prayerscapes - creative journeys in worship and prayer

creative prayer journeys


Author Archives: Julie Palmer

About Julie Palmer

Julie is a singer/songwriter and a published writer of prayer poems. Her heart is at all times to be open and loving, especially to the least, the last and the lost. In her home church she has a ministry in prayer and pastoring, and is also a mum to two lively young boys!

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:-

Until Christmas, “Dwell” is on offer as a download from this site for just $7 (normally $10.99) or as a CD for $15. It’s possible to purchase it now 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.

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)

Time for physio!

watercolour of woman asleep on a bed

I love being part of a church, mixing with people of different ages, backgrounds, gifts and temperaments. We are the body of Christ, each playing a part, life-giving and unique!

But what happens when a part of the body becomes so broken that it can no longer function? This is something that we need to be aware of in our church families.

If we are physically injured, several different types of cells work together in the human body to restore the broken part back to life, rather like a house being rebuilt with all the different trades (plumbers, electricians etc) working together as a team. We as church, the body of Christ can mirror this restorative work amongst ourselves! Life is complicated, and just as our physical bodies go through trauma, strain and illness, so do we suffer in our emotional, mental and spiritual lives. There are times when it is clear why a person may be broken, and I love the way in which church families re-arrange themselves to care for, protect and minister to the vulnerable. However sometimes wounds are not so obvious, so it is essential that the love of God reigns supreme, that the grace of God is flowing bountifully amongst us. It must flow before understanding, before judgement and before resentment.  We may need to allow people to step back from a role without knowing why they have left it, forgive others abundantly when they seem troubled and release and support each other without questioning.

As we gather together, we release the Holy Spirit to move amongst us as comforter, healer and friend. I am always aware of the need to be guided by the spirit as I minister to others in a church service. To watch out for those whom need rest, to be aware of the wounded, sensitive to the weary, soft to those who feel hurt, and to be shelter to the broken. And I also believe God is into physiotherapy! He is into seeing our restoration right through to his children being strong, fit and released once again! That’s where the beauty of new hope needs to be proclaimed like a balm, where a message of understanding and truth can release the captive, and when a word of encouragement can breathe new vision into our hearts!  Just like our physical bodies, there comes a time when we are strong enough to begin to re-exercise a gifting or re-activate giving. Sometimes we need to re-train ourselves to trust, care and love again, or to reclaim the power of forgiveness in our lives.

I have found myself on ‘the benches’ recently. I have not been able to be a major team player as I have been navigating family troubles. I am so thankful for others who have stepped in to take the strain, blessed by those who allow me to cry and see my hurt, and very grateful for the living body of Christ around me. So there is before us all a wonderful opportunity to be a part of this body!  Could it be that you are needing rest, healing or ministry? Or possibly the rehabilitation of encouragement or in need of support to move into freedom again?

When the body of Christ moves as one, wrapped up in the grace of God, there lies a truly wonderful testimony and an amazing witness! Let’s be alive as a body! Who needs rest? Who needs a massage of hope? Who needs to start exercising those love, forgiveness or skill muscles again? Who needs some gentle support to do so? Who has recovered and is ready to go back into the team again? Who needs vision for the next step?

Let’s be active in caring for the body of Christ. And let’s be honest when we are the ones who are in need of physio for our hearts, minds or bodies. Let’s be real, wonderfully imperfect, yet amazing united as we join together to be the body of Christ.

Prayer for Easter

The adoration of the risen Christ, a pastel painting by Julie Palmer.

Love overcame,
Emerging from a cold tomb.
All the truth, majesty and creativity of a living God,
Transforming a broken heart.
Making a quiet return, in a still and sorrowful garden.
The grave stone rolled away, to release redemptive love.
Jesus resurrected and restored.
Comforts a weeping woman.
Speaks with travellers on a journey.
Meets with his faithful friends,
And they bow down before Christ alive,
And acknowledged that the saviour has arrived,
That the word of God has come alive,
And that the extraordinary transformation of heaven and earth
Is complete

This is the second poem of a triptych I have written. The first one “Love Came“, is about the birth of Christ. “Love Overcame” is about the death and resurrection of Christ, and the third (which I am currently working on, entitled “Freedom Reigns”) is about Pentecost.

I like the imagery of three – three cords in a marriage, the three persons of the Trinity. So I was drawn to the idea of there being three distinctive ways in which God’s love is revealed to us:-

  1. Love born in the human form of Jesus.
  2. Love overcoming the fall in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  3. Love being set free, given into the hearts of men and women in the coming of the Holy Spirit.

These are all extraordinary events that have changed the course of history forever. And they are all as dramatic as they are unexpected. These are moments that inspire us and propel us forwards:-

  1. To follow in the footsteps of Christ.
  2. To live in grace and redemptive love.
  3. To carry a piece of this revelation to those who are around us.

This Easter time, join with me in celebrating this wonderful love, as we pray together:-

Father, thank you that your son has stepped into history, and redeemed us. Thank you that you are with us right now by the power of your Holy Spirit. May all people taste and see this unending goodness. Amen.

