May 2021: From The Minister’s Dog Walk
?I have often mentioned the blessing of dog walking as a quiet time. No Phones, email, or disturbance and time to consider and remember all that is going on or in need of prayer. Recently praying about the church and our challenges have filled my mind and that has continued once the leads are back on their hooks, and the hounds under my desk for a snooze. We can look forward to the future and problems can be resolved with fabric, finance and fellowship. We just need to trust and obey what God looks for in his people. We may find voicing our misgivings useful when we have them and we need to be honest and open about what goes on and what enrages us.
?I am reading a prayer book at the moment and it’s a very hot copy in the bookshops and the online enemies of the High Street. I saw two articles on the book and read a portion for devotion at the Circuit Leadership Team.
?The writer is interesting, honest and when you know anything about his back catalogue of work and thought, you think ‘WHO WROTE THIS!!!!’ It is warm, intelligent, real, humorous and brief. And for anyone who feels their prayer life has become jaded it’s a wonderful place to start an upgrade. Now I know for some of you if you clap eyes on these pages you may think, ‘ My; that boy is shallow;’ or easily impressed but others will read of a faith that really means something and has a very healthy conversation going on with God. It may also invite us to have a healthy conversation in life from God. It should embolden us to address those who live for themselves; or have given up; or those who are who hijacking our self determination.
?I am reminded of the story of Jonah after his less than pleasant cruise in the stomach of a whale or big fish. He goes to Nineveh after trying to dodge a preaching appointment. God says ‘it’s wickedness has come before us’. Bottom line being something is going to be done. Being the Old Testament book of Jonah, God is quite direct with the workforce of the day. No surprise then that taking a ship to Tarshish is not a great plan. Jonah’s need of prayer rises somewhat when he finds himself in the next mode of transport in chapter two. But God’s instruction doesn’t change. ‘Go to Nineveh and proclaim the message I have given you’. All those nice prayers and the job is still waiting for Jonah.
?Eventually Jonah takes the hint and gives them a real pulpit thumping sermon. Jonah is not impressed when he actually finds a gathering who hear every word and respond completely. He wanted to see them made toast, he moans at God for relenting and goes off to sulk. After a couple of days of toasting on his own (see chapter four) God speaks and Jonah admits his pain and his Lord unpacks the bigger picture in what is important. It’s an honest encounter that we should keep in mind when we have our quiet time however we do it. Especially if we have a problem that’s eating away at us.
?The book I am reading is a lesson in being connected to God in a way that many fail to achieve. It is called ‘A Comedian’s Prayer Book’ and it’s written by Frank Skinner. Yes, that Frank Skinner! Paragon Books will be delighted to get you a copy.