Sunday, 8 February 2009

the normal Christian prayer life

The normal Christian prayer life. The news stories this last week have caused me to reflect upon the question ‘what is the normal Christian prayer life’? Most people who’ve spoken to me have been deeply concerned about the implications of the North Somerset Primary Care Trust in suspending Caroline Petrie – one newspaper talked about ‘common sense’ prevailing in their decision to allow her return to work. However, their website suggests doctors (let’s remember this is something which would impact more than nurses) and nurses should only offer prayer if initiated by the patient. Never mind what they think are allowed to restrict etc, what is 'normal' for a Christian? Some Christians I have spoken to have commented they would never offer to pray for someone whilst they were work, but I'm unclear whether we're describing our own reticence, embarrassment, or something else. We're not talking about evangelism, we're not talking about forcing religious beliefs upon anyone, we're talking about an offer, someone can accept, or refuse - obviously they can nothing about us praying silently. 

We can look at this in a whole variety of ways, but does anybody have ‘the right’ (we seem to live in a world which thinks along these lines) to restrain a Christian believer offering to pray for anybody else, anywhere – whoever they work for? Let’s remember, those of us called ‘Baptists’ came into being as a result of declaring they would obey God rather than the king, or the authority of the state. Is this such an issue?

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to our annual Ministers Conference, which starts tomorrow (although it’s snowing there apparently, which should be fun) in Sidmouth. More than anything though, I’m relieved Liverpool sneaked a last minute win against Portsmouth yesterday – football is not good for your health, unless expressing anger and frustration outweighs nervous anxiety – it’s a difficult balance that one. Had a great morning (my opinion admittedly) with the leadership team of our church in Nailsea yesterday – any church which has just welcomed 18 new people into membership  can’t be getting it all wrong! What was great to hear was a group of people who seem to be genuinely grappling with the whole missional challenge – there seems to be some correlation between those willing to ask the hardest questions (of themselves and their church) and the amount of progress, or development, along the missional journey – can’t prove it, but observation seems to be bearing this out and I’m not sure what to make of the implications if I’m in any right on this one.


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