21 days of prayer 2019

Set Free/Prayer Summit/Church Renewal Weekend

On January 25th, a group of 6 of us went to Steinbach, Manitoba; yup, middle of winter. What would draw us there?

Two years ago, Pastor Mike and Pastor Shawn went to Southland for the same experience and came back very challenged by what they had walked through. For the past two years, Pastor Mike has been walking through weekly mentoring sessions with Pastor Ray from Southland for the main purpose of helping our church grow in prayer.

For the six of us who went (Teresa K., Michael K., Jo-Ann K., Kyle D., Bernie S., Jon B.) it was a remarkable weekend and I thought I would pass on just a “taste” of what impacted them.

To give you some context — this is Southland Churches website. This is a link to this weekend so you can read about the Set Free portion and the Church Renewal portion. As a part of this weekend we also attended their service and their Prayer Summit (which they do monthly). I could talk to you about this for at least an hour…so I will just stop there and let the team chime in:

Mike, Teresa, Jo-Ann, Kyle, Jon, Bernie

Mike, Teresa, Jo-Ann, Kyle, Jon, Bernie

Kyle’s Thoughts

For me the whole weekend was so refreshing because of the way in which it was communicated to me. We weren’t wrestling with these huge topics that require years of study and schooling to fully grasp, we were tasked with simple and BEAUTIFUL processes that date back to the ancient times. Whether it was confessing sins to each other, or participating in listening prayer, it was remarkable how moving it was to take part in it. I quickly realized that I over complicate things so easily. The weekend called me back to the beautiful and simple practises that scripture call us to.

Listening prayer is also something that I haven’t done a lot in my life but this weekend we practised it and it was amazing. I actually heard the voice of the Lord. It was incredible. The God of the universe spoke words TO ME and it brought me to tears. I desire growth in this area as well. Especially as I ask the Lord for encouraging words to share with others who are doubting. 

Returning home, I have experienced a “re-ignitiing” of sorts. Conviction that I need to really look inward and make sure that my spiritual practises are of the utmost importance. It sounds simple, but life can quickly make them see less important. It also convicted me in the way that I communicate truth. Simple. I don’t need to dress it up. Truth is scripture and scripture is truth. Students in Student Ministries need to know truth. Especially all of those who are in broken families. 

Lastly, my prayer and devotional life. As of late, they have become, “when I have the time.” A lie of the enemy. This must be a non negotiable. They must start my day and continue through it. How can I speak truth if I am not clear in what truth is?  


Bernie’s Thoughts

There were so many positive experiences from our trip to Steinbach, Manitoba, this past weekend and a few that are just plain memorable, like when:

1. We were in the ditch, wondering about how we will get out and hearing our leader say "OH, I did something bad".

2. Watching brother Kyle, who was sitting next to me on the plane - bouncing his leg up and down continuously, while watching his movie with the screen moving to the rhythm of his leg. God makes us all wondrously different!

All kidding aside, there are two experiences that I hope can be turned into practices at Sunridge:

During the Church Renewal - Set Free sessions we were encouraged to open our hearts to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying about sinful attitudes and practices, such as unforgiveness, anger, breaking promises and dwelling on impure thoughts. After listening we were encouraged to note these and confess them to one another. We also practiced a prayer of release to those that confessed. It was a liberating experience.

In numerous teaching stories, the Sunday sermon and the Monday session on "Hearing God" we were introduced to the practice of "Listening Prayer". From the time I was young, I have longed to hear from God like the prophets, apostles and more recently like George Mueller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The pastors in the various sessions provided numerous examples of how they also received direction and specific instructions by learning to listen to the Still Small voice of the Holy Spirit as they prayed. I was challenged to re-think my earlier conclusion that this was not for me: would the Holy Spirit speak to me like that? The passages in Luke 11:13, John 16:13 and Rom 8:32 impelled me to reconsider and with humility just keep asking. I'm not sure where this will lead but I find I have a greater joy in prayer and my list of things to pray for is much shorter, since I'm listening. So, this is not complete - still waiting for what is to come but I'm thrilled by the potential.

