Letter from John Woodhouse

Dear friends,

Prayer is an activity of the desperate. In prayer we seek help from God because we need it. It is natural therefore that in situations of obvious and conscious need — such as the present world crisis — many of us readily turn to prayer.

Some of us feel, I suspect, just a little hypocritical about praying earnestly in a time of need when we are very aware that we have been less than prayerful at other times.

The Bible, however, urges us to respond to our needs by praying. “Is any among you suffering? Let him pray” (James 5:13). Cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). The Psalms even seem to regard troubles and dangers as opportunities to find strength from God. “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations [O Lord] cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:19). As one writer has put it, in our fears it is “as if God were summoning us to himself.” Whether or not we are prayerful at other times, it is right and godly to turn to God in prayer when we are distressed or afraid. “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found …. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance” (Psalm 32:6-7).

The problem is not with turning to God only when we sense our need of him, it is failing to sense our need of him at all times! No matter how fit and healthy I may feel, what a delusion it is to think that I will enjoy another moment’s life apart from the kindness of God. No matter how prosperous I may become, I am blind if I cannot see that, apart from the Lord’s provision poverty threatens. Therefore God’s Word, at the same time as recognising the connection between our needs and our prayers, calls on us “always to pray” (Luke 18:1; cf. 21:36; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

How much more is all this true of the need of our churches, our world and ourselves for the forgiving grace of God in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Please pray for ourselves as a church and for our world, that our deepest needs will be met by this grace of God.

Your brother in Christ

John Woodhouse
Acting Senior Minister