Eclectic Spirituality


I guess it happens when you start to get a bit older! I find that the things that feed me spiritually have widened so much in recent years.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love to sit down with a good bit of Oswald Chambers or a bit of Brengle or other such writers in the evangelical stream of things. Never having been one who is a fan of ‘liturgy’ in a formal setting (esp in corporate worship), I’ve found some surprising gems in two areas in recent months.

I have been dipping into the Siddur, the orthodox Jewish prayer book. Part of the insight here is that some of the prayers to be found are ones which have been around a VERY long time, such as the amidah which Jesus would probably have prayer regularly and who some say is the root of The Lord’s Prayer. Anyone who has ever prayed through, for example, the evening prayer in the siddur will have found great blessing in the God of Israel who neither slumbers nor sleeps!

The second is a more recent purchase. Celtic Daily Prayer produced by the Northumbria Community. This book came on my radar after a visit to Holy Island (Lindisfarne) earlier this year. It caries some ancient and modern prayers, meditations, readings etc in keeping with this hub of celtic Christianity in the UK. What I like about this is the understanding it brings of God as much bigger than just the recipient of our daily prayer list! There is room to consider the vastness of God, God as Father, Son Spirit and the responses of his people to that over the generations.

Having said all that, a vigorous Salvationist spirituality is my default mode. Yet how good it is to remind ourselves that we stand on the shoulders of spiritual giants throughout the whole path of Christianity and Judaism as we’ve all tried to engage with God.

24/7 Prayer


So, we embark on our 24/7 prayer on the 23rd August. We want to start placing prayer at the very centre of everything we do here in Torry as a corps. Establish a prayer rhythm.

We also want to raise the profile of our need for intercessors. Thats where you come in. Our corps, at the moment, has 5 active soldiers (including us). We are relying on you, the reinforcements, to support us…sign up for an hour slot and pray for us during this week of prayer.

Our community faces many challenges, we are a small fighting force. Please help us storm the forts.

If you go here you can sign up for a slot. If you aren’t geographically close enough to pray ‘on site’ just at a # beside your name to let us know that you won’t be turning up in person to pray.

I will endeavour to send out an intercessors guide to all those praying ‘off campus’ to help you in your prayer for us.

Thank you in anticipation!

24/7 Prayer


Its official. Confirmed. I am very likely mad.

Here at Torry we are due to embark on a 24/7 prayer week at the end of August. I have to say that fundamentally is just being obedient to what I feel God is asking of us at this time. Thing is its a prety huge thing but so is the battle we face here in Torry. Although we suspect that some people will come from other places to support, and thats great and desirable, the challenge for us is to re-introduce a rhythm of prayer into the life and mission of the corps…something that isn’t an obvious part of the fabric of our community here.

We’ll be praying like never before out of sheer necessity. Out of a desire for something to shift in our wider community. Out of the need to seek the Lord of the Harvest to raise up labourers for this corner of the vineyard. Out of a heart felt, empassioned desperation to see this place change and the Kingdom to take a stronger foothold.

We see death at work daily on our streets. On the faces of the people who live here, on the children, the adults, the elderly and the youth. We’re surrounded y prisons of addiction, sin, godlessness, fear and hopelessness. Our local authority are good at making our community look pretty and presenable, but at the heart there is a cancer that is eating the vitality out of everything. Our community doesn’t need plastic surgery, its needs complete transfusion and transformation from death to life.

We might be crazy, but we need God. We won’t stand by and let the enemy have his way any longer. Things must change.

While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight-I’ll fight to the very end!

Prayerful and missional living with a passionate persuit of justice and all that the Kingdom will bring is the answer for Torry.

Happy St Patricks Day!

St Patricks Breastplate – warfare prayer

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Painful Prayer

There is one thing I truly love in life. It won’t come as a surprise to you, perhaps, but its the presence of Jesus by his Spirit. To sense him filling you again and again is a foretaste of heaven and since the very beginning of my Christian life I’ve been so blessed by the way the Holy Spirit has always made his presence known.

There is one thing that really breaks my heart. This might come as a surprise to you, but its the presence of Jesus by his Spirit. I prayed some time ago, really sincerely that God would break my heart with the things that break his. In a way, this is a difficult prayer to pray and I certainly think it is one God delights to answer in the sense of it just being one of those things which shapes and characterises our lives as we follow Jesus.

