I thought it was time to finish the report of my prayer challenge. Day 36 was the 4th full day of my retreat. I had turned my prayer journal page to the one I did for the anniversary of my priesting. I wasn’t sure why but I sang “In royal robes I don’t deserve, i live to serve your majesty”. Then at the lunch time mass I could see why I was drawn to that picture. There were references to being called into ministry in order to show God’s love to others.
In the afternoon I meditated on Luke 4:16-21 and my imagination led me to the church where I worshipped before ordination. Jesus entered, took up the bible and read from Isaiah 61. When he sat down he looked at me and told me that I am anointed to preach the good news of his kingdom, to bing healing, sight to the spiritually blind release tot he captives and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. I left home, went to Leek, Harlescott, Darlaston and am now in 4 rural villages. Jesus IS working in and through me, albeit slowly. If I continue to keep m eyes on Jesus then he will work through me. The scriptures will be fulfilled in that place where he has sent me.
Day 37 started with praising God and the day continued with bringing various anxieties to God, asking him to help me to stay faithful in prayer and ministry and to remember to put on the full armour of God every day – plus remembering whose daughter I am.
I finished the picture in my main Prayer and Art Journal. It serves as a reminder of the main work that God did in me during the retreat. I will write about it in a separate blog, showing the various stages of work on it..
Day 38 marked the end of my retreat and my return home. I thanked God for the good week that I had had, for the hospitality received, the beautiful beach and coast and for all that awaits me on my return home.
Day 39 was Sunday and although I prayed and worshipped, I didn’t do any journalling.
Days 40-43 were busy and I got back into my pre-breakfast walk and praise/prayer round the lake each day, committing all my concerns to God. Prayers were answered and problems resolved. No time for any great art work, but I did decorate the page.
Day 44 was my day off and I recognised that I was very tired. Nevertheless I had a good time of praising God using Psalm 63 and a traditional hymn. I have a couple of old hymn books that I am using for journalling. Much easier than writing it out.
Day 45 I worshipped using a Taize chant based on Psalm 27. I thanked God for the blessings of the day which included someone agreeing to read my work. I am putting together a proposal for a Grove Booklet that I want to write. I need to say who will read and comment on the manuscript.
Days 46-50 didn’t result in a picture. The next one was on my day off on Day 51 following a prayerful walk by the river. It was fairly early in the morning and the grass was still wet so I wore wellies. I’m glad I did because it meant I could paddle in the river.
The following days were uneventful from an art point of view and I continued to pray using the pattern of praise, thanksgiving, offering anxieties to God, requests and looking out for answers. God has answered my prayers and I have noticed that I am less anxious than I have been in the past.
The decorated words above were done on Day 52, and the following picture on day 58 (another day off). I had used the Northumbrian Community morning prayer readings and they summed up how I felt: a deep sense of peace and I know that I trust in God as my strength and rock. I started the picture by writing the word PEACE and then ‘is a gift from God’. I added the other things as my time of prayer progressed.
I think it sums up how the 60 day challenge has helped me to be more peaceful amid the pressures of ministry and life. Day 60 fell on a Sunday and I reflected on the challenge, thankful that I did it and aware of God’s leading and guiding me. There were 2 confirmations of this during the service. In my morning walk I brought my feelings of weakness to God. The collect for the day was about God strengthening us in our weakness plus the response for the intercessions picked up the main point that I ended my sermon with. So I shared that with the congregation. God IS with us, leading us into the future.
At some point I finished the page at the beginning of my journal with the words of Philippians 4:4-7 – the basis of the prayer times during this challenge.
I hope that you have found my sharing this prayer challenge along with the pictures helpful. I hope you feel encouraged to have a go at journalling, decorating whatever words you want to write without the pressure of thinking you have to be great at art. I certainly am not.