A couple of weeks ago, I started to use a daily devotional app called Lectio 365 which is run by 24-7 Prayer and CWR, and the office team at Jubilee asked me to write this blog to reflect on my experience of using it.
So, let’s set the scene: it’s just after 1pm, my 3 year old has started his nap (very thankful he still needs/wants one) and my 5 year old is doing something restful upstairs, either on her own or in my husband’s office. I have a precious half an hour to meet with God and receive rest and strength for what is to come.
Each devotional starts with this prayer: ‘As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre my scattered senses upon the presence of God.’ This reminder, particularly to ‘re-centre my scattered senses’ is so timely and helpful. I choose to use this app to guide my quiet times at the moment because my brain is whirring most of the time and I’m in danger of being overwhelmed by all that is going on: in my own home, across our community, nation and the world.
The first week focused on the encounters Jesus had with people after his resurrection. We also started reading a book in Small Group called Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas which seeks to help Christians identify the ways in which they best connect with God while at the same time reminding us that the myriad different personalities and ways to connect all reflect the vast and wonderful variety of God. We are encouraged not only to look to our own temperaments, but also to learn to embrace those of others so that we can get a fuller understanding of the character of God. Through both of these resources, I have been struck by the reminder that God is intensely personal. He knows our unique character, he made us this way and he knows what our needs are in every season. He invites us to encounter him, but he also comes to encounter us, right where and when we need him to. What a comfort!
During the second week of listening to the app, we have been praying through the promises of God in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:
‘When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’
God tells us that trouble is inevitable, but that we can choose to take action by humbling ourselves, praying and seeking God, and turning from sin. If we choose to do these things, he will hear us, forgive us and heal our land. I find this challenging and encouraging. God’s promises are wonderful and so needed at this time, but they are also conditional.
God has spoken to us about revival coming to our land. He has spoken about that starting with us and needing to prepare the way. He has spoken about a shaking of the nation.
During the week of reflecting on this passage, I have been reminded of 3 ways that we often talk about metal and rock being shaped and moulded: iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), diamonds are made under pressure, metal is refined in the furnace (Zecharaiah 13:9). The thing that all of these processes have in common is the high intensity of the process; force, pressure or heat. I can think of no other period of time in my life as intense as this!
Whether we are in intense solitude, or trying to juggle child care, home schooling and working, or rubbing up against members of our household who we love but are used to having some space from, this current situation is intense. And I believe that God is using it. I believe that this is an opportunity for us to humble ourselves; who else can we turn to but God at this time?! I believe that this is an opportunity to pray and seek him, even if all you can manage is Powerhouse once a week, or a 30 second prayer in the midst of an argument with your teenager, we can seek God. And I believe this is an opportunity for us to see our own sin more clearly in the intensity of our environments and begin to deal with it. When we do these things, God promises to hear us, forgive us, and heal our land. Yes please Lord!
So my encouragement during this time is this:
Find a way to allow God to encounter you. The how is not important and will be different for each one of us; if you’re not sure how you do this best, why not ask others how they do it and get some ideas? Join with our Church family so that we can seek his face and pray together. Let God reveal himself to you. Let him reveal your sin and show you his forgiveness and grace. Let him use this time to draw you into his presence, light and hope:
‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”’