prayerscapes - creative journeys in worship and prayer

creative prayer journeys



Our creative blog, words, music, films and imagery are to serve you...our heart is to bring hope into suffering, light into dark places, and inspiration to release God's love like a wave of restoration into a broken world.

Neil and Julie

Neil & Julie

Leaning into God this Lent

Desert Scene with Barren Tree

Lent is an opportunity to lean in, to abandon yourself to intimacy with a living God, and to taste the refreshing water of God’s love and grace. When Jesus went into the desert for forty days he learnt what it meant to lean into his Father and remind himself of God’s promises. It was in that dry, hot, barren place that the enemy attacked him when he was physically most vulnerable.

in a slightly different way we as humans all have “desert” areas, places that are dry and harsh, places where we choose to shut God out of. Sometimes we can do many things to cover our own arid lands. We distract ourselves with purchasing things, chase achievements, hide in a fictional tale, mask our feelings with comfort eating, find a media fast fix or drink away our sorrow with a latte or beer! All these things are not wrong in themselves, but they can become like a plaster on a wound, preventing the air of God’s Spirit from circulating, they can stop the rain of God’s love touching us, or just cover the hurt so well that others do not realize our pain.

Sometimes it is important to strip these things back a little and see what lies underneath. Leaning into God is an active thing. It requires trust that a strong arm will hold you, courage that you won’t be rejected, it requires forgiveness when you have been hurt and hope to push through disappointments and engage with life again. God really cares about the desert areas of our lives! His heart breaks for the lost possibility of softness and healing, the intense pain of midday sun moments, and the sadness of the barren land holding no new nurture or growth. The good news is this – leaning into God is not as complex as it may seem. In the rivers of grace opened by Jesus’s death, small things can create huge restoration! It’s true – so just choosing once to leave the chocolate bar in the cupboard and remain before God can bring light into a dark place of disillusionment. This light is not only an opening for confession, it can become a peephole for deep renewal.

Leaning into God this Lent can also be an active choice for something. Deciding on a Saturday afternoon to go for a walk out onto the hills instead of the browsing the usual shops could be the beginning of a new wave of hope that breaks across the desolation of grief, or the rejection of a broken relationship, or a complex health issue. Seize the moments you have in Lent to lean in. Give everything to God, hold nothing back. And in those times, read the word of God, engage with the beauty of the earth, listen to inspiring music, phone a trusted friend, stop to pray, or just curl up and rest! Push away the props. Allow the light of Christ to illuminate your path, the rain of God’s spirit to soften your way, and you will discover new seeds of hope have taken root in your life.

I wrote a short prayer this month which carries these thoughts to God. You may like to pray it now as you lean into Him during this time:

I Will Turn

Lord, I will turn,
Turn my face towards you.
I will lay before you the desert areas I hide
And turn to soak in your refreshing words of life.
I will cast aside the barren, selfish pursuits
And turn to rest in the tranquil warmth of your love.
I will draw back from the harsh pull of media
And turn to bathe in the gentle power of your Spirit.
Lord, today I turn my face towards you.

I will turn
To soak in your words of life,
To rest in the warmth of your love,
And to bathe in the power of your Spirit.

Here is a short film meditation we have created featuring the words of this prayer: –

It’s possible to download this film in HD for a small sum by visiting this page.

Prayer for the New Year

Bird flying through snowy mountains

By the love and grace of God we are always offered a new page, a fresh start, a new beginning. With this heavenly blessing we can be assured of new hope! For most people the coming of the New Year brings attempts at resolutions and new commitments. It can be a springboard for change, yet it can also be a place of depression, failure and procrastination.

Our lives are complicated, littered with the trappings of comparison forged in the maze of social media and TV, heavy with the weight of loss, or murky with the sediments of confusion, resentment, fear and disappointment. Christ offers us a way to filter, to cleanse and to receive fresh living water into our souls by his Holy Spirit that works deeply within us. This is an ongoing process and at the start of this New Year so many of us will come before the Lord with a mixture of emotions, sufferings and needs.

I promise you that as you dwell before your heavenly Father, his love for you is unconditional. He will hold you close and his Holy Spirit will work gently in your heart and soul to minister, to renew and to bring new hope and healing: –

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28, The Message)

The wonder of this offer is that it is not just once a year, like a fleeting January sale. It is not withdrawn if you fail, if you doubt, it is not eroded by illness, or by persecution or sin, or if you lose hope. The grace of God is like a never-ending river that can flow in and through our hearts, our words, our deeds and lead us onwards in life’s great adventure. This is truly amazing news!

The following is a little prayer that I wrote some time ago, which today as this New Year begins I earnestly pray for myself. As you watch the film or pray this prayer, allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart, sooth away resentment and forge forgiveness, allow him to brush aside disillusionment and bring vision and clarity to your heart and mind: –

Prayer for a New Beginning

Lord,

At the beginning of this new day, I offer you my life.
Come take my voice, may the words I speak be filled with encouragement and goodness.
Come take my hands, may the work they create be generous and giving.
Come take my feet, may the journeys I walk be led by your Spirit within.
Come take my life Lord, for I love your goodness, your kindness and your leading.

Amen.

It’s possible to download and keep this film in HD by following this link.

Dwell at Christmas

Dwell album cover from Prayerscapes

In this season of giving, it is hard sometimes to cut through the commercial trappings, rise above the “perfect Christmas” expectations and truly connect with loved ones to give a gift that is really yearned for. We (like most creatives) sometimes find it hard to “push” our own work, to believe that our music can really bless others the way it is intended to. Yet strangely, as I find myself in a broken place surrounded by much sorrow and pain with friends and family, I have needed to “Dwell” myself! Searching through my CD’s I have come back to this album as the space it offers me helps me to pray and intercede for those suffering, even in the darkest times. We thought we would share with you a quote from a recent review of the album by writer and blogger Freya Pickard. It encourages us that “Dwell” can connect with and carry others:-

“This cd was the perfect gift at a very difficult time…Not since I discovered the music of Iona in the 1990s, has a cd had such a profound effect on me. Hearing it gives me goosebumps. I find it both relaxing and challenging. When I first listened to it, I felt like a dry sponge soaking up cold, refreshing water.”

(Read this review in full at Dragonscale Clippings Blog)

So, we hope that others will choose Dwell as a gift for loved ones and that the Holy Spirit would find space in the lives of the listeners to heal, restore, envision and keep them.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Here are some excerpts from Dwell:-

It’s possible to buy “Dwell” by following this link.

A Beautiful Prayer

Beautiful Tree Branches hanging low down

I think one of our deepest longings as humans is to know that there is a purpose for our lives, that we have a role to play in this world. Thankfully as Christians we can be certain that life isn’t just a random series of events. God the creator of the earth and the heavens is still at work now, intricately weaving beauty and purpose into our lives, building His Kingdom here on earth.

The prayer of St Richard is very special to me. I performed in the musical “Godspell” in my teens, and sang “Day by Day” as a solo. Although I didn’t feel at that time I knew God, I truly meant the words “to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly” and “follow thee more nearly.” It was many years later that I realised that I had travelled to study in Chichester where St Richard lived when he wrote this prayer! And in my journey to knowing Christ as a young person these words have remained with me, like a mantra! God brought me to Chichester. He can and does weave all things together. I now realise that the living Lord responded to my earnest desire to know something of Him in my life, and he has directed my path. For it was in Chichester that I did find faith, began writing with Neil, and Prayerscapes was born. Look for the Kingdom story in your life – journeying with Christ is such an amazing adventure!

Here is this beautiful prayer. St Richard is said to have utter these words in his final hours:-

It’s possible to download this film in HD for a small sum by visiting this page.

 

The Prayer of St Richard (Bishop of Chichester between 1244 to 1253)

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,

for all the benefits which you have given us,

for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.

Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,

may we know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly,

day by day.

Amen.

 

An Ancient Celtic Blessing

hand in sunlight

“May the Road Rise Up To Meet You” is a beautiful old Celtic blessing. Blessings are a gift and ancient ones like these help us to become open channels for the fragrance of Christ to surround those we give out to. I love the references to creation – the sun, the wind, the rain – that these elements are in God’s hands:-

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

A blessing is not a whimsical “I wish, I hope for” etc. It is more powerful than this because the faith of the one who blesses connects with God the Father, Jesus the Saviour and the Holy Spirit the comforter. Just as negative words can damage and corrupt us, there is power in a blessing to change lives. Words spoken in faith have an ability to change the emotional climate, to prepare the ground ahead, and to watch over our rest and our dreams. We hope that this song and film can become a gift that you can give to someone who needs a blessing from God. And we trust that if you are in a hard place yourself that you can receive this as a gift from us. As you watch this film we pray that you might deeply know that you are in the most secure place on earth – in the palm of your Father God, and that your heart may be able to rest in this life changing knowledge.

When we truly grasp the power of blessings we can indulge in blessing others wherever we go. We can speak out love, hope and faith over those who are enchained and see the transformational equation of Christ’s legacy in action. There is indeed power in the name of Jesus. Thanks be to God.

