Letter from John Woodhouse

Dear friends

What a year 2020 has been! All of us (some more than others, no doubt, but all of us) have felt the distress of the threats to life, livelihoods and health. Droughts, fires, floods and the pandemic have combined to unsettle us and, in many cases, to terrify us.

It is entirely appropriate to respond to a sense of great need and an urgent desire for the need to be met by praying.

As I mentioned last Sunday (in morning church), we sometimes feel a bit awkward when we find ourselves praying because we feel particularly anxious or fearful. Shouldn’t we be praying all of the time — whether or not we feel needy?

The answer (as so often!) is Yes and No.  Yes — we ought to be praying “at all times.” But that is because we are, at all times, needy people. It is not that we should learn to pray when we don’t feel needy. It is that we should learn to feel needy always.

A sense of need and a desire for our need to be met are necessary for our prayers to be real. Too easily prayer can become a mere formality, a routine, or an activity in which we imagine that we are performing a duty to please God. A person who prays for the forgiveness of their sins without a sense that he or she is a sinner in need of forgiveness is not praying rightly. When we pray we must remember that, apart from the kindness of God, our needs will not be met. A person who prays “Hallowed be your name” without a desire for holiness is not praying as he or she should. When we pray we must think — and learn to long for what we pray for.

As we think, let us remember the very great need of those around us for the life-giving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray — out of a sense of need — that the Lord will send labourers into the harvest (Matthew 9:38) — because we are convinced that the fields are ready for harvest (John 4:35), and that the need is more desperate than the world’s need for a vaccine.

Do you have a sense of the great need for people to hear the word of Christ? Do you have an urgent desire for that need to be met? Let’s please pray about that. Such prayers will be real!

Your brother in Christ

John Woodhouse
Acting Senior Minister