Wednesday, December 20, 2006

RESOURCE ~ Forty Days to Ignighting Prayer

Inspiring and Igniting Prayer in Our Churches

Prayer in Us: "The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7). "Were not our hearts burning within us?" (Luke 24:32).

Editor's note: Since this is the two-year anniversary edition of Wind & Fire, I asked David Muyskens, who has been writing the opening article of the newsletter every month, to share a brief history of the newsletter and of his involvement in prayer ministry in the RCA. Wind & Fire is a monthly newsletter that seeks to help start, spread, and sustain a church-wide prayer movement by ministering the Word in ways that inspire and ignite every RCA congregation to become a house of prayer for all peoples.


By J. David Muyskens

It was a physician's question, now over 20 years ago, that led me to establish a regular practice of prayer. After ascertaining that my symptoms were caused by stress, he asked, "Are you trying to do it all yourself?" The question made me realize that I was not depending on God and did not have a practice of prayer asking for God's guidance and power. So I began a habit of early morning prayer. I soon learned that prayer is more than talking to God--it is also listening to God and spending time in communion with God.

At the Mission 2000 festival I was one of the writers of the Pentecost Letter that grew out of the prayers of the participants. The letter was sent to churches, challenging them to become "houses of prayer." At that event I volunteered to be the coordinator of a prayer network in the RCA, a vision of Chuck and Jean Van Engen. I gathered the names of about 100 intercessors and sent them prayer requests and short writings about prayer. We called these communications Wind & Fire, the name which those who were praying for Mission 2000 had coined. When the Reformed Church named Jonathan Brownson to be our minister of prayer, he became the editor of the electronic continuation of Wind & Fire.

It has been thrilling to see the revival of intercessory prayer in the church. My prayer practice tells me that two other forms of prayer are also needed: listening to God and contemplative communion with God. I have felt called to make those forms of prayer better known. One of the ways I hope to do this is through a book that is just off the press of Upper Room Books. It is entitled Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God.

My hope is that it will introduce people of the Reformed tradition to contemplative prayer and a way of entering into it called "centering prayer." It makes use of the ancient way of listening to God through Scripture called lectio divina. In the book there are two or three pages of reading for each of 40 days with suggestions for prayer and Scripture meditation. It also contains directions for the weekly meeting of a group of people reading the book together. This can be for an adult education course or any group of people interested in exploring contemplative prayer. The book can be secured through a local bookstore or by calling Abingdon Press at (800) 251-3320. I hope you will find it helpful.

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