So we are well into our theme for the year of Prayer. What have you learnt so far? We have spent a month thinking about Waiting – and most of us are realising that waiting is easy to say, much harder to do. It’s in the waiting that so much happens. We hear, we receive and we change - less as a consequence of answered prayer; and more during the waiting in prayer.
We’ve thought about what prayer is: a response; emotional; turns theology into experience; you are your prayer life. We learnt about being watchmen and setting a guard and the two dynamics of the gardener’s prayer (protection and abundance). We’re going to look at some practical aspects to prayer in the next few weeks and then return to the theme in June/July with a series on the Lord’s Prayer. There are podcasts, resources, video links, book recommendations here.
Elaine shared this with me recently about how prayer is changing for her, “My impatience is leaving me. There is more time in my day, as I am slowed down by Jesus. I want to pray, and I have always craved that time to be completely alone with God, but always feel I have to go away to be by myself to do that. Now I just close my eyes wherever I am and He is there.”
I think the Lord has spoken through these weeks and has made it very clear that we are to be, first and foremost, a people of prayer. We are a people of action, yes indeed, Vineyard House is testament to that, but activity has to be preceded by prayer. There is kingdom power in activity that emanates from prayer and as we wait in prayer we become aware of our inadequacy and of his supremacy. He can do supernatural things through a prayerful people.
Here is an illustration of what happens when we pray. Alice, one of our wonderful students, is training to be a social worker. She was sitting in on an early intervention meeting on a complex family law case. Here she describes what was said about the Child Contact Centre:
“I was in a room full of different professionals, all of whom recognise the Vine (as our Child Contact Centre is known) as a service they can and do use….. The contact centre is having a massive and far reaching impact on families and the work you are doing is being recognised by a range of professionals from school teachers, family outreach workers and the CAMS team. In big multi-agency meetings the Vine is being brought up in conversation as a possible intervention and being spoken very highly of.
“I asked my supervisor afterwards if she had used The Vine before. She gave a glowing report. She said that: the contact she had with Elaine from the referral process; the setting up of contact; and then the feedback she got from the parents and children afterwards was brilliant. She said that the contact centre is a really valuable service that is needed because that contact between the parents and children is so valuable and there are not enough places that offer it. She spoke of it being a real lifeline for some of the families she works with.
“I found it so exciting to be in this placement setting and to hear that professionals are turning to the Vine as an intervention to support families and to know that it is being run by the local Church.”
We are about to enter Phase 2 and are ready to appoint a Project Manager for the renovations and/or fund raising. You’ll find the job advert on our website in the staff section. Please spread the word and prayer that the right person or people read it and get in touch.
We are already looking forward to our next baptisms – this time on Sunday 24 June. It’s one of our favourite days of the year! If you have not yet been baptised and would like to be please talk with your small group leader or one of the pastoral staff. Two people have signe up already!
All current leaders should have received an invitation to the Weekend over 18-20 May. This year we are heading for the wonderfully peaceful and prayerful surroundings of Ampleforth Abbey. We have a real treat waiting for us because our guest speakers are Tom and Helen Murphy who were, up until the end of last year, John and Debby Wright’s associates at Trent Vineyard but who have now planted the Derwent Valley Vineyard. Places are limited so please book up soon (via Church Suite).
Global Day of Prayer
If you would like to join in with a Leeds-wide prayer event please put Sunday evening 20 May at 6.30pm at Bridge Community Church.
Finally, an encouraging word (prophecy)
By prophecy I mean that God speaks to us through others. Prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit and I would encourage you all to grow in receiving it. Sometimes it includes or sounds like scripture. Sometimes it is addressed to all of us, at other times to individuals. Prophecy is part of a mature prayer life.
A few weeks ago John received these words and graciously shared them. I think they bear repeating: “I did not make a mistake when you were born (in fact I knew you as you grew in your mother’s womb). Your Nationality is not a mistake (I love the country of your birth). I did not make a mistake putting you into the family you were born into (In fact I placed you in family). Your name is not a mistake. I did not make a mistake giving you the personality you have. Your passions and dreams are not wrong. Embrace these things they make you who you are. You are a Royal Priesthood, A Holy Nation, set apart and belonging to me.”