Perth Prayer Week: Days 1-4

Posted: October 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

20131016-205148.jpgThis week is a week of prayer for Perth. Having not had the time to properly organise it, and neither the funding, the room looks brilliant and God has met with everyone who has attended. But one thing has discouraged me. Something that I’m almost too embarrassed to admit that it affects me:

The numbers have been few.

Now before you quote the Bible at me, I know that Jesus is present whenever 2 or 3 are gathered (despite this being taken out-of-context, as if he isn’t present when you’re on your own – another topic entirely). But I’ve caught myself thinking, “Why don’t people want to come and pray?” and “Can they really have more-important things to do?” Judgemental, I know. My hope was that the city would be united further through praying together. We have been praying together, but not quite on the scale that’s been in my head for the past few months. But then I read this:

“True unity has to be based on the endorsement of each other, not the endorsement of a particular practice” -Martin Scott

The road to unity isn’t through events, it’s through relationship. When Jesus put together his disciples, they were far from united (in fact some were sworn enemies!). The fact they were (more-or-less) united three years later was not due to them holding a week of prayer, but due to building strong relationships with each other and “doing life” together. That is what harbours true unity. It really is difficult to be prejudiced against a friend!

That’s my lesson from the first-half of this week: that unity is by relationship, not by events. I’m sure God’s got more lined up for the remainder of the week…

  1. Allan says:

    An interesting blog Russ, thanks for posting. I’m sure that being upset about the lack of numbers is perfectly valid. I realise I write this as someone who is not a great attender at prayer meetings but your blog did raised a couple of interesting thoughts in my head.
    The first being; perhaps you also go some way to answering your own question; in the opening paragraph you write “Having not had the time to properly organise it, and neither the funding,” Things that are not properly organised rarely work well. (Although I suspect you’re being hard on yourself).
    I’d also be interested to hear why a living room (I’m making that judgement from the pictures) was chosen as the constructed environment for the prayer space – might that not suggest to people that people can just pray in their own living room.
    I’m also fascinated by your line “God has met with everyone who has attended” does God not meet with all those who call on his name? That line in-itself expresses a particular interpretation of the that prayer space.

  2. The book I reference in the main blog continues to say that ‘prayer events’ (or what he calls ‘strategic prayer’) should never compete with nor undermine the ongoing prayers of individuals. I agree that people can pray in their own living rooms, and I know of plenty people who pray on their own regularly. I didn’t say that this prayer space is in some way superior to other prayer locations, nor did I say that God doesn’t meet with people individually outwith the prayer space.

    Having said that, I do believe that it is ‘easier’ to meet with God and hear from him when I deliberately set-aside a specific time to do so. It’s common to find that the most sought-after slots in a 24-hour prayer room are between 1am and 4am. Why? Some would say it’s because God honours those who make him a priority, others would say that the small hours is the time of day when the spiritual world and the earthly world are closest.

  3. Allan says:

    Hi Russ, thanks for the interesting response. I wouldn’t disagree in what you’re saying. I realise I was probably quite in articulate in my response.
    My thinking was simply that a prayer space set up as a living room might create a specific though process in people’s heads. That on cold, wet October nights with are reminder we can pray in our own siting room without leaving the house.
    I’m interested that the author of your book would come up with the phrase “strategic Prayer”, surely all prayer is strategic. In that it’s about real things in a real world. It is about bringing real things before God. And I would suspect that most if not all corporate prayer time would fit with this.

    I’d be interested in hearing more about the 24 hour prayer rooms as my understanding of the them is that they are often set up in geographic locations with a high proportion of young people and students, often in densely populated areas. People who may have less time constraints placed upon them.
    We would need to explore further whether the 1 am – 4am slots were wanted as a discipline or as a convenience; heading home after a night out for example the end of a street pastors shift, postman going before work, students leave the library when it shuts. None of which invalidates their action. For many it may be a form of monastic discipline.
    Might I suggest that a better and more inclusive way of having a week of prayer is by involving the local churches, for each church to be offered a slot in the week to host the prayer space? For someone like me to attend a prayer space in the Episcopal Church or the monastery might open up ways of praying which would be refreshing and to gain an fellowship with my fellow Christians.

  4. I can see the logic in your thinking about the living room, but I can’t say I’ve seen it in practice (the logic rather than your thinking!). Prayer rooms are probably set out as living rooms because they both have comfort and rest in their purpose. To be honest I wouldn’t know how else to design a prayer room. Pews?

    The author’s point about ‘strategic’ prayer is that when people pray more, they will most likely pray more for what they’re already praying for. This is good, but it leaves lots of things ‘uncovered’ in prayer. It’s all in the context of a city, so he means that certain people/churches will take responsibility for praying for a certain aspect of the city. That’s what he means by ‘strategic’: deliberately making a strategy to make sure everything is prayed-for. It makes more sense in the book rather than my interpreted paraphrase.

    I’m not sure if most 24-hour prayer rooms are in student areas. This is the 3rd I’ve done, and the other two were at an outdoor centre for the staff, and in a suburb of Aberdeen. Definitely not student population. But it makes sense. Students and young adults are usually the grouping that have the motivation to try something new, and 24/7 prayer rooms are still relatively new.

    I considered having multiple venues, and indeed other areas of the UK are doing just that. For example, when I hand it over to Shropshire next week, each church is doing 24 hours. My thinking behind hosting it in a shop was that it was neutral (therefore you don’t get churches claiming ownership of the event) and that it was the same place each day (so people know where it is at all times). I absolutely believe that you would enjoy visiting another church’s expression of prayer, however another reason I kept the venue neutral was that in the past I’ve often found people quite attached to their church traditions. In Aberdeen a group of local churches of variety of denominations used to hold a joint-service on a Sunday evening once a month. We found that very few people were travelling to the other churches, but would attend the joint-service when it was at their own church. I wanted to encourage people to meet those of other churches, hence why there is a neutral venue. Of course, just because this happened in Aberdeen doesn’t mean it’ll happen in Perth.

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