Archive for the ‘Pray with us’ Category

a careful and care-filled prayer

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

for the peace of Jerusalem, and for us all:

Precious Jesus,
thank you that you
love all places and all peoples,
came for all tribes and tongues,
dwell – by your Spirit – in all nations,
choose to make your temple now
in hearts more than buildings,
and will one day come again
to make the whole earth new.

Precious Jesus,
for us who know you
as the incarnate, in-dwelling,
with-dwelling Lord,
and do not call the holy land
home in our day to day lives,
it’s hard to understand fully
the deep, unshakeable and compelling
resolves to possess Jerusalem,
however much we connect
to where you once walked –
or seek to understand those
who walk there today.

But thank you that you,
so much more than us,
understand why specific places
matter so much.
And thank you that you,
so much more than all of us,
know a way forward
that honours your perfect will and application
of your love, peace and justice
rather than our own – or others’ – interpretations
of what you want or what your word means.

Precious Jesus,
I come humbly in my limited,
foreign understanding.
I don’t want to trample your holy ground
or the dreams of anyone made in the image of you.
You already know what I think I think about Jerusalem,
but even while I still dearly long to truly know how you feel for sure,
I do not need to know that to pray with you for its peace,
and the peace of all people from different nations and faiths that look to it.

Precious Jesus, in your tender, weeping mercy,
and in your mighty name,
take this city right now under your protecting wings
like the mother hen you pictured,
and keep all her peoples and connected lands
safe from yet more cycling hatred and war.
And save us, Lord Jesus, please save us
from any who seek power over peace
or simply know not what they do here,
over and over and over again.

bringing new life to Christmas traditions…

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

… from all around the world!


We’ve uploaded a brand new resource to our seasonal resources page ready for Christmas this year and beyond…

This creative idea to bring new life to your Christmas celebrations and traditions draws inspiration from countries all around the world to introduce you to brand new ideas and share the original Christ-inspired stories behind old ones – all with a desire to help you re-connect more to Jesus as you celebrate his coming in many different ways with those around you.

The fact this resource also lead us on a mini, global tour full of learning from Christians around the world is a brilliant extra blessing, reminding us that Jesus came for all nations, peoples and cultures.

Our hope and prayer is that you’ll be as inspired as we have been to read these stories… and that you’ll experience a more worship-filled Christmas as a result…

putting God at the centre of your celebrations

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

In the abstract, holidays feel like a time when there should be more space to connect with God and the things on his heart. But in reality, many of us find that when we’re away from our normal routines, it can be harder – rather than easier – to spend time in worship, prayer or even reflection… especially if we are away with other people…

Busy festival times of celebration – especially Christmas – can be even more like this…

Even when the reason for all the activity is Jesus, it can end up negatively impacting on our time with him, or lead us to feel like we have two modes of operation – one clearly connected to our devotion, and one that just feels separate, even if its really good. In the morning we might read our Bible or an Advent reflection, but later when we’re laughing with friends over good food, it can feel like that’s unrelated to him.

So we wanted to share this incredibly simple and obvious idea that some of us used on an extended holiday recently, that we found to be so wonderful we’re planning to use it every time we enter a period like this, as a way of:

  • consciously doing holidays and celebrations with God
  • connecting with him together really naturally
  • giving him all the thanks and praise for all the good gifts we’re enjoying, so that they (and we) are always connected to the one who gave them all.

As well as the joy we experienced from doing this with God, we also ended up making a note of some wonderful moments we might otherwise have forgotten, and getting the chance to savour everything more richly together before moving on to the next thing.

It’s basically a way of capturing and thanking God for every good gift you experience, by adding a little more each day to what gradually becomes a giant thanksgiving chart…

…as we said, it’s a super simple idea, but this resource explains clearly everything you need and notes some additional pointers that might be helpful.

We know that holiday and celebration times – especially with family – can throw up negative experiences and emotions as well, and this exercise we’re sharing is absolutely not about denying those.

It’s really important and healthy to pour out our pain over this to God and the following two resources (the first generally and the second specifically in relation to Christmas) might help a bit with this:

We also have a blog from a few years back that a number of us have come back to repeatedly with some more simple ideas about increasing connection to God during vacation times: http://journey.thesanctuarycentre.org/2011/08/01/rest-in-his-presence/

landing, pacing and resting

Monday, October 30th, 2017

We’ve landed in Nidderdale at the property which will shortly host the Sanctuary’s new, bespoke prayer space… and are starting to feel settled here. Our hearts are very full – we can’t stop thanking and praising God for leading us every step of the way over this last stretch, and for leading us here – to a place of such wonder and beauty right in the heart of Yorkshire.


We’re also very tired after a busy few months ending in one location and packing up two properties in order to move to the new one.

So during November and December, we’ll be taking it gently, making sure we pace ourselves, rest and just enjoy settling in before we start thinking about building plans in the new year. And some of our central collective members will also be taking a well-earned holiday during this time-period too!

But we wanted to let you know we’re safely here, all has gone smoothly, we’re getting settled, we’re so excited about what’s coming… and we’re already being inspired to create here!

Here’s a psalm that bubbled up and overflowed out from Liz yesterday afternoon…

Bright valley is all smiles today –

awoken by the world’s strongest light

to shine back the favour

in glowing gold and green

and burnished brown bronze.

The brooks almost giggle their descent,

as if tickled out of shyness

by creeping warmth

illuminating bracken-scented shade

to shimmer their rush, flow and drop.

Shoals of sky-painters

dip, glide and weave,

brush-stroking broad blue

with passing shapes;

then, as I ascend the fell under them,

shift craft and lead me up

like a troupe of soaring minstrels

– bright pied-pipers by the dozen –

uplit and uplifting.

A distant floating balloon

punctuates blue with red, now white;

what does my below look like from that kind of above?

But I am glad to be on the ground today,

climbing to first flight-heights only.

For here each ordinary thing,

each overlooked scrap

of moss on wall

or grass underfoot

grows jewel-like

as if the land itself was a prayer,

or a hymn – or both.

And it is of course.

I tread the same fields and rocks

as monks and pilgrims.

And I wonder,

is the whole valley dancing anew

to welcome us home

to their ancient glory-scape?

I breathe in deep, fresh joy.

And I quiet.

And I am all smiles too.

praying with Chi Rho

Monday, October 9th, 2017

We’ve just published a new creative idea resource, which uses a simple and ancient symbol – the Christogram of Chi Rho (representing the first two letters of ‘Christ’ in Greek) – to pray in a powerful new way for specific individuals… whether they’re public figures, or people known to you personally.

Download this new creative idea for praying for individuals using the ancient Christogram of Chi Rho direct, visit our creative ideas page or browse our whole online resource library to find more outward focused ideas to help you pray for leaders or individuals in challenging or dangerous situations.

freedom is as freedom does

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

We’ve uploaded a new resource. Freedom is as freedom does is a poem celebrating the kingdom understanding of individual liberty as being inter-connected with others’ worth and flourishing. You can download it as a printable pdf from our articles and poetry page or read it below:


Freedom is as freedom does

I’m still learning freedom is as freedom does;
it’s about the you – as well as the me – contained in us…

Heaven’s maths and kingdom equality are set by the one who is also three,
one who multiplies his connection-reflection in billions more like me.

The West tells me: “live the material gospel of individuality!”
But I cannot be free if I’m bound up in someone else’s slavery.

Consumer culture persuades me “make more to have more to one day be enough”.
But I’ll never find my wings in the service of amassing endless stuff.

It’s not real plenty when it comes at such poverty-sustaining cost.
It’s not seeing the world if others’ homes and habitats get lost.

It’s simply not real life if it clutters my days with distraction
and robs me of time and space with my One True Satisfaction.