Here is the film we have created based on “Love Overcame”:-

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

 

Song for Eden

Watercolour painting of woman with city background

Over the last few months, prayerscapes have been working with Sally Cranham, a UK based singer/songwriter, to create a song about the work of Eden Ministry. The mission of Eden is to rescue sexually exploited men and women in Asia and provide for them a safe and dignified environment to live and work. You can buy this song from itunes now – all the proceeds go to the work of Eden!

Here Sally writes about her experience of “Eden” and how the song came about:-

In 2014 I travelled to Asia for the first time. When I arrived there, I was surprised by the intense level of human souls that filled the air. The population is far greater than anywhere I had been before, and nestled in the vast city was a garden. Not a real garden but still, a garden, where people were creating beautiful jewellery and young women were finding rest, healing and new life.

Eden Ministry works to reach, rescue and restore those caught in the red light districts of Asia. They provide holistic programs and courses which enable both men and women to support themselves into a new and brighter future. Many of the young women have been trafficked and the work of Eden Ministry provides a safe place to process their stories.

The young women and teams working with Eden Ministry create beautiful pieces of jewellery that are sold all over the world to support the work. The women are given new skills, not only in the making of the pieces but also in the design process too.

I was privileged to visit one of the Eden offices and was able to teach and share about the creative story of God and how He makes us all uniquely and endlessly creative. We dove into the text of Genesis 1 with joy and I shared songs of that garden space like “Eternity” and “Sapphire Blue“. At the end of our time one young girl spoke (in Chinese) a song she had written about her time at Eden. There was a translation of the song into English and I was able to sing an improvised melody in the moment as a perfect conclusion and prayer to our individual God breathed creativity. Two worlds collided in that room, a garden in the middle of a booming city and it was really a sweet holy moment.

Two years later, here I am, writing a blog about the space of time between that room and this moment. For the time it takes for little things you might see in the moment to come into fruition, one must be patient in what can be seen as full of potential. After working with a couple of friends who run Prayerscapes, we are now able to release a full track inspired by the moment in that room in Asia. At the time I recorded the spoken song in Chinese and the melody that I sang. Now we have a song ready to share with the world, highlighting the work of Eden and the awareness we can raise of modern day slavery. All proceeds raised from sales of this single will go directly to Eden Ministry. You can download the track now here from itunes.

For more information about Eden ministry please visit www.edenministry.org. If you would like to book me to come and share about the work, the song and even run a creative workshop for your community please contact me at sally@feathersandwhirlwinds.com.

With love,

Sally Cranham

www.sallycranham.com

The Making of “Eden Song”

Our Father

New York Underground Train in Station

We all experience the brokenness of humanity. My heart goes out to all those of you who find yourself in that place today. Illness, sorrow, fear, loneliness, hopelessness, confusion, hurt and fatigue are all real and immensely hard sufferings to endure. Christ knows all these feelings, and he overcame even death itself to create a path for us through the hard times. So when Jesus taught us how to pray, it is his understanding of these things that lie at the heart of that prayer, commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer.

It begins “Our Father” – two very powerful words. We are all sons and daughters, equally loved, with the same inheritance, the same status, and the same grace heaped upon us in God’s Kingdom. Jesus does not pray “My Father”! “Our Father” unites us, it forms the stable ground for love to reign and redeem and restore us individually and corporately. This heart connection, this heavenly vision, will unite us and soothe our souls.

Shortly after the 24/7 prayer movement began, we were asked by Pete Greig to create a track that captures the essence of this famous prayer. We recorded the prayer in several languages, reflecting both it’s corporate nature and echoing the growing movement of 24/7 prayer vigils springing up all across the world – a movement that today has now touched more than 2 million people in over 10,000 prayer rooms across the earth. The film was also shot in New York shortly after the 9/11 tragedy.  This added a challenging ring to the line “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us”. The film reminds us that God is ever present with us – we can reach out to Him wherever we find ourselves – whether this be on the daily commute, carrying heavy shopping back from the city, or sat in solitude in the midst of crowds. Throughout, the prayer reveals itself as an offering rising up like a beautiful fragrance from the debris of a fallen world. Today, as you watch the film and pray the Lord’s Prayer, we stand with you trusting in the Holy Spirit to minister to your needs and bring God’s redeeming change into your life.

Here’s the film we created :-

It’s possible to download and keep this film for a small fee by following this link.

Landing Space

Pilots landing a small plane on a landing strip.

Living in a fallen world can be a lonely experience. I have come to see this isolation, this separation is in opposition to the connectedness that Creator God intended for us all. I can only imagine that somehow in heaven we will enjoy a unity and intimacy with God and each other that we only experience as tiny fragments in our lives here on earth. So what is unity? A friend of mine who is not a Christian once described a “moment” he experienced at the end of a folk festival. “We all joined hands and agreed in that moment that love would overcome” Yes!! says the Spirit of God. In that moment his isolation was surpassed by connection. How much more connection is there for those who follow in the footsteps of Christ? When we as the family of God physically join hands and respond in our hearts in unison to our sovereign Lord, the Holy Spirit has a perfect landing space!  Suddenly the skies clear, there is a runway for the grace of God and truth is in our midst.

Let’s not allow anything to prevent this space from happening in our families, in our churches, or in our wider world. Christ’s prayer for us is that we might be one. May we not be frightened of rejection, but rather be open to connection, confident in the redeeming power of the resurrected Christ!




latest from the blog

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 Read More


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 Read More


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 – Read More