Live blogging a prayer meeting perhaps presents more of a challenge than doing so with a sermon. Mark has made some passing references to it but I felt it might be interesting to present a snap shot for those who have never attended a Newfrontiers prayer meeting before. Using a main session as a prayer meeting was first started at Stoneleigh Bible Week 2001 and there seems to tend to be two aspects to it - corporate prayer and the offering. Sounds simple?!
The worship was led by Evan Rodgers who is perhaps more famous for "Bambelela" and "Celebrate in the Lord". As Mark said quite rightly - what would Colson make of those songs?! I am ashamed to admit that in former years an element of criticism has gone through my mind. I think Evan himself realises that some of the more multi-cultural songs are a new experience for many. He wrote in the Newfrontiers magazine:
"‘Bambelela, bambelela…’ I may as well be singing ‘La Bamba’, so I read the translation in brackets (hold on to Jesus). Are those the only words? Now everyone is doing a type of group dance. This is quite fun even though I can’t really dance. Oh no, here comes another African song, ‘Umanqoba’. How do they expect me to say that? When are we really going to worship?".
This year however I decided to try and put into practice some of the principles that he taught in that article: 1. Multicultural Worship is God's intention and purpose (Revelation 5 and 7). 2. It makes His praise even more glorious. 3. It is a catalyst for sanctification - ‘By focusing on multi-culturalness, God undercuts ethno-centric pride’ (Let The Nations Be Glad, John Piper).
And it was great! I still absolutely sucked at the African dance moves. I probably looked totally ridiculous, but I have never found it so exciting in all my life! Scott and I met up with some of the Mobilise attendees from our church which was great to dance with. Although I must confess I felt a bit under pressure to prove that an oldie like me could still dance with the best of them.
David Holden has an amazing gift for leading the prayer again since Stoneleigh 2001. He is excellent at motivating faith and stirring people to passionate prayer. Rather than praying through nations as we have done in previous years, he asked us to pray about specific topics. It was particularly stirring to pray for new church plants in the United Kingdom - and linked to that a great manifestation of the Spirit of God in those churches based on the amazing teaching from Rob Rufus and David himself that we have heard this week.
One church plant that we in particular feel passionate for is the Bristol East church plant - Hope Church. We had the privilidge of having dinner in Brighton with our two churches before the meeting and it was great to meet some of these guys.
We prayed for the work that Newfrontiers are beginning the Pacific Rim. This is linked to Peter Brookes - the former senior elder of Church of Christ the King - going out to begin his founding apostolic work there. Since last year I have had a strange feeling about Australia that I cannot quite place. I dreamt during last years Brighton that I was going to go out and join the church planting work out there in some way. I still don't quite understand what God has in store for me but it definately spurred my prayer!
One of the greatest things about praying this time was the opportunity to meet a couple a few rows in front of us and get to pray with them. Their faith and passion was such an inspiration!
Adrian Warnock has already given the game away at the awesome size of the offering - virtually a million pounds!! In fact Terry Virgo said he was going to call it a million pounds anyway! There is something about the joy and the daring of giving in Newfrontiers that is something I have never experienced before. It is far more than a legalistic tithe! It is a feeling that you are joining an adventure. This was something else that was a surprise to me too. Giving money isn't something I am particularly good at - but during the week God gave me a very specific amount that He wanted me to give.
Just before the meeting I was thinking about chickening out but I just "happened" to be reading a particular chapter in Terry Virgo's new book, "The Tide is Turning" about ... giving! Terry wrote:
"God is looking for those who are faithful in the use of "worldly wealth" such as money ... He monitors our reactions to see whether we are ready for true riches, whether we can have what is our own ... So Joseph was not preoccupied with looking back and neither was he only dreaming of the future. He was living in the present and using it as a training programme".
I suddenly got it! Again! All my money is from God anyway! So how can I not give it back to Him? It was so exciting therefore to see the million achieved that had been prophesied by Ken Gott back at Stoneleigh 1997 and to know that the money is going out to the apostolic work that David Devenish spoke of. What a prayer meeting! What an offering! What a God!
Oh yes ... my claim to fame ... I spent some of the night dancing next to Simon Brading! :D
Tomorrow: The Conference concludes in dramatic style with Rob Rufus and Terry Virgo.