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Category Archives: Prayer

Writings and reflections on prayer. The prayers section at prayerscapes features over 100 original contemporary prayers.

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.

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.

 

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.

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)

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.

 

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.

Disturb Us Lord

Sailing Boat on the oceans

The words in the video below cry “Disturb Us Lord!”. Come disturb us – when we are too safe, too distracted, too caught-up in the now to “dream of eternity”. Yet unlike some of those early Celtic pilgrims we are unlikely to literally sail out in a coracle into the vast unknown! However, at every stage, circumstance or challenge in our lives we can choose the great adventure. We can choose to trust in God, to give him everything, and allow the Kingdom of Heaven to be poured into us.

Recently a very special man who was part of our home church, an artist and sculptor, lost his battle with Alzheimer’s.  He truly encompassed the meaning behind this poem. He and his wonderful family faced “the unknown” and choose to sail with immense courage. He lost so many things in life but never lost his faith, which continued to shine brightly, even in his final days. The strength, love and compassion of his family are a living testimony to the redeeming power of Christ.

Take heart as you sail into the sea of parenting, negotiate the waves of ill health, or navigate the demands of a stressful career. Take courage as you voyage through clouds of depression, tack the shifting waves of anxiety, or confront the darkness of grief. At times such as this we are called to fix our eyes on Jesus, stay soft in heart, and carry the promise of eternity in our hearts.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 2: 1b-2, NIV)

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

prayer in this film:-

Disturb Us Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

(attributed to Sir Francis Drake -1577)

Finding Faith in Prayer

Pile of Mustard Seeds

Sometimes I feel it is pointless praying. At times, when faced with the terrible suffering of others or in desperate circumstances I struggle to string any words together to God. Yet it is in these times that prayer is the only place we can go, it is often all that we have. “All” – thank goodness we are told that we only need a mustard seed sized faith. Because often this is the size of my faith in these situations. Yet the Holy Spirit can be, and can do far more than we could imagine! The truth is that God really does “step it up” when his beloved children need him the most. I have seen it, felt it and in my heart I truly do know it. We are told “do not worry about tomorrow“, that God’s grace is sufficient for each moment. So – although I can not conceive of how God can meet the heartache of a grieving widow, strengthen the mind of a mother caring for a seriously sick child, or reach into someone who has suffered traumatic rejection, I know he can! And he does, and he will. If we pray – the mustard seed  – can become a tree!



latest from the blog

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 Read More


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 Read More


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