Jo-Ann’s Thoughts

Southland was an incredible experience. I know some of you were worried about us being in the cold, but the fire that we felt inside of us through the Holy Spirit made it so worth it. 

The Set Free part of the conference was amazing. James 5:16 says therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed (set free). They made it so simple for us to confess our sins to one another and then be released of our sin. It wasn’t a time of trying to fix each other. It was simply confess, pray and be released. It may not always be comfortable confessing to someone else but wow when you do, you can really feel a sense of being set free. If there is one hope that I have for my brothers and sisters at Sunridge, it would be that they would want to walk in total freedom. 

Jonathan’s Thoughts

  For me, the Sunridge Leadership Team's trip to Southland Church for Church Renewal Weekend in Steinbach Manitoba was a stand-out, pivotal, and eye-opening life experience. There are moments in life that you look back on a few years down the road and realize, "Man! That experience changed my life forever.". This was not one of them. Only a week behind us and I already know with full confidence that this changed me for eternity which in turn will change the way I approach leadership forever.

When I walked into the Southland's building I was initially amazed, but the sheer physical size of the structure was quickly disregarded the moment I was greeted at the door with a smile from someone I didn't know but felt right away "There's something happening in this place and I need to figure out what it is."

Well what it was, was a church that has a deep desire to see their people set free from the chains that hold us down in sin, a church that approached the bible in a beautifully conservative and simple manner but that led to a pursuit of seeking God to hear him speak, a church that sung songs that were almost verbatim from the pages of your Bible, a church not with prayer but of prayer. And somehow when walking out for the last time I was struck with this feeling: "This is all happening because of one man: Jesus, and what he did for us on the cross."

Oh that people would walk into our church family and experience these things and leave being awestruck not at our programming and what we do, but rather; what was done for us on the cross.

It's going to be an exciting year Sunridge.

Mike’s Thoughts

What I have really come to value with the ministry of Southland church is how diligently and yet simply they bring spiritual practices into use. 

Most churches do a great job teaching Bible - ORTHODOXY - but are somewhat weaker at practicing the Bible - ORTHOPRAXY. 

This is what I hope and pray will more and more take place at SunRidge. 

Teresa’s Thoughts

I knew a little bit about what I would experience coming into this weekend because Mike had been a part of it. However, nothing prepared me for what it would mean for me personally. The Lord truly does want to set people free and there were a number of distinct things He showed to me that were slowing me down. It was time to see it and let it go. Time will tell, but I experienced both insight and release from a number of things. I experienced encouragement from the Holy Spirit specifically. I saw very practical things, simple things, that can significantly impact my own, and our churches, life of prayer. I was so challenged by the honesty in this church, the willingness to confess all-too-human failures, and the joy of speaking to and hearing from GOD.

I was so energized by seeing students praying, not just praying, but praying over people with their authority in Christ with clarity and conviction and truth! Wow! Mike and I were prayed over by a group of grade 10 girls and what they said to us was not just “nice” — it was touched by the Spirit and used by GOD to speak to us. It was insightful and impacting on our ministry. Only GOD can take a young person and do this. I have come home feeling like I ate a HUGE meal. Both Mike and I felt this and also heard the Spirit say: don’t do anything, just digest. Ah, GOD is good. He will lead us one step at a time.

Thanks Team for sending these short reviews!

What is GOD saying to you about prayer among us? Currently, I am praying for 25 prayer-people consistently for our Sunday morning prayer time — 9 am in the portable. That will represent more than 25 people because not everyone can come every week. When we see this happening, I will be seeking GOD and asking for the “what’s next.” If you hear GOD nudging you to be a part of this morning prayer movement, don’t delay…come running!

