2023 has whizzed by. In a flash, the year has come and gone. What was 2023 like for you? What were your highs and lows?
For me, if I could describe 2023 in one word, it’s unrelenting. For me, 2023 was a year of unrelenting challenges. There were so many upheavals personally. And towards the year-end the war in the Middle East erupted  with its global aftermath. Whatever joy was left in the end just fizzled out like a stale bottle of coke.
So, I entered into 2024 with much trepidation. What will 2024 hold for us? I ask out of desperation “Does God speak to us in 2024? Will He?”
In Luke chapter 2, we read of two characters who heard from God. One was called Simeon. The other was a prophetess called Anna.
Simeon, we are told, was a righteous and devout man. He had been waiting for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the Temple courts and when Mary and Joseph brought in the child Jesus, Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace,
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And at that very moment, Anna a prophetess who never left the temple but worshipped there night and day, fasting and praying, came to them and gave thanks to God and also confirmed what Simeon had said about the Child. (Editor: Rama wrote about Simeon and Anna in Two more witnesses to Jesus.)
Wow! Will God speak to us also in this way?
Then in Matthew chapter 2, there’s an account of the Magi who had the epiphany about the Christ: how they were led by a star to the place where the Christ child was. And then having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Will God also give us an epiphany today? (Editor: Rama wrote about the visit of the Magi in Why didn’t Matthew hide the Astrologers?)
Perhaps I’m expecting too much. Perhaps I’m too absorbed in looking for signs and wonders and the supernatural. Perhaps I’m becoming too “charismatic,” perhaps …
But there must be more to this Christian life then the mundane, the usual, without any expectation, direction, hope. We need God’s protection, guidance and providence in this risky business called life. More so in 2024 and in the years to come. I’m not prepared to venture into this perilous journey without Divine help.
On the 8th of October 2023, we started a Prayer Space. I felt I needed to seek God more seriously. It was birthed out of desperation; a desperation caused by the circumstances and stresses I was facing. This caused me to really pray and to cry out to Him.
Hence, every Sunday before Church service, from 8.45 am till 10:00 am, the Children’s Room (at the back of the church) is open for prayer. There is no agenda, no programme, no script, no music (although we do sing and hum). Just a time set aside to pray and worship. Anyone is free to come and go (even children). The purpose is to pray together, to share a little, but mainly to talk to God and to be ministered by the Holy Spirit.
What happens in the Prayer Space? Nothing much, it would seem, it is just prayers. Yet I have learnt, there is nothing simple in praying. It’s no small thing to pray to an Almighty God.
What I’ve discovered is that as we pray together, by the grace of God, words are released, images come to mind. Pr Adeline also noticed that consistently as we pray, what happens in the back of the house (i.e. the Prayer Space) is congruent with the front of the house (i.e. songs, sermon and overall worship).
Obviously, we at the back of the house in the Prayer Space have no idea what will be sung, said or preached during worship later that morning. Yet consistently the words released, the prayers uttered in the back room, share the same theme as what is sung/poken during worship or in the sermon later.
For example, on the 17th of December, two words/images stood out for us. First, was the word “brokenness” While praying, Pr Adeline spoke of a vase with cracks, and that God the potter started to fill all the cracks with gold (just like Kintsugi, the Japanese art of pottery fixing). I saw an image of a tree that was strong with wide branches, and birds started to roost within the shelter of the tree. During the sermon (The Taugeh and the Oak tree), Rama spoke of brokenness and showed the very image of the oak tree.
Two weeks later, on the 31st of December, Pastor Takeshi prayed for Hope and during Worship, Nelson shared that God is our Joy and our Hope.
Again this week, 7th January 2024, as we prayed the word that came to us was “walk in obedience” and during the sermon Rev Chan said “the key factor is obedience.”
Once, as we prayed quietly there was prolonged silence when we just sat in the presence of God. Then one by one each person started to tear as the Holy Spirit ministered and touched us although no words were spoken amongst us.
As I write this, I am curious to find out what God has in store for us as we seek Him earnestly. And I wish to invite each person in BLC to join in. Make space for yourself and room for God. It’s no small thing to pray to the Almighty God.