New Year, New Adventures, Prayer Required! Part 1

posted in: Prayer 0

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be asked to go on retreat by a friend from this church. In case you are wondering what, a retreat is the definition according to the Retreat Association is

“a planned time of spiritual refreshment with the opportunity to rest, unwind and pray. They provide a breathing space, an oasis, an opportunity to listen and be heard, to step aside from our daily life and see our life and our relationship with God and with others from a fresh perspective.”

It was an amazing time but not what I expected in terms of a sermon I was preparing on prayer. Before I went I was in my mind totally prepared, I knew that I would be preaching. I had a plan involving looking at the lives of Biblical characters like Abraham Moses Samuel David Daniel Nehemiah and most importantly Jesus and seeing how their prayer lives, their persistence in prayer and their absolute belief in the authority and power of God could be a model for us and our prayer lives BUT God had another plan.

I felt he wanted me to extend to you God’s invitation to join Him on a walk. A daily walk you could in fact call it a prayer walk.

From the very beginning God has created us and seeks us to be his companions, his walking partners walking and talking to him on our daily journey. See Genesis 1v27 and 3v8-9

He wants relationship with us that includes companionship, a two way dialogue and intimacy.

He wants to walk beside us as our tour guide through life, the best, most interesting and knowledgeable tour guide in the world. He knows everything as he created it all. He wants to stop and show you things on the way. It won’t be a boring walk because when we walk daily with Him he unfolds the secrets of his kingdom.

It’s one thing me telling you that God loves you and knows you, it’s quite another thing for you to be on a walk with God as on my retreat and hear him whisper in your ear;

Hey look up at the stars, don’t they look amazing tonight. Do you know there are billions and billions of stars and I know each of their name? In fact do you know I have counted every hair on your head I am the one who knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I love you more than any star because you are created in my image. I loved you so much that I sent my son to live like you on this earth and to die for you so that you and I can spend eternity star gazing.

This is prayer. A daily conversational relationship where we willingly and joyfully recognise God made us to share his kingdom with us and for us to recognise we have and are called to play a part in building Gods kingdom.

We need God’s wisdom and his companionship. We need to understand and explore further the Bibles call to the need for prayer without ceasing, bold persistent persevering prayers. Prayers based on conversations we have whilst walking with God on our daily journey through life. Requests and petitions and praise / thanksgiving generated from our time spent in relationship with him.

Today I want to invite you to take God up on his invitation to walk, talk and pray.

Prayer doesn’t require lofty language in a sacred space. It doesn’t have to be eloquent it can be simple and spontaneous. It can be short or it can be long. It can be in the language of angels just as much as from the mouth of a child.

Take time today, tomorrow and every day to see that the ordinary moments of everyday life are the perfect occasions for walking with and sharing with God.

Written by Polly Fryer-Saxby


Keep Calm & Pray

I’m not a morning person. The thought of waking up before the world starts moving is not what I am drawn to. I used to think the ‘holier people’ would get up in the low light of dawn to cry out to God for hours before the day has started (and some people do that which is great) but it’s important to realise that everyone was not made the same and it’s okay for people to pray in a way that works for them. Whenever your day starts it should start right though. No this isn’t an advert for a breakfast cereal bar but I’m talking about starting when you wake with prayer.


Next to my bed is this light box that displays the slogan ‘Keep Calm & Pray’. Before any of the day’s challenges or activities have started this quick message reminds me that whatever happens God ultimately holds the day in his hands and that worrying about it won’t make any difference. However keeping calm and knowing God’s in control of it is key to remember.




‘In the morning, Lord you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.’ (Psalm 5:3 NIV)

So I may not get up exceptionally early but personally I find praying as I get ready for my day is a great way to get it started. Whether that’s in the shower, walking to work or sipping that first drink of the day (personally it’s a cup of tea), expect in faith that God will hear your requests and go with you on your day! You may even ask him to bless others in their day or ask God for opportunity to use you for his glory.


Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. (Matthew 6:6 MSG)

Grabbing a quiet moment in your day may be easier said than done. Life’s noise can often not leave us alone, but take those quiet moments to say a prayer to God and He can fill you with his Grace. Remember to be simple about it though, God doesn’t want us to come to him tongue tied and over complicating our words to him. It’s as simple as chatting to your best mate. In basic terms be yourself.

As I end my day just before I drift off I look at my light box (which is the only thing still lit in the room at this point) reminding me to once again ‘Keep Calm & Pray’. I remember to thank God for the good things that went well during the day and to ask that he help me to continue to rely on him for the things that maybe I didn’t get quite right today but have another chance to try again tomorrow. Book-ending each end of the day with prayer even if it is short and simple helps you to remember you are always wrapped in the Father’s love and can always talk to him. Perhaps you might want to try having a reminder around your bedside to wrap your day in prayer.


Prayer was never meant to complicated, it was meant to be simple, the Bible tells us so!

Lastly if you don’t know what to pray the easiest thing to do is look at the way Jesus taught us to pray as we have looked at a few times recently in church! My personal favourite version as translated in The Message:


‘Our Father in heaven,

Reveal who you are.

Set the world right;

Do what’s best—

as above, so below.

Keep us alive with three square meals.

Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.

Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.

You’re in charge!

You can do anything you want!

You’re ablaze in beauty!

Yes. Yes. Yes.’


Written by Luke Middleton

Luke Middleton

The wise man built his house upon the rock

posted in: Jane Reynolds, Prayer 0

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  Matthew 7:24-25

Some of us know this story well, we can sing the song and do the actions without thinking very much about the truth behind the words. Reading it again this morning I was struck deeply by the simplicity and the reality of what Christ was explaining to us. I recognised the reality of its truth in my own life.

When we practice the words of Christ we build a solid foundation that stands, even when the most difficult situations arise.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’’love your neighbour as yourself’ Matthew 22:37,39.

When we begin to love God our priorities change, we change the way we act and think. When we learn how much he loves and accepts us then we can love others with the compassion he has for us. It changes our world. It changes our reactions. It changes our lives.

How do we hear the words of God? How do we develop that relationship with God, the creator of the universe and our maker? Through the resurrected power of Jesus. The Holy Spirit our counsellor enables us. As we knock on the door through prayer God answers and situations change. The bible teaches us the way to go. Even when the world would say otherwise, following biblical example enables us to stand when the storms rage all around. When life throws curved balls. Put God first and do it His way and you will stand. It’s not easy; God never said it would be. The rain and storms will come.

People often ask me how I coped with having triplets. The answer is simple; it wasn’t easy but prayer got me through. They went to bed I prayed, forget the washing up and tidying I needed time with God. We were in need (money was very tight) I prayed for specifics and God provided. I was overwhelmed, I prayed psalms back to God. When relationships became difficult I fasted and I held onto truth, I shouted at God and told him how I felt. I acknowledged my situation and my helplessness and he came and comforted me. Now I can comfort other with the comfort I have been given. I look back and see the benefit and the power of prayer. My family, my marriage, the church, my jobs, my friends. I stand amazed at Gods faithfulness and the fruitfulness of time spend with Him.

Prayer and the truth in the word of God really does light your path through life and is the only rock to build on.

Written by Jane Reynolds


Tony’s Experience of Personal Prayer

posted in: Prayer, Tony Thompson 2

For many, many years I have tried to start the day by setting aside time to read the Bible and pray. Whilst I was working in industry and had a young family I would get up early to spend time with God before the rest of the family were awake. At one stage my boys would join me and we would read a children’s bible and pray together, special times and memories.

However, I always found reading the Bible easier than praying and I ended up spending much more time in Bible study than in prayer. In the months, immediately before leading my first church I was challenged about the depth and quality of my prayer life, was it sufficient to build a church on? I knew the answer was no. I therefore set myself the task of developing my prayer life. What I put in place then has stood the test of time, I follow the same basic structure now, over 20 years later.

I am not suggesting you follow my pattern, but I am encouraging you as part of our focus on prayer this month to review your prayer life and see if it needs any development.

My pattern has four distinct elements.

  1. I read a chapter or two from the Bible, a different section each day.
  2. I then journal in a note book. I write todays date and then the word yesterday. I then prayerful reflect on the previous day, writing down what I learnt, what I felt God was doing.
  3. I then read from a devotional book. Currently it is a biography of Martin Luther, before that it was a theological book by Tom Wright, one of my favourite authors. I try to read a book to encourage my praying at least once a year.
  4. I then write out my prayers in the same book used for my journal. I write prayers under four heading, adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. ACTS.

If you feel challenged to develop your prayer life may I suggest that you start by reading a book on prayer as well as setting aside some time each day to pray.

Books I have found helpful include

Too busy not to pray by Bill Hybels (The book that more than any other revolutionised my prayer life so many years ago.)

Ordering your private world by Gordon MacDonald (Covers much more than just prayer, but another book that helped me develop my relationship with God.)

Prayer by Tim Keller (I more recent book, a little harder to read but worth it.)

The circle maker by Mark Batterson (His story of the power of prayer in his ministry, easy reading)

Fresh wind, fresh fire by Jim Cymbala (Another story of the power of prayer)


May 2017 be a year where your prayer life moves to a different level.

Written by Tony Thompson

Tony Thompson

New Year Challenge – becoming more like Christ

posted in: Tony Thompson 4

I recently read a book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney, that talked practically about spiritual maturity, godliness and how to attain it.

Whitney identified three different ways that God helps us grow spiritually to be more like Christ.

He identifies the people God brings us into contact with as a way God changes us, as the Bible says iron sharpening iron. If we spend time with godly people who are more mature than us, something rubs off on us.

The circumstances that come into our lives, particularly the difficulties and challenges that we face are also a means of growth. None of us wants hard times, but my experience of the challenges of the last few years, I realise, has helped me grow. I am a better man because of them.

In many ways, we have little choice regarding the people and circumstances God brings into our lives, but the third means of growth is much more in our hands, discipline. As Whitney says, in my own pastoral and personal Christian experience, I can say that I’ve never known a man or woman who came to spiritual maturity except through discipline. Godliness comes through discipline…….we can decide, for example, whether we will read the Bible or fast today.

Spiritual maturity therefore happens when the efforts of a Christian and the work of God come together. In his letter to the church in Colossae Paul writes of his labours to help believers become “mature in Christ,” declaring, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29). The desire and the power for them are produced by the grace of God. But Christians themselves must practice the Disciplines.

To make the impact that we believe God wants to make in Luton and further afield we need to grow in maturity as individuals and as a church. We must become more Christlike, godlier if we want people to see Christ in us.

Despite the example of Jesus and the teaching of the New Testament about Christianity as a life of disciplined spirituality, many professing Christians are spiritually undisciplined and seem to have little Christlike fruit and power in their lives.

Physical fitness comes through the discipline of exercise, going to the gym, a walk or a jog. Spiritual fitness comes through spending time studying the Bible, praying, reflecting on what God is doing in our lives.

As we approach a new year, and with it new challenges and opportunities, may I encourage you to toil with all his energy to grow in spiritual maturity. Invest time in it, time reading the Bible; time praying; time reading Christian books; time listening to sermons; time trying new things e.g.  if you have never fasted try it; time with more mature Christians.

God spokes to me early in my Christian life – he told me that I wanted to be used by God, but he wanted to make me useable. I think that is still true.


Written by Tony Thompson

Tony Thompson

A Defence of Christmas

posted in: Tony Thompson 2

Some of those we love and work alongside are passionate about not celebrating Christmas, not having Christmas trees or decorations. Some mark the incarnation of our Lord at different time, notably at the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, others don’t mark this at any special time. For example the Jesus Army say, “The popular Christian festivals such as Christmas are not celebrated, on the quite accurate grounds that they have Pagan origins. (One of the reasons that Christianity took root throughout Europe during the Dark Ages was its habit of taking over local Pagan festivals and sacred sites, adapting the customs of the Winter Solstice into Christmas, and of the Spring festival into Easter, and building churches over ancient wells and springs.)” This is a historic position amongst reformed people, the Puritans shunned Christmas and it was against the law to celebrate Christmas Day following the civil war.


Maybe you are wondering why have a tree and mark the festival? Or maybe you wonder how to answer those who bring objections to celebrating Christmas? I want to spend a few lines making a defence of our practice. In the end this is not something that is essential to our salvation so is a matter of individual conscience. It does bring out important principles that are worth considering.


One of the missionary tactics of the early church was to look for points of contact between the culture they were going to and the Gospel. So when evangelising Jewish communities Christians would show how the festivals of the Jewish year pointed to Christ. When evangelising Gentile communities that would not work because these communities had no knowledge of the Jewish Festivals. So when Paul went to Athens, he found an altar to an “unknown god” Paul used this point of contact, along with quotes from Greek poets and philosophers, to preach the gospel. He encouraged Titus to do the same in Crete, quoting local poets. Imagine how modern Christians would react to Paul’s sermon? He quoted no scripture, he used a pagan altar as an illustration and referenced pagan writers.


Most northern hemisphere cultures held a mid-winter festival, the early Church missionaries used this festival as a point of contact. Most of these festivals were held around the time of the winter solstice and called for the return of the sun. Christians used these festivals to preach that the true Light of the world had come amongst us. Like Paul in Athens they used that which was familiar to people to bring the gospel message. They subverted local traditions to convey truth. As the Jesus Army acknowledge this was a powerful evangelistic tool, it was using these means that the gospel was brought to Europe.
What about today? We live in a secular nation that holds a mid-winter celebration, we continue to take those customs people are familiar with to preach a gospel message. Like the early missionaries and Paul himself, we are inserting a message into a festival and we compete with other stories that are told at the same time. Christmas is a point of contact with our society, an opportunity to teach truth, in my view we should take it. Use the Christmas tree to teach of God’s everlasting grace, use the darkness to teach about the true Light who came into the world and show to the world true joy that Jesus gives.


So, at Christmas and at other times, we could be pure, absolutely right, so right we become dead right enslaved again by law, or we can joyfully seek to share our faith with a world that is dying. I know what I want to do!


Written by Tony Thompson

Tony Thompson

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