Prayer is the universal language. Everyone admits to praying sometimes, even those who don’t intend to or don’t even believe in God. It is near impossible for dependent human beings who cannot control everything to consistently “suppress the truth” about God, which “God has shown… to them” (Rom 1.18-19). Even devoted atheists sometimes (in a moment of weakness) allow a “God help us,” or a “thank God” to slip out. But those of us who are Christians usually have the opposite problem – we have the same human instinct to pray, but in our weakness, we often pray less than we’d like to. I’ve never had a Christian tell me, “I pray too much, this year I’d like to pray less.”
So what is prayer?
I like this definition by Timothy Keller from his book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God: “Prayer is the continuation of a conversation started by God.”
This means, firstly, that prayer is a conversation between God and us. It’s dialogue, not just monologue. Secondly, it means prayer is never us taking the initiative, but always us responding to God’s initiative, the conversation started by God, whether in the so-called General Revelation of creation or the Special Revelation of the Bible. So obviously the better we hear and understand what God has said through life and Scripture, the better we can respond, so that good prayer is both listening and speaking. This also means we should not just try to develop a so-called “prayer life,” but rather a life of prayer, in which we constantly respond to everything that happens to us with prayer, until we learn to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17).
In his book on prayer, Keller mentions four things he did in order to learn how to pray:
1. He went through the Psalms, summarized each one, and prayed through them. How wonderfully simple and yet profoundly impactful. As St Athanasius wrote: “Most of the Scriptures speak to us, but the Psalms [also] speak for us.” Eugene Peterson notes in Eat the Book: “Using the Psalms as a school of prayer… we get a feel for what is appropriate to say. As we do this, the first thing we realize is that in prayer, anything goes. Virtually everything human is appropriate as material for prayer: reflections and observations, fear and anger, guilt and sin, questions and doubts, needs and desires, praise and gratitude, suffering and death. Nothing human is excluded. The Psalms are an extended rejection [of the belief] that prayer is “being nice” before God. No—prayer is an offering of ourselves, just as we are.
2. He inserted a time of meditation as a transition between his Bible reading and praying. This is great advice because it links our Bible-reading and prayer, God’s speaking to us and our speaking to Him. It also allows us to effectively do what Bible teacher PT Forsyth suggests: “What we receive from God in the Bible’s message we return to Him with interest in prayer.”
3. Third, he did all he could to pray morning and evening, not just in the morning. The more regularly and consistently we do something, the more quickly it becomes an established habit in our lives.
4. Fourth, he began praying with greater expectation, with greater faith. Not only does Jesus command us to pray with faith and expectation, but if we do we are much more likely to notice when He answers that prayer and thank Him for doing so.
Some more encouragements
It is a truly awesome thought that Almighty God wants to communicate with us. That He initiated the conversation and that He always listens, even when we don’t. It is true that prayer is a duty commanded in Scripture, but prayer can also become a sweet delight, something we do because we want to, not just because we have to. This however requires that we sometimes “pray through the duty into the delight” as JI Packer puts it. Such a life of prayer is a habit that needs to be cultivated and takes time. Nothing of eternal significance is accomplished apart from believing prayer.
1. For wise guidance on how to grow in a life of prayer see The Praying Life by Paul Miller and The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.
2. I’ve also found Answers to Prayer by George Mueller very helpful in encouraging my faith in prayer. This classic book contains some powerful testimonies of answered prayers by George Mueller who started multiple orphanages in England and never asked anyone for money, but just brought their needs before God in believing prayer.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]
On 12 May, the Sunday Times published an article on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) that led to public outrage concerning claims such as “children as young as nine years old will learn about masturbation when new life orientation textbooks are rolled out next year.”
In response, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) released a statement to calm the uproar, distancing itself from the Sunday Times article and calling it “misleading” and “a complete misrepresentation of the work the department is doing”.
Subsequently, CFJ Executive Director and Legal Counsel Ryan Smit met with the DBE on more than one occasion in order to confirm what will be taught to children in the new life skills/life orientation curriculum (LO/LS curriculum), and also where the controversial content originates from. Another important question asked of DBE was whether parents would be able to opt their children out of parts, or the whole, of the new LO/LS curriculum should they not agree with its content.
In the blog and video below, Ryan discusses the action CFJ has taken and what it has learnt, the processes followed and the information gaps that still persist, as well as the actual evidence of the effectiveness of CSE (spoiler: a proper interrogation of the evidence provided by UNESCO, the originator and promoter of CSE, indicates that CSE in school settings has shown little success and may be detrimental, doing more harm than good!).
You can learn more about CSE and the work CFJ is doing in three quick and easy ways:
Cause for Justice (CFJ) is a non-profit human rights and public interest organisation. It is comprised of legal experts who proactively identify and take on causes to ensure a just and flourishing society. These causes align with CFJ’s five core values, namely: (1) the responsible exercise of constitutional freedoms, (2) protecting and promoting human dignity (inherent worth), (3) protecting the vulnerable in society (social justice), (4) ensuring accountable government action and (5) protecting the family against destructive outside (and inside) forces. To this end, CFJ participates in law and policy-making processes in Parliament and government structures, and also acts in court cases to promote and protect laws in keeping with its core values.
We are excited to introduce the new Shofar Encounter Series with a fresh look, updated content, and a big focus on each participant encountering the love of God. The previous Foundation series served us faithfully over the years, but was in need of an update.
The new Encounters are both Word- and Spirit-focused. Our aim with the updated content is to anchor the teachings in God’s Word and to create space for the Holy Spirit to transform lives. We are rolling out Life Encounter (Encounter 1) first, and the rest of the series will follow in the next year or two. We trust that many more lives will be changed through these courses.
It’s where the harsh Namib Desert meets the cold Atlantic Ocean. A unique town – unique in weather, unique in history, unique in this country. A place that people flock to for refreshing. Swakopmund!
So much of this town is a reflection of what the church is called to be: A beacon of hope, a lighthouse in darkness, a pillar of fire in a lost and dying world. Different people coming together for a common purpose – to know Him and to make Him known!
In this town, God planted a church that has a history beyond Shofar, one that became part of the Shofar family in 2007; a church that has a solid foundation of mature believers who laid a platform for the next generation to run on.
Now the call is even more urgent than before: Take My Word to the next generation. Allow My Spirit to touch you and transform you.
Shofar Swakopmund has received many prophetic promises waiting to be fulfilled in His perfect timing, promises that we will be:
A place of worship and celebration, where we can praise Him with joy and thanksgiving;
A hospital to the sick; where the thirsty come for living water, and the hungry are fed; where captives can be set free;
A place to rest, where souls can be restored by His grace and mercy;
A place where disciples are made, equipped and sent into the world to become fishers of men; where armies can be trained and equipped for His Kingdom;
A place of unity, where we can stand and be stronger together; and a platform for His labourers to work from – to serve, intercede and give; and
A megaphone for the Gospel of truth and hope to be proclaimed.
Now, in 2019, a dream is starting to come true for Shofar Swakopmund to have our own building, a physical place of celebration. We’re building our own church premises, which is not only a first for Shofar Christian Church globally, but also a prophetic act and first fruit of more to come.
It is unknown territory, but we stand in awe of God’s faithfulness. Namibia is going through the worst drought in years and the economy is in a critical state, yet in the midst of this, God continues to build His church and this project will be a display of a God who does immeasurably more than what we can think or imagine, so that all glory will belong to Him.
We want to share this journey of sowing and harvesting with you and ask you to walk with us. Some might be called to walk with us in prayer, while others may feel to sow into this ground.
The project started out with a budget that was much higher than what we had, but we have seen His provision through many people who have already given sacrificially and faithfully, as well as creative fundraising.
The total cost of the first phase of the project is N$10 million (R10 million). With a contribution of N$4 million from our own region, we are trusting to raise the rest. We are very aware of our dependence on Him, and He is able to multiply the little bit that we have.
If all goes according to plan, our main building will be finished in February 2020. Should you feel led to become part of this journey or would like to contribute, please support the campaign on the Shofar Giving page.
In early July, Shofar pastors and their families gathered in the Western Cape for a blessed time together – challenging, inspiring, and ministering to one another
The “sound of the harvest” is becoming louder. We discern the urgent voice of the Lord of the Harvest instructing us to prepare to bring in the harvest. With this in heart and mind, we spent a great deal of time at the Summit focusing on maximising the effectiveness of our Sunday services as one of the core platforms for the gathering of the lost, the sanctification of the saints, and the celebration of Christ our King.
Pastor Heinrich Titus reminded us that before numbers and growth, God wants our hearts. Panel sessions highlighted the importance of making hospitality a vital part of our church culture, as well as children’s church and youth groups to disciple the next generations. We were encouraged to prioritise the discipleship of our own children, and to build a relational culture in our churches.
We rejoiced in the moments where the Spirit of the Lord refreshed us. We spent precious times in God’s presence and more than once the formal agenda was “hijacked” by the flow of the Spirit, often accompanied by healings, words of wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, and encouragement.
In one session, many confirming words were shared regarding the restoration of the prophetic voice of the “shofar”. At that moment, a painting from one of our Shofar members was unwrapped, adding confirmation that anointing will flow out and go forth from our churches.
In the last few years our movement has gone through stormy times, and healing remains a process. But it was beautiful to experience the progress in wholeness that God has established during the last year, both personally and as a group. We can rest in the assurance that the Lord will complete the work He started in us.
A word that resonated in our hearts regarding our brokeness was that God is completely aware of all our wounds and although He is committed to our healing, He is just as commited to utilise the hurts and dissapointments we suffered (and indeed will continue to suffer) to bring the good news of the Gospel and subsequent healing to others. He is as intimately involved in the process as He is committed to the final “product”.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
We are excited to announce that one of our affiliates, Empowered21, is inviting you to Jerusalem2020, a global gathering of Spirit-empowered Believers, during the week of Pentecost 2020 (31 May – 3 June 2020).
Come experience the Holy Land and celebrate what the Holy Spirit is doing around the world. Experience a life-changing Pentecost in Jerusalem as we unite in prayer and worship, hear from leading voices around the world and discover where the global Church is headed in the future.
Connect with what God is doing around the world, see your faith come to life in the land of the Bible and encounter the Holy Spirit in a fresh and powerful way.
The four-day event will be held at Pais Arena in Jerusalem, with praise and worship celebrations led by Planetshakers and Gateway Worship, powerful times of prayer and fellowship with the global Body of Believers, and the opportunity to hear from inspiring speakers such as Dr. Heidi Baker, Jentezen Franklin, Russell Evans, Sammy Rodriguez, Claudio Freidzon, Billy Wilson, Todd White, and many more.
AFRIque will give Shofar members the opportunity to travel together as a group.