Finding God in Quietness

Stories to encourage and strengthen – Wycliffe World Day of Prayer 2021

In January 2021 the Wycliffe Global Alliance’s Prayer Team held a virtual retreat. With the help of Karen Block, who is part of SIL International’s spiritual life team, we spent one hour together on Zoom each day. This set the scene for the next 24 hours but each one then spent several hours in the day praying alone, meditating and doing prayer activities as we sought God for refreshment and guidance for the year ahead.

A river flows through the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan. Photo: Marc Ewell

Our passage for the week was Jeremiah 17: 5-9, which spoke to us of how those who are deeply rooted in God live fruitful lives regardless of circumstances. God spoke very clearly to us and by the end of the retreat we sensed that our goal for the year as a team was to be strengthened by God in order to strengthen others.

Here are some testimonies from the team:

‘Taking time away to rest and be spiritually refreshed was a wonderful experience. As we waited on God he spoke deeply into our individual lives but yet spoke very similar things to us as a team. I found praying alone, especially in my home, required more effort than I expected but I had significant encounters with God. I came away sure that he wants each one of us to drink deeply of him every day. 

‘God was very kind to us and spoke to us in ways that reflected our own experiences. He said very similar things to two of the team using images familiar to them, the image of bamboo to someone based in Asia and the Amazon rainforest to someone in the Americas.’

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‘As we contemplated the passage of Scripture, one phrase that stood out to me was this: “The tree planted by the stream…never fails to bear fruit.” It is easy to become concerned at times, that we are not doing enough, not producing as we should, not being effective in the ministry to which we are called. This verse reminds us that if our confidence is in God, and we are drawing from the stream of His Word, we will bear fruit. It is a given. We do not need to focus on how much or how little produce is being generated. We can trust and be confident that we will always bear fruit. This message encouraged me!’

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‘“Strengthened to strengthen” was my takeaway from a spiritually refreshing retreat. Although it was a virtual retreat, together with united hearts, we sought the Lord’s grace by the power of the Holy Spirit and his Word. It was a powerful visual learning experience as we individually used creative meditation that helped us realise that our priority is to strengthen our roots, produce fruit and stay green. And by our united strength and rootedness in Christ, we draw from the fullness of his grace and extend the same goodness and love to the communities we serve. Our reliance remains on God alone. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV)’

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‘God spoke to me in the midst of a somewhat chaotic context for a retreat, surrounded by family responsibilities. Even small bits of stepping aside to listen and contemplate resulted in unexpected refreshment. He started by “plowing the ground” of my heart through the first lectio divina exercise. Two phrases from Jeremiah 17:8 stood out: “does not fear when heat comes” and “no worries in a year of drought” (NIV). I wrote in my journal: “Worry and fear thread their entangled roots and thorns through my life. