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Posts Tagged ‘PrayerMate’

My distractibility and butterfly mind can be a creative strength. What they are not, however, is an aid to focussed prayer.

Reading my bible and devotional material is one thing, but a concentrated session of prayer often seems too much to tackle. It has recently, at least.

Do the Next Thing Prayer

A prayer meeting is fine, getting together with my prayer partner is great, but me, praying on my own, that’s too big. So in this year of Doing the Next Thing, I need to learn to commit to doing prayer as the Next Thing.

And so last week I was prompted to return to the best aid I’ve found for reducing distraction in prayer – the most excellent PrayerMate App (also available for Apple products). I have my PrayerMate sorted out so that I start with reading things – a psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, the Church of England Collect for the day. Then I pray for family, friends and further afield. I’d forgotten I’d set my prayers up like that, it had been so long. It wasn’t as scary as I remembered, nor as difficult to do.

I was gently eased into prayer, and I was reminded of the Puritan injunction to ‘pray until you pray‘, which I first read about in Don Carson’s terrific book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation. I’ve found this to be wise advice. Prayer takes work and it takes time to find the focus required. So beginning my prayer time using written prayers I don’t have to think about too much helps me to start praying. And once I start praying, finding my own words to keep praying seems easier.

PrayerMate got a shiny new update just a few days ago, making it even better to use and prettier to look at. One of the lovely teenagers from my dorm at our summer holiday venture bounced up to me on Saturday to tell me that she’d downloaded the app. And she’d even used it a bit too. So if a distracted 13 year old can use it, so can I. And maybe you too? Do the Next Thing – Do It with Prayer.

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Apologies. We have had the lurgies. And hence the exciting 2014 regular posting phenomenon has gone a bit down the tubes, after lasting for all of about a fortnight. The Queen got sick and then kindly shared her bug with three of the four grown-ups in the house. BytheSea had the Daddy Bear version, involving treatment with antibiotics, I have had a Mummy Bear attack which has merely confined me to bed for four days, and the Vicar has had the Baby Bear lurgies and has felt terrible but still managed to lead a massive funeral and attend a 2 1/2 hr school governors meeting midweek plus all his normal vicaring duties.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that we’re on the mend and I’m able to have a small blogging catch-up.

FIRST: The winner of the caption competition – randomly generated as I found it too hard to choose – is Shaun. Please email me at thevicarswifey [at] gmail [dot] com to claim your prize of an e-book of The Ministry of a Messy House.

SECOND: Book news: The Vicar reviewed my book (I’m relieved to say that he liked it) – and Claire Musters posted her review on Christian Today (she seemed to understand the writing process in the Vicarage perfectly).

THIRD: Ace apps – I’ve been meaning to mention a couple of excellent free apps – the Bible App for Kids and PrayerMate for iPad/iPhone and Android (free until the end of March courtesy of London City Mission). My kids are a little on the big side for the Bible App but they have enjoyed noodling about with it. It looks like a fun way to get kids familiar with bible stories. Recommended for ages 3-8. And PrayerMate is a truly excellent way to order all your regular intercessions. Over the years I have used various versions of prayer lists and abandoned/lost them pretty regularly. PrayerMate is a superb app which enables me to keep my list fresh and has some whizzy features like alarms and prayer diaries from mission societies (all in iOS, some still to come in Android).

FOURTH: I have come across a couple of interesting programmes on Alba – the Gaelic language BBC service which we can get on iPlayer. There’s a gentle series about ministers’ wives in Scotland (Bean a’ Mhinisteir) and tonight we’re going to watch Reaching Out with Hope (Na Soisgeulaich) which is about three evangelical churches in Scotland reaching out to their communities, including Niddrie Community Church, led by Mez McConnell of 20Schemes. Two of our children have Gaelic names, but that’s the extent of my knowledge, but it’s okay – the programmes are subtitled in English.

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If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m  often full of great new ideas and initiatives. But what that actually means is that many old ideas and initiatives have fallen by the wayside. So when I extol the beauty of a new bible reading scheme or system of prayer, it possibly (=usually) indicates that the last system I extolled has somewhat petered out…

Last night Sharonxx asked the following:

I have tried to set myself the simple ‘resolution’ this year to pray at least once a day [either an Office or personal prayer], to read one small devotional a day and to do one bible study each day [using T.Wright…for Everyone]. I work 9-3, I have an 8 year old son and I’m married….pretty normal on the face of it….so why can’t I achieve even these simple goals??

Any tips? How do you do it with your busy life and family commitments? Indeed, DO you always manage to keep up with the bible reading etc.??

Simple goals, and ones I can relate to so well: read my bible, read something else devotional, pray. I’d love to do this every day too. But I often don’t. And I don’t work outside the house either, with all the extra juggling entailed in that.

So why don’t I do it? There are a bunch of reasons: tiredness, craziness of life in the Vicarage, but mainly it’s because other things seem more important than spending time with God. They’re not, of course, but my sinful heart takes control and I sleep a little more, tweet a little more, watch a little more Midsomer Murders. As I was reminded by my reading in Romans 7 this morning ‘What a wretched (wo)man I am!’

