being · Church of England · Parish · training · vicarage life

No GPS?

Last week we all got back from our holiday to France. This year we explored an area of the country we know very little about – Picardie – and we had a great time. One of the things that took the stress out of driving over there was the GPS we borrowed from a friend. I’ve never much gone for SatNav systems, I could never understand why anyone would choose one over an ordinary map. But I have to say that Fifi as we dubbed her was a huge asset to our trip. No longer did we spend hours pouring over our destinations each day nor did we have stressful days out getting lost in small French towns. Sure Fifi had her foibles and occasionally took us a way that perhaps we would not have gone otherwise, but she really was a boon to our trip. She gave us the confidence to head out without worry.

I got to thinking that when we step out in life what we could really do with is a personal and spiritual SatNav system. Something that could give us pointers – help us when we have to make decisions or come to ‘crossroads’ in life.

So often we struggle to know how we should react in the situations that life throws at us. We could do with a guide, someone to tell us whether to turn right or left.

Of course you are expecting me to say that the Bible can be our SatNav in life, it can guide us and lead us in those situations and crossroads. And yes that is true. But actually it is not just about scripture. When we step out we need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, to step with prayer and holding our actions up to what we know of God through scripture. But what does any of that actually mean?

It means stepping out and surrendering our actions to God. Being prepared to allow God to make the decisions for us through the Holy Spirit. Now that can seem both a little vague and quite a lot scary. The trouble is most of us like to be in control of our lives, it is the ‘sensible’ and accepted Western way to live our lives. Indeed society tends to look down on those who just ‘go with the flow’ or allow life to happen to them without any apparent direction. Anyone who seems to lack control over their own lives are dismissed as hippies or dropouts.

While I am not advocating the hedonistic and often drug-related lifestyles of those 1960s hippies there maybe a sense in which God is calling us to relax our rock-solid grip on our own life and lifestyle and is calling us to allow him to take control.

John’s gospel says:

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth…
…and he will tell you what is yet to come.
(John 16:13)

The Holy Spirit has been given to us to guide us in our lives, to help us make Godly and Graceful decisions. Its all about being prepared to step out in our faith in God and his will for our lives.

This week at Christ Church we are stepping out in prayer, 24 hours a day for the whole week. The 24-7 Prayer movement would never have come about if it weren’t for people following the guidence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and being prepared to step out. In 1999 a group of young people from Chichester decided to experiment with prayer and prayer styles and see if they could pray every hour of every day for a whole month. Something amazing happened and the Holy Spirit led them far beyond that initial month.

Now groups like us here at Christ Church join up and agree to keep the prayers going for a week at a time, and at the same time get to experiment with different ways of praying. By signing up to 24-7 prayer we are doing something amazing, we are becoming part of a global movement of people who pray in hundreds of countries and languages every hour of every day of every year. We are also pushing our own prayer boundaries and have the opportunity to explore prayer in ways that we might not get chance to do again for some time.

I really want to encourage you, if you live in Warminster or near by, to use this week of 24-7 Prayer to explore different ways of praying, come up to the Church and explore the prayer tools that have been set up here.

Explore and discover a way of praying that suits you. Try several methods. Go deeper into prayer and try listening for God.

When we step out we need to do so in the guiding of the holy spirit and in the light of the teaching of the Bible. It works as a check and balance in many ways. If the Bible is our road map – the book that tell us how we should live and sets down the criteria Christians should live by- Then the Holy Spirit is like the SatNav system, directing our lives directly by telling us which ways we should go.

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