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Pilgrim's Guides


  The Wider Picture
Part Nine



Escaping Grief’s Gravitational Pull

Never underestimate the Power of Prayer
Burden bearing in the Spirit
Sharing more of the Father’s Grief
When Grief and Deception Engulf Nations
Lest we forget
Prophetic Lament and the Power of Music
The Courage to keep going
Cultivating an eternal Perspective

  In the same way that one can observe the effects of counselling, painkillers or antidepressants . . . prayer is measurable. No one knows them as well, as deeply, as closely, as personally as their God. This is a time to capitalise on that relationship; to draw help, strength, courage, wholeness and health from it . . . The act of seeking makes the relationship closer.
Dr Robert Buckman

We who love the Lord know that prayer is the life-blood of our relationship with the Lord. Dr Robert Buckman, who wrote this fascinating testimony to the power of prayer, specialises in caring for the dying, but is not a man of prayer himself. He is by no means the only “secular” source to affirm its efficacy.2

When griefs and pressures piled in on every side, Paul never missed an opportunity to ask others to pray for him.3 May the Lord help us to get into the habit of doing so too.

When ultrasound scans showed that baby Yelena had a seriously enlarged heart, the Church in Shetland started praying. By the time the family reached Aberdeen for an emergency operation, to the mystification of the medical staff, the baby’s heart had returned to normal.

The fact that God intervenes in such ways to heal some people, however, can itself be a cause of grief for those who remain unhealed despite enormous faith. There is a fine line between pressing in by faith, and knowing when to pray for the grace to accept matters taking their natural course. There are no simple answers here, let alone any “formulae”. God does some things supernaturally, either as a token of His love, or because of the specific plans He has for us.

Take hold of appropriate Scripture verses and pray for the Lord’s healing touch to come on all that is out of line with His will. There will always be blessing as we do so, provided we do not tell God what to do, or roll the blame for any lack of physical improvement back onto the person concerned – especially if promising early signs do not progress into the complete healing we were longing for.4


Reflect and Pray
Prayer is not only a spontaneous response to difficulty but also as a strategy that requires both thought and planning.

Every time we meet together with brothers and sisters in the Lord, we share matters that are worthy of prayer.

It is so often when we turn from “coffee and chat” to “coffee and prayer” that God releases His insight and His power.
May the Lord give us the vision and the courage to move beyond sharing information and say “Let’s pray together.”
Try it!

Spirit of Prayer,
harness us to bear real fruit before Your throne,
and to bring You great joy in the process.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Burden bearing in the Spirit
The world scoffs at a man weeping for his neighbour’s sins as if for his own, or even more than for his own, for it seems contrary to nature. But the love which brings this about is not of this world.
Angela of Foligno

Many of the Biblical writers used the Hebrew language to play on words – and I was tempted to spell the title of this book “Veil” of Tears. We are familiar with the concept of walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” – but is grief not like a veil that separates us from so much that we love and prize?  Read More . . .
2 The British Medical Journal also published findings that show remote, retroactive, intercessory prayer leading to shorter stays in hospital and briefer duration of fever for patients with bloodstream infections. Encouragingly, it concludes that prayer should be considered for use in clinical practice. With the experience we mentioned earlier of Ros, who was prayed free from her spasms, we echo these findings wholeheartedly! "The Effects of remote, retroactive, intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised controlled trial."
3 E.g. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, cf Colossians 4:3-4. Hebrews 13:18-19. cf 1 Thessalonians 1:11
4 Tens of thousands prayed all over the world for David Watson, the beloved and greatly used evangelist, when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. David enjoyed a period of grace when strength returned, a time he used to write Fear No Evil, the moving account of what turned out to be his final year. Ultimately, however, this proved to be "time given back" rather than the full healing so many were hoping for. Sadly. some "blamed" him for his apparent lack of faith.

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