So God of freedom, crash through all my self-justifying defences;
help me see better through this matrix and come to my senses.

It was for freedom that you so extravagantly set us free,
not for comfort, but for upward and outward relational liberty.

For I am not just I – I am in you and I am in your body.
So I am less with every threat to – every theft from – our corporately.
But I am more – and I am free – when I surrender to you; utterly.

new season – new ways to pray with us

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Welcome to the Sanctuary’s new season and an update on some new and emerging ways to pray with us that we’re really excited to tell you about; especially if you’ve not been able to engage in our prayer rhythm previously because of physical distance from our base in the heart of the UK.

To jump straight in, visit pray with us; to find out more, keep reading…

At the heart of everything we are and do at the Sanctuary is worship and intercession. And, most centrally of all, our daily prayer rhythm of both, which has been running for more than seven years.

For the last five years of these seven – September 2012 to Augst 2017 – this rhythm was based at 6 Church Street, Ilkley. During this time – as part of a public centre set up, run in a shop-front space – we opened up this prayer rhythm up to everyone and anyone…

Monday to Friday we were there, three times a day, gathering with regulars, visitors and people passing through to worship God and lift the world – and every one in seven billion within it he so loves – to him.

But as of 1 September 2017, that changed as our occupation of 6 Church Street ended on 31 August.

We’re in the process of moving to our new base and preparing to work towards building a new small, bespoke prayer space there from scratch, which will even more closely match the vision God first gave us in 2009.

Of course, despite the disruption, inevitable mixed emotions and endless boxes(!) this is all very exciting…

But much more importantly, we’re entering a new season with a new model of working better suited to developing and growing – in both depth reach – our vision of engaging ourselves and others in sustained prayer for the nations, resourcing the church in outward focused worship and reaching out in creative ways to those who have not yet encountered God’s love.

In short, our vision and work (aside from expansion of the latter made possible by increased capacity) isn’t really changing. We’re still committed to obeying everything God has called us to do to explore, share and resource the journey towards the place where world and worship meet.

But the way we go about our work, and who we open some elements of it to, is changing.

The biggest change in our new model is that we’re shifting away from running a public centre to go both deeper and wider.

The deeper part is that the new base we’re developing will be much more of a hub,  a restorative, spacious and more private place which serves and facilitates the collective of people involved with actually carrying out the Sanctuary’s core work. Somewhere to gather, pray and work in and out of together in a more focused way.

The wider part is that we’re re-orientating how we do the rhythm to share the absolute treasure store we’ve found it to be with many, many more people than just those who were able to come through our front door when we  ran a public centre.

Shortly after our old base opened, one of our pray-ers asked if we could start sharing the famous whiteboard we used as the focus for the rhythm each day so that she could still pray with it even if she couldn’t come in that day.

And so we did – and suddenly, as well as our worship resources being used by people all over the world, people elsewhere started to use the whiteboard too…

Any prayer rhythm participation happening remotely was always just overflow – an added blessing… and because we were preparing each morning, we couldn’t usually share it until after morning worship.

But now this is all turning upside-down.

In our interim phase – now up until when the new prayer space has been built and is ready – and beyond it, even when our collective can gather again, we’re choosing to operate and resource the dispersed elements of our prayer rhythm much more deliberately.

So wherever you’re reading this, can we extend to you the warmest of invitations to join in with our daily rhythm remotely?

Because now the focus for any given day in the rhythm is being published late afternoon/early evening on the previous day. So no matter what time you check in Monday-Friday, wherever you are in the world, whatever time zone you live in and however early you like to pray, you should be able to find the focus there ready and waiting for you already!

Currently you can do this by following us on twitter or using the feed on the right hand side of our homepage to find out what our focus for worship and intercession is that day – and then join in with it!

(See our source document to view!some of the cycles behind the rhythm.)

But we hope more is coming too…

Hot off the press: we have also begun the process of trialing a daily email which resources this prayer rhythm in much more depth with a small group of our most committed pray-ers, with the view to exploring being able to offer this much more widely once it’s further developed.

We’re only a few days into this but the early signs suggest the road ahead could be more beautiful and transformational than we had even thought to imagine.

We’ll keep you posted but meanwhile, with the day’s focus now available to you in plenty of time each day, we’d love you to pray with us

If you have any questions about this, or any other element of the Sanctuary’s work, please do just contact us

lessons in beautiful transparency

Friday, August 4th, 2017

At the suggestion of one of our pray-ers, we’ve created a rather special, gift resource for you. It’s a souvenir and thanksgiving offering to celebrate our time at our first base, and to share the testimony of how God used a window to beckon us into greater bravery and train us in the art of how to communicate the gospel in beautifully transparent ways

entering our bigger story

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

During July, we’re spending the majority of our morning worship rhythms setting our own stories – and the Sanctuary’s story – within the bigger story we live in: God’s. One of our principal tools for this, and for inspiring the reflective discussion questions and prayer foci we’re using for it, is the album  Music inspired by the story. It explores key biblical characters’ inner motivations and sacrifices of praise in songs that feel  like both unique-to-the-character dramatic monologues and worship we could all sing.

Each day, we’re taking a different track and responding to it, the wider biblical narrative it brings to life and how it speaks into our individual lives and callings, the people and situations on our heart to pray for and the season of the transition the Sanctuary is currently in as we prepare to leave our current premises next month.

We’re also creating a growing prayer installation with symbols for each story’s message on it…


We’re just two days in and it’s been so powerful, we wanted to invite you in too!

Obviously the main stimulus for this is the music and lyrics which aren’t ours to publish, but if you’d like to join us – and we highly recommend you do – order the CD/mp3 download and use a track a day yourself in prayer… exploring what each part of the larger story speaks into your own and your intercession for others’.

Again we can’t share all the details of what we’re discussing and praying in response online, but you will see some of it if you follow our twitter feed either on twitter itself, or on the feed displayed on our main website home page and this blog’s landing page – you don’t have to be on twitter to access these feeds… just use the scroll bars to move up and down.

Enjoy the story!

breaking the depersonalisation of personalities

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

It is a deeply sad irony that an era that so champions the individual should lead to so much depersonalisation of those it elevates as ‘personalities’. But it is ultimately unsurprising. Because at the root of individualism is not really individuals at all, but rather just one individual… the one with a capital I.

So just as the too-often-forgotten-ones in seven billion lose their names, faces and value in comparison to me and my uniqueness and needsthe overly-remembered-ones in seven billion are often inevitably robbed of their three dimensionality too…

This is deeply out of line with the heart of God towards humanity, and the heart for people we must seek to pray – and live – out of, if we want to love like Jesus. So how do we recognise when it’s happening in us and ask for God’s help to champion something different? Especially when it’s directed towards people we are urged to particularly pray for such as our leaders and politicians?

Today is the 2017 ‘snap’ General Election and, please God, the majority of the UK will be casting their vote for their preferred candidate today following around two months of intense political campaigning and commentating.

People feel strongly and politics is important. It is important to challenge injustice and unwise decisions. Sometimes strong arguments need to be made. Righteous anger even has a place. But…

… when individuals are referred to only by their surnames, reduced only to their political alignments, intentionally and deliberately spectated scrupulously and eagerly for the first sign of any mistake or sign of limitation so they can be lambasted or mocked for it… something is deeply wrong.

When it’s overlooked that there are only twenty four hours in a day and a myriad of demands and friends and family and breathing space all needing to be given by candidates alongside memorising manifestos… something is out of control.

When those considered weak or somehow unqualified are belittled and those considered strong and brilliant are so envied that their tearing down is earnestly desired… a house is truly divided against itself.

When even those professing to love God and others are happy to ridicule and vilify their leaders and potential leaders rather than expressing thanks and prayerful value for the those standing, and focusing on examining their policies and yes – to a point – and in loving respect, consider their characters as to their fitness to lead… we, the church, need to get on our knees and repent.

Surely each of us know by now – and if we don’t perhaps we need to ask some further questions of ourselves – the cost of standing up publicly for what you believe in, especially when it is the minority view; the limitations of our own strength in always living out what we know to be true; the very real struggle of balancing calling with family life; the amount of encouragement and strength you need if you’re really going to step out as a faithful pioneer for the sake of the kingdom…

Surely we – who’ve experienced grace upon grace – can model more mercy and appreciation and value to our leaders.

Surely we who follow a Lord who made a point of going after whoever was marginalised in society – including compromising, colluding tax collectors – know that first in line for the twelve today might well be a banker or a politician as much as someone in desperate financial need.

We’re putting this strongly because it feels urgent, whoever is elected. And because finding another way is so easy – and equally inevitable and infectious – when you spend time in prayer.

It’s a way we’ve been led to on our knees. Bit by bit. Stage by stage we’re starting to not just pray for leaders, but to love them too…

Not just in some amorphous, floaty way, but in a specific, deliberate way which looks for whatever is good and noble in them, seeks to understand how they’ve arrived at the views they have (even if we really struggle with them!), seeks to celebrate and bless them every time we pray or talk about them and looks for ways to engage with them that will build them up in themselves as well as communicate what we think or what we’re hoping they’ll do.

These are the decisions that have helped us – little by little – make progress on this journey of counter-cultural love…

  1. We seek to always make a point of calling everyone by their given name whenever we talk about them. We use their first name on its own in prayer as often as we can, and their full name the rest of the time, rather than just their surnames. (We’ve found looking up what their first names mean has further helped in informing our blessing of them. Engaging with who they are and how God sees them makes immeasurable difference.)
  2. We’re starting to invest in taking our time “getting to know” people we pray for/about as much as possible (especially where we disagree with their stance a lot of the time). Almost all public figures have some biographical information available so we’ve been looking it up and spending a while reading it carefully during prayer, having first asked God to prepare our hearts towards them.
    We’re deliberately look for pieces of information that reveal their distinct personhood, evoke respect or inspire empathy… asking: what talents has God clearly given them? What positive character attributes do they exemplify? What experience do they have which brings richness, or helps us understand why they see the world they way they do? What can we celebrate about them, or identify with from our own experience?
  3. We make sure we try to look at them face to face when we’re praying… as if they were with us in the room receiving prayer ministry! We’ve found that finding honouring photos of them that show them smiling – not caught on camera in an unwitting, unflattering moment – really help. And again, taking time to sit and connect with God and them, and praying for a soft heart towards them, has really helped.
  4. We ask God to help us see them as he sees them, and to give us his heart of love for them… although by this point we rarely don’t have our own sense of love and compassion rising! And we ask God if there’s anything he wants to show us about who they are or how to pray for them.
  5. We consciously try to remember these are real people with real lives. So we remember that people gain or lose jobs at elections, have to balance the sacrifice of standing and demands of the work with family needs, and have the same limitations and vulnerabilities we do to stress, over-work, public criticism, under-valuing, sleeplessness or anything else that feels like it might go with the territory.

Tomorrow, campaigning and election fever will be over. But engagement needs to continue. Whatever the result and however we feel about it, could we see 9 June 2017 as a new beginning in our hearts that transforms the nature of our thoughts, prayers, speech and actions towards and about politicians – and all public personalities – going forward.

Love doesn’t score points or impress others with ruthlessly witty one liners. Love will not tolerate scorn, derision, envy or depersonalisation.

Because love does not seek to diminish, distrust or destroy.

No.

Love looks hard and finds the good.

Love celebrates the unique individual made in God’s image and reflecting his glory.

Love champions and extends grace, forgiveness and mercy.

Love expresses thanks for hearts and acts of public service.

Love sees and understands the cost.

Love mourns and rejoices at the right times.

Love never fails.