Must I Paint You A Picture? (Part1)

“Must I paint you a picture

About the way that I feel?

You know my love for you is stronger.

You know my love for you is real.”

From “Must I Paint You A Picture?” by Billy Bragg.

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A couple of weeks back we had a small group leaders’ meeting at church to help us to assist our small groups to pray together.  Exciting, huh?

Well, that ironic tone was kind of my attitude ahead of the meeting if I’m honest.  I mean, our little collective have started meeting weekly rather than fortnightly and tried to place more of an emphasis on praying on alternate weeks – but have we really embraced it?  We know that it is right and important, but the topic isn’t that gripping is it?  Yet, when Karl has commented that we can get 1000 people through our services on a Sunday and only a handful at the church prayer meeting it does beg a whole bunch of questions.  Why do we think it’s boring?  Do we really believe it changes things?  Do we need to learn to pray in new and different ways?

Anyhow, the session was led by Ollie Clegg from Holy Trinity in Wester Hailes and was truly awesome.  Man, he has some amazing stories to tell.  He made me realise how much of my prayer life is still a one way conversation.  How much time do I actually spend in silence or listening?

He split us into two groups.  One group had to face the wall and close their eyes.  The rest of us had to stand behind them, guys behind guys and girls behind girls.  Many of us didn’t know the person in front of us and the person facing the wall had no idea who was behind them.  We then spent a few moments in silence just asking if God had anything He wanted to show us or say.  Then all the people facing the wall had to turn around and just tell the other person whatever impression, picture or verse of scripture had come to mind.  Before you think we are a bunch of wackos, none of us were used to this kind of thing.  People shared sheepishly, but did so nonetheless.  When Ollie asked how many of those who shared stuff were encouraged? – almost all the hands went up.  Same reaction for those who had received from those who had been facing the wall.  Then we all swapped over, albeit everyone shuffled so that, once again, those now facing the wall didn’t have a clue who was behind them.

Later we split into groups of three.  We asked what someone wanted prayer for.  Rather than barging right in there, we spent a minute or two in silence asking God for a picture or verse or impression.  We then shared whatever we had got and asked if it connected with the person in any way? Then we prayed into it.  It was hugely helpful.

I have tried praying this way for the past couple of weeks.  I have had two pretty clear pictures for folks – one of which I will share with the family involved, because I think it will bring encouragement – the other I won’t because I think, just like a previous picture and dream I have had for that person, it serves to remind me to keep praying for them – even if at times I feel like my prayers fail to collide with their situation…

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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