This track is taken from our new prayerscapes album “Dwell”, available by clicking here. It’s also possible to download the film for a small fee by following this link.

The Nicene Creed

White dove with hands raised

In August of this year, our church asked us if we might create a film recording of the Nicene Creed (this creed is an ancient declaration of the Christian faith dating back to A.D.325 and the early church communities).

We decided to record many different voices because we wanted to build a diverse picture of what it means to be part of church family – the young and old together, from many backgrounds and upbringings, all united in their love and adoration of Christ. So, on this recording you will hear Scottish, Irish, English and even Afro-French accents! In the western world we value highly our individualism with “I” and “my” being some of our most frequently used words. Christ knew that it was “we” – the church – that would become a beautiful family of relationships – his bride and treasure on earth. He knew that if we continued to view the world and understand ourselves with an “I” outlook, that we would fall to confusion or comparison. “We believe” is then a transforming creed, “we” are whole within the body, we are valued within the body and “we” are sheltered within the body.

We hope that the imagery we have woven into this film will help others who are on a journey of faith to distil, contemplate and rest in these ancient statements. We are “one” in belief, connected to our brothers and sisters of faith through many generations in Christ. “We” can play our part – not with fear, comparison or insecurity, but with confidence. “We” belong – accepted, loved, forgiven and free. “We” can rest when we are tired, question when we doubt, and be carried when we can no longer stand because we share in the love and the legacy of others who have gone before us.

This film can be purchased and downloaded for a small fee by visiting this page.

Here are the words to this glorious declaration of Christian faith:-

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

Dwell – a new worship film meditation

Dwell written underneath a beautiful rainbow

Sometimes God can surprise us with His presence. We read in the bible that He is always present with us – it’s just that we often forget this (or prefer to ignore this truth!) On the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31) the disciples didn’t even realize it was the risen Jesus who they conversed with, until he broke bread with them.

On one particularly stressful day, I had a moment waiting in the car for my son to come out of school. I just found myself saying “God, thank you for your goodness to me”, over and over again, so much so that I was overwhelmed by the presence of God. Gradually the cloud of anxiety and fear lifted, and I knew in my inner being that I could relax and know that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”
(Julian of Norwich ca.1342- 1416. Christ is said to have uttered these words to Julian in a near death apparition)

It was in this moment that I sang the first line of “Dwell”. I knew that what I needed to do with the rest of the song was to somehow recreate this peace that I had experienced. I hope that as you listen to the track you will encounter this rest for your soul. But before you do so, I want invite you to get somewhere were you won’t be disturbed for five minutes, switch your mobile off, invite God to speak to you, and then press play:-

This track is the title song from our new prayerscapes album “Dwell”, out now on iTunes, and downloadable from our site here.

The chords, lyrics and full piano score (in E minor) are also available on this page.

Dwell – the new prayerscapes album

Dwell - the new album from prayerscapes

We’re super-excited to announce the release of our new album “Dwell”, now available globally via iTunes, Amazon and on our site at prayerscapes.com.

Some of the material on “Dwell” is taken from the  videos that you may already have seen at prayerscapes. The album weaves inspirational poetry, foundational scripture and song ministry together with filmatic soundtracks.

Here’s what others are saying about “Dwell”:-

“If you are looking for a recording all about Biblical meditation and reflection you won’t find anything better than the prayerscapes albums. We’ve used them for years at our creative prayer workshops. Yet again Neil & Julie prove that they have a God given talent by producing this unique new album.”

Ishmael & Irene Smale

(Ishmael – singer/songwriter – writer of “Father God, I wonder” and numerous children’s albums.)

Much of the material on the new album has been born out of some of our life experiences over the last few years. “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You” came out of praying for Julie, soon after our second child was born. I stumbled over this ancient Celtic blessing and found myself praying/singing it for her. It became a gentle reminder that whatever stresses we face (and these were plentiful with a small baby & a six year old child!) God holds us in the palm of His hand, and His faithfulness and love will never let us go:-

Other tracks have emerged from flashes of inspiration and creativity. The words to the track “Prayer Connects” came to Julie as one continuous stream of ideas – she scribbled the words down with the aid of a torch during the middle of the night! The poem is about God’s amazing gift of prayer, and charts the many different ways in which we encounter prayer in our lives:-

Other tracks simply invite us to return to our maker, and dwell on His goodness and provision. “This I Know” takes the form of a gentle lullaby, reminding us that whatever befalls us, we have a refuge, a safe place, a sanctuary we can abide in and find freedom:-

Dwelling is about finding a home, about connection with our Eternal Creator, pushing our roots deep into God’s Kingdom. To find “home“ we need to settle, unpack, relax and feel welcome. ”Dwell” is an open door leading us to moments that crystallize our beliefs, shelter our troubled hearts and inspire us to connect, to rest and to seek after the love of Christ.

