In finding new and creative ways to engage in prayer I found “Dice Prayer” on the web. The numbers 1-6 are assigned topics and then roll the dice. Whatever number comes up is the topic you pray about. There is no specific list attached and you simply pray what’s on your heart. A friend and I played Dice Prayer for an hour or so today.
Roll a 1 - Thanks For…
There are always lots of things to be thankful for. Earlier this week I had spent a couple of hours one evening with a couple of poet friends. We have been meeting together once a week or a fortnight to share our poems. It is not just a performance – reading the poems and getting a pat on the back, but trying to give honest critique. One of my friends confessed that even though she writes down the comments we say, she is very reluctant to change anything she has written. The poems themselves reveal so much about the writer and even though it may not be their personal experience they write about, something of them leaks in. With many of the poems being about the Christian faith we sometimes end up gently preaching to one another which is so good too.
Roll a 2 - Personal Petition
Work situations can be quite stressful at times. I have been doing my job for over thirty years now – in different towns and cities and even countries. I have been thinking about either some kind of wind down scheme or taking early retirement. I am feeling a little like an elastic band stretched to its capacity. Sometimes I think I am close to snapping. Other times I manage to unstretch through prayer, worship or knitting. I am just a little bit cowardly when it comes to making life changes. We all have a tendency to hold on the familiar reluctant to dismantle the tent and move on.
Roll a 3 - Family and Friends
It seems all too easy to dismiss the existence of God when the world looks to be in a mess. How can there be a God when there is so much suffering in the world? When the suffering is not at arm’s length, in someone else’s life or in a country the other side of the world it becomes a more urgent issue. God doesn’t seem to step in when a family member is diagnosed with cancer. Maybe people of faith find some consolation in God giving comfort, or the knowledge of a next life that is so much better than this one – but that doesn’t mean God is real. For some people the debate about whether God is real or not is just an interesting conversation. Other people really need to know. When I needed to know, God put people into my life to drop seeds and nudge me closer to Him.
Roll a 4 - The Church and Outreach Projects
Our church is a small church. We meet in people’s homes. It’s a not church for hiding behind anyone. We are not listed anywhere. Trying to explain to other people what we are about can be difficult. There is not huge worship band and not long sermons. We share life in all sorts of ways. We have created a very safe environment and very close friendships. We have a number of fingers in a number of pies that cross church walls like Healing on the Streets (taking prayer out into the community), Prayer Spaces (Taking prayer opportunities into local schools) and Street Pastors (being available late at night in the town centre serving the night time community). We are being equipped and encouraged to get involved with evangelism – trying not to make it a scary word.
Roll a 5 - The Community
This particular number didn’t come up in our game. I know that many people are struggling with bills. The newspapers talk about growth in industry and the end of austerity measures – but we are not seeing any light at the end of our various tunnels. People on welfare have been hit particularly hard. The balance between helping the work-shy back into work and protecting the vulnerable is always going to be a difficult thing. Too often compassion is being taken out of the equation.
Roll a 6 - Governments and the Wider World
We had both been waiting for the six. We had been following the stories of people caught up with the Muslim extremists in the Middle East. IS (Islamic State) seem to be marching through Iraq almost unstoppable. The world seemed to look on in silence just waiting to see how bad things might get before they step in to help. I know enough about Islam, something of the example of Muhammed and the teaching of the Qur’an to know that this is Islam at its warped worst. Doesn’t almost every Surah in the Qsu’ran begin with the words “Allah, the Compassionate and the Merciful”? There is nothing compassionate or merciful about the IS response to other faiths. If ever a group of people needed to recover their humanity – these people do. Christians seem to shine brightest in the darkness of persecution. Let not their testimonies go unheard.