“If you Abide in Me” was the theme for the NEC Prayer Area Coordinator Retreat held on 29thNovember to 1st December 2019 at the Whitemoor Lakes Conference Centre in Lichfield, Staffordshire. The theme was based on the premise in John 15:7 (If you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you.NKJV).
The programme was developed by the newly appointed Prayer Sponsor for the NEC, Sis Frederica Reid, and started on Friday evening looking at the association between attachment style and our prayer life. Building on the discovery by psychologists that children learn to trust within a secure attachment to their primary carer, Christians also learn to trust God by forming a secure attachment to the True Vine, through prayer. It was a welcome testimony to the importance of prayer that President Richard Jackson and his wife Angela joined us for the evening.
Following the tradition of Prayer Harvest Ministries, where most of the Prayer Area Coordinators developed their passion for prayer, everyone made it to the early morning prayer that started at 6am led by Sis Eseata Steele and Sis Sharon Scott. “Waiting on the Lord” is a recurring message to us in the Bible that we often struggle with, yet God encourages us to wait only upon Him (Ps 62:5), to wait for His counsel (Ps 106:13) as well as His salvation (Ps 62:1), even as He promises to renew our strength (Is 40:31) and give us our meat in due season (Ps 145:15) and as we wait on Him.
The first session after breakfast explored the Vine and the Branches. After confirming the sole purpose of the Branch was to bear the Vine’s fruit, we reflected on John 15:1-8 and other Scripture to respond to salient questions like what is the purpose of the pruning process and how does the Vine affect the fruit bearing capacity of the Branches? These foundational questions brought out new insights and understanding, particularly how the branch represents the surrendered life where abiding Christians live Christ’s life as represented in Gal 2:20 (I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.)
In the divine hour, several Prayer Area Coordinators shared their personal reflections on the Lord’s Prayer. Every line was expanded with Scripture, the Spirit of Prophecy and other Christian writers enabling everyone to experience the richness embedded in the Prayer. One powerful reminder was that Satan’s most successful temptation to sin comes from our association with the ungodly and uniting in their amusements, customs and spirit (EP From Eternity Pass 324.2), but we can overcome. “If you want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in your human flesh, you must dwell on the tragedy of God. Break away from your personal concern over your own spiritual condition, and with a completely open spirit consider the tragedy of God. Instantly the power of God will be in you. “Look to Me…” (Is 45:22). Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there.” (Oswald Chambers., REF + page) Ultimately, we want to be in a position where God’s will is done in earth as in heaven, therefore we should seek to abide as Branches in the Vine, and in so doing we will bear the Vine’s fruit.
After lunch, and a short walk, we reconvened for intercessory prayers where we circled through each prayer station offering up supplications for each request, but only after Sister Steele prayed on the armour of God as outlined in Eph 6:10-18. We covered our members and spiritual leaders at each level in the UK and the world church as well as social and political issues that are relevant to our times. Sis Carol Douglas closed the session with a prayer for the intercessors.
Testimony time in the evening was simply powerful. God’s love, care, purpose and power shone through time and again. It was good to give God all the glory and all the praise. We were also treated to the children’s artwork that they completed during the intercessory prayers.
The closing sessions on Sunday came all too soon. As we recounted what we heard it was clear that everyone present had had a momentous experience. We were thankful to Sis Frederica Reid for putting together such a powerful programme, and also to Sis Pat Quarrie and Sis Sharon Scott for leading our praise time throughout the weekend.
“Jn 15:7 will be forever words of special significance to each one of us. The more that the Prayer Area Coordinators can spread this message, the more the NEC can look forward to fruit, more fruit and much fruit.