On Wednesday 5 December 2018 Porirua Anglicans gathered in St Anne's for a day of prayer. This involved folk attending one or more prayer sessions: 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm. Each session lasted 30-40 minutes and was developed around a theme.
In promoting this day in an email the night before I had observed, "Porirua Anglicans are a people of prayer who have seen much of God at work through prayer. Tomorrow we expect that our praying will make a difference. Let's respond to God's word." I ended with this scripture of encouragement,
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The Church's new year has just begun with us celebrating Advent last Sunday. So it's time for new beginnings; new resolutions; new hope believing that God is doing a new thing in our midst. It was with these thoughts before us that we launched our day of prayer. Those gathered heard these verses from Isaiah 43 read,
18 “Remember not the former things,
So we are encouraged to pray that God will do the new things in our midst that perfectly reflect God's will for the Church and for the people of Porirua. We take heart for the housing renewal and regeneration plans recently announced by the Prime Minister and we see these as a sign of the spiritual renewal coming. We pray that Porirua Anglicans will be at the forefront of those committed to the renewal and regeneration of our city. That they will be bearers of new hope into the future.
One of our readings in this prayer service reinforced the theme, "God Provides". Matthew 15 records Jesus' healing people before feeding the 4,000. Verses 31 & 37 spoke powerfully to us of the God who provides:
Jesus Heals Many People
We recognised that Porirua is a city with many needs and we prayed into those needs. We noted and prayed for the many local Christian churches, and secular agencies, that seek to address need, including our own St Anne's Pantry. We asked our provider-God (Jehovah Jireh) to abundantly bless our community. We prayed for our Church asking that God meet us also in our need as is best for us and our community.
We turned here to the theme, "Trusting in God's Purpose" and the associated theme of "Endurance". Our Wednesday reading from Psalm 119 included these words,
Dear God, your eternal word of love
A subsequent reading from 2Corinthians 6 reminded us that our experiences are not always pleasant in human terms. We believe God enables us to endure through these times,
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We are encouraged to note afresh that God is at work even when present circumstances seem to indicate otherwise. One of our prayers in this session was for the family of a young man who completed suicide this morning. How we lament for the many people in our community who are victims of suicide in recent months. Please pray for him, his family and closer loved ones.
In our praying we read from the beautiful poem, "The Lake of Beauty", these words of peace,
Let your mind be quiet, realising the beauty of the world,
In the tragedies and downs of life, we find the places of oasis and refreshment that sustain us and renew our hope. We are blessed by the riches that God gives to us through trusting faith.
Themes for this session were reconciliation and resurrection. The Gospel reflection left us with a challenge,
How far am I prepare to go to be reconciled with my neighbour or perceived enemy? Challenges small and large were left with us. On the theme of resurrection the epistle reflection offered this,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Resurrection hope is at the heart of our believing and our praying. How are we allowing the reality of this hope to mould and shape our lives? How and are we a hopeful people? Do we live with the expectation that we will overcome through Christ and if so, what does this mean in our daily living? How are we different because we are in Christ? Much fuel for prayer here.
In this session we took as our theme God's Holiness and Humility. We read Psalm 77. Part One has the people's lament and their wrestle to find God in the midst of their trying circumstances. Part Two begins like this,
We worship and pray to a Holy God. There is none like this God who constantly delivers for the Lord's people. And then we read the Prayer Book song, "The Exalted Lord" based on Philippians chapter 2 and we remembered what our salvation cost God who parents a humble Son,
Christ Jesus was in the ′ form of ′ God:
And we reminded ourselves again that holiness and humility go together for God; how about God's people?
Our last prayer was an opportunity to praise God and give thanks. We followed the service of 'Night Prayer' which very much invites us to reflectively give thanks for the day. As the day of prayer developed for us, it seemed that we moved from focusing on what we might pray for out there in the parish and community and world; to praying more that we be transformed to act and be more like Jesus in our living. For that shift we gave thanks. There is much in the words of 'Night Prayer' that is beautiful. But let me conclude with the beginning words of the final prayer,
As I dropped one of those attending this final session home I was moved to comment that, I feel fresher now (10pm) than we began at 6am." Her perceptive, quick response was, "that's what the Holy Spirit does." So ended a day well spent.
Reflection by the Reverend Terry Alve
Interim Priest at St Anne's, Porirua
Members of the Porirua Anglican Communities