betrayal. I’ve experienced his Spirit coursing through my veins and giving me more courage in a moment than in my whole life put together. I’ve seen his church start to grow and thrive. I’ve done miracles in his name.

But still, I will never forget.

Still, I’d change it all if I could; make him never need to ask me if I truly loved him after all. And still I make this resolve; never again will I not speak up for the voiceless. Never again will I not defend the poor and the vulnerable. Never again will I deny who my Lord is. Never again will I put my comfort or safety before his people and his priorities.

I will speak up. Come what may; I will speak up.”

Download Peter speaks up as a pdf or explore other Easter meditations, prayers and songs on our seasonal resources page

window prayers

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

It’s no surprise that the Sanctuary’s move to a new base means we’ve been getting used to new views through new windows. Some of them look out and back towards spacious and uplifting scenery like this…

But some of the windows look up a B road that’s well travelled by walkers, people out with their dogs and traffic moving back and forth on an important connecting route between local villages and towns.

At least once a day, and usually more often, there’s a few minutes where you need to stand at one of these windows that point up the road to do the washing up. And as you do, there’s another few minutes where your mind, heart and spirit can just quietly connect with God…

Only at these times, rather than being drawn to worship (wonderful this is) or  intercession in response to the headlines (important as this is) or even petition about your own life (pressing as this often feels), it’s hard – especially while the sights in front of you are still so consciously new – not to spend the time simply being present with God to the communities and people around you.

When a bus drives up the road it displays the sign of where it’s going and so, almost without noticing, you find you’re blessing that place you’re beginning to get to know better. And then when one’s going back the other way… well, then you’re heart is drawn to pray for that destination instead.

You never know what’s going to come past that triggers a sense of connection and blessing to a different aspect of life in your local area… the secondary school’s minibus; a delivery or service van for a local business; a tractor or livestock trailer; people you’re getting to know; walkers passing through… each one carries an invitation not just to smile, but to bless and pray for them before you even realise that’s what you’re doing.

Where do your windows at home or work face? And how could you find – or make – a few minutes in your day to look out of one and simply bless your community and the people, businesses, livelihoods and community organisations that you are led to think of as you look watch the view, or the traffic, that is in front of you?

This idea is just a fresh incarnation of an old one, which is helping us pray in a new way for a new place… find more simple ideas like it to pray for your own local area in this resource

growing our favourite resource

Monday, February 19th, 2018

We’ve just updated our favourite resource – the list of God’s characteristics that fuel the back bone of our daily prayer rhythm – with another treasure-trove of new insights discovered as we’ve followed, prayed and studied over the last few months. There is always more of God to search out! And whether you pray with our rhythm or not, this list is bound to spark your imagination and take you deeper into who God is…

taking flight – a sixteen month testimony

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

We love telling stories of what our brilliant God has done in, through and with us. Here’s another amazing one, or at least some of it…

what kind of world?

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

This lament formed as a heart-cry in response to today’s devastating news from Afghanistan, and is dedicated to Save the Children’s workers and their families there, and all around the world, as we all ask God to comfort them, renew their courage, and as we pray blessing on their brave, amazing and loving work.

What kind of a world is it
where those who champion
the small,
infinitely precious
and vulnerable ones,
are attacked and destroyed?

What kind of a world is it
where love in action
is hated,
visciously wounded
and intimidated even to death
by anyone, however twisted a doctrine they serve?

But then, what kind of a world is it
where people live to protect
the small;
calling unknown children
their own precious priority,
infinitely worth risking danger to themselves to save?

And what kind of a world is it
that has life so written and woven
into its being
that hope always wins
as even the darkest acts
spark infinite avalanches of bright, light love in reply?

And what kind of God are you
who breathes
a blue-print invitation
into each of us,
to echo your  saving design,
whilst still bearing
the infinite weight and scars
of every,
single
rescue and loss
on your broad,
broken
shoulders of peace?