Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Prayer - monologue

Prayer 2
3 Min Script

 Well hello again, and again I am still thinking about prayer and still wondering about lots of things concerning this subject.  Here is one for starters, why is it that for lots of people, it seems to involve lots and lots of talking?  I guess they think it’s a one way conversation, a monologue rather than a dialogue.
I have travelled quite a lot and seen many things concerning prayer; prayers that are written on paper and then pinned to trees to flutter in the wind, lots of religious people seem to have things like beads to pray with, and perhaps these things are helpful, I don’t know, but it still all seems like one way traffic. Once, when I was abroad, travelling in the back of a taxi, the driver suddenly stopped the car, scribbled something on a piece of paper, jumped out  and put the paper and some money  into a box on the wall.  When he got back into the car I was curious and asked him what that was all about, he smiled and told me it was a prayer.
In another country there was a crowd of people around a big glass box with a statue in it.  I sidled up to one of the people on the edge of the crowd and asked ‘Do you speak English?’ I find that’s always a good way for me to start a conversation. ‘Yes’ they said with a smile. So I asked him what the crowd of people were doing. He told me, ‘we are praying to our god.’ I asked him, ‘Why is your god in a big glass box?’  He smiled benignly and explained ‘You see if the god wasn’t in a box everyone would touch the god and the god would get dirty!’
It seems to me that the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, his birth, death and resurrection is all about repairing the broken relationship between us humans and Father God. Now for a relationship to be a real one it does seem to me that there ought to be two-way communication, rather than just one way.  And I know that some people do talk a lot and expect others to just listen, but I really don’t think God is like that.  Jesus said to his followers, ‘I don’t want to call you servants because a servant does not know what the master is going to do, instead,  I call you friends because you do understand, I have told you what the father has told me.’  That’s in John’s gospel, chapter 15 verse 15
Now I don’t think that communications ended with the first followers, those early disciples.  Hey, I am a follower and a disciple of Jesus and maybe you are too.  I want to know what the Father’s business is, don’t you?  Yes I know we have the Bible, but this is a new age and whilst the values don’t change some things do.  For example, I don’t worry too much about falling off a donkey like Paul, but I do worry about crashing my car! So yes, I do want a two way conversation.
So it seems to me that I need not only to talk to God, to pray, but I also need to listen to God to see what he is saying to me.  Let me tell you a little story, I was working with a guy called George Canty and he would sit on a platform in a meeting and often tell me things that were going on in the lives of people sitting in the audience, people he had never met before and neither had I.  I said to him one day, ‘Why does God tell you these things and not me?’ He said, ‘Maybe you’re not listening, maybe you talk too much.’  I remember going home, lying in bed and saying to God (praying that is) ‘God I do want to talk to you, but I also want to hear you, can you talk to me?’
Now I would say God spoke to me, but it wasn’t a voice I heard with my ears, it was more of a perception in my mind, it seemed as though God said to me, ‘Yes I will talk to you, I have always been here and wanted to, but you have been busy talking to me and not listening.’ So I said to God, ‘Okay, if this is you talking to me, and not something I am making up in my head, and it’s not me having a conversation with myself, help me to know that it really is you.’  God said to me, ‘Well now, what does this verse say?’ and he gave me a chapter and verse in a certain book in the bible.

I lay there quite a while thinking and thinking and finally I said to the voice in my head, ‘Actually, I don’t even know how many chapters are in that book, and I certainly don’t know what that verse says even though I have thought and thought.’
The voice in my head said, ‘Well there is that many chapters in that book, and this is what the verse says,’ and the words of a verse ticked through my head, then the voice said, ‘you have a Bible right by your bed on the cabinet, look it up now and see if that really is what the verse says.’  I switched on the light, picked up the Bible and thought, ‘oh dear this is not the version I usually read, so what it says in here will not be in the right language, it won’t in the words that I originally learned, I’ve got this completely wrong, this is just my imagination .’ And then I heard the voice say, ‘Did you think that I didn’t know what version of the Bible was by your bed!’ How embarrassing.  I turned to the verse and it said, word for word, what I had heard in my head.
I know God wants to talk with us, learning to listen is the hard thing and hearing correctly is sometimes even harder, we will talk more about that next time.

Adrian L Hawkes
For UCB 3 min spots
Editor A Brookes
W. 1033
Do you monologue when you talk to God? It can be much more than that....up next www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com

Monday, 22 November 2010

Prayer - Questions


Thinking about Prayer, there is lots of things that puzzle me. Let me ask you some questions.  Why is it that Prayer through the night, all night is better than prayer through the day all day?

