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Church is NOT a spectator sport!

Is our church like a football match? Thousands of people in the stands in need

of exercise and twenty-two people on the pitch in need of rest.

For many, Christianity is a spectator sport. There is an expectation that church leaders do

the ministry, while others just want to be fed and nourished.

That understanding of the church would be foreign to the New Testament faith communities,

where we see growing Christians working out their faith in tangible acts of offering,

service, and prayer, which are spiritual disciplines.

Spiritual disciplines are daily habits allow us to experience God’s love and grace together, preparing us to meet the challenges of life. They allow us to centre our lives on loving

God and others. In the last two months I’ve addressed the disciplines of financial

generosity (offering) and service, and this month I want to focus on prayer

and scripture meditation.

Prayer and scripture meditation are the primary ways of communicating with God. Prayer is not the way for us to get what we want, it is the way for God and us to get the relationship we need. Going back to my sport analogy, each team needs a coach, and for us that coach is the Holy Spirit who supports us and encourages us.

To grow and be successful in our journey of faith we need to spend time with the coach, listening, then doing what the coach tells us to do. We need to spend time with the Holy Spirit as coach, connecting in prayer and scripture meditation, to transform our hearts and thus the world.

Prayer allows us to develop an intimate relationship with God. It. Is a talk with God about our joys and our concerns. We have to create time and space for God in our lives for this relationship to develop. If you are in a committed relationship with someone, how long would it last if you rarely talked to them or spent time with them? Jesus often spent time on his own in prayer.

When the disciples asked for him to teach them to pray, he gave us the ‘Lord’s prayer.’ The basic elements of all prayer are there: Adoration, Asking, Confession, and Commitment. Listening is important in prayer too. What is God saying to you? Can you hear through all the noise?

Think not only about the time you pray, but the space you pray in. John Wesley had twenty-two questions he gave out for people to ask themselves about their discipleship, and one of those questions was “Am I enjoying prayer?” Are you? Is prayer a chore? If it is, ask yourself why am I not enjoying this?

Prayer should be a method to increase our conscious contact with God in our everyday life, to connect us to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

Sometimes just using a few words like “Jesus have mercy” over and over again, can increase our awareness of God’s presence.

Another way to communicate with God is to open and read the Bible, one of the means by which God is revealed to us. It is an inspired record of people who experienced the “Word of God.” Inspired does not mean that God dictated the text, but that God’s truth was breathed into the central core. How should you read it? With curiosity and an open mind, as there is poetry and songs and lovely stories that have multiple meanings. Reflect on the scripture,

make observations about it, note how it might apply to your life and then pray about it. You can trust the Holy Spirit to inspire you with these words so you become a living word of God. God wants to be known, and says the eternal truths over and over again to us. Specific answers may not come through specific verses for complex questions over today’s critical issues.

But, we can use other ways God has revealed God’s self to us, to help us, such as tradition, reason, and experience. Methodists have called “scripture, tradition, reason, and experience” the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral,” as a framework to help us interpret and apply God’s truth to our lives. Scripture is always primary. John Wesley used these four in his writings about what God revealed to him.

There is a story James Harnish relays, of a disreputable bar across the street from a Methodist church. The congregation prayed for years for God to do something about the bar. One day lightning struck and burned the bar down. The bar owner sued the church saying their prayers were responsible for the fire. The church contested this. The judge said that he didn’t know how he would rule on the case, but one thing was clear, the bar owner believed in

prayer, and the church people didn’t (The Discipleship Path).

Do you believe in prayer? We have a prayer group that meets every Wednesday morning 10 am at the church. Perhaps you could come and listen, or talk to God with others.

Perhaps God is prompting you to do more or something different. Do you want to get into the game or be a spectator? You can contact one of your stewards to see how you can be part of the team.

This November let us remember and work on our relationship to God.

Let us pray,

Lord teach me how to pray and meditate on your word, and increase my awareness

of your presence in my life. Amen.

Grace and peace,

Rev’d Kevin Highfield


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