Prayer Calendar: Ritualistic Prayer

, , ,

The word “ritual” doesn’t play well in a Free Church tradition. I hesitated even using it but couldn’t shake it loose. I use it with this definition, “a customarily repeated often formal act or series of acts.”

Why the negative connotation?

Maybe it’s because we associate ritual with churches of questionable beliefs, or maybe we think that praying something over and over again causes it to lose its freshness or even meaning. Maybe it’s because of the throw away world in which we live. With diminishing attention spans, we’re easily bored. Use something for a while and then on to the next thing. Instead of change being an important part of life, it has become so much the fabric of our lives that repetition won’t be tolerated. Whatever the reason, “ritual” is in need of a new press agent!

In the midst of our complex and ever-changing world, I find myself longing for simplicity. Ritualistic prayer is one of the ways in which I find it.

Let me explain.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he gave them what we call the “Lord’s Prayer”, to be repeated or recited regularly. In Jesus time on earth the Jews prayed repeated prayers three times a day, a practice that Jesus himself may have followed.

Before I preached last Sunday, I publically prayed two prayers, one for myself and one for the congregation. This is my “ritual” every time I preach.

  • “Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (from Psalm 19)
  • “Speak Lord, for your servants are listening.” (from Samuel)

I start off almost every day with three ritualistic prayers with our triune God in heart and mind.

  • “Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I will love you with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength and that I will love my neighbour as myself.”
  • Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I will take up my cross and follow you.”
  • “Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Why do this?

  • It’s meditative; it causes us to think deeply about scripture and where it connects with life. Notice that all of these prayers are directly from scripture.
  • It’s focusing; it causes us to focus on God and what he wants.
  • It’s centering; it causes us to center attention on what is important and best in the midst of life’s complexity.

Pulse Podcast 017: Why People Stop Believing

, , , ,

In this episode, we’re joined by Paul Chamberlain, a professor at ACTS and TWU. We’re talking about his new book: Why People Stop Believing. It’s an insightful piece, with first-hand accounts of people who have left their faith, sometimes at great personal cost.

We invite you to get a copy for this book for yourself: Click here!

Here is the full-length podcast in video form:

Here is the teaser/preview version, for your church or group:

And here is the audio version:

National Mission Project: Picturing What God is Doing in Quebec

I have a confession – My name is Neil and I am an Albertan.

Some of my fellow Albertans hold that claim up proudly and I understand, empathize, and often agree with them. However, there is this distinct red streak running across the back of many of our necks. That redneck mentality plays out in a variety of ways. One of them – we don’t always play well with others. When it comes to Quebec, well…oil and water probably have a better chance of mixing.

So, you may find it ironic that one of the deep desires of my heart is to see God at work in significant ways in the province of Quebec. I have felt this way for a long time now. It’s amazing what God’s love can do to break down our perceived prejudices and divisions. I have prayed, thought about, and even planned in regards to how this burden that I have for Quebec and my position as EFCC National Mission Director impact each other.

Francois Bergeron has helped me a great deal, to understand a bit of the need of Quebec and also to grow my love for the people of Quebec.

If you don’t already know Francois, let me introduce you to him.

Francois is a chalk artist and evangelist who lives and works in Quebec, sharing his love of Jesus with the people there. Because of his particular medium/message he has access to places that most evangelists would not, places like schools, etc.

Francois has done a chalk art presentation at a couple of EFCC conferences. If you were not there to see them, you missed something incredible. It was many years ago, that I first heard Francois speak about the need in Quebec. The statistic he put forward at that time rocked me – 0.4% of the population of Quebec is evangelical Christian.

That’s right, less than half of one percent.

It really is one of the most needy mission fields in the world. And it’s in our own country, not somewhere across an ocean. I believe we often perceive the needs of countries across the ocean as much greater than our own, hence the ability to miss opportunities much closer.

Francois is one of our EFCC missionaries. He has his own charity – Gospel Art Productions; but has always wanted to work in relationship with the EFCC, and continues to do so. His heart for Quebec is much larger than mine will ever be. He loves his people, his province; and desperately wants to see more people come to know Jesus, and more churches planted there. To that end, Francois has embarked on what might be one of his most ambitious tours yet. He has a whole new show complete with TV advertising that he wants to do in hundreds of places across Quebec, and even outside of the province.

I want to share his video with you.

I hope that will help you understand a bit more about Francois, the work he is doing, and the opportunity that we have to partner with him as he connects with people that you and I have very little chance of ever connecting with. If God lays Francois and Quebec on your hearts, please pray! I would also encourage you to consider supporting Francois as he shares the story of Jesus on this tour.

You can support the Bergeron family in this outreach by donating to their project page!

Pulse Podcast 016: Prayer Retreat Recap

, , ,

This is a post that highlights EFCC Sunday — our annual reminder that we are a part of a larger family together — and shares some highlights from the recent Prayer Retreat. In addition to this clip, you’re welcome to share the Revitalize rack card as a reminder to pray for your neighbours. (Click here to see a preview.)

Contact us at Home Office if you want copies of this to share with your church!

In the full podcast, we get deeper into our memories and takeaways from the retreat. What we talked about as leaders is the beginning of a conversation that will be hosted at Conference 2018. It’s pretty significant to us.

Below is the audio version — if you’d like to find all of our audio-only podcasts, you can do that at SoundCloud.
The RSS feed can be found here: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:41446994/sounds.rss

Pulse Podcast 015: Volunteerism

, , ,

Do you think 20% of the people actually do 80% of the work? Our guest on this episode — author and speaker Ann Griffiths — isn’t convinced.

When everything we do is heavily dependent on volunteers, we really need to get our heads around what makes them tick, and what makes them stick.

Here is the preview/abbreviated version, which we invite you to share in your church, small group or wherever people are gathered:

And as usual, here is the audio-only version: