“Reflecting on the past can equip us to live in the present and provide wisdom for the future.”
The launch of 100 days of prayer for 100 years of history is fast approaching. This week we’re taking time to reflect on the anniversaries of 2016 and why we should respond in prayer. Today, John Kee of Summer Madness reflects on what it means for him to seek healing of the past, and what his hope is for the 100 days for 100 years prayer movement. Here’s what he had to say:
Whether we have any personal family connections with the events of 1916 or not, few would dispute that there is a very powerful collective memory of these events (accurate or otherwise) which continue to shape opinions and attitudes all around us in Ireland, North and South.
I am no historian, I have only just begun to appreciate some of the subtleties, and common misconceptions, of the history of our wee island. Of course, it is entirely likely that, today, many 'victors' are busy trying to write the history of the past 100 years so my first prayer concerning 'healing of the past' must be a prayer for understanding, a basic understanding of the 'facts'. Granted this is the sort of prayer that requires us to do something about it and during those 100 days I am committing to sifting and finding out more about those 100 years.
My second prayer for understanding is much harder - it is about motives, ambitions, hurts. Getting a sense of how others around us experience life, and why they might feel the way they feel, is an important step in reconciliation. I am looking forward to having the chance to hear many personal stories throughout the prayer movement and I do intend to listen to, and read about, the lives of others in my own 'community' and the 'other side'.
Finally, I'll be asking God the Father for wisdom and the strength to submit. I guess this is not a popular word in Northern Ireland politics in fact we are quite famous for the other phrase - No Surrender! But unless we surrender our will to His then we are at a very real risk of creating an idol out of our earthly 'citizenship'. I'm not talking about simple political capitulation, everyone has the right to have their own aspirations, but I am suggesting that my first concern must be to submit myself to God and His plan. As Christians we have bigger loyalties.
There you have it.. I think I'll be starting with prayer for understanding, prayer for empathy and then prayer for submission.
As a new year begins I wanted to share with you my sense of anticipation for 2016.
We are standing on the edge of a pretty significant year for our country and as the Church we have an opportunity to see the Kingdom come in fresh and new ways.
Because of Jesus all sorts of opportunities and possibilities lie before us.
I have found myself asking God over the holidays,
‘what is it going to take God to see a nation changed?’
'what is it going to take to witness an outbreaking of your Spirit around Ireland like we have never seen before?’
‘what is it going to take to see your church walk in loving authority and confidence in the year ahead so that we can truly reveal your manifold wisdom?’
As I have asked this question and prayed this prayer, I have found much to my discomfort, the question boomerang back towards me. ‘Alain what is going to take from you?’ As I try to sift the challenge of this in my own life and the call to a fresh surrendering to God, I have also sensed the Lord prompt me towards a renewed persistency in prayer; an encouragement to ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.
As I look around the world at the brokenness, violence, independence and pride of mankind, I am stirred by the words of the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 4,
'Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully'
The call in these days is to say focused, to be alert, to watch, to ‘stay wide-awake in prayer.’ As we do this we have confidence, we are calling out to a loving heavenly Father who loves this world more than we can imagine and in Jesus has demonstrated that to us. Let us not patronise the place of prayer in our lives or in the church in 2016. Let us remember that the scriptures reveal to us a Father who is deeply impacted by the cries of His children and who is inviting us to co-partner with Him in His great dream for the world. Prayer is the primary place where we discern His heart and call forth these things into being!! As Martin Luther said, ‘prayer is not about overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His willingness.’
Let’s lean into the heart of God in 2016 in faith and expectation for an increase of His presence and Kingdom in our hearts, communities and nation.
One way we can join in together is with the 100 days of prayer for 100 years of history we, at 24-7 Prayer Ireland, are helping lead this year. From 6th February to 15th May, we would love to get at least 100 churches praying over 100 days. Would you be up for joining in? Sign up here!
Find out more about how you could host a prayer room here.
Last week, we shared our desire to see a movement of continuous prayer over 100 days in response to the centenaries of 2016. One of the ways you can join this movement of prayer is to host a prayer room, anytime between 6th February and 15th May. We would love to see 100 churches hosting a prayer room for 24 hours - could your church be one of them?
The concept of a 24-7 Prayer Room is simple. It’s just praying without stopping, in one hour shifts around the clock, in a room or space that has been set aside for this purpose. Most prayer rooms are decorated creatively to inspire prayer, and to enable people to experiment with different styles and types of prayer. The most important thing about a prayer room, however, is that it is a place where people can go to meet with God.
There are three simple steps to hosting a prayer room.
1. Register your prayer room
Simply complete this online form to register the date and time you will host your prayer room.
2. Create a space
Find somewhere that is accessible 24 hours a day that will be safe and easy to access. We strongly suggest that a host be present at all times. Once you’ve found your space, then you can get creative. Include inspirational images, verses and suggestions for prayer. You can also include materials for art, music and activities - anything to engage the heart and mind of everyone in prayer.
We’ve put together a helpful resource of creative ideas and prayer prompts around the 100 days themes of healing, honour and hope to help guide you as you host your prayer room. Find it here.
For more information on prayer room set-up check out ‘How to set up a 24-7 prayer room’ resource here.
3. Mobilise people to pray
Finally, mobilise people to come together in continuous prayer! Let your church know well in advance what’s happening and, using a sign-up sheet, encourage people to sign up for hourly shifts in the prayer room.
Thank-you for helping us cover 100 days with continuous prayer for healing, honour and hope.
Happy New Year!
2016 has got everyone talking. Politicians, journalists, historians, faith leaders and cultural commentators all recognise the importance of this particular New Year. Its significance goes beyond the usual anticipation that is associated with New Year’s resolutions, hopes and predictions.
2016 is a year of centenaries. In this year, we find ourselves one hundred years on from major historical events that significantly shaped, and defined, who we are today. The anniversaries of 2016 create a poignant moment in the life of our nation as we remember two events. From 24th to 29th April, the Easter Rising, a rebellion led by Irish Republicans, quashed by the British Army, which would pave the way to Irish independence. On 1st July, the Battle of the Somme, a costly World War I battle in Northern France where thousands of men from the Ulster and Irish divisions were killed.
2016 is a year to reflect as we remember. Whilst most agree that both these events leave an enduring legacy in the life of our nation, some will disagree over how we should remember them. The nature of these events, and their place within the landscape of our unique history, will unsurprisingly strain existing, long-standing, divisions. Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Sunday Sequence’, Very Rev Dr. Trevor Morrow, former Presbyterian Moderator, acknowledged that there exists two dominant, and opposing, narratives in Northern Ireland. Most of us will only live in one narrative, reflecting on significant moments in history and remembering them in a way that reinforces our identity.
As Christians, we have been adopted into a different story. Very Rev Dr. Morrow reminded us that we live within an alternative narrative, that of the Kingdom of God. This narrative has implications on how we engage with the history of 1916, for our story is coloured by hope and trust in Christ. Church leaders from the major denominations in Ireland issued a New Year’s message, advocating that this year, while “remembering our past we [also] seek a true vision for our future” by “strengthening our resolve to live together in harmony” and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 2016, we long to see Christians unite in prayer for healing of the past, honour in the present and hope for the future. So we seek to live in the alternative narrative of the Kingdom of God and we resolve to pursue unity and a true vision for our future. We believe it’s possible to remember without reliving the past. We see people released to dream a different story, a shared story, one that can be celebrated and remembered for the next 100 years to come. Join us in a prophetic movement of prayer that unites people of faith from all denominations to cover 100 days with prayer for our land.
A movement of prophetic prayer for healing of the past, honour in the present and hope for the future.
Throughout the life of our society, significant cultural moments arise where people of faith are called to step forward and lead the way. We believe 2016 is such a time.
In 2016, our country marks the centenary of both the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, in the middle of a decade of centenaries. While these anniversaries have the potential to divide our community, this is a significant moment for the church to unite and lead society in response to the historic events that have shaped the story of this land. Beginning just before Lent, we hope to encourage Christians to prayerfully reflect on the centenaries journeying through Easter to a hope-filled conclusion on Pentecost Sunday. True reconciliation is found in Jesus in whom all the broken and dislocated pieces get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies. Our desire is to see Christians grasp this unique pastoral and prophetic opportunity for grace-filled conversations, shaping our nation’s narrative and sharing stories of hope.
In 2016, from the 6th February to the 15th May, a network of individuals, organisations and churches will come together over 100 days of continuous prayer for our nation.
Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland, 24/7 Prayer Ireland and Summer Madness will partner with others to organise churches across Northern Ireland to cover every minute of the 100 days in prayer. During this time, we invite as many churches as possible to sign up to host a prayer room where members can sign up (as individuals or small groups) for one-hour slots. We will provide some creative guides and resources to help inform prayers throughout this season, but churches are free to dream up their own prayer rooms.
This prayer driven movement will include a series of events throughout the 100 days and a variety of resources to allow individuals to personally engage with the wider movement. These resources will include a daily devotional app, a website and a magazine full of prayers poetry, photos and articles – all designed to inspire healing of the past, honour in the present and hope for the future.