Dear Friends

Those of you who contribute to the Sentinel regularly will be aware that items have to be with the Editor on or around the 20th of each month for inclusion in the following month’s edition. Which means that, since we last went to print in May, there have been a number of major incidents in our own nation, which have rocked our sense of peace and scarred the lives of so many families and communities.

First, on the 22nd May, there was the attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22, mostly children and young people and maiming many others.

On the evening of the 3rd June, the attack at London Bridge and Borough Market took place, claiming the lives of eight innocent victims.

The Grenfell Tower fire occurred on 14 June 2017. As I write, the Metropolitan Police have said that 30 people are confirmed dead with a further 28 missing and presumed dead, but warning that this figure may still increase.

And today, on the 19th June I, along with the rest of the nation, have awoken to yet another terrorist attack. This time, a man has driven a van into worshippers near a north London mosque. Victims and casualties are still to be confirmed.

Four major incidents in the space of just one month, leaving us all feeling a sense of despair and overwhelming sadness for those caught up in any one of these occurrences.

For us in Britain we have experienced, in this last month, what many people in the war-torn places of our world experience on a daily basis and for months and years on end.

It is right that we should feel angry and sad; it is right that we should feel a sense of gloom and anxiety. It is right that we may feel a sense of helplessness and fear. But as dreadful of each of these events have been, events that will have had a life changing effect on many people and families, I am certain that God did not create us to live in a constant state of dread and worry.

There are doubtless many practical ways in which we can offer support to the victims of these recent events but I suspect the most obvious response for many of us will be to pray. Prayer is a basic part of life as a Christian. But why? Why do we pray?

Whole books have been written on this subject but let me try to give you just four reasons why I would assert that prayer needs to be a crucial part of our daily lives.

· In a world filled with chaos, we pray because prayer is the antidote to anxiety. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We pray because prayer alleviates our weariness. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

· Prayer deepens our relationship with God. Prayer brings us closer to Him. He created us with a need for connection and prayer is connection. Praying is talking to the Lord, just like friends talk to each other and are brought closer together through their sharing. When we pray, we share our innermost being with Him. Through prayer, we are transformed and renewed. Prayer reminds us that we are dependent on God and not on ourselves. Prayer draws us closer to God.

· We pray to seek God’s will for our lives. “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was

woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:15-16). God had all of our days written out before we were born. We are not a mistake going somewhere to happen. We haven’t been placed on this earth by chance. Where and when we were born, the parents God gave us, our personality and everything else about us, was orchestrated by God for a specific purpose.

However, we can’t assume that God’s will is automatically going to come to pass in our lives. It won’t. God’s will doesn’t always come to pass. It was never God’s will that people would burn to death in a tower block or be mown down by a knife wielding terrorist. We are each responsible for discovering God’s will for our own lives and we do that through prayer.

· We pray because God cares for us. What a comfort to know God cares. He is interested in every detail of our lives. He wants us to involve Him in every aspect of our lives. He promises to listen, to help and to protect. He promises to be there. When we pray, we surrender and release our thoughts, worries and desires to God. We pray because prayer shifts our attention to “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

Four good reasons to be persistent in prayer. God understands our prayers even when we can’t find the words to say them. If ever there was a time we needed to pray together as a nation, it is surely now?

May God give each one of us a renewed urgency in our desire to be disciplined in our time set aside for regular prayer.

Every blessing

Carolyn







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