Wendy’s April Prayer Thoughts
A miracle happened simultaneously with the death of Jesus on the Cross. Reading the earliest account in Mark15:37-38, I was struck by each verse beginning with ‘And.’ “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed out his life”. “And the curtain of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” This was the richly embroidered curtain that blocked entrance into The Holy Place, wherein the Ark of the Covenant rested first in the Tabernacle during the wilderness years, then in the 1st and 2nd Temples.
God was dwelling among His people in the Holy of Holies. No one could enter His Presence, only the High Priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement. The very moment Jesus gave up His spirit to God, God split the curtain validating the claim of Jesus to be the Way, the Truth and the Life, and His authority in saying,”No one comes to the Father except through me.” John14:6. Now any one is able to meet with God, to realise His presence, and converse with Him in prayer.
The Temple, which had often been a focal point for worship and prayer for Jesus and His disciples, was destroyed by fire by the Romans in 70AD, just as He had predicted when one of the disciples could not help but marvel at its magnificence. “Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Mark13:1-2. The Jewish people, bound by their eternal covenant with God, have continued to worship and pray. Today, they come to the sheer remains of the retaining Western Wall, built during the reign of Herod, to surround the temple complex. 17 courses of the 160 foot wall are below street level, 25 above. The reason Jews stand before it is because it is the closest that they can get to the Foundation Stone, to the Holy of Holies, and the divine Presence. When they leave, they walk away backwards in respect of its holiness.
Today, there are 2 sections, the largest for males, and the smallest for females. I never forget my visit to the Wailing Wall and the thrill of watching the earnestness of those who were praying, as they swayed back and forth. Looking at the crowd of people, I was reminded of the words of Jesus when He quoted Isaiah 56:7. “My house shall be called a house of prayer. Mark 11:17. There was mounting excitement when a bridal party arrived. The bride in her shimmering white gown came past me, straight to the Wall. There, she posted her prayer request into one of the cracks, and stood praying before the photos. Only God knows that prayer, and hears each prayer. This is the assurance we have, whenever, wherever we offer up a prayer from the heart as David so often reminds us in the Psalms. “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.” Psalm 17:6. I like Peterson’s translation: “I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer. So – answer Lord, bend your ear! listen sharp!” Note David’s eagerness to engage with the all knowing, wise God. Is this the spirit of our approach? The Wailing Wall has a perfect nickname – ‘The Ear of God.’
Walking away from the assembled people, an undeniable truth was etched on my mind. All need God, no matter what sex, age, position in life, country of origin. David made that very point, one day while praying in the Temple. ‘I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no god apart from you”.Psalm16:2. ‘I say to God, “Be my Lord!” without you nothing makes sense.’ MSG. “You are my Lord; my welfare has no existence outside of you.” MEV. I took a last glance at the cracks between the massive stones of the wall, crammed full with paper prayers from Jews and people of other faiths. Only recently have I heard of what happens to them, when it is impossible to post more. Twice a year, one being close to Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and men begin their removal with wooden sticks. The papers must not be touched by bare hands or tools fashioned from iron. The latter were not allowed for the building of Solomon’sTemple.1Kings 6:7. The prayers are treated with the utmost respect, because Jewish practice forbids the destruction of anything on which the name of God has been written. The notes are shuttered into bags, taken to a cemetery o the Mount of Olives, and buried in the earth.
Our prayers are precious to God, who hears and answers each one. John was given a vision of heaven. As we read in Revelation 5: Jesus, the Lamb was on the throne, receiving worship from the music of golden harps, and incense from golden bowls which contained “the prayers of the saints”. Our prayers have been collected into golden bowls! They are so precious to God. Incense was burnt twice a day on the altar in the Temple. The smoke which wafted into the Holy of Holies represented the people’s prayers. The risen Christ gives us immediate access to God. May our prayers be filled with the worship of our hearts. It is such a privilege to commune with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in prayer.
The Prayer Course
The prayer course which is presented by Pete Grieg of the 24/7 payer movement. It is a great general guide to different types of prayer.
Ignatian prayer is a way of praying which sometimes involves imagining yourself in a Bible story and having an encounter with Jesus.
The take time website has some excellent meditations of different lengths which you may like to try. There is a charge on this website after an initial free trial.
United Christian Broadcasters (UCB)
UCB produce a great daily devotional which is recommend by our church. It is a helpful reflection on a very short daily Bible reading which helps readers to apply Biblical truths to their everyday lives. Click on the link below to read or listen to the UCB ‘Word for Today’ They are free to use.
Pause/Pray is a free series of Bible reflections, available as a podcast or download. They include original music, guided prayers and themes related to daily life. A new one is available each fortnight. To stream or download the episodes or subscribe to the podcast go to iTunes or your regular podcast app.https://www.engageworship.org/pausepray
Three Minute Retreat
Do you feel that it’s hard to find time for prayer?
Even a short time spent in prayer can help you to refocus and to connect with God. Rev’d Sue and Reader Diane recommend this website which offers a guided 3 minute retreat. There’s a time to pause, a short reading, two questions to get you thinking and a little prayer. You can get it as an app for different types of mobile phone too.
Our Diocesan Prayer.
Heavenly Father, we embrace Your call for us to make disciples, to be witnesses and to grow leaders. Give us the eyes to see Your vision, ears to hear the prompting of Your Spirit and courage to follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN