One Church One Day Reflections – November 2023
Dear Praying Family, Many of us united in prayer for a full 24 hrs at the weekend. We began with an hour of Prayer & Praise Together on Zoom. Ann led us in prayer for Open Doors, praying specifically for people of Iran, Vietnam, Israel and Gaza. We watched and listened to ‘In Christ Alone My Hope is Found’ sung at the Garden Tomb in Israel, in Hebrew, Arabic and English, before moving into smaller prayer rooms. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bjr_EE2j2h4
The parish church building was also made available at the weekend, with prayer stations Anita had put together. So, some gathered there.
James has blessed us with powerful reflections from his usual 2-3am prayer hour:
I prayed through the prayers from Open Doors, thanking God for the faith of Philemon and his wife in Vietnam. And for Homayoun and Sara, praying that their release will bring desperately needed hope to the Christian and other persecuted communities in Iran.
I prayed for the situation in Israel and Gaza, something that I have been feeling upset about since it started in the early hours of the Saturday of the October OCOD. I was taken back 9 years ago, when I met an extraordinary Palestinian Christian pastor in Jordan. A man who was so humble but after he left, you knew you had been in the presence of someone special. He was stuck in Amman because the Israeli government was repeatedly refusing him a return visa to his home in Gaza. I don’t think he had seen his wife for 9 months. Meanwhile he was leading two churches in Amman which were heroically trying to care for the influx of Christians fleeing from northern Iraq. I found and re-read the Facebook post that I wrote at the time.
I won’t use names. Last evening we were invited to meet two of the refugees families who have been driven out of Northern Iraqi towns by ISIS due to their Christian ethnicity/faith. One woman explained that her husband had been kidnapped and still missing. Houses destroyed and rapes and theft of all the entirety of their belongings (it was a cold night and the church had to find jumpers for them to wear after they had finished talking to us) . The pastor asked the children to leave half way through the accounts to try and protect them from repeated hearing of these stories. All family members in tears throughout the accounts and clearly still traumatised. Several hours later we all still feeling numb and worried if we should have asked to hear their stories. However, have to trust the wisdom of the pastor (who is a saint in the real sense).
So what is my response? I don’t know but it can’t be nothing.
Today, this trauma must be repeating itself across tens of thousands of Jewish, Muslim and Christian families across the Holy Land and well beyond. Unable to know what to pray against the enormity of this, I searched for some music from Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which is made up of young Arab and Israeli musicians. It was Beethoven’s 7th (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDIIkz0y1cE) . Listening to this was profound and assuaging in the way that many Psalms are.
At 3am James handed over to me. My hour of prayer flew by and comprised of mission, message and miracle.
Mission – I began by praying for Iona (Iggy) and responding to recent newsletters regarding her amazing mission work, reaching thousands of teenagers and students across Europe with the Gospel and training them for the mission field. If you don’t already receive these inspiring newsletters but would like to, let me know.
Message – Through previous OCODs I have been guided back to the Gospels, focusing on the life of Jesus in body here on Earth. From sitting Scripture exams in my childhood, through four decades of receiving teaching and teaching the Bible to children, youth, and adults, of receiving sermons and giving sermons, I have never heard such fresh and powerful insights as I am receiving now. God’s love for all humanity is so much bigger than I have ever been taught.
Miracle – After praying for specific people, I prayed for the Friends Group event taking place later that Saturday morning. The weather forecast was saying 60-100% rain, and as Chair of the Friends of Lincombe Barn Park & Woods, I had given the go ahead to a morning of bulb planting, litter-picking and woodland management. I was praying for God to blow the rain clouds away. We arrived that morning, to be greeted by a beautiful rainbow arching over our site. It was the perfect autumnal dry morning. I shared about OCOD and that I had prayed. 400 Daffodil bulbs were planted. A Dad and his daughter litter-picked the whole site and were blessed with a Kingfisher sighting. We did some woodland management and enjoyed delicious homemade cakes, provided by a wonderful woman in her 80s. When I got home (literally across the road from the site) it was raining. My family were astonished to see me dry. There had been showers that morning, around, just not over our site! Praise God!
Our last reflection is from Frances, who beautifully models the best way to start the day, inviting the Lord in:
My hour booked for prayer for 8am to 9am.
I set my alarm and woke up got my cup of tea, watched the news to hear reports of what’s going on in the world to bring before our Lord.
I often find prayer time hard as my mind wanders to other things and disrupts my thought. Saturday was amazing as l sat in bed my prayer time was 1.45hrs disturbed by my phone.
I brought world situations to the fore. May his teachings of peace, forgiveness, and love for all his people change the hearts of all leaders and people in troubled countries.
I prayed for all people who l know who are troubled with sickness and other problems.
I thanked God for his wonderful world he created and how we must treasure it, also for my church family its leaders, for my friends, and my own family and our concerns.
My time left me feeling change from restlessness to a quietness, peaceful, and hope.
I thank God for this special time.