It’s possible to explore the album further by visiting this page and clicking on the samples from the tracks on “Dwell”. Clicking on the track titles will take you to the lyrics, scriptures and poems that are on the album. Here you can also buy the album, either as mp3s or as a good old physical CD!

A new film for Pentecost

People seen from overhead

Come, O Spirit of God,
Cause blind eyes to see.
In this day, awaken our land.
Come, O Spirit of power,
Breathe life through your church.
Come O Lord, bring Heaven to Earth,
Bring Heaven to Earth.

This is our prayer for Pentecost Sunday – the day we remember how the Holy Spirit came on the first disciples with great power. The word “power” (Acts 1:8) in the Greek is “dunamis” from where we derive the English word “dynamite”. So “you will receive dynamite when the Holy Spirit comes on you” is a more accurate way of understanding what Jesus was wanting to convey to his disciples!

It’s possible to download this film in HD by following this link.

The refrain of “Come O Spirit of God” is a heart cry to the Lord, that His Holy Spirit would move through the church with great power and awaken hearts and lives to him. The verses outwork this move of the God into the neighbourhood, taking as their base Isaiah 61 – words which Jesus presented as his manifesto at the beginning of his public ministry.

Sometimes as a songwriter, very occasionally, something seems to come from nowhere. It’s almost as if you’ve been wandering through a forest and uncovered a treasure that has been lying there hidden for centuries. “Come O Spirit of God” was one of those rare moments in my life. The main refrain, chords and melody came to me very quickly. Of course, like any song, it needed crafting. And that’s when I gave Malc Garda, a good friend of mine a ring and invited him round to see what he made of it. Malc had the great idea of developing the verses into a practical outworking of what this heart cry means.

Little were we to know that within a year thousands would be singing it at major Christians festivals up and down the land, and it would end up on several CD’s and song books. If you’d like to try this song with your congregation, here are the links to the  chords/words sheet, onsong file & melody line score.

“Come O Spirit of God” is taken from our new album (entitled “Dwell” – out next month!) – a collection of prayer songs and creative readings that we’ve been crafting over the last few years. Some of these tracks are already backing tracks to videos on this site (such as “Prayer Connects” & “May the road rise up to meet you“) – whilst others are brand new for the album. However, it’s possible to download “Come O Spirit of God” as a single from iTunes or Amazon now.

Grace

Pastel Painting of a large sun shining across a lake

One thing Jesus must have been very aware of as he walked with his twelve disciples, teaching and ministering to them, was the importance of grace! It was essential that these men understood what was about to be released – the blessing that would follow from the death of their leader, their mentor and friend. They had to grasp that the Kingdom of God would come within them, and that they really could be bold and free before God. Why? because he needed them to have faith and he knew that if they were trapped in their humanity, their sin, their fear, their resentment, their desires, they would never amount to anything.

Yet they were not perfect – they were fallen – yet saved – human – yet born again of the Holy Spirit. Grace needed to be a supporting structure beneath them, inspiring acts of miraculous faith, underpinning each letter, each preach and drawing the lost like a magnet to the Father heart of God! Grace makes us whole, it makes us free, it makes us humble, it makes us giving, it makes us ask – safe in the knowledge that we do not earn our way into God’s kingdom but receive our way by inviting Jesus into our hearts. And it worked!! Think now – if the Holy Spirit wasn’t a real tangible intimacy with an eternal God – how – how on earth would just twelve men have carried the message in the transformational way they did? It’s a message that is still bright and clear today. Grace is real. Invite Jesus into your life today.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”. (Rev 3:20, NIV)




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prayerscapes


films

films

Discover an extensive collection of short films to inspire prayer. The films feature popular prayers (such as the Lord's Prayer and the Serenity Prayer) and films for specific times and events such as Christmas and Easter.


music

music

Prayerscapes produce music for personal and corporate times of prayer, ministry and worship. The soundtracks interweave dramatic readings of scripture and poetry with filmatic musical underscore and song.


prayers

prayers

A growing collection of over a 100 contemporary prayers covering topics such as healing, comfort in grief and strength. Also with prayers for use with children in school, and opening and closing prayers for services and events such as bible studies.