Regular, three times a year, days of prayer and fasting have played a key role in the lives of elders and leaders of Newfrontiers churches in the UK for about 30 years. From the earliest years, when about 35 of us gathered, right through to the present when 6-700 gather, we have repeatedly sensed God’s powerful presence as we have prayed together.
As I write we should be together, but snow and ice have wreaked havoc in the UK (American and Canadian friends can stop laughing immediately!) and today we have sadly had to accept the reality of the situation and pull the plug. The first time in our history – and I hope the last as these regular events provide us with a context for prayer, prophecy, and encounters with God, as well as friendship and common ownership of the vision that God has set before us.
Last week I met with John Buckeridge, editor of Christianity Magazine, for an interview to be published later in the year. One of his questions was, ‘How come you have so few failures with your church plants?’ I answered that I believed that our great unity and mutual support contribute to any degree of success that we are enjoying. Prayer and fasting days have genuinely provided part of that. We are in this together!
Speaking of church plants, it was great to preach at Grace Church Chichester last Sunday. This young church, planted three years ago, had 308 present in its morning meeting and 125 in its separate, recently-planted evening congregation. What a blessing! What grace from God! We enjoyed some great worship and some great healings, and some OK preaching.
Lately the theme encapsulated in Joseph’s experience has been very much before us. Guy Miller, having recently prophesied that God was turning down the thermostat on the nation (!) and turning it up on the Church, told us that he had woken that morning seeing an old-style typewriter with a clean sheet of paper inserted in it. Upon the paper appeared the words ‘Joseph chapter 4’. Many years ago at the Downs Bible Week (1981) I preached a four-part series on Joseph in which I saw the immature young Joseph as a type of the emerging charismatic church. Dreaming dreams and seeing visions yet offensive and naïve, he was thrown out of the family, severely tested, and, having proved faithful, he was ultimately brought to a place of significant fruitfulness and full restoration with his brothers. I have just unearthed the four-part series and will very shortly put it on the resources page of this website. You might like to listen to it (again).
Keith Hazell from Canada, who was recently with some of our leaders, prophesied once again using the Joseph theme, speaking of years of blessing and growth that lie before us. Let me encourage you to be full of courage and faith as we press forward together – in spite of having lost the current prayer and fasting days.
I greatly look forward to seeing many of my UK Newfrontiers friends on May 12/13 when we next gather together.
Finally, I have been encouraged by very positive comeback to my recent series on Transition on this blog. I will also shortly post a talk on this theme on my resources page, which I hope might prove helpful.