Prayer

So I wanted to come back to the theme of ‘alone time’ with God after the blog about camp and I thought for a while about what exactly I wanted to say, but kept coming back to the same thing, prayer. At first I thought it perhaps wasn’t worth writing a post about something so obviously part of a Christian life, but then I reflected on my own prayer life and realized how easy it is for prayer to sit on the fringes of our daily lives, only making an appearance in times of real need or even want. Something so obvious, I guess it can sometimes be overlooked, so I figured I would write a little about prayer.

The first thing to say is that God answers prayers. I remember as a kid, growing up, I was never convinced that God would actually answer things that I asked of Him, so I was always a little scared to actually ask. I can vividly remember going to bed every night, closing my eyes and putting my hands together, but not once did I ask God to help me with something I was struggling with or help someone I knew was in need. I think I figured that if I never asked for anything, then God couldn’t let me down and then I wouldn’t have to question my belief in Him. I doubted a lot as a kid, up until I was about 14, but that’s something I’ll talk about in the next blog post. So anyway, I certainly wasn’t convinced that God really would answer my prayers and that’s something that probably carried on into my early teens. Now I feel I must add some clarification here; it wasn’t that I didn’t trust God or doubted His ability, I simply doubted that what I would ask for was worth asking for and therefore wouldn’t be answered. Thankfully this was something that I learnt not to be true as I grew older, but if I still had any doubts at all, they were taken away with my acceptance into Oxford.

A story to be told on its own, I won’t go into the full details, but I will say that up to that point I had still never really asked God to give me anything. I had prayed for the health of relatives who had recovered from illness, I had prayed for situations to be resolved, but never really for Him to give me something, something I knew I couldn’t manage on my own. As you will know that prayer was answered, but in such a phenomenal way that I could be left in no doubt that God’s hand had been over the entire process from application to results day and it all hit me after a solid hour of asking God for this opportunity and a morning containing 3 A’s and an acceptance email! When we take to time to prayerfully consider our aspirations in life God sets his plans and our plans in sync. God answered my prayer because he had laid on my heart 9 months before that I needed to be in Oxford and He answered my prayer because it was worth answering, because I wasn’t asking for my will, I was asking for His! It all comes down to consistently spending time with God, allowing Him to guide your path and asking Him to do so! I’m not far enough into my theology degree to fully understand it all yet, but maybe a big part of prayer is God molding our heats towards His will. When we ask for things that God grants, maybe that’s God’s way of pushing us in the right direction, not us pushing Him.

But don’t just take my word for it! At Elim festival there were so many amazing stories of the power of prayer leading to healing and changed circumstances and actually to many of us realizing how God always knows what He’s doing!

The second thing I wanted to mention was something that I struggled with myself for quite a while and that’s praying for other people. Every time I tried it just felt like there were far to many people and far to many things to pray about and I had no idea where to start, so I just didn’t bother. I realized later that, that wasn’t the correct response when faced with this difficulty! Instead we should really try to spend as much time as possibly praying for others as its part of our role within a Christian community, to protect one another and cover each other in prayer. Not only this, but the joy of seeing that prayer answered and peoples lives made better is something that simply can’t be matched. As humans we are wired to enjoy giving more than receiving… the same principle should be applied to our prayer lives.

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Elim Festival Special

So I’ve just come back from 10 days in the North of Yorkshire as part of the amazing Liveset team at Elim Festival 2016, so I thought I would use this blog post to share with you a little of what I got up to!

It’s the third year now that I’ve been on the team and the first thing to say is what an awesome team of people they are! I have to give a massive shout out to every single person working in the live set marquee who, for the last three years, have made me feel like a member of the family and who put so much work and energy into helping to change the lives of the young people every year. For me it’s such a fun 10 days where I get to enjoy some time with an amazing group of friends, spend some time myself meeting with God and every year come away feeling incredibly encouraged by the work that God is doing in the next generation of young Christians!

I guess that’s what this post is for really… A little bit of encouragement to share with you the work that God is doing in the lives of some of the young people I have the privilege of working with!

