It was very good to have Nic Harding with us on Wednesday at leaders training. He gave up much that I think we will be reflecting on and putting into practice.
In the lunchtime session that we held with other church leaders Nic talked about his journey looking for a way of praying that really connected powerfully with God. This was a story that seemed to really connect with some of the leaders gathered, myself included.
I was thinking about this when we read John 5 together in 9am prayers at the resource base yesterday. Jesus is very challenging to the religious leaders of his day saying:
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5: 39 – 40
These leaders were diligently looking for the things that would give life, they were looking for them in the bible and yet they missed out because they couldn’t come to Jesus. Do the things we do –spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, reading the bible, worship – help us to come to Jesus? Do they connect us with God or have they just become things we do because that’s what we are supposed to do.
Nic talked about the way in which God lead him to a way of praying that was quite counter to his personal preferences. He is quite an introvert but needed to find a place to pray loudly and passionately. I know that Mark has sometimes talked about the opposite move happening, and about God leading him to connect through contemplation and quiet. For myself, I love quiet prayer being silent or listening to a piece of music but have recently found that the most fruitful times of connection in my prayer have been during walks in different parts of Harrogate when I’ve had to engage with the environment and people around me. It may well be that looking for disciplines that run counter to our preferences are the ones that effectively lead us to God’s presence.
We are now well into Lent, some of you and the people in your communities may well be embracing a new discipline or two. I’d encourage you to keep talking about them as a community. Are you finding these things hard or easy? Are they really helping you come to Jesus? Is there something new that God might be prompting you to do?
Have a great week