Since I’ve been praying that kind of stuff, my heart has been softening in so many ways. When people don’t realise that they are trapped in sin but there is a way out, it breaks my heart. When the ‘church’ don’t make room for Jesus in worship, for the Spirit of God to move, it breaks my heart.

God, in answering this prayer, has given me a pretty full experience. You know, joy, peace thats out of this world, but such a heavy heart for so many things. I’m reminded that the trailblazers of revival have often likened this pain to giving birth. Now, to be fair, many of those have been men so I’m not sure how accurate a description that is, but suffice to say that there is a very unique heavy ‘annointing’ (for want of a more accurate word) that comes.

We often equate joy and peace with God’s presence, but there is something altogether different about this ‘birthing’ prayer.

Why do I say all that? I feel that the Spirit of God needs people to feel for the lost. He needs people to mourn the way we shut him out of worship. We need to mourn the poor health of the Bride. We need to feel the plight of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised. We need people to sense in their spirits the desperate need for worship in spirit and truth, and in all these things, to cry out to God as ‘deep cries out to deep.’

I pray that God will annoint you with His glory, His heart, His passion…in Jesus name.

Waiting and Prayer

By far the most beneficial meetings I’ve been in of late have been ones which have purposely created space for allowing the Holy Spirit to minister. The practice of giving ourselves time to reflect, for example, on a sermon/message/teaching, allowing the Holy Spirit to apply it to our hearts in the context of the worship setting is very beneficial. We often shy away from it for fear of creating an elongated appeal which can seem false, but I’m not necessarily talking about a ‘rend you heart’ appeal even.

Giving people the opportunity to be prayed for, in every meeting, is something which is ingrained in our Salvationist heritage and we may have been guilty of sensationalising it. But nevertheless, lets reclaim it an restore it to its place. Whether this takes place at the Mercy Seat is incidental, but having a clear time where people can come forward for prayer, or indeed, where individuals are encouraged just to pray for others is something healthy to build into our ‘corporate experience.’

Many in our ranks may take a somewhat ‘Mrs Beamish’ approach, as I blogged a few posts ago, but lets have a good go at changing the church culture we’re in where prayer becomes a naturally supernatural norm and where Holy Spirit isn’t scheduled out of the meeting. Its easy to do, I’ve done it myself, but how I regret every time!

So often we need to get out of the way and let the Spirt of God do as he pleases.

Welcome to 2009 at Army Renewal

Happy New Year to all! Unfortunately, it’s been a rather cold/flu/infection-filled start to 2009, knocked us all for six, but we’re all gradually gaining strength again!

January is about getting down to the business at hand. We begin with sharing in strategy discussions with DHQ in the next week or so as we begin to communicate how we see things develop here.

Stage one of the operation, as already indicated on these pages, is the establishing of some small groups/cells/wards and the development of a monthly gathering of those groups. In larger terms, our vision is to build a vibrant faith community that reflects the neighbourhood in terms of its make-up. This is the exciting bit. We’re wedged to no-ones plan or design other than the direction of the Holy Spirit…we’re out to reach people with the gospel, disciple them as soldiers, and help them engage in mission with us.

Our current strength stands at two active soldiers plus ourselves. What can I say, we can only grow!

I hope you’ll join us in our advance here in prayer and by joining us for regular updates!

Roots

…no, not Army roots…I’m talking of more ancient roots than those.

Anyone who has ever sat under any ministry of mine for any period of time will know that I have a love for the Old Testament. I really loved studying the Old Testament at Bible College especially. I really believe that if we don’t have a grasp of the Old Testament as well as the New, we really miss out on large aspects of the character of God and his purposes. We just don’t want to do that.

I’m becoming aware, through other study, that there is much that we miss about Jesus when we see him out of his earthly context as a Jew and, effectively, Rabbi. For example, I’ve learned that Jewish prayer such as reciting the shema (Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one etc, Deut 11:13-31) and other prayers in the Hebrew prayer book (the siddur) are prayers that bless the name of the Lord. The idea of blessing God is simply saying, God your are it, you’re the main guy and I am going to praise you for everything. You know, in Fiddler on the Roof there is the classic section when someone asks the rabbi how they bless God for the Tsar and the rabbi responds “God bless and keep the tsar…far away from us.’ That over-riding idea of blessing God for everything is beautiful.

But then, when I learned this, my first thought turned to the words of the Lord’s prayer, where Jesus teaches his disciples to pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” – here Jesus teaches his disciples to bless the Lord, to praise and honour his name.

It is clear from scripture too, that Jesus followed Jewish customs in terms of what he wore. For example, before he is crucified, we read that he had his all in one Jewish undergarment, to which were probably attached his tzitzit. His what? His tzitzit (Numbers 15:38 and Deuteronomy 22:12) which were little tassles that reminded Jews of the precepts of God’s law…sort of a Hebraic uniform!

In Jesus’ day, Jewish men wore a simple tunic both at home and at work. When appearing in public, they would cover their tunic with a large rectangular cloth which draped over the shoulder and fell to the ankles. This cloth was called a tallit and served as protection from cold and rain. Hanging from the end of each of its four corners (wings) was a tzitzit in obedience to the biblical command above. When we read in Malachi 4:2 that the Messiah will come with healing in his ‘wings’ the mind immediately go to the woman who touched the hem of Jesus garment.

Essentially what this woman is doing is remembering that the Messaih has healing in his wings and reaching out to touch him…she is healed. But note, the significance is not the actual literal tassles, the significance is that she looked a) to the Messiah and b) to the part of his garment that signified the law, you could say the Word of God (not just book but Jesus as John identifies him in John 1…in the beginning was the Word…etc etc).

These are just some of the things that have struck me. It just goes to show that there are layers of significance in the bible that a little bit of study just brings out to you and leaves you blessed and with a fuller appreciation of who God is and what he’s done.

I believe too that a fuller understanding of the Hebrew concept of sabbath (as opposed to the highly prohibative sabbath of the pharisees and modern day hyper-conservative Christianity) is the very kind of sabbath that Jesus often pointed towards. There is much to be learned to aid us in our walk with Him who loves us and calls us His children.

Now Recruiting Intercessors

We’re recruiting intercessors for the Salvation War on the Torry front. If you’d like to partner with us in prayer, helping us storm the forts and battle the enemy, please let us know.

We will endeavour to send out a weekly intercessors email to help inform your prayer for us. I know many of you pray for us anyway, but receiving the update will give you something other than ‘God bless em’ to pray! Thanks in advance for your partnership in the gospel!

To sign up, please email me at andrew.clark@salvationarmy.org.uk.

Thanks!

Stomping on Darkness

Here in Wick we’ve stopped closing our blinds when we go to bed. The simple reason for that is its still daylight so it just seems wrong! Here is the pic to prove it. This was taken at 11pm tonight. It hasn’t been doctored or changed in any way!

Dispelling darkness must continue to be a key aspect to our mission and not just dispelling it with good works, campaigning and ‘shining our light’, but engaging in active warfare prayer. Paul reminds us that our battle is with spiritual powers in heavenly places (cf Eph 6) We conquer in Jesus’ name through the blood.

It means we don’t just help the poor, we pray against the spirit of poverty.
It means we don’t just clean up the alcohol, we pray against spirits of addiction.
It means we don’t just preach the gospel, we pray against the blinding work of Satan.
It means we don’t just increase our presence in poor areas, we pray against the variety of spiritual forces keeping those area poor.
It means…..a whole lot more.

We don’t just pray in our buildings, we get out there and stomp around, lay hands on things, claim back ground, march and worship in the streets, cast out demons…basically, we go out and usher in the Kingdom of the Lord and his Christ.

If you’re reading this and you don’t think the above will make the slightest bit of difference, the only suggestion I can make is that we continue to ask the Lord to reveal to us what can only be discerned spiritually. We so often look at things from a worldly and human point of view. We forget, not only demons, but the angels the Lord assigns to battle in the heavenly realms against the agents of satan. We’re on the winning side, ours is the mop-up operation.

Our meeting leader today asked us ‘who do you say I am?’..no, not her, Jesus. When we come to the concept of Christian warfare, who do we say Christ is in it? Is he a Jesus who never tackled a demon, a spirit, the devil or a corrupt authority or government? Or perhaps to you he is only gentle Jesus, meek and mild.

Lets continue to pray in the Kingdom.