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 

Prayer: My Story (Part 4)

21 Days of Prayer — January 13 to February 3
This month we are featuring interviews with SunRidgers highlighting their understanding and perspectives on prayer…

Rachael’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?

My parents introduced me to prayer when I was really young and I was quite comfortable talking to God on my own. I felt free to a continuous dialogue with Him and certainly had a lot to say. I felt like I could talk to Jesus like a friend.


We were Mormon and the out-loud prayers were more of a scripted prayer and I often felt uncomfortable praying out loud because I was embarrassed to say something incorrectly--especially at church or with my grandparents. There was a lot of pressure to have the right words and tone! It is likely I put this on myself…I do that.


When we left the Mormon church (age 6ish) it was quite upsetting and did not feel comfortable praying anymore. Our lives changed for a lot of reasons and I believed terrible things were happening because we left and I felt ashamed to pray. It is hard to explain what that is like other than a darkened quiet...I don't know, maybe that sounds too dramatic. It was quite confusing. My parents and I eventually became Christians but there was a long road to actually get there and we didn’t all get there at the same time. There are so many reasons why praying was such a complex issue for me as a newer believer (that I obviously won’t get into in this questionnaire!) but I no longer feel ashamed to pray and feel much closer to God for it. The dialogue with God throughout the day is how I get through difficult days and find joy in those and the other ones.



If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?

I pray because I believe that God wants to hear from me and cares about what I care about. -Praying helps me sort out what is going on in my head.

What are you learning about prayer?

  • Praying is really quite simple.

  • Thanking God throughout the day has helped me to have a more grateful heart.

  • Praying like I did as a child makes me feel closer to God so I no longer complicate my praying...I just talk.

Why do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?

Praying as a group is not something that has come naturally to me. I much prefer to pray on my own but the older I get the more comfortable I am with it (not that I think I have to be comfortable all the time). It has only been in the last 4 or 5 years that I have been okay closing my eyes in public so I think this has a lot to do with it. I know...it is really weird… The solidarity of gathering to pray and caring for the people in our community and what they care about is something I understand though.


Matthew 18:20For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Prayer: My Story (Part 3)

21 Days of Prayer — January 13 to February 3
This month we are featuring interviews with SunRidgers highlighting their understanding and perspectives on prayer…

Cindy’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?

August 1979 - my now (not then) friend Reina. She had just days before confronted me with the challenging, life changing question “who is in control of your life anyways?” to which I replied “I am - of course!”…. and her famous retort, which got me to reevaluate everything I did not know about “surrender”: “you’re not doing a very good job of that are you?!?!” SHE prayed OUT LOUD in the Minneapolis airport as she came to say goodbye to me as I returned to live in the “tundra” of Grande Prairie AB. I now, take great joy in praying for, and with people “out loud” in a variety of life’s places and situations.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?

Because Jesus taught us HOW, because He and the “faith fathers” of all time prayed… because I need to “talk to God”, it centers and grounds my wayward spirit and mind, and ultimately can change my otherwise “self led” actions & decisions.

What are you learning about prayer?

Spend MORE time in adoration (focus on WHO God is), confession and thanksgiving for all He has already done and is doing in and around my life. And less time on supplication. I am also enjoying returning to a practice of using the Psalms to guide my prayers for myself and others. I love being reminded how the the details of the situations, or crisis, in the Old Testament which resulted in many of the Psalms being written, didn’t CHANGE a whole lot - particularly right away. Yet the Psalms do NOT forsake continuing to persevere to acknowledge who God is and a total surrender to Him in spite of circumstances.

Why do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?

Praying with and being prayed for by loving brothers and sisters in the faith is a privilege and a great blessing - particularly when a situation is so stressful or challenging, that I (or others ) are stuck with how to pray it through. It also gives us the added blessing to watch for, see and proclaim the various ways God has heard and responded to the prayers of His people!

 
Norm.JPG

Norm’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?

