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  November 2016: Prayer is Breathing ... pdf version

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26 ESV

Welcome to our November 2016 First Friday Call to Prayer. Our aim is to provide you with teaching that we trust will be an encouragement to you. We will also provide you with praise items and prayer requests coming from within ANiC, ACNA and the Anglican Communion.

We encourage you to set aside the first Friday, November 4th, 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
"Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other's hearts in prayer."
Charles Finney 1792 - 1875

Thank you for Praying for ANiC Synod!

On behalf of Bishop Charlie Masters and our ANiC leadership team, thank you so much for your prayers last week for our annual diocesan synod, held in Vancouver, October 25th to 28th. A year ago, there was some serious discussion as to whether we needed a "face-to-face" synod every year because of the significant cost to both the diocese and individual parishes. However, as we prayed, there was a growing sense of God's will that, despite the cost, it was essential that we gather this year, and that proved to be entirely accurate.

Bishop Charlie's charge delivering vision for ANiC's future, Archbishop Foley Beach's teaching at Clergy Day and our opening Eucharist, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali's Bible teaching on Colossians, our workshop day on church revitalization led by Canons Phil Ashey & Stephen Saul, and Bishop Bill Atwood's banquet address on the health of the Anglican Communion - all of these highlights were a great encouragement to attendees, and sent us home with fresh vision and a renewed sense of God's will and purpose for each parish, however large or small.

Thank you, once again, for being a part of the Holy Spirit's provision in covering this outstanding event in prayer.

Canon Garth V. Hunt

Prayer is Breathing
Prayer is to faith what breath is to the body.

Have you ever tried breathing only once a day? What about once a week? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? You can't go for more than a minute or two without breathing. Oxygen is necessary to the life of your body.

You are intimately acquainted with the necessities of your body, but have you ever thought about the health and necessities of your soul? Your soul is the whole of you, the entire human person. When God breathed into man the "breath of life" (Gen 2:7), he became a "living soul". If we are living souls, could there be something as important to our soul's health as breathing? Could we be suffocating without even realizing it?

"Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to the body." J.C. Ryle

Without Ceasing
The apostle Paul describes prayer as something continuous. "Be constant in prayer." Rom 12:12. "Devote yourselves to prayer." 1 Cor 7:5. "Praying at all times in the Spirit." Eph 6:18. "We have not ceased to pray for you." Col 1:9. "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thess 5:17. "I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day." 2 Tim 1:3.

Prayer is a rhythmic, constant act – kind of like breathing. It fills us with life, it reminds us of the true reality of the cosmos, and draws us into closer relationship with God Himself. Without it, our faith and our souls waste away. We go around out of breath or at worst, slowly suffocating.

Now if the idea of praying without ceasing seems hard and boring to you, then think of it like this – prayer doesn't have to just be a somber, relegated time of the day where you make your requests known to God. Prayer is so much more. It is thankfulness. It is an awareness and acknowledgement of God's presence in us and around us. It is standing in awe of his holiness and beauty. It is looking at the world through His eyes. It is a heart seeking to involve God in the decisions of our lives. Prayer is and can be to the Christian as natural and easy as breathing.

If you were all of a sudden told that you had a constant open line to the most powerful, most loving, most generous person in the world, would you talk to him/her? I think you would. Now let's try multiplying that by infinity. God is all of those things, but He is also the creator and sustainer of all things. And, in Christ, He has called you His child – His very own child. Like any good father, He cares about the little and big things in your life. Does this sound like someone that would be worth talking to? And yet, all too often, we avoid prayer.

So why don't we pray? I'm sure there are many reasons, but here are two that many of us can identify with – guilt and unbelief.

Plagued with Guilt
When you come to God in prayer, how do you feel? For me, I am often plagued with thoughts of guilt.

Do you really think that God will listen to you? You never pray – what kind of Christian are you? God must be very disappointed in you.

My prayer time leaves me feeling depressed and exhausted. But it is not because prayer itself is draining me; it is because I am listening to the voice of the accuser, and forgetting the gospel. I am failing to remember the fact that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1). My guilt is gone. I can come confidently before God (Heb 4:16), accepted and loved (Col 1:22), because, in Christ, I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). I have the righteousness of Jesus (1 Cor 1:30). This is the good news of the gospel.

When we are confronted by our sins, this should not lead us to despair, but instead to joy at the fact that our sin has been nailed to the cross and is forgiven by the blood of the Lamb (Col 2:14). His grace is always sufficient for us (2 Cor 12:9).
God welcomes us to talk with Him; to abide with Him. He has chosen to live in us by His Spirit. Don't let guilt keep you from breathing.

Distant Belief

If you are a Christian, you believe in the existence of God. You believe in Jesus. You believe that God works in the world. You even believe that God listens to and answers our prayers. But there are different degrees of belief. The closer you are to the reality of something, the deeper your belief will become. Let me explain. I believe that the stars are giant balls of burning gas trillions of miles away. I know this to be true, but because it is something I can't touch or hear or experience, the reality of this truth is vague. I believe, but in a distant kind of way.

