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  July 2012: WHEN SILENCE IS ENOUGH ... pdf version

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

1Timothy 2:1-2 ESV

Welcome to our July 2012 first Friday Call to Prayer. Our aim is to provide you with teaching that we trust will enhance your prayer experience and will be an encouragement to you. We will also provide you with praise items and prayer requests coming from within ANiC and the Anglican Communion worldwide.

We encourage you to set aside the first Friday, July 6th, as a day of prayer and fasting for the Church in these critical days, ideally gathering with other believers in your parish or region for corporate prayer at some point in the day.

Prayer Quotes
Underneath all the often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, "You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you." That's the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen.

That's what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us "my Beloved."

Henri Nouwen (1932 – 1996)


At the risk of seeming overly “mystical” (although sometimes I feel that my typical Protestant try-harder work ethic in prayer could use a little dose of contemplative mysticism), I want to suggest that there are times during prayer when mere silence is indeed enough. So often our prayers, both liturgical and spontaneous, are offered one on top of another with barely a second between them. During prayer gatherings, I’ve been guilty myself of jumping in right after the previous prayer ends in case someone else beats me to it. Whether it’s a Sunday morning worship service or a weekly prayer meeting, if we’re going to be done in the allotted time, we just don’t have enough space for silence.

Silence is something conspicuously missing from our worship services and, indeed, our culture around us. Radio station producers call silence “dead air”, and that is to be avoided at all costs, I suppose, lest someone think that the station has gone off the air. Most TV stations don’t even take a moment to do a station identification anymore, but jam in their allotted minutes of commercial before the end of a show so that the space between the current show and the next one is virtually eliminated. Credits and a show’s closing theme music are also things of the past – credits are reduced to a narrow band on a split screen and were simultaneously bombarded with previews of other shows.

Think about it - how much “dead air” is there in our lives? The clock radio starts the day, followed by the morning TV news during a quick breakfast. We hit the car on the way to work or school and the radio goes on automatically to give us traffic reports, weather conditions, and last night’s sports scores. We go for a jog or work out at the gym with our Walkman or iPod playing in our ears. We watch TV in the evening, or have some worship music on, and some of us go to bed with the clock radio playing on “sleep” until we are asleep. We can’t shop, wait for a dentist appointment, or even ride an elevator without the quiet being broken. No, there’s not much silence in our lives.

Yet our soul cries out for it. How many flee to the “wilderness” of cottage country every summer weekend, hoping to sit by the lake, catching the haunting cry of a distant loon, desperate to find some peaceful solitude? Psychologists would tell us that we’re afraid of silence, and will do anything to prevent it, because silence affords our conscience a chance to be heard. Guilt requires noise. For others of us, it’s just the effect of our culture upon us. As intercessors, it is imperative that we find places of silence and solitude so that we can hear the voice of God, not just bombard Him with our requests.

The best and most intimate of relationships do not require constant conversation to be nurtured; there is no “awkward silence”. Watch a five-year-old curl up on the couch with her mother, cuddling in close; perhaps Mom is caressing her hair or gently rubbing her back. There is no need for words to legitimatize the relationship. Vital though it is to verbalize our love and affection for family members, in this case, nothing need be spoken. Love is in the silence.

Listen to the words of the great 17th century French saint, Mme Jeanne Guyon in her little book, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ; a book incidentally that was highly recommended by the likes of Watchman Nee, Hudson Taylor and John Wesley.

“Rest quietly before the Lord. Let this simple quiet rest in Him always be your preparation for everything. You must keep this in mind: Your only purpose is to be filled to overflowing with the divine presence of Jesus Christ and, deep within you, to be prepared to receive from Him anything He chooses to bestow on you.

“Try to find a quiet place. Outward silence develops inward silence; and outward silence improves inward silence as it begins to take root in your life.”

Let’s look at a few scriptures that support this:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations.”
Psalm 46: 10 ESV
(The New American Standard version says, “Cease striving, and know that I am God”.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says; "In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.”
Isaiah 30: 15 NIV

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint”.
Isaiah 40: 31 KJV

The whole concept of “waiting” on the Lord that appears frequently in the Psalms and prophets has to do with resting patiently in His presence. It is neither waiting for Him to show up like one waits for the bus, nor is it waiting on Him as a waiter in a restaurant might. No, it’s quiet, contented abandonment in His presence that requires neither activity nor productivity. It’s like Mary of Bethany, sitting at Jesus’ feet. It’s not about “doing”; it’s all about “being”.

It will take a conscious and determined decision to carve out some “dead air” space for ourselves. Jesus rose frequently in the night, withdrew from the sleeping disciples, and went out to spend time with Father. May I suggest that you consider rising before anyone else in your household is up? Don’t turn on the TV. Don’t check your email. Don’t even turn on the lights if you can avoid falling over things. God is waiting for you in the silence. Before you begin any worship, intercessions or petitions, spend some time in quiet “attending” unto Him. Listen for His voice. Let Him speak to your heart; “Cease striving, and know that I am God”. Amen.

This article was originally published in the AEC first Friday Call to Prayer November 2006

Garth V. Hunt+

Praise God …
For the loving Father-heart of God which draws us into a deepening intimacy with Him.
That we can be totally at rest in His presence, without needing to perform or impress; where there are no awkward silences.

For the work God is doing in the life of our diocese and province: cleansing, restoring, transforming, healing and equipping.

For the reformation God is working out in global Anglicanism – and the entire Christian Church. In the midst of chaos, He is building His Kingdom and refining His bride, the Church.

For the many ANiC “projects” and church plants – the small, but growing congregations of faithful Anglicans that He is adding to our number.

For faithful Anglican Primates, bishops, clergy and laity – throughout the Communion – who are standing for truth even when their stand for Christ and His Word makes them targets of attack.

Confess if needed…
Our fear of intimacy with Jesus that makes us uncomfortable in silence.

Our reluctance to carve out some solitude each day to spend with the Lord in quietness.

Please pray…
That each of us would recognize our ongoing desperate need of the Lord in every aspect of our lives.

That even in times of prosperity and relative peace, we would be vigilant in prayer

That we would demonstrate our faith in God’s goodness and sovereignty by cultivating thankfulness and expressing praise in the midst of loss, adversity or injustice.

That we would have a passion for souls – for those around us who need our Lord.

For Bishops Donald Harvey, Stephen Leung, Charlie Masters, Trevor Walters, Malcolm Harding and Ronald Ferris – and their families. Pray for spiritual and physical protection and renewal, for wisdom, and for a daily closer walk with God.

For the upcoming electoral synod in Ottawa in November and for God's clear leading in the election of a coadjutor bishop. The coadjutor will succeed ANiC's moderator Bishop Don Harvey when he retires in July 2014.

For our Archdeacons: the Venerables Ron Corcoran (Vancouver Island), Dan Gifford (BC), Paul Charbonneau (Ontario), Tim Parent (Ottawa Valley), Paul Crossland (Prairies), Michael McKinnon (New England, USA), and Darrell Critch (Atlantic Region & Quebec).

For ANiC clergy and their families, especially those experiencing spiritual and physical attack. May the joy of the Lord be their strength.

For those suffering under the attack of the enemy in our congregations and families. Pray for victory in Christ and healing where needed.

For new and forming ANiC congregations as they attend to the many details of organizing and launching a parish – and for other congregations considering joining ANiC.

For the ANiC congregations that have lost and are losing their places of worship. May God comfort and pour out His blessing on them. May they be filled with the joy of the Lord as they seek His guidance for new worship facilities.

For the Anglican Sojourner Fellowship as it seeks to connect and encourage isolated Christians who live where there are no biblically faithful Anglican churches.

For the leaders of the Anglican Communion Alliance (formerly Anglican Essentials Federation), as they seek to provide support for orthodox Anglicans still within the Anglican Church of Canada.

For those in the Zacchaeus Fellowship who are giving testimony to the liberation God offers those held captive in sexual sin; for the Anglican Church of Canada to listen to their testimony.

For strength and wisdom for the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Reverend Tito Zavala and for God’s blessing on the Province of the Southern Cone.

That God would continue His work in and through the Anglican Church in North America
For Archbishop Bob Duncan (and wife, Nara), especially for wisdom as he seeks to give Godly leadership through any growing pains our province may encounter
For the other ACNA dioceses.

For Anglican1000 and those engaged in church planting in Canada and throughout ACNA. Pray for courage and strength for ANiC’s church planters and for an increase in passionate, trained workers.

GAFCon Primates and Fellowship of Confessing Anglican (FCA) leaders – Pray for the Lord’s courage and wisdom as they seek to guide the orthodox reformation and realignment that is taking place throughout the Anglican Communion. Pray for the planning of the global gathering next May.

For growing support of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund Canada (ARDFC). Pray especially for the implementation of the projects which help impoverished women in Peru and Myanmar to set up micro-businesses to support themselves and their children.

For the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the process in selecting his successor. May the Lord grant to His church courageous leadership that will stand firmly for the true Gospel of Christ

For suffering Christians around the world in conditions of persecution, war and poverty – especially those in Muslim and communist countries who face injustice and violence.

For God’s protection of Israel as it is surrounded by those who seek its destruction.

For peace and stability in Egypt in the wake of the recent election results.

For a lasting peace in Sudan and in South Sudan.

For those in authority over us and those who serve our country. Pray for wise decisions that honour the Lord and promote the welfare of our nation. Pray specifically:
For those in government – both for our elected leaders creating laws and for civil servants in positions of responsibility – that they would uphold righteousness.
For judges in our court system who are charged with interpreting and applying laws;
For officers of the law & emergency response personnel who risk their lives for us.
For those who selflessly serve our country in the military as well as for their families at home.

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