I would have to say that I was “introduced” to prayer by the pastor of the first church I ever intentionally attended. His name is Del McKenzie and it was during his ministry in Grande Prairie, Alberta that I came to faith. His deep command of the truths of scripture and his gracious manner in dealing with sinners, such as myself, drew me, along with the Holy Spirit of course, to make a profession of faith.


As far as my prayer life growing - I think it more accurate to say my prayer life has evolved (Can a Christian not be considered a heretic using that word?) more than anything. My early prayer life centered around what I wanted and not on what God wanted for me. Throwing up a laundry list of “To Do’s/Wants” has changed into a broader view of my circle of influence and the needs of others within that sphere. I would certainly hope that through prayer, for others and their needs, I’ve become more empathetic toward other people instead of being so “black and white” as during my early Christian years.


If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?

Prayer allows me to have time alone with God in a way that enables me to quiet myself and hear from Him in a way not experienced during the rest of my day. I have discovered that the Sovereign LORD truly does control this world we live in. He, and He alone, can and does do things man cannot and will never be capable of regardless of our “enlightenment”. He tells us that He listens and that He desires to hear from His children. Being in close relationship with God gives purpose to life this side of eternity.


What are you learning about prayer?

Maybe I’ve mentioned some of that in my previous answers?? Learning is or should be a lifelong process. Maybe some of us are just slow learners! Anyway - that list of slow learners includes me. Because of time with God I am learning how self-centered my life often is and how close to the surface my sin always is. When I contemplate the character traits of God I am humbled by comparison. And that is one of the things He most desires of His children… that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. Humility is most needed in me and I pray that through continual time with the Lord, in prayerful conversation, He will continue giving me a heart transplant that brings glory to Him.


Why do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?

By doing so Christians not only bear witness to the early church but as believers gather together and pray they become aware of the needs of those around them. Our small group time is such a blessing in that regard. There is nothing like corporate prayer to unite a group of people!

Prayer: My Story (Part 2)

21 Days of Prayer — January 13 to February 3
This month we are featuring interviews with SunRidgers highlighting their understanding and perspectives on prayer…

Charley’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?
I grew up going to Sunday School, and my earliest memories of prayer are of acronyms to prompt and remind us how/what to pray and making crafts to go along with it - like writing TSP (Thank-You, Sorry, Please) on a teaspoon and wearing ALL the bracelets with the letters WWJD (what would Jesus do), FROG (fully rely on God) and PUSH (pray until something happens) :-)

I still find prompts helpful, as I often find it hard to pray anything when the busy-ness of life makes it hard to create that quiet space to come before God, but I have upgraded from Teaspoons to using other books/devos - my favourite by far is Celtic Daily Prayer - it helps me follow a regular rhythm of prayer in quiet moments carved out for that, but also reminds me not to miss spontaneous opportunities for praise/thanksgiving/requests/anything else that can be lifted up in prayer.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?
There’s three answers for this that I wish I could give at the same time because they’re all equal contributors to why I pray - I pray because life doesn’t make sense without it and I need to - in both the praise moments and the struggle moments. I pray because God asks us to communicate with him and he loves it when we come to him. I pray because supporting those around me and being supported by those around me in prayer has been invaluable.

What are you learning about prayer?
It took me a long time to be sure of myself in how I pray, and have confidence that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to pray. I have heard God in the still quiet moments I intentionally create, and I have heard God in the crazy-ness of leading a kids church creative prayer activity - I love that prayer can be and is in all of those different moments, no matter how we pray silently/out loud/by reading scripture/by singing praise or any other way.

Why do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?
In every area of society we learn from others and the church is no different - our children learn from us. Our friends newly introduced to faith learn from us. To praise alongside friends in celebration, and to cry out alongside friends in desperate places is something that has no comparable alternative in building community and pressing into relationship with God as One. There is power in community, and we are missing out on something if we don’t gather and pray together.

 

Nelson’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?
I don’t remember who introduced me to prayer; it was probably in Sunday School, or private school Kindergarten, or my dad. I remember it being a formulaic thing, more of a chant or incantation that you said before certain activities (like before eating or a long road trip). I think as I got a bit older it expanded to being able to ask for things based on unwanted circumstances - like health for a sick family member. When I became a Christian in my late teenage years, I learned that prayer was more of a conversational awareness of God, that he was a friend you could talk to, and it was about more than just asking for things. Now I view it as a way to process thoughts and feelings with God, bring concerns before him, to repent and reorient my heart, and to acknowledge/praise him and his attributes.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?
Largely as a “sounding board” but also largely in order to change the world around me. John Piper paraphrased the passage, “ask and you will receive; you do not receive because you do not ask” in a way that has stuck with me. He said of this verse that it is like God is saying, “if you had only asked me, I would have made the universe different” and that stuck with me.

Do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?
Yes, for two reasons. 1. Bringing our prayers to each other to bring before God helps build strong relationships and communities, because those require vulnerability and trust. 2. Scripture seems to imply that if more people are praying for something, God maybe more inclined to answer than if less people were praying for it.

Prayer: My Story (Part 1)

21 Days of Prayer — January 13 to February 3
This month we are featuring interviews with SunRidgers highlighting their understanding and perspectives on prayer…

Randy’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer?
In all honesty, I grew up with prayer. As a family, we said our mealtime and bedtime prayers every day. We went to Church and Sunday School every Sunday. I could probably count on one hand, the number of times we missed attending. Mine was a traditional, liturgical religious background and in retrospect, somewhat mechanical in nature. I remember my mom and grandmother especially, praying for me as I went through many surgeries, throughout my life as a result of the polio I contracted at age three. I was thankful I could do things that the medical professionals never thought I could, such as walk without aids. By the time I was eighteen, I had read through the complete Bible twice. However, my prayer life really didn't change until Pastor Rick, at our home church in Dawson Creek explained the Gospel message for the first time. I was thirty-two years old then, but I learned that Christ wanted a relationship and not just a want or need list. Although I had thanked Him often, I realized that the focus of my prayers, had been pretty much self-centered. It was then, that my prayer life changed.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?
As new Christians, we are often told that Jesus has now become our best friend. It follows that, as a new best friend, I would want to spend a lot of time with Him. Best friends are open with one another and share the most intimate details of their lives with each other. I can say Jesus is my best friend because, He, more than anyone, understands me completely. My biggest difficulty is taking the focus off me and placing it in Him. At times, I struggle with listening to Him, even though I know He cares about me more than anyone. He wants what is best for me always, even while I am resisting. I pray because I know, though human relationships will fail me at times, He will never fail me or leave me. He always forgives, never holds a grudge and is patiently waiting, while I go through self-inflicted trials and finally realize that He had the answer all along. Why wouldn't I wholeheartedly want to communicate and spend more time with my best friend.

What are you learning about prayer?
I am learning that the most difficult for me is to listen and then patiently await His answer. Because I often want to barrel ahead (patience is not one of my virtues), I sometimes miss opportunities to do His will and add stress to my situation needlessly. Please pray, that I when I pray, I will quiet my heart, allow God to inform me and give Him a chance to respond. As noted earlier, God knows all my shortcomings, but continues to be faithful. Prayer also makes my day run better, as through it, I am preparing for what's ahead.

Why do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?
Probably the easiest answer here is that I have a support system in place. I am never alone, unless I choose to be. I receive encouragement, counsel and understanding from those that are close to me. I can identify with some of the struggles other brothers and sisters deal with and they often can identify with mine. Willing help is only a phone call away when necessary. We are family, anchored in Christ, so we do what family does. We love, support and encourage each other. Coming together and praying edifies and unites us. We pray communally to "our" Father as we share together in His blessings.