Why is it that some people have to shout loud when they pray, Perhaps God is a little deaf, that happens when you get older, though it would surprise me if that has happened to God. Though I have to say that I doubt that he is frightened either so shouting probably doesn’t bother Him.

Why is it that when some people pray they pray so quietly in a whisper, maybe its because someone told them that if you whisper people believe you even if its not true and they hope to catch God out.

Why is it that we close our eyes and bow our heads when we pray, again as you get older that’s a recipe for dropping off.

Why is it that when some people pray they have to scrunch up their face, which they don’t do when they are talking to other people, is there something spiritual about scrunched up faces?

Why is it that when people talk about prayer, and of course fasting they make a big announcement about it, and what is that about anyway are we trying to twist Gods arm and persuade Him to agree with us.  Strange that when Jesus talked about fasting in that odd instant he said “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”

I have thought a lot about prayer, when I was a youngster around my late teens I got it into my head that praying was very good, it is, but I went along to our regular weekly church prayer meeting, every Tuesday evening, bit strange really as I was the only one under about 50 years old there. Most times it was very boring, let me be honest, and the strange thing was there was one man who always prayed at 8.40pm every Tuesday evening. It was long, long prayer, and actually I don’t really know what he prayed about, I just remember that there were lots of Fathers, Jesus, God, Lord, Our Lord, Our God, in it and it did seem as though the sentences where joined up by those words rather than and, or but or anyway, and things like that.  The thing I notice was that when he stopped the leader of the meeting would say Amen and the meeting would be over. 

Now I am older I often wonder why I went there every Tuesday, I guess I thought it was the right thing to do.  Perhaps it was.  Taught me other things even if it was not about prayer, things like patience, stick ability and consistence to name a few.
So anyway there are some of my questions about prayer for you to think about, maybe you could email me your questions or tell me of you puzzling things about prayer.

Oh and another thing, why does God need us to pray, he knows what we will say anyway.  Let me tell you a story, I think a strange story that happened to one of my prayers.

I was in a guest house in Wales, when I was woken up, I cant explain quite what I mean by that but it was a bit like God shook me and said to me “get up and pray for your friend and he said his name” Now I was only in touch with this friend spasmodically, I met him some years previously in Italy, but he was Finnish.  So I got out of bed and prayed for him, praying I no not what because I didn’t really know why I was praying.  I suppose I could have stayed in bed and prayed, but it seemed it was serious so I didn’t.  I even kneeled down, bit unusual for me I must confess.  I kept talking to God about my friend and finally felt, O.K. God I reckon you have heard my prayer and answered it whatever the answer is!

By the way this is before emails, mobile phones and text messages, but I did write a letter to my friend and ask him where was he at 3.00am on such and such a date, and what was he doing?  A few weeks later he wrote back and told me, he said “ I was out late at night talking with people about Jesus, finally I was by myself and a man came up to me with a knife and pushed me down a dark ally, I thought it was the end, he was obviously trying to rob me, I was up against a wall with the knife to my throat, when suddenly he dropped the knife and ran away, and I don’t know why there was no one there and now one came to my rescue, why do you ask”.

Well what I really want to ask is God obviously new what the situation was, and he obviously did something about it, but why should I be involved, I guess I was encouraged by the timing and the answered prayer even though I didn’t know what I was praying for or about, but it’s still strange isn’t it.  Maybe it’s because God just loves to involve us in what he is doing.

Adrian Hawkes
W. 943
Prayer 1 for UCB
Editor A Brooks

Calling all God botherers... when we talk to him are we twisting his arm or working with him? Discuss.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Were Are We Now?

Where are we now?

Many people do not understand that spending a heritage is like draining capital; in this case it is cultural capital
Many do not understand that our UK cultural capital has been laid down over many centuries via strong Judeo-Christian emphasis; that does not mean that I believe we have ever been a ‘Christian country’ whatever that means.  But we have inculcated values that help us live, keep us safe, make us  generous and help us to treat each other with respect and dignity.
Each time a bit of the law of the land reverses that cultural capital, or erodes it by practice it makes many things harder for all of us.  In what way you might ask, well in very practical ways, for example:
·         The pressure to keep married if you are married
ILL: as someone said on Radio 4 question time recently, we have dismantled the family and replaced it with the welfare state and it really isn’t working.
·         The pressure to stay sexually healthy
·         The pressure to benefit your children with a stable home and good role models both male and female
·         The pressure to stay financially solvent
·         The pressure to care for the stranger who comes into our country
·         The pressure to work and care for others

