A report on: PREPARING THE WAY TOGETHER – May 3rd -10th 2014
What was it?
A week of prayer-walking and linked evening meetings across the North East with a five-fold “Together” theme:
• Forward looking: in praise and faith in Jesus for what is to come.
• Backward looking: in saying sorry for the failures of the past.
• Outward looking: in blessing the churches and the area.
• Upward looking: listening for anything the Holy Spirit wants to say or show.
• Inward looking: in commitment to Jesus’ Kingdom purposes in the North East –
and therefore to one another.
What was the background to this week?
There has been a significant a growth of relationship across the North East – particularly of men involved in various prayer breakfasts in Ellon, Portsoy and Inverurie, and the “Men of All Ages” groups in the Aberdeen area. There have also been crossover connections with the bi-monthly “North East Prayer” gathering and the weekly Saturday morning prayer meeting involving people from a variety of churches in Peterhead.
Along with a shared commitment to preparing for revival, a desire was expressed from various people that we could be doing more together in praying across the area.
What was the purpose of the week?
Within the context of anticipating revival, this was an opportunity for people of like mind from across the North East to grow in friendship with one another, to pray together the five points of the theme, and to grow in relationship by praying with one another.
What was done?
The week began with a prayer get-together for young people on Saturday afternoon, and from Sunday to Saturday the evening meetings in Ellon, then Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Strichen, Banff/Macduff, Turriff and Inverurie were preceded during the day by praying on the streets of that town and the surrounding communities. In this way 40 communities were prayed for.
Who was involved?
In the prayer-walking some were involved every day, others joined in when they could, some from that day’s locality and others from across the area. Two people from another part of Scotland also took part for most of the week.
There was an average of 12 people prayer-walking each day, and as many as 20 in one town.
The meetings (7pm-9pm) were shaped and coordinated by someone from that locality, giving a variety of expressions of the theme which allowed participation by everyone present.
The week’s activities were coordinated by Graeme Young and preparation for the project was undertaken by Graeme, Duncan Cowie and David Bestwick.
While this week was not being defined by people’s church connection, it was encouraging that the churches that offered free use of their buildings for the meetings were from 5 different denominations.
The meetings had an average of 23 attending with 32 present on two evenings. On one occasion those attending live in 13 different communities. People were encouraged to come to more than one meeting in order to make links across the area. About 15 church leaders participated either in prayer-walking, evening meetings or both.
What was seen during the week?
The strengthening of existing friendships through the time spent with each other praying on the streets and in the meetings.
The establishing of new friendships of like-minded people across the area and the mutual encouragement that resulted.
A reconnecting with old friends when visiting one another’s area.
Connections with people on the streets when explaining what was being done, and the opportunity for fruitful conversation and prayer with some of them.
There were significant “coincidental” meetings with people every day.
Every evening meeting was a time of special fellowship and encouragement.
• A mother taking her young son for a walk in a village (not their home town), are caught in a downpour, meet prayer-walkers – two of whom they already know from 10 years ago – and happily join them to walk and pray in the pouring rain.
• Accompanying a local prayer-walker in the town centre leads to conversations with about 10 people and the opportunity to pray for the wife of one of them. One man concerned about the need for change, when a prayer-walker describes revival coming like a lightning strike, says, “Well, give us the lightning or whatever it takes!”
• An arranged meeting with a small church group by one car load of prayer-walkers is joined separately by two other car loads – neither of whom previously knew of the arrangement but decided to go through the open church door they came across.
• At the same time that the group is praying with the minister in the church car park, one prayer-walker notices a woman carrying something into the church building and is able to have a useful conversation with her.
• A local prayer-walker is able to tell a minister in the group of someone who became a Christian at a meeting he was speaking at recently.
• A man who books speakers finds two people he had wanted to make contact with among the group of visiting prayer-walkers in his village.
• In a short visit to pray in the home of a prayer-walker’s friends from previous years, the man of the house happens to come home for a few minutes exactly at that time.
• A group of women are glad to have people come to lead a prayer meeting in their church hall as the one they previously had there had been stopped.
• A Christian man is delighted to have a prayer-walker knock at his door – a neighbour hanging out her washing had mentioned in conversation that he might be interested.
As a result he comes to the evening meeting and brings a friend and enjoys fellowship with other Christians in his area. He says, “God has invested a lot in us – even the blood of Jesus – He’s expecting a yield – a return on His investment.”
• A woman whose church minister has recently left says to those praying at the meeting in her church, “You have just put into words exactly what was in our hearts to pray.”
• While praying for children and young people in one town – standing beside the primary school and the scout hall – one man walks by – he is the Boys Brigade leader and is happy for prayer-walkers (one of whom knows him) to pray for him.
• Seen on gravestone in an old graveyard a verse ending:
“Sin is the wound, Christ is the cure.”
• A local man describes his village as “a bit of a dead-end place”. He is told, “That’s ok, we believe in resurrection”
• One day’s change of plan means that prayer-walkers are able to meet and pray with a group who would not otherwise have been involved.
• An old man mentions that his village now has strangers in it that he does not know. One of the prayer-walkers introduces herself to him as a newcomer there, so she is one that he will know when they meet at the local shop.
• In one village there is one person standing at her open door as prayer-walkers go by. She happens to be someone who is involved in the church and the local community, at times representing both in serving village life.
• A woman joining the prayer-walkers in her town is encouraged to hear of their prayers earlier in the week – and the work of the minister – in the village where her father was the minister many years ago. She looks forward to sharing the news with her elderly mother.
• The mention of a retired minister still being in the town leads to a visit from a prayer-walker to renew contact with him and pray with him.
• A couple joining in the prayer-walking from another part of Scotland discover that the minister and his wife in a town they are praying in are friends they first met 25 years ago.
These stories are ones that I am aware of personally. There were different people prayer-walking each day, we were in smaller groups much of the time, and we were on the move from place to place, and so we did not have time to hear everyone’s personal account. In fact in one town, with about 20 people turning up to prayer-walk I still don’t know who they all were!
What has been reported since the week?
One day, two prayer-walkers had been praying for contact to be made between the local residences for people with support needs and the church. Two days later, a staff member rang the minister and asked him to visit to discuss taking some residents to church services! On Sunday morning, that staff member (who was known to one of the prayer-walkers from her similar work) came with one of the residents and said that there would have been more if there had been available support staff to accompany them.
Also there were several people in the congregation that day who, while they are not unknown, do not regularly attend.
On the Monday following the week, a minister wrote:
“Just a word of encouragement from last week. I asked the man who joined us for the walk if he would share his experience at the service yesterday. He agreed!! He shared that it was one of the most wonderful experiences of the presence of the Lord in recent years. When he got home, his wife asked him what had happened as his face was different!! He shared what had happened and how it had encouraged and inspired his faith, and that doubts and uncertainties had been removed as he had experienced the presence of the Lord in the folk who came on the walk. He had a new vision and desire for the souls of the folk who live in his village. Praise the Lord for His goodness, leading, guiding and presence, and we continue to look to Him for the revival in this area.”
A local newspaper group included an informative article in the preceding week, and in the following week carried a positive and not too inaccurate report (!) with photographs of the prayer-walkers in the three towns in which the editions of their papers are based.
Graeme Young May 20th 2014