But the important thing is not to be discouraged when I fail. I’ve snoozed and missed the timeslot when I would have been reading my Bible. So I can grab a verse for the day on my phone. I’ve missed prayer time in the quite of the early morning. But I can still pray over the ironing board, or in the queue for the sandwich shop. I might not feel that I’ve prayed very well, or read enough of the Word, or wrestled with a theological concept. But if I’m keeping in regular touch with the Lord, I’m able to build my relationship with him. And even if I’m crazy busy or laid low by illness, there are still ways that relationship can grow, as his Spirit works in me. The Spirit reminds me of Scriptures or hymns and spiritual songs that I can cling to when I’m struggling with time or energy. The Spirit shows me the Lord’s providence in seemingly small ways that enable me to praise God when I feel like crying. The Spirit works in me so that I can will and work to the Father’s good pleasure.

Some of the resources I’ve found useful recently include using the audio setting with YouBible on my phone or tablet. This morning I read my allotted chapters from my epic 10 chapters a day reading plan but my head was a bit fuzzy and I didn’t process much. So then I listened to them again as I cleaned the kitchen and a bit more went in. Not everything, but a bit more.

My prayer life is a bit wobbly at the moment, but I’ve been using The Valley of Vision and have also recently downloaded the excellent PrayerMate app which is free at the moment. It has all the bells and whistles if you have an Apple device, but we are Android users in the Vicarage, so I have the newly launched version (which will be updated over the next few months) and am slowly uploading my prayer diary to its pages.

So I guess my answer is that I constantly fail to read my bible, to pray and balance all my family and other commitments. But I also constantly try and reboot them and get them back on track. The temptation is to feel that once we’ve missed a day in our readings, we’ve missed the boat. So we need to remind ourselves that the Father is waiting for our return. He loves us unconditionally, whether we’ve read our Bibles, prayed our prayers or simply slouched on the couch. Find a system which frees you from guilt if you miss a day; 10ofthose have some great undated devotional books. Start again. I read a blogpost in the last week about how we need to have Monday resolutions, not just New Year resolutions. And perhaps I even need to have daily resolutions. I mustn’t put off getting back on track because I’m waiting for a special season. I can reboot my resolutions today.

Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:7

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My social media timelines are full of reflections on 2013 and resolutions for the New Year. Here in the Vicarage we’ve had some great down time since Christmas to gather our thoughts. Whilst we’ve not been sleeping or waking up feeling like we’ve been dozing in the middle of the M6, that is. There’s something about a busy run-up to the festive season that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a few dozen lorries.

On reflection, 2013 was pretty good here in the Vicarage. The kids grew up a bit and are still speaking to us (except when they’re watching telly, when it’s impossible to extract even a monosyllable from any of them). The encouragements in church outweighed the discouragements by a good margin.  The clutter in our hallway has threatened but not actually managed to submerge us. I gave a Christian talk which wasn’t mainly ums and ers. I wrote a book and some people have bought it. We have seen over and over that the Lord has been faithful in the big things which concern us and the small things that bug us.

As I’ve done every year for the past few, I have been going through Don Whitney’s 10 questions as I’ve reflected. I think many of the questions will be addressed in my plan to read my bible more in 2014. And I’m going to start off by following Professor Horner’s bible reading plan – a system involving reading 10 chapters a day. You can get this reading plan if you use YouBible, although one of the recommendations is to use a single bible that enables you to become familiar with the location of passages, so I’m going to start with a comfortable softbacked ESV. Obviously this is pretty ambitious and I’m sure I’ll stumble along the way. But I want to see if I can read at the pace I normally read a work of fiction – gathering general ideas and making links, not getting bogged down in the detail. One of the hazards of too much social media consumption is the tendency to skim lots in short chunks and not sit down to read and reflect. This is what I’d like to work on this year. I want to know God through his word and be filled with thoughts of him. Dave Bish offers a similar approach in a blogpost from 2012.

Resolutions in hand...

Resolutions in hand…

My other main resolution for 2014 is to knit more. And do crafty things in general. One of the things about living in a busy Vicarage, where home is the workplace and work is in the home, is that it never quite feels like everything is finished for the day. So I usually feel guilty  (to a greater or lesser extent) about sitting down to anything that’s not *really* needing to be done. Telly and the internet don’t seem quite as deliberate as taking up the knitting needles or sitting down at the table with craft equipment. But relaxing creatively is good for me. It makes me feel refreshed and there is something there at the end which makes me smile. So I have a scarf pattern, and I have taken up my knitting needles again. And the Queen has got herself a PInterest board and I am planning to join her in having a craftier 2014.

Do you have grand (or small) plans for 2014? You might like to take advantage of the free download offered by Christian Audio this month – the entire ESV bible on mp3. And if you have an Apple device, you can now download PrayerMate for free until the end of March courtesy of London City Mission. I’ve got to hang out for the Android version… If it makes a difference just for a bit, it’s worth a go. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

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