We need to understand that these values are in the culture, and actually they did not appear from nowhere.
ILL: Recently I was in a government think tank environment and we were asked to come up with ways that OFSTEAD inspectors could judge if a school is working well ‘morally’; OFSTEAD are required to inspect a school on that subject by UK law.  We were told we couldn’t change the law, but we could advise best way forward.  My problem straight away was how do you get a moral base unless you have a moral giver or to put it another way a law giver.  In my group were Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Roman Catholics and some from ACE Christian schools, oh yes and one humanist.  All agreed moral imperatives don’t come from nowhere, all except that is the humanist.  I asked him why is it that Britain is often so generous to other countries who are far away but who are going through natural disasters like earthquakes, or famine or floods.  Why is it the British are actually very good givers, yet there are other nations who are as rich as we are if not richer yet they see no need to help, his response was, ‘well that’s their problem we have ours.’
The humanist argued with all those who expressed any kind of faith saying to me, we are generous because we used to be a colonial power!   Hang on a minute I thought colonialism was, to a great extent, about getting what we could from others, or did I miss something. 

Yes I know it was about trade, and also Christians went along to share the message of good news, but there was a lot of exploitation too. In the end I said to the humanist, I am so glad you disagree with me, (he did on every subject), and he looked puzzled and asked why.  I said well if you agreed with me I would think I must be wrong!

People of a faith may disagree on a lot of things, but they know one thing and that is moral prerogatives do not come from inside mankind; rather it comes from another source.  Each time the culture takes its own supposedly amoral direction, but more often than not, immoral direction then we have squandered a little more of our culture value capital, and in the end we are broke, morally, and that’s worse than having an economic downturn or financial cut backs or being  financially broke.


I worry about those who think there is no strategy to people of the way, or that we do not need one. I am sure we do, but not one that hems us in, or turns us into ‘religious’ people or that becomes humanised, corporate, institutionalised and fixed. We need that Celtic wild goose experience that is God led, and let me tell you He has a strategy. 

 Why do you think that in the early first century people like Paul set their face toward Rome, it was a lot more than the tourist in him, he new that Rome then was influential and he want to influence.  Why does Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem, he is determined to go there, scripture says it was the plan, it was the Fathers strategy for rescue.

So what is our strategy?  It ought to be to influence, to be salt, to be light.  Not to attack, notice Paul starts at the point where people are, he circumcises John Mark, because he believes that he should be so, not because he was willing to go in that direction but to enable others to hear him.  On Mars Hill, he starts where the people are. He says ‘I see you have an alter to the unknown God, I have come to show you him!’  Does he start by quoting scripture at them no; rather he says, ‘your poets have said....’  Our strategy must not be condemnation, but friendship and cooperation without letting go of who we are and what we hold dear.  How many Muslim, Hindu or Sikh friends do you have? You need them. If you haven’t got any then go and find some, understand them, understand their culture, understand their ways, not for false compromise but because scripture says that he that who wins people is wise, very wise.

One of the frightening things that we do is to dehumanise people, we do this by giving humans strange names that make them less than human which then enables us to treat them as other than wonderful beings made in the Image of God. I noted in the Northern Island troubles that Catholics would refer to Protestants as Prods and the Protestants would refer to the Catholics as Papists, both in a sense dehumanising each other so it’s almost as if, when you kill them you are not killing a human being. And also like phrases used in war: ‘body count’  or ‘civilian collateral damage’ for those phrases read ‘dead people’, or worse still mothers, sons,  fathers, daughters; that changes our perception, do not dehumanise people they are people whom God loves.


What will it look like?

Do we know what we are looking for – personally I want to be obedient to the command to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God’ and if we are seeking it we should have some idea what it will look like when we find it.  ‘Our Father which art in Heaven, your Kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Peace, righteousness, justice, wholeness, let’s find it, Let us be the salt / influence that brings it to earth. Let us be a light that shows the way.  You cannot do that without being involved in the culture, changing it, seeking the Kingdom in it, in the areas that make and mould the culture education, arts and media, politics, business. And you can’t do any of that without getting your hands dirty and being involved and that means touching all the people not just the ones that you perceive are nice enough to become Christians; whatever that means.

Newcastle on Tyne 22nd October 2010
Adrian Blog
Editor A. Brookes
W .1264

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Did British culture just drop out of the sky? And as it changes dramatically is that a coincidence too? coming soon to www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Each time I think I will move on to the next Blog someone post a new comment GREAT adrianhawes.blogspot.com