The same can be true about our belief in God. The less we immerse ourselves in the reality of God's existence and closeness, the more distant our belief becomes. We often picture God far-removed from us in Heaven somewhere, but God is not some far-off deity. He is someone we can experience. The true reality is that He couldn't be closer to us, for He lives in us by His Spirit. Prayer awakens us to God's reality living in us and throughout His universe.

Awaken to the True Reality
J.C. Ryle said that, "Prayer is to faith, what breath is to the body". Prayer sustains faith, because the more we interact with God, the more we awaken to His close reality. We stop sleep-walking through life – we stop going around short of breath and we learn to truly breathe. Our souls crave constant interaction with God. Praying at church once a week isn't enough. Our new natures in Christ yearn to be "constant in prayer" – it is like breath for our lungs. This is who we are – a people meant for prayer.

Try praying right now. Come to God with a clean conscience – Jesus has purchased this for you on the cross (Heb 10:22). Prayer is inherently just talking to God. If it has been awhile since you talked to Him, perhaps just say a few words. "Father, I am yours." Say it over and over again. Let God's closeness permeate you. Take a deep breath. Breathe Him in. Let it restore your soul.

Bryan M. Hunt
Bryan is the Worship and Media Pastor at St. George's, Burlington ON.
He lives in Hamilton with his wife, Emily, and their three children.

Praise God …

For His great blessing upon our recent Diocesan Synod in Vancouver. May every parish in ANiC receive the benefit of this gathering as clergy and lay delegates return home refreshed and re-envisioned.

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. Especially we praise the Lord for the continuing faithful witness by the GAFCON primates and for the recent momentous meeting of the Global South Primates in Egypt.

Please pray…

For our primate Archbishop Foley Beach (& Allison) - Pray for great wisdom, discernment, courage and strength as he gives leadership to ACNA in the days and months ahead.

For Bishop Charlie Masters (& Judy) – Pray for our diocesan bishop as he shepherds the clergy and parishes of ANiC. May God grant him renewed joy, courage, wisdom and vision. Pray also for physical protection and good health in the midst of his heavy travel schedule.

For Bishop Don Harvey (& Trudy) – Pray for Bishop Don in his roles as ANiC's episcopal vicar and senior chaplain to the ACNA College of Bishops.

For ANiC's suffragan bishops: Stephen Leung (& Nona) and Trevor Walters (& Dede). Pray for discernment, energy and grace as they care for their clergy and congregations. Also pray for Bishops Ron Ferris (church planting in Langley, BC) and Malcolm Harding (retired in Brandon, MB).

For our Archdeacons: the Venerables Ron Corcoran (Vancouver Island), Dan Gifford (BC), Bruce Chamberlayne (Alberta & BC Interior), Paul Charbonneau (Ontario), Tim Parent (Ottawa Valley), Paul Crossland (Prairies), Michael McKinnon (New England, USA), and Darrell Critch (Atlantic Region & Quebec) – and our Dean of Multicultural Ministries, the Very Rev Dr Archie Pell.

For a major awakening, a sovereign move of God in our churches and across our nations like has not been seen in our lifetimes. Rise Up, O God we pray. Intervene, O Lord, in the midst of our decaying culture and society! Raise up an army of intercessors who will call out to you for a mighty visitation of your power and presence! Send out labourers into the harvest, O Lord!

For the Anglican Relief and Development Fund Canada (ARDFC) whose new project is helping the ACNA church plants in Cuba with the purchase of a van to meet their transportation needs and provide a means of revenue generation.

For the US Election early this month. We Canadians in ANiC stand with our sister parishes in New England during this critical time. Americans will elect a president, the entire House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, and 12 state governors. Please pray for Godly wisdom, discernment and courage for voters in this most contentious of elections. Lord, have mercy!

For all ANiC clergy and families, especially those experiencing spiritual and physical attack.

For the Christian doctors in Canada as they seek God's wisdom for their response to the current legislation on assisted suicide. Pray that the voices speaking on behalf of Life rather than death will continue to be heard, voices such as the palliative care doctors. Pray that health care professional across Canada will have conscience rights to not be required to refer patients for euthanasia.

For those who serve us and are in authority over us – our police forces, our armed forces, our emergency responders, our municipal elected officials, our provincial MLAs, MPPs and premiers, and our federal MPs and Prime Minister.

For God's wisdom for world's leaders with regard to the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and European nations reeling from terrorist attacks. Pray for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are seeking safety and asylum in Europe and here in Canada. Pray for those churches and communities that are welcoming refugees that they may be a witness to God's compassionate
care, both by what they say and do.

Pray for protection of innocent civilians – adults and children – who so often are the victims in today's warfare. Pray especially for the many Middle Eastern and African Christians who are brutally persecuted for their refusal to renounce their faith in Jesus.

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