The week started off with the same craziness from the team, but a rather timid seventy or so Livesetters, walking through the entrance to the wonderfully decorated, Jungle themed marquee, seemingly overawed by the madness. But that didn’t last long. After a slightly quieter than usual first night from a much younger Liveset than previous years the young people really started to come out of their shells. After some challenging talks early on in the week a large majority felt that they wanted to be courageous for God, with an overwhelming number praying for the bravery to really connect with God, lose themselves in worship and not care what others thought about their physical displays of praise. This was amazing to see! By day 3 or 4 it felt like we had a whole new group dancing in at 7:30! The previously apprehensive approach was gone and each night we saw the entire room (now 100 strong) come forward to worship, hands raised and hearts open to the tangible presence of God. And it didn’t stop there. Later on in the week several of the Kids had encounters with the spirit, some falling down, some being healed and others simply feeling a warm, comforting hand at a time when they really needed it!

Watching the growth of these amazing young people has been so encouraging and each one of them has genuinely inspired me! The hunger that some of them had to meet with God was incredible, from not knowing God at all to meeting with him in a new way, taking away lists of worship songs to worship in their tents and opening themselves up to encounters with the spirit. I’ll be honest I was exhausted by the end of the 10 days, but what a 10 days it was!

Once again, a huge shout out to the awesome team and a massive thank you to the kids who are such incredible young people of God and I think we could all learn a thing or two from. Until next year…

Time Along With God

Topic 3 – Time alone with God

It wasn’t until I got to the second year of my A-levels that I realized just how important taking time out to be with God and work on that relationship was. I was in the midst of 5 hour revision session 7 days a week only stopping to eat and occasionally leave the house for air, but whilst most of my time was spent buried in revision books, I only felt like I was sinking deeper into the whole I was digging. I knew I was learning the information but I still felt like I hadn’t done enough at the end of each day and quite frankly like I wasn’t good enough… So one afternoon I went for a walk with the pastor of my church at the time and he reminded me about how the relationship we have with God is like any other relationship. You can’t expect to have a best friend of years, completely ignore them and their attempts to reach out and contact you for six weeks and then come back expecting things to be exactly as they were. It works the same with God… If we go about our own lives ignoring Him and not making time for Him then it’s only natural that we are going to drift away and begin to feel distant. I began to understand why nothing felt enough, because that relationship was the only thing giving me purpose. I was never sure I even wanted to go to Uni, but I applied because I felt it was where God was sending me. I certainly didn’t expect to get into Oxford, but I did because once and only once I started to make time in that crazy schedule just to sit and be with God, I found the strength, patience and the confidence to get the grades I needed.

This was a lesson I needed to learn and one that has served me well at Uni. Don’t get me wrong, I really struggled in my first term with much the same issues, again allowing my work and commitments to block out any time for God in my day to day life, but I soon reminded myself of the importance of working on that relationship and remaining connected. And you know the best part is, even when we drift away God never gives up and never moves in the opposite direction, but instead tries to pull us back in and receives us with open arms when we return home. Sure, it takes time and effort to build up and maintain that relationship, but no time or energy is more beautifully or enjoyably spent than growing in a loving relationship with a God that makes me feel 100 times the person I am without Him.

I know our days can be busy, so here is some practical advice. God is always there and always willing to talk, so make the most of the time you have, when you have it. I love talking to God and spending some time praying in the car when I’m travelling too and from gigs. It’s time I have alone to reflect and, to be honest, the company makes the journeys go much quicker. At Uni I found myself working in the library or coffee shops a lot and I tended to spend my breaks on my phone of ordering another vanilla late, but a friend of mine chose to use that time to be with God, read His Bible and reflect. Needless to say I took inspiration and found it incredibly useful!

I suppose I’ve spent a lot of this blog talking about how I have and haven’t at times connected with God, but not so much that connection itself, how it feels and why I find it so necessary in my life. Well that’s because I really struggled to put into words the difference I feel when I’m really connected with God. It’s like I’m an entirely different person and the way I see things is totally different. So I guess if that’s all I have to say, your just gonna have to find out for yourselves!