Living overwhelmed with things to do, anxious of committing and losing out, living so used to instant results and gratification, prayer seems such a waste of time. Why on earth would we pray?!

But the earth isn’t like that. In a flaky world, we bear the image of the one who commits with steadfast love, partnering with him in the renewing of all things. We’re in it for the long run. Our choices to speak and act have consequences. Including the way we speak with the Renewer. Why wouldn’t we pray?!


There’s a picture of our church community: we are halfway up a mountain, sitting resting after our climb, enjoying the view. God is pleased with the progress we have made and congratulates us. We have come a long way, and have done well. 

But we are not at the summit yet! It is high above us. God has much more for us, much more to see, even more spectacular views. Let us not be content with where we are. Let us not stay in a comfortable, inward-looking puddle but lift our eyes to the MORE - knowing God’s love more, seeing His power more, being more intimate with God.

So how do we get to the summit? How do we know God more in our lives, individually and corporately?

Well, climbers do not reach the summit by relying on their feelings. If they wait until they feel as if they can get there, they’ll probably never set out. Being close to God is not about our feelings. God is as close to us as we will let Him be, always, whatever we feel and whatever our circumstances. He is constantly helping us to draw near to Him by His Spirit, whether or not we feel it.

Neither do climbers reach the summit by thinking about it! Yes, they may need to plan ahead as far as they can, but thinking alone will not advance them one inch. Growing closer to God is not an intellectual exercise, or an academic exercise demanding we understand fully before we can progress to the next level. No, climbers only get to the top by putting one foot after the other, following the path as it reveals itself to them, continually checking where the summit is to make sure they’re heading in the right direction. 

Similarly, our life journey to God is a practical one. We speak rightly of ‘steps of faith’. It is by taking small practical steps of faith that our trust in God will grow and we will discover more of Him. I believe we over-complicate our life with God often. Let’s simplify them instead! Jesus said, “…except you become like little children…”! It isn’t an option, except we become like unsophisticated children we will not enter the Kingdom.

So in a child-like way, let’s take tiny steps each day to grow nearer God - ask a small prayer: “God, please help me speak a kind word to someone today.” Rejoice when God answers your prayer, and the next day ask another…and another… and another. Allow God to show you how much you can trust Him and how faithful He is. Allow your trust to grow. Give testimony- telling someone else about your answered prayer!

How do we respond to the call onwards? Pick up our climbing gear and get on with it.

Our faith is nothing unless it it shows itself practically! So what are you going to trust God for today? Let’s come back each Sunday and encourage one another with the new views we’re seeing as we take baby steps up the mountain!

Psalm 24

Who can possibly ascend the mountain of the Eternal?
Who can stand before Him in sacred spaces?
Only those whose hands have been washed and hearts made pure,
men and women who don’t settle for worshipping anything other than God as he is.
The Eternal will stand close to them with blessing and mercy at hand,
and the God who redeems will right what has been wrong.
These are the generation who chase after Him;
[like Jacob, they look for the face of God].

Jennifer Rowlands

The Power of Like

Like your neighbour as yourself.

When Jesus says ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ we say yes, we are big into loving.
If we changed that to ‘like your neighbour as yourself’ that would be weaker wouldn’t it?

I dare say it might not be, given how casually we throw about the depth of the word ‘love’.

Words are important. The Church at large can get confused and distracted because of the power narrative we talk in. We like ‘love’. We like the power of ‘calling’ and ‘love’ and ‘heart for’ and ‘big transformational prayers’. We like impressive, transformational, spirit-rising ideas. But perhaps we don’t like ‘like’.

Maybe we need more ‘like’. Maybe more ‘like’ would humbly make a dramatic difference to the mood and culture of church.

I love my neighbour so I… commit to run healing on the streets; care about their relationship with God; invite them to church/ carol services/ mums and tots/ community lunches/ alpha; prayerfully consider what way God is calling me to say to them….? (All good things).

I like my neighbour so I… make friends with them; feel I can share the tough stuff going on with my life with them; hear what is going on with them, can honour the fact that they have lived here longer than me; go fishing with them as that’s what they like doing; look after their 2 kids cause the 3rd kid is ill and they are a single parent family; learn what my neighbour likes and how they do friendship; receive gifts of fresh mango from them!…

Less noble, more humble. Less mighty, more gradual. Less spoken, more acted.

I say this as someone who started with calling, love, a heart for…, and big prayers… and I’m just finally learning how unhelpful some of those phrases can be for us all!

In Easter 2009 whilst in my third year at Oxford, I emailed Mike, church leader of a wonderful small church, and asked if “his church ran projects on council estates, ‘cause I feel called to move to a council estate in East London”. He responded firmly and told me that the church doesn’t do ‘projects’ to the local estates as he and the church live in the local estates. So when I arrived to meet him he then asked me if, in years to come, I would send my kids to local schools, or if I would move to the suburbs? And then would I stay living here if I was raped? I decided to stay (not knowing the answers to those questions!) and I learnt an awful lot from Mike and he was wonderfully welcoming. I’m grateful for his bluntness at the start.

Six years on. I have made friends. I call this home. I like my neighbours.