ADVOCATE Upper New York
A publication of the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church
Together in prayer
TECHNOLOGY & PRAYER | YOUNGEST PRAYER WARRIORS | VESPERS AT CAMP
TABLE of CONTENTS
PRAYER LIFE Prayer takes practice. Learn ten ways that you can drastically improve your prayer life.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE Prayer can impact those in need of a lift in so many ways. Read stories of how prayer helped these people cope through tough times.
PRAYER WARRIORS The Sunday school at Bath: Centenary UMC teaches their youngest believers how to pray with fun and engaging techniques.Learn how they do it.
18 Q&A: WESLEYAN PRAYER Wesleyan Scholars, the Rev. Dr. John Tyson and the Rev. Dr. Robert Hill answer your questions about how John Wesley taught us to pray.
A CULTURAL AFFAIR Prayer comes in all forms and sizes. It can vary in different cultures, but it is all about connecting with God. Learn about a unique Korean prayer that may surprise you.
KEEP IT SIMPLE You don’t need an extensive prayer in order for it to be effective. Learn how simple it can be.
Prayer at 2016 Bishop’s Retreat in Niagara Falls. photo by Mary Dalglish 2 UNY ADVOCATE 2017, Issue 2
FROM the PUBLISHER Being together in prayer
rayer is fundamental to who we are as United Methodists and Christians. When we gather for a meal together, we pray. When we worship together, we pray. When we study together, we pray.
A DVOCATE Upper New York
Upper New York Area
BISHOP MARK J. WEBB Resident Bishop (315) 898-2020 email@example.com
In fact, we pray together so often that, at times, it starts to become automatic, which means we can easily take it for granted. Over the next four years, our Conference will be blessed to be able to truly explore our quadrennial theme of “Together in Prayer” with each Annual Conference and beyond. This practice of praying together that we do so often, is not a surface-level connection. It is deep and meaningful in countless ways. Truly, there will be much to explore in the next four years. This issue of the Advocate is one step in that exploration. In this issue, you will find stories of when prayer has changed lives; you’ll read about different ways that we pray together; you’ll explore how prayer has and continues to impact our Conference and our Denominations; you’ll gain prayer resources, and much more.
STEPHEN J. HUSTEDT
UNY Director of Communications (315) 898-2000 x2016 firstname.lastname@example.org
On the cover
Members of the congregation at Casa de Dios join hands in prayer. Photo by Mary Dalglish
ADVOCATE Upper New York
A publication of the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church
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Together in prayer
Conference Writer/Editor (315) 898-2000 x2019 email@example.com
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The hope is that this issue of the Advocate will serve as a starting point, and that readers will be able to go deeper and deeper into their own exploration of how we pray together. When we are together in prayer, the way forward becomes more and more clear, making amazing ministry a reality. Stephen J. Hustedt, Editor/Publisher
Vol. 9, Issue 2
Conference Video Specialist (315) 898-2000 x2018 firstname.lastname@example.org
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7481 Henry Clay Blvd., Liverpool, NY 13088 (855) 424-7878 www.unyumc.org The Upper New York United Methodist Advocate is a publication of the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church, whose mission is to be God’s love with all our neighbors in all places. Materials in the Advocate may not be reproduced unless the item is accompanied by a copyright notation. Periodicals postage paid at Utica, New York 13504; USPS 14025. Subscriptions: $15 per year paid in advance to 7481 Henry Clay Blvd., Liverpool, NY 13088; or call (855) 4247878; or visit www.unyumc.org. Postmaster: send address changes to Upper New York United Methodist Advocate, 7481 Henry Clay Blvd., Liverpool, NY 13088. We reserve the right to edit or decline any items submitted for publication.
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the Advocate, a publication of the Upper New York Conference, have been printed with permission. TECHNOLOGY & PRAYER | YOUNGEST PRAYER WARRIORS | VESPERS AT CAMP
CROSS-CULTURAL APPOINTMENTS | PAN METHODISM | Q&A: SOCIAL MEDIA
THE RESOURCE CENTER | DAY IN THE LIFE | YOUR RESPONSES
“Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.” “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.”
hose two quotes attributed to John Wesley are two of my favorite quotes about prayer. Prayer is at the heart of our journey with God, one another, and the world. Prayer takes us deeper, wider, higher, and longer, as we seek to serve God with all that we are and all that we have. We experience prayer individually and corporately. We offer prayers of thanksgiving and intercession. Prayer drives us to talk with our God and even more, to listen to the voice of our God. As we seek to be the church of Jesus Christ, boldly living the mission of being used by God for the increase of disciples who love and follow Jesus, prayer is our greatest resource and spiritual weapon. Prayer leads us to a place of trust and dependence upon God. Prayer reveals God’s dreams, offers God’s direction for our path, and provides Holy Spirit boldness for the steps we take. In the pages of this edition of The Advocate, you will find some amazing stories of prayer from brothers and sisters in Christ in every part of the Upper New York Conference.You will see various practices of prayer, powerful experiences of prayer, and awesome results of prayer! I hope these expressions encourage and challenge us to go deeper in our prayer life, as individuals and together as the body of Christ.
Over the next few years, we have chosen a theme for our life together that is defined by three simple words: Together in Prayer. The realities of our world, our future as congregations, as an Annual Conference, and as The United Methodist Church call us to get serious about the discipline of prayer! In the midst of uncertainty, prayer opens us to the truth and promise of the Holy Spirit’s work within and among us. Imagine the Church’s impact upon the world if we took our prayer lives to a higher level. Imagine the vitality and revival our churches would experience not because of the plans born of our own ingenuity, but from the power and promise of prayer. Imagine how we would approach the future, if our present was even more deeply grounded in the practice of prayer. As we continue to seek ways to be the hands and feet of Christ, as we wonder about the future of The United Methodist Church because of our disagreements around homosexuality, as the Commission on a Way Forward carries out its task and seeks to offer solutions for the days ahead – LET US PRAY! As we travel through another season of Lent, I want to challenge us to go deeper in our discipline and practice of prayer. Starting now, let’s get serious about praying for God’s power and direction for the ministry we have been called to. Here’s the challenge: • Once a month, there will be a gathering for prayer in every District! • Once a week, there will be a gathering for prayer in every local congregation!
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At the request of The Council of Bishops and in partnership with the United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women, and United Methodist Communications, The Upper Room has posted all sorts of prayer resources on its umcprays.org site. Over the next days and weeks, other resources and suggestions will be made available on the Upper New York Conference website to help churches and Districts launch their prayer gatherings. When you do gather, I suggest you start by praying for these things: • for the community/communities we are called to reach. • for the congregation(s) we are called to go forth from. • for the individuals that God is begging us to offer Christ to. • for ways in which God desires to use our gifts and resources, leading us into new and vibrant forms of ministry and service. • for the future of God’s mission as lived out by United Methodist Christians in Upper New York to be one of great vitality, fruitfulness, and effectiveness. • for God to reveal the way for the future of The United Methodist Church. • for God to spiritually revive us and for spiritual revival to spread across the land.
Join the Prayer Community for the United Methodist Church Clergy, laity, churches, Districts, and Conferences are invited to pray for God’s guidance in response to the Council of Bishops initiative called Praying Our Way Forward. Read and submit posts on a prayer wall. Pray together with others in our Conference on a specified day. Watch a video of Bishops describing Praying our Way Forward.
LET US PRAY!
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12.12
The Upper Room:
Where the world meets to pray By UNY Communications
he Upper Room is a global ministry dedicated to supporting the spiritual formation of Christians seeking to know and experience God more fully. It is a part of Discipleship Ministries. Sherry Elliot, The Upper Room’s Executive Director of Interpretation and Development, said, “The Upper Room exists for the purpose of calling people to prayer and inviting The Church to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, scripture reading, small group study, and other tenets of faith that draw you closer to God and strengthen your faith.”
Episcopal Church in San Antonio, Texas, during the Great Depression. They were interested in supporting daily prayer and devotional life in the home and petitioned a general Church board to consider a simple publication to facilitate daily prayer. This action birthed the popular devotional guide, The Upper Room, in 1935, which is used by millions of Christians around the world and available in 33 different languages and more than 100 countries today. The Upper Room focuses on five ministry areas:
“Prayer is our mission work,” she said. “Prayer is about paying attention to God, listening to the Spirit. Prayer shapes the soul so you can discern God’s call for your life. As United Methodists, we know that personal time with God (piety) gives us power to show mercy and do justice in the world.”
• Supporting small group ministries.
The Upper Room was prayed into existence by a women’s prayer group at Travis Park Methodist
• Using E-learning as a way to help people grow spiritually online.
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• Guiding personal spiritual practices. • Supporting spiritual leaders. • Transcending languages and cultures to serve all nationalities.
The Upper Room now includes publications, programs, prayer support, and other resources to help believers of all ages and denominations move to a deeper level of faith and service. Below are just some of the resources and programs made available by The Upper Room ministry.
Publications The Upper Room has several publications: • The Upper Room’s daily Daily Devotional helps people feel invited and welcomed into God’s presence to listen to scripture as God’s personal message, linking their stories to God’s story; commune with God in prayer; see their daily choices and small acts of obedience as part of God’s work; realize their connection through Christ as a universal family of believers; and encounter the living Christ and be transformed into Christ’s likeness. Check it out at www.devotional.upperroom.org. • El Aposento Alto is a daily devotional for Spanish-speaking individuals. Find it at www.elaposentoalto. upperroom.org/es. • devozine is a lifestyle magazine written by young people and designed for youth. Its purpose is to help young people, ages 14-19, develop a lifelong practice of spending time with God and reflecting on what God is doing in their lives. Find it at www.devozine.upperroom.org. • Pockets is a devotional magazine for children ages 6-12. It is designed for the personal use of children to help them grow in their relationship with God. Check it out at www.pockets.upperroom.org. • The Upper Room’s Voices blog offers current news, stories, and insights from the publications and ministries of The Upper Room. Check it out at www.voices.upperroom.org.
Programs The Upper Room offers six programs: • The Walk to Emmaus, which empowers Christian leaders. • Chrysalis, which builds up young people. • Face to Face, which is an adaptation of The Walk to Emmaus for men and women ages 60 and older. • Academy for Spiritual Formation, which combines academic learning with experience in spiritual disciplines and community. • Living Prayer Center, which is an intercessory prayer phone line and online prayer wall for those in need of prayer. It’s staffed by about 600 Christian volunteer and receives about 800 prayer requests a day. • Journey to the Table, which is a spiritual formation ministry specifically designed for young adults, ages 18-35, that allows participants to explore faith through authentic teaching and fosters open discussion through which participants can build relationships with a community of peers. Most recently, the Upper Room has worked with the Council of Bishops and created a United Methodist Prayer Community in support of the “Praying our Way Forward” initiative, in which every Annual and Central Conference has committed to a week of prayer.Visit the website umcprays.org to learn when the UNY will pray together, to submit posts to a prayer wall, and more.
The importance of prayer in the Upper New York Conference By Shannon Hodson, Writer/Editor ShannonHodson@unyumc.org
he Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church was created in 2010 when the New York churches of four former Conferences - North Central New York, Troy, Western New York, and Wyoming Conference united to better serve the ministry needs of the local church and the community. Bishop Marcus Matthews was the first Bishop of the Upper New York Episcopal Area and was a leader in the creation of the Upper New York Conference. Bishop Matthews said, “When combining the Conferences, prayer was a very intentional part of the process.” He continued, “When the leaders came together, I invited them to pray with me for the success of this combination.” Calling it a prayer strategy, he asked the leaders to encourage all clergy and laity to also pray for the success of the convergence of the four Conferences. Bishop Matthews’ emphasis on prayer was well known; he said “Every day when I pray, I ask God to make me better today than I was yesterday; people were hearing this no matter where I went in the Conference.”
The union of the Conferences officially took place at the Oncenter in 2010. Bishop Matthews said “I jog and walk every morning in prayer. The morning of this meeting, I jogged a circle around the Oncenter asking God to guide us in the process.” Bishop Matthews invited clergy and laity to join him in a walk around the Oncenter, referring to it as a prayer walk. He said that 80 percent of the 1,800 people in attendance joined him in this prayer walk.
Prayer continues to be central in all that we do as a Conference. Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb said, “The power of our ministry as followers of Jesus Christ is found in our willingness and ability to practice deeply the discipline of prayer. A prayer I shared when I first arrived in Upper New York and a prayer I continue to pray and encourage all of us to pray is, ‘God have your way and Bishop Marcus Matthews if necessary, get me out of the way.’” 8 UNY ADVOCATE 2017, Issue 2
Ways to improve your prayer life
By Susan Hogan Freelance writer, umc.org Prayer, like tennis, takes practice to become accomplished. Spiritual guides and sages, pastors, and other church members are filled with advice and counsel. Here's some of that wisdom condensed into 10 tips about prayer: You are worthy. Do not feel guilty about the quality of your prayer life, or fall victim to doubts and despair about your worthiness to talk to God. Each of us has a spiritual gift. So remember John Wesley's words: "In Christ we gain more than in Adam we lost." The more you pray, the richer your prayers become. To deepen your prayer life, don't be a slacker. Like anything in life, to become good at prayer you must be disciplined. Just as running is an exercise in physical fitness, prayer is a spiritual discpline. Prayer is active. Prayer involves action; namely being attentive to God's voice in your life. Listening for God means stopping and sitting still. It means paying attention to what God may be saying to you at any point in your life. Prayer should not be an afterthought. Prayer was the backbone of Jesus' ministry. Often, he broke away from his disciples to spend time with God. In the same way, prayer is essential to individual lives and to the life of the Church. Break away from your daily routine for quiet time in prayer. Surround yourself with people who are seasoned at praying. People who've established prayer routines have much to teach those wanting to draw closer to God. Seek out those who can help guide and encourage your prayer life.
God doesn't require eloquence. Don't worry if you fumble for words when you pray. God is not looking for Toastmaster's graduates, but sincerity (not that you can't have both at once). If the words won't come, God still knows what's in your heart. Lift up that desire. Prayer need not involve words. The great Christian saints all write of prayer as a time of sitting quietly with God. Jesus even went off for 40 days of prayerful solitude. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Follow the breath as it flows in and out of your body. Think of it as the spirit of God breathing life into you. Prayer is a time for conversation with a friend: God. Whether you see that friend routinely or just every once in awhile, know that whenever you turn to God, you're turning to someone who loves you. Ask God for help if you get stuck. Maybe you've hit a dry spell. There's no shame in asking God to guide you to pray in a new way. The three Ls of prayer: Listen, listen, listen. Listening for God is central to prayer, according to the great saints. It's so critical that St. Benedict began his famous Rule with this command for monks: "Listen with the ear of your heart." And remember, prayer can happen anywhere -- it doesn't have to take place in a church.
Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Note: Hogan is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Emily Cooper and Jan Surratt of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate did reporting for this story. This story was originally published on umc.org. unyumc.org 9
Prayer at Camp Lastly, and what made helping plan vespers services difficult at times, was that I knew that more often than not that when I asked for a volunteer to end our service with prayer, I wouldn’t have any takers. Even though I would remind the campers that their prayer didn’t have to be long or fancy, and that it could be written beforehand, it was rare that I had any campers that were just as excited to pray as they were to perform in the skit or read from the bible. Only after I offered to sit down and help a camper write the prayer, did I ever receive volunteers. I realized that what appears so daunting to many Campers lead vespers service at Sky Lake. campers about the idea of public prayer is the same Photos courtesy of Alisyn Klock and Sky Lake thing that appears so daunting to persons of faith By Alisyn Klock, everywhere. There is a stigma around prayer and in Camp Counselor at Sky Lake Camp & Retreat particular, public prayer, that if a prayer isn’t a certain ne thing I love about the Sky Lake community is length, or isn’t made up of sophisticated language, or that it always fosters opportunities for campers we stumble on the words when delivering it, then that prayer is somehow a failure. Only after I offered to to grow as leaders. One of the most prominent help a camper write their prayer did they ever agree ways that I believe Sky Lake does this is through to pray, because they believed that the prayer that our evening vespers services. Throughout the week, they would write on their own somehow wouldn’t be each family or cabin group of campers are given the good enough to read out aloud. responsibility to create and lead an intimate and I started to make it a habit that whenever I sat informal worship service for the rest of their fellow down with a camper to assist them in writing their campers. Part of my job this past summer was to prayer, we would begin by talking about what they serve as a guide for campers as they brainstormed thought the purpose of prayer was in the first place. what they might want their vespers service to look like. I would explain to campers the components of a worship service, and how it was up to all of them to decide how they wanted to execute it.
As the summer progressed, I started to discover patterns in these vespers planning sessions that I had with campers. Undoubtedly, I could count on each group of campers that I worked with to have a favorite song that they wanted to sing (even if it had nothing to do with the theme of that day). I could rely on campers wanting to put together some sort of skit or performance for the message. Also, I would often have multiple campers who wanted to read scripture. I would be forced to split the reading into fifths in order give everyone who wanted to read the chance. 10 UNY ADVOCATE 2017, Issue 2
Nickolas Makres and Cameron Reynolds participate in vespers service at Sky Lake.
Ultimately, the camper and I always ended up in agreement that the purpose of prayer was to talk to God (and never is talking to God a failure). We would talk about how the point of prayer is to have a conversation with God, to open yourself up to God and share what is on your mind: that prayer is a constructed opportunity to reflect on the day, to ask of and give thanks to God. Secondly, I would remind that camper that the only thing that made this prayer different from any other time that they may have prayed, was that by having their conversation with God in front of others, they would be encouraging and leading other campers in doing the same, and they would be serving their camp community in a very special way.Â As the summer progressed, I began to explain prayer, and as an extension, public prayer, to all of the campers that I assisted in creating vespers services with in this way. What was once a daunting
and unnerving task quickly rebranded itself into an awesome responsibility, as the idea of public prayer had been reframed into an opportunity: to serve their camp community through their leadership in prayer.
Campers demonstrating a trust activity during vespers service at Sky Lake.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of my favorite camp traditions is singing grace before meals. Prayers sung to the tune of classics such as the theme song from Spongebob Squarepants to I want it that way by the Backstreet Boys. Each meal, one cabin group picks and leads the grace. There are at least 20 different choices, each one is a classic. Don't pick the Johnny Appleseed grace unless you want it to rain, though! It never fails. Singing grace is a great way to send up a little thank you for all the fun we get to have while learning about our God who loves us so.â&#x20AC;? Hailey Thompson
-Hailey Thompson Multiple-year counselor at Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center unyumc.org 11
e c n re fe if d a e k a m n a c r ye ra p w Ho
lives. It can keep us safe when danger looms . It can Editor’s Note: Prayer can make a profound difference in our pain.We asked members of the Upper New York help us heal through the grieving process, through sickness, and here are some of the answers we received. If you Conference how prayer has made a difference in their lives and we’d love to hear! Send an email to News@unyumc . want to tell us how prayer has made a difference in your life, org with “How prayer has made a difference” in the subject line.
ling illn esses a Our yo u nd inju n gest son a penny ries , Micah, w launche as hit in d from matters th a sling s ,I hot. Beli e eye with plead o asked each of eving pr nM my ayer churche icah’s behalf a siblings and p arents t nd to c s prayer o o ntact th ministrie was an e orchest ir s ; t r h e e s y did. W p ration o at St. M hat tran ective f God’s ary’s in s p m T ire er ro triaged him imm y by their ER. cy. He was rec d hea eiv ed needed an opht iately and it w d Mrs. CROSS ed ha as dete Med. M rmined . She rs. Cros lmologist to e he valuate s knew Sunday him at A the ER afterno w lb on. ould be a a mayhe ny It was d m e cided to on nearby ask Dr. in Troy. S a xt His diag damage nosis w o open his offi d and g a ce s cle la uc periodic ally. Bein oma would ne ar. The drain w ed to b g kind of e evalua as him as w thankful, I said ted to e game. H e said, “ must have inte Dr. Sax that it No, my r eye doc team pla rupted a footb was tor for all yed yes th Micah s terday; ees tod e New York G I am the ia ay witho size pup ut glass nts.” ils. Pray e s er matt fighter ers. Mic but has two d in Utah ah is no if . w a wild ferent fire Jeff Stra to Malta R n idge UM C
12 UNY ADVOCATE 2017, Issue 2
Prayer fo Purpose r anxiety & s tr fu was not l prayer outsid ess relief e of chu in my su rc rvival k year or it. Over h activities two, in a t he past have tap v ped into ariety of areas in my li God as prayer in fe, I a way to convers thought a s, and c dd a breath, re ation with om dir a conce rn, crisis e out on the o ect my , or issu t e with s her side of harper Using p focus. ray to signifi er and medita tio ca medicat ntly reduce m n, I have been y use o a ions be f prescr ble fore me surprise ip e tin tio d cuff ” pr that I can even gs, and I am qu n it ayer at o e ffer an a churc teachin h meetin “off-theg churc g or wh h schoo ile l. s Crystal roces p ale g Mang n i ent. D iev d i r c Plattsbu g c a e th ging ing rgh UM rough n a log ormed a lov ess C i h t d r e l l e i sk ef sin Pray ale, wa ry sense. W ere bu short w D , e d n W e ne ev sba er. My hu partners in dren togeth ur farm. In o l o i ch ere on and I w , raising our side by side r. g. ve ge d reathin b marria and worke hanged fore p e e c rs ’t en k partne , my life was uld ev there. I didn o c I f i nt red not mome wonde ned to was t I felt like I ; e r n o alo s tur go ou t in my chai n d i d I I felt s I had alway i hen to s . The erson my home. W . It was easy ely thoughts le a p e h T a e my lon o leave g at m d to D want t e was starin o block out night. I talke could feel t n ll tI everyo sleep, trying lie awake a to God tha se lonely a d g ll ho n and fa go to bed a tarted talkin ing during t but also for d Is ily, ray I woul t was after rted p and my fam void in my a t s I i . a f e t lot, bu nce in my lif ly for mysel r was filling n e e y r o a diffe prayed not r needs. Pra ei .I the nights ople and th y heals ays. l n o e p t no pr other prayer erson that t a h t p y s i life. story , it heals the way from m have y m f also cus a ngs I oint o s The p pray for, but takes the fo r the blessi e need o f h d e t l o w u e f G z e k i l an ith gn ps peop time w makes me th kes me reco me and kee g n i d n a s Spe s. It om heal roblem God and als for others p n w o g m . Prayin ed fro receiv around me se d. of tho to Go e s o l c me ll Conne hurch ’ O n so C a Daw hodist Barbar United Met y Victor unyumc.org 13
The Youngest Prayer Warriors By Melanie Clark, Lead Sunday School Teacher at Bath: Centenary UMC The Apostle Paul exhorted us to “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5: 17), but did he determine an age when we should begin?
he children in the Sunday School program at Bath: Centenary United Methodist Church have learned that we are never too young to join the ranks of faithful warriors of prayer. Throughout the months of January and February 2017, these young believers, from first to fifth grades, were presented with a toolbox for prayer, learned prayer how-tos from the examples of several Bible heroes, learned the Lord’s Prayer, became engaged in the Joys and Concerns sharing time of our worship services, and gained practice in group conversational prayer. Utilizing Children’s Ministry Deals curriculum, Prayer Warriors, our children: 1. Learned to pray Thankfully following the example of King David. In 1 Chronicles 29, we read David’s prayer of praise and thanksgiving. We learned how important it is for each of us to praise and thank God for our many blessings. What a revelation to young children that prayer isn’t synonymous with a wish list! 2. Learned to pray Boldly as demonstrated by Peter and John following their arrest, imprisonment, and release (Acts 4). As a result of their bold behavior and prayer with the believers, the Holy Spirit actually shook the room! We also learned about presentday teenage American and Australian missionaries to Vietnam who boldly teamed up with the underground church to smuggle Bibles into that country! 3. Learned to pray Honestly as we learned from Hannah. Through her sadness at being childless, she held nothing back as she prayed to God to give her a son. Like Hannah, we can let God know what we are honestly feeling. 4. Learned to pray Willingly as our Savior demonstrated in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Although Jesus understood the agony ahead of him, he was willing to do the Father’s will. Like Jesus, we learned to seek out and follow God’s will, not our own. Along with the Prayer Warriors curriculum, we spent time in each Sunday School class practicing the Lord’s Prayer and discussing its meaning and use in our lives.
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Over the course of these two months, it became increasingly important each week to set aside enough time for our group conversational prayer. As we prayed, we used the Five-Finger prayer model to guide our prayers:
With the encouragement of Pastor Eleanor Collinsworth, we extended our learning experiences into weekly worship services. Children brought with them to worship a weekly prayer calendar. With Pastor Eleanor’s guidance during the Joys and Concerns portion of our worship services, each child noted the joys and concerns expressed by members of the congregation. The calendars went home each week for the kids to use in their daily prayer time. Following the sharing of joys and concerns, Pastor Eleanor leads the congregation in a pastoral pray, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer. What a blessing to witness the engagement of children in prayer during a worship service and to hear their voices participating in the Lord’s Prayer! Of course, the children in our Sunday School program are at various stages in their faith and spiritual development. Yet, they all continue to impress with their insights and application of lessons. Our discussions confirm that they think about our lessons throughout the week and assess their own behavior in a variety of settings with regard to their spiritual training. Here are a few comments made when asked what they learned in our Prayer Warriors series:
• Thumb: Praise God. • Pointer Finger: Confess sins. • Middle Finger: Thank God.
“We prayed for kids at school who don’t know Jesus.”
• Ring Finger: Pray for Others. • Little Finger: Pray for Yourself. • Palm: Closing. Unlike many adults, these children show no signs of shyness or apprehension in praying aloud together! They also found praying with their eyes open more comfortable, looking to their friends and teachers for eye contact as they expressed their thoughts. The honesty expressed in their prayers is humbling—prayers for health and wellbeing of family members and pets, prayers for guidance in making good decisions in peer pressure situations, prayers for stability in their parents’ marriages, and prayers for their own behavior within complicated family structures.
“Don’t be shy to ask God your questions.”
“We learned not to pray for things we don’t really need—only pray for what we do need.”
Pastor Eleanor Collinsworth shares that the adults were encouraged to “be mindful of what and how they were sharing in the ‘joys and concerns’ time in the worship services. Everyone’s prayer time and prayer lives were enriched by this whole-church focus on the power of prayer.” In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “…and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6, NRSV). Amen! unyumc.org 15
How laying on of the hands took my pain away By Robin Worden St. James UMC “Are any among you in trouble? They should pray. Are any among you happy? They should sing praises. Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.” James 5:13-16 Good News Translation (GNT)
decided to join the healing ministry team at St. James UMC. This is where I learned about laying on of the hands through prayer and what it meant, even though I had seen it done at hospitals. I joined the healing team to give back for what all the people had done for me. But most importantly, I wanted to follow that path that Christians had set forth before me and I wanted to be a part of God’s work. I wanted to minister to the sick. However, I was in for a big surprise. I had been suffering with Rheumatoid arthritis for 13 years and my active life basically came to a painful halt. I tried every medicine available (shots, pills, and
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even infusions). My arthritis was very progressive and it had already destroyed some joints. It was a chore to get out of bed in the morning. A lot of nights I cried myself to sleep. I was headed for a wheel chair. There is no cure for Rheumatoid arthritis!
Confirmation at Valley Falls UMC. Photos courtesy of Valley Falls UMC
Someone from the healing service decided to pray for me through laying on of the hands. This is the first time anyone had prayed for me through laying on of the hands, and anointing. The team members all put their hands on me as a lady prayed for me. The prayer this person prayed for came to be true. She prayed I would run in a field in the sun. I didn’t run through a field, but I did run through the water at the shore line of a beach, in the sun. I felt free and free of pain. I have never felt better in my life. What she prayed for was the first active and fun thing I had done in all those 13 years and it felt so good!!! People at the healing service continued to pray for me and I continued to feel well. I had the best summer; God gave me my health back and he did it through faithful prayers. Thank You God and thank you to those who prayed. I had joined the healing team to help others, and to my surprise, I was healed. It’s been five and a half years since my healing and I am still active and my arthritis has not come back.
Do local church prayer requests violate HIPAA? HIPAA, stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law passed in 1996. Generally speaking, the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply to churches’ disclosure of healthrelated information unless certain information is revealed about church employees (or dependents) who are covered by the church‘s health plan. However, it is important to realize that there could be potential legal liability around the issue of publicizing prayer requests. The General Council on Finance and Administration of the United Methodist Church recommends for local churches to follow these procedures for their own protection when publicizing prayer requests: • Consent, Consent, Consent! Get consent from the person you are praying for. If the person is unable to give consent, obtain the consent from a close relative or friend of the individual. • Less is best. If a church does not have consent, the less you reveal is the best approach. Some churches have adapted an approach that largely avoids this problem by letting someone else (besides the church) disclose details about an individual’s medical condition. • Follow the Golden Rule. If the individual you are praying for is incapacitated, ask yourself, 1. Would you care that information was disclosed without being able to give permission? 2. Would you prefer the church at large or a close family member or friend to pray for you? 3. Would you be embarrassed if information was publically disclosed? For more information about HIPAA, visit www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa. Editor’s note: This information was obtained from the General Council on Finance and Administration of the United Methodist Church’s 2004 Memorandum, entitled HIPAA Privacy Rule and Local Churches. unyumc.org 17
Q&A with the Rev. Dr. John Tyson and the Rev. Dr. Bob Hill The UNY Communications team caught up with Wesleyan Scholars, the Rev. Dr. John Tyson and the Rev. Dr. Robert (Bob) Hill to learn more about how John Wesley taught us to pray.
The Rev. Dr. Hill earned his MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and his PhD from McGill University in Montreal. He is the Dean of Marsh Chapel and a Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Theology at Boston University. He is the author of 12 books and several essays and chapters. His weekly sermon can be heard live around the globe at wbur.org, Sundays at 11 a.m., and on National Public Radio in New England, WBUR 90.9FM. T h e R ev . Dr. Bob Hill
The Rev. Dr. Tyson earned his MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and his MPhil and PhD from Drew University. After a long teaching career at Houghton College (in Houghton, N.Y.), Rev. Dr. Tyson served at United Theological Seminary, and currently serves at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, in Rochester, N.Y. He is Professor of Church History and serves as director of United Methodist Studies. He is the author of 10 books and more than 50 articles, mostly in the area of Wesleyan studies. n r. John Tyso The Rev. D
The Covenant Prayer is perhaps one of John Wesley’s most known prayers. Do you feel that it is an important prayer for believers to pray in modern day?
How important do you feel it is for believers to examine themselves with John Wesley’s self-examination questions (http://bit.ly/ Wesleyselfexamination)?
The Rev. Dr. John Tyson: John’s Wesley’s Covenant Prayer epitomizes many aspects of Wesleyan spirituality. It stresses personal commitment to and relationship with God, and does in a way that stresses selfless service (to God and others) as the productive outcome of our prayer and our commitment. The Covenant Prayer, in other words, teaches us to live in the Lordship of Christ and to approach our lives dedicated to and expecting to be used of God.
JT: These pointed questions ask us to take a careful and frank look at ourselves. This is a good thing for us to do from time to time. The Wesleys called this process “examination of conscience.” One might think of it as a sort of spiritual “check up,” in which we take stock of how we are doing. Are we growing in Christian maturity? Are we consistently living the life of a Christian disciple? These questions, while perhaps more reflective of John Wesley’s conscience than our own, are certainly a good starting point and model for the kind of questions we should be willing to ask ourselves. They take us to the heart of Christian attitudes, commitments, and virtues and ask whether we are putting these into practice. This is a good thing for our prayer lives, and for our lives in general.
The Rev. Dr. Bob Hill: Mr. Wesley in prayer sought a combination of enthusiasm and enlightenment, as he did in general in the practice of faith. The Covenant Prayer is one such sought combination of enthusiasm and enlightenment. 18 UNY ADVOCATE 2017, Issue 2
BH: All the questions are good ones, though they would benefit from an admixture of first person singular (‘I’), with first person plural (“we”). The questions help us to stay alert to what is new in every morning. What a wonder there is in what is new!
be one “extended conversation with God” in which we not only have prayer time (at some point) but also learn to carry our prayer focus into our lives. This, I think, is what St. Paul had in mind when he urged his readers to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17).
BH: One practice suggested by the Rev.Vernon Lee, some years ago, was to use the quiet time of dressing, in the morning, to pray, in particular and in person, for others. The Rev. Susan Shafer gave us JT: Good question! Too often prayer seems like a collection of Bonhoeffer’s prayers and writings, a duty or a holy obligation, rather than something 100 words each, one for each day, to be used in the we enjoy. In order to keep prayer from seeming like morning. Howard Thurman, though, preferred prayer holy drudgery, we need to spend some serious time at night; as he remembered his walk on Daytona listening for God and basking our souls in God’s loving Beach, he said, “the ocean and the night surrounded presence. Too often our prayers seem to boil down to my little life with a reassurance that could not be affronted by any human behavior; the ocean at night a laundry list of concerns about our lives and other gave me a sense of timelessness, of existing beyond people. While intercessory prayer is an important the ebb and flow of circumstance; death would dimension of one’s prayer life, it is not the only one. be a small thing, I felt, in the sweep of that natural In fact, it might not even be the most important one. embrace.” Our prayer times should begin and end with a sense of simply resting in God’s holy presence, in which we John Wesley was deeply connected to God. remind ourselves how great God is and how precious In what ways do you feel he developed this God is to us in Jesus Christ. In short, perhaps the strong connection? How can Christians today best part of prayer is not asking God for things, but strengthen their connection to God? asking God for an awareness and experience of God’s JT: I think that the more that I can practice the presence; that’s where joy comes in. presence of God, that is, praying without ceasing as BH: Prayer is the joy of sitting silent before God. I go about my life, the more I feel that connection Enjoy the quiet. There will be plenty of rumble, din, between God and my life. This invites God into both cacophony, dissonance, and just plain noise in the rest the major and mundane places of my life and helps me of the day. live with a sense of connection with God. Make prayer more of an extended conversation with God, than a We know that John Wesley was very brief phone call to heaven. disciplined about prayer. He would wake up BH: Mr. Wesley, in his Explanatory Notes Upon the at 4 a.m. for his daily prayer time. In order to New Testament, at several places offers hints, glimpses, wake up so early, he made sure to go to bed and premonitions of his sense of divine presence. early. What are some ways you suggest that Christians can become more disciplined about Commenting on Matthew 6:9, the Lord’s prayer, he writes, ‘He who best knew what we ought to pray prayer? for, and how we ought to pray, what matter of desire, JT: I can think of a few things that might help here; what manner of address would most please himself, first of all, it is good to develop a regular time and would best become us, has here dictated to us a most place for extended prayer. This helps prayer become perfect and universal form of prayer, comprehending more of a familiar habit of the heart, instead of our real wants, expressing all our lawful desires; another duty in our day. I also think that we should a complete directory and full exercise of all our develop, borrowing a phrase from Brother Lawrence, devotions.’ Notice the word ‘universal’. For Wesley, the habit of “practicing the presence of God.” This as for his tradition at its best, Jesus is our beacon, not helps us live a God-focused life that interweaves our our boundary and in Him, God is loving us into love on-going lives with prayer and fellowship with God. and freeing us into freedom. Love for all, freedom for I have heard it said that Christian life is supposed to all. And all means all. One of John Wesley’s self-examination asks, “Am I enjoying prayer?” Do you have any advice to give on how one can enjoy prayer?
How Prayer Partners impacts our Confirmation class and the entire congregation By Kevin Klippel, Lansing UMC Youth and Children’s Coordinator
very time a young person spends time at Camp Casowasco, at some point they’ll be told that “God is real, God loves them, and God wants a relationship with them.” Every single time, without fail. Forming a relationship with anybody entails spending time with them and getting to know them. In other words—communicationg. That, in essence, is what prayer is. It’s communicating with God, spending time with Him, getting to know Him, and allowing Him to get to know you. At Lansing United Methodist Church, we strive to highlight the importance of prayer to all who come through our doors, from the very youngest to the most experienced! Prayer is a part of all of our programming, starting with the nursery and children’s Sunday School. One of the ministries with which we’re really able to drive this home is our Confirmation class.
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Eighth graders in our congregation are invited to participate in a six-month Confirmation class, which runs from January through May and culminates, if we’re able, on Pentecost Sunday. Prayer is utilized and experienced in a myriad of different ways throughout
The 2015 Confirmation class poses with the Confirmation Team. Photo courtesy of Kevin Klippel
this process. Several lessons and discussion topics touch on or revolve around the idea of prayer, include examples of prayer found in scripture, and encourage the youth to participate in a very low-pressure situation. Perhaps most importantly, though, are Prayer Partners. For the entire duration of Confirmation, each Confirmand is assigned a youth Prayer Partner and an adult Prayer Partner. This person serves to simply pray for their particular Confirmand throughout the whole Confirmation process. They’re encouraged to engage with their Confirmand in uplifting ways (some have baked cookies, written supportive notes, prayed together, etc.), but at the very least, their main task is simply to pray, every day if possible, for their Confirmand to stay engaged, excited, and open to how the Spirit moves in them as they go along the journey of Confirmation. Each Prayer Partner is selected after copious amounts of prayer by the Confirmation Team. We
ask for God’s guidance in laying names upon our hearts who would make a great connection to each Confirmand. We’re often surprised at just how connected two people may be in ways that nobody could have been aware of. For example, last year we had a young man who lived for several years in a small town in the Midwest before moving to Lansing, and his Prayer Partner just so happened to live in that same exact town when he was a young man! Nobody knew that fact except for God, but through prayer we were able to allow the Spirit’s guidance to partner them up to discover a small, shared history between themselves. The Confirmands are very aware of the role Prayer Partners have, and many even say that they can recognize the power of the prayers their Prayer Partners are delivering on their behalf. It is truly, a powerful ministry for each person involved, and helps not only to grow the relationship between each Confirmand and God, but also, between the Confirmands and other members of the church. unyumc.org 21
(A Unique Korean Prayer) However, as time passed, I missed Korean foods, like kimchi. So, my wife and I went to Korean markets, bought Korean food items, cooked them, and were able to enjoy Korean food. In the same way that I adjusted to new food, I experienced the same process with my spiritual life in this country. Since I moved to the U.S., I have learned a lot of good and different things, not only from seminary, but also from several churches where I served. That is, I have been exposed to many good spiritual and church cultures and learned from them. Those experiences are amazing blessings to my ministry and me.
Pastor Yohang Chun
“If you have a chance to visit a Korean church and see Tongsung Kido... you would be surprised” By Pastor Yohang Chun, Oswego First UMC
efore I came to the United States from South Korea, to study, I had some concerns. One of them was, “How will I survive without Korean food? Can I live with only American food?” Fortunately, since coming to the U.S., I have become well-adjusted to American food culture.
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However, sometimes I miss some of the spiritual disciplines found in Korean churches. One of them is prayer life. Did you know that there is a unique form of prayer in Korean churches? Can you guess what this prayer is? A unique and special Korean prayer style is called Tongsung Kido. Tongsung means, “cry out together loudly,” and Kido means, “pray.” So, Tongsung Kido means, “praying together out loud.” This unique form of Korean prayer is an important part of prayer life among the spirit-filled prayer life of Korean Christians. Personally, I think that Tongsung Kido has value as an example of a fervent and earnest way of crying out to God. If you have a chance to visit a Korean church and see Tongsung Kido, even in public worship, you would be surprised. Some of you might think, “What is
Tongsung Kido in Korea. Photo courtesy of: Bupyeong Korean Methodist Church
Youth in Tongsung Kido. Photo courtesy of: Yohang Chun
going on in this public worship service? Are they crazy? They are out of control! What makes them pray together loudly? Why don’t they pray silently?” However, when you know about the history of the Korean church, as well as its current situation, you understand why Korean Christians have no choice but to pray in this unique style. According to Korean church historians, Tongsung Kido has a strong connection with the idea of Han, a term used to describe an experience unique to Korean people. Han is typically defined as an unresolved resentment or emotional pain that is carried by a person; it is a kind of internalized grudge. Han is frustrated hope, the collapsed feeling of pain, resentful bitterness, and the wounded heart. In fact, it is better to understand Han among Koreans through a socio-historical contextual lens: Koreans have experienced many tough times throughout their history, such as the Japanese colonization (1909-1945), the Korean War (19501953), and the institutionalized oppression caused by the military dictatorship(1961-1992). Because of these painful experiences, Koreans held Han in their hearts for a long time. In these situations, Korean Christians prayed to God with their pains, sufferings, and broken hearts. They couldn’t pray silently and quietly. Rather, their pains, tears, and bitterness mixed with Han made them cry out to God loudly: “Lord, please come to us! Listen to your children’s outcry.” Through this unique form of prayer, Korean Christians have poured out their pains, bitterness, and wounded hearts
before the Lord and asked God to listen to their prayers. Generally Tongsung Kido is performed as follows: during worship, usually at the time of special prayer request, the minister or the worship leader will call the congregation to pray in unison. The whole congregation joins together to pray aloud, individually at the same time. Sometimes, in the beginning of prayer, the congregation may shout, “Lord! Lord! Lord!” in unison, as a cooperative sign of engaging in prayer. Usually the congregation is given a specific amount of time to pray, with a common theme of petition. At the end of the time allotted, the minister’s closing prayer finishes Tongsung Kido. Tongsung Kido reminds me of the passionate prayer the Israelites put forth to God in their hopeless situation in Exodus 2:23b-25: “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.” I hope you now understand this Korean prayer practice, Tongsung Kido, better. If you have the chance to visit a Korean church, why not join in this unique form of prayer, and try some delicious Korean food?
Editor’s Note: If you have a unique prayer practice in your culture, we’d love to hear about it. Send us a description of it to News@unyumc.org with “Prayer in my Culture” as the subject line. unyumc.org 23
Prayer on the Bluff By Pastor Sandi Pearl, Bluff Point UMC Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Note: Bluff Point UMC uses two unique methods of praying for members of their congregation and beyond: One Call Now and Prayer Cards.
One Call Now
luff Point UMC uses One Call Now to communicate with members of our church family. Any family can sign up to be added to the One Call Now list. At Bluff Point the One Call Now technology allows the Pastor, or someone designated, to inform the congregation of prayer requests occurring outside of worship. The prayer request will come to Pastor, through email, a phone call, text message, in person, etc. and within minutes the prayer request can be sent out to the church family.
Pastor Sandi Pearl 24 UNY ADVOCATE 2017, Issue 2
This is how it works. An app is on my iPhone (I am sure there is an app for all phones), I record the message, choose the group of people who are going to receive the prayer request, schedule the time it is to be sent and the message goes out to those on the
list. Everyone gets the same information, at the same time! Later in the day I receive a report telling me how many people answered the phone call and how many messages went to a voicemail or an answering machine.
One Call Now can also be used to cancel meetings, send out reminders of events, ministry opportunities, team meetings, and has a feature for simple surveying of members. This process can also be used from a regular phone through a system of passwords. At Bluff Point we give the information to all team leaders, the choir director, and other key people who use the building. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
My messages simply state what the request is (a condensed version of the request) and then I pray with everyone for the request. One Call Now is the way to go to ensure everyone gets the same message and everyone takes a moment to pray for the situation.
During worship, prayer requests (celebrations or concerns) are written on prayer cards and brought to the front of the church where they are read, out loud, by the pastor and the person who brings the cards. After the cards are all read through the pastor prayers for the group of cards, ending with a congregational Lordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Prayer. The cards are then sent back out into the congregation for people to take and add to their daily devotions. I am careful with the process for the cards coming back into the congregation every week to ensure visitors know they can take a card and have a responsibility.
How prayer blossomed at Farmington UMC In the beginning, much prayer was lifted up about prayer itself. We understood the Prayer Team’s mission was not that we would pray…though we do pray and we pray a lot! Rather, our mission was to be one of influence and encouragement to our whole congregation to become, church-wide and churchdeep, a church of passionate prayer. It would only serve to frustrate us deeply if we expected people (many of whom already were serving faithfully in other areas) to add one more day away from home to also come to weekly prayer meetings. It was evident that the prayer emphasis should go to where the people already were. Members in prayer before chicken barbecue. Photos courtesy of Farmington UMC
“It’s not rocket science, just ordinary people talking with an extraordinary God asking for help to do his will.”
And so The FUMC Prayer Chair Team was formed. Looking at the lists of who was already serving on the finance team, worship team, trustees, children’s ministry team, outreach team, SPRT, hospitality team etc. God’s guidance was sought for who should be tapped to be the person on their
By Kathy Button Laity, Farmington UMC
everal years ago Pastor Jeff (Rev. Jeff Long) asked me, “If you could pick any area where you could serve at FUMC what would that be?” I didn’t blink; I already knew the answer to that question. “Prayer!” The prayer ministry at Farmington UMC didn’t start with Pastor Jeff’s question; it started when God already placed his direction in my heart. Pastor Jeff opened the door. Good things always begin there. God initiates. Pastor Jeff gave me the green light to go forward and the first thing to do of course was to pray, “What’s next Lord?” Then one door after another began to open. God was about to take us to school. 26 UNY ADVOCATE 2017, Issue 2
Youth member, Xander, initiates and leads a huddle of prayer after a service.
As doors kept opening for the prayer ministry, the connectedness we have with the larger church seemed to be always front and center. Whenever we are praying for FUMC’s mission and ministry we are always, always reminded to pray, “Lord and not for our church only, but you know we ask it for every church that is called by your name…especially in our Upper New York area.” Praying for other churches’ strength and fruitfulness is hugely important to us. That prayerful longing for other churches preceded another door opening to us.
Front line prayer ushers serve in the Farmington UMC (FUMC) parking lot.
team (not the director) whose official role was to be one of influence, the voice that said if necessary, “Wait a minute; we haven’t really prayed about that yet,” always encouraging their team’s dependence upon God by first asking him. He said, “Ye have not because ye ask not.” The idea of “going to where the people already are” was also the guidance that led to the development of the FUMC Prayer Usher Team. People come to church on Sundays with all sorts of things happening in their lives. They are certainly blessed and helped through the preaching and the worship but sometimes a more personal touch is needed. The Prayer Ushers are trained for that personal prayer touch. We stand at the front of the sanctuary after the benediction. Our unofficial motto is, “We’re available.” We don’t counsel; we listen and then we pray with folks for the thing that is on their heart. I have always felt that this facet of the prayer ministry is the pearl of what we do. This is evident when having prayed for a person; we look
The FUMC Prayer team uses technology in a big way as we serve. Skype Prayer meetings are now held 6 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. every Monday through Thursday, different people each day. Some of the people who pray together regularly have never met face to face but the bonds God has forged through praying with each other are incredibly strong. Skype allows us to go where people are in their homes, in other towns, other states and even other countries. I am able for the cost of just pennies to also bring phones into the Skype prayer sessions. Once or twice when the weather was so bad, our Wednesday night prayer meeting was held on Skype for safety reasons. Using this Skype prayer tool, our prayer continued unhindered. These are just some of the things God has done with the direction he has given us. We see so many answers and give testimony each time we meet on what we have seen Him doing. It’s not rocket science, just ordinary people talking with an extraordinary God asking for help to do his will.
“Skype allows us to go where people are in their homes, in other towns, other states and even other countries.” up and see tears streaming down their cheeks. That’s when we know that it wasn’t us, but that God himself encountered that person at that moment of prayer touching them deeply. We are encouraged when they come back the next week and tell us what God has done for them. This team also has an element of visiting some who are unable to come to church for extended periods.
FUMC motorcyclists traveled across Ontario County praying for God’s revival at each church. unyumc.org 27
Your prayer can be simple By Theresa Eggleston UNY Young Adult
ow I need to fold my hands and kneel, right?” Her bright, eight-year old eyes looked up at me seeking approval for the next step. “You can pray however you feel most comfortable,” I told her. “Well then I want to pray with Teddy.” She grabbed her scruffy loved bear from her bunk and nestled on the cabin’s front porch to pray. Her prayer came out pure and simple, no more bad dreams, a fun week at camp, and bacon for breakfast. There was no fanfare or intricate detail in her chosen words; her prayer was pure words from her heart. With a deep sigh of relief, she toddled back to bed. When I think about prayer, I think about that moment. I was counseling at camp for my second summer and prayer came forward in my life as something simple and pure. I remember telling my cabin later that week that it didn’t matter how you prayed, just as long as you did. God is always there, ready to hear your prayer. Recently, prayer’s simplicity in my life was lost. Allow me to elaborate:
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Like many of my peers, I have found myself drowning in headlines, scrolling through Facebook news feeds, and shaking my head when I open Twitter. When I finally take a moment to breathe and set my phone down, my heart aches. Words fill my head; antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, racism, hate, fear, and the list goes on. In these moments, prayer suddenly seems demanding. The ache in my heart screams that I must bring all supplications, all at once, before God. I begin thinking, crafting, and editing. I feel the need for a prayer that is eloquent, powerful, thought out, drafted, and placed before God. I am compelled to cite every article, every Facebook status, every Tweet as a resource in my prayer. Overwhelmed, I comb through and check every headline I’ve seen, every article I’ve read, and every conversation I’ve had. My heart races; I scribble my thoughts; I find points to back up my prayer; I bring facts and figures when suddenly I have lost all focus. I have fallen into a political, media- filled prayer. My heart is lost and I have compiled a research paper. This is where I have found myself this year. My heart aches. However, God, in all of God’s mercy, reigns me in.
“You can pray however you feel most comfortable,” the words I spoke several years ago come back to me. I am forced to ask myself, “What is prayer, if not my messy humanness contacting the divine?” I didn’t need a drafted essay; I didn’t need an article to back up my statement. I needed faith and simplicity, much like my eight-year-old camper. With the passion that once filled my check list of articles coupled with the simplicity of my young camper, I bring my prayer before God...
Mercy. *Inhale* Exhale* Justice. Compassion. *Inhale*Exhale* Fullness. Joy. Tolerance. *Inhale*Exhale*
Suddenly there was no art, no fanfare, and there was no intricate detail with words or resources...there were simply words. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” My words, my statements, my human prayer may come out unclear, sporadic, and messy, but the Spirit has the ability, the agency, the compassion for my humanness, to turn my prayer into the song on my aching heart and God hears. What is prayer, if not our humanity contacting the divine? Our prayer may not come out perfect, clean, or with resources, but when it comes from the depths of our hearts, the Holy Spirit translates our humanness and brings it before God. I am brought back to my campers words, “No more bad dreams,” she said, “a fun week at camp, and bacon for breakfast.” What is your simple, human prayer? unyumc.org 29
Media Resource Center:
Resources on Prayer
Looking for fresh ideas for prayer in your congregation? Here are some resources available at the Upper New York Conference Media Resource Center. For more information, please contact Diane Miner at Diane@unyumc.org.
Try a Labrynth!
A 24’ canvas labyrinth is available for the use of congregations, district-led and conference-led events. It is housed in the Media Resource Center and can be reserved by laity and clergy, individuals and groups, by contacting Diane Miner, media resource center director. The Abingdon à la Chartres™ design combines the Abingdon™ 6 circuit design from the Neo-Medieval™ series with proportionally appropriate elements reflecting the sacred geometry of the larger Chartres Replica™: the 4.5 to 1 path to line ratio, six lobed central rosette and perimeter lunations, 24’ diameter, aegean blue in color, weighs about 23 lb and stored in a wheeled suitcase. A copy of the DVD, Rediscovering the Labyrinth-A Walking Meditation, will be included with the labyrinth for background and reference.
Books and Videos One Faithful Promise
By Magrey R. DeVega A covenant is an agreement, a pledge, a contract. A covenant with God is a faithful promise of renewal, and none is more central to the Methodist identity than The Wesley Covenant Prayer, which John Wesley first shared in a renewal service in 1755. Its central theme, “the means of increasing serious religion,” focuses on the way we can have a closer relationship with God and others through a heightened dedication to a serious faith. Abingdon Press has reintroduced Wesley’s covenant prayer and renewal service as an accessible church-wide campaign, One Faithful Promise, so that modern congregations, like thousands of congregations in the past, can experience a boost in their way of Christian living.
Kids and Prayer
By Rachel G. Hackenberg Introduce your kids or your classroom to prayer with this lively new video presentation in four sessions, each asking a basic question. These four segments include explanations from Rachel G. Hackenberg, interviews with kids, onscreen storyboard Bible teaching, and “on the road” field trips to look at each question from a different angle. Your class will enjoy paying attention to this engaging instruction! 30 UNY ADVOCATE 2017, Issue 2
By Max Lucado Some people excel in prayer. But for Max Lucado, a self-professed "recovering prayer wimp," spending even a few minutes each day with God often seemed like a monumental task. In Before Amen, Max reveals his struggles with prayer and how he discovered that it is not a privilege for the pious. It’s a simple tool everyone has been given to have a conversation with God. Through the use of a simple, pocketsized prayer that he distilled from the prayers in the Bible, he shows how everyone can build a prayer life that is stronger, better and deeper.
Listen-Praying in a Noisy World
By Rueben P. Job We live in a world of noise. Listening to God requires a deliberate choice to shut out the chaos around us and focus our thoughts. Listen, by Rueben P. Job, is a 40-day experience created to offer help to those new to prayer, those with a daily prayer routine, and those whose lives seem too busy to pray. With a focus on listening prayer and prayer as a two-way conversation, the experience will assist individuals and groups in building and deepening a personal prayer practice and spiritual discernment.
Too Busy Not to Pray
By Bill Hybels In this four-session video Bible study based on bestselling author and pastor Bill Hybels's classic book on prayer, Too Busy Not to Pray, he calls both young and old to make prayer a priority, broadening our vision for what our eternal, powerful God does when his people slow down to pray.
Books by Sybil Macbeth: Praying in Black and White
When men pray, they bring distinctive gifts - and challenges - to the spiritual enterprise of prayer. Praying in Black and White honors the unique wiring of men and offers a simple, concrete way to pray. With a pen and a piece of paper, men are free to bring their skepticism, task-orientation, self-sufficiency, and independence into a new conversation with God. Try this new method of prayer that works for men.
Praying in Color and Praying in Color, Kids Edition
Praying in Color is the perfect practice for anyone who hungers to know God better. People who love color, visual or kinesthetic learners, distractible or impatient souls, and word-weary pray-ers have all delighted in this fresh, joy-filled approach to prayer. Praying in Color can take as little or as much time as you desire, from 15 minutes to a weekend retreat. Now kids can “pray in color” too with the new Praying in Color, Kid’s Edition! unyumc.org 31
Journey to the Holy Land January 9-19, 2018 Join Bishop Mark J. Webb and his wife, Jodi Webb, on an 11-day trip to the Holy Land through Educational Opportunities Tours.
Learn more at: www.unyumc.org/about/holy-land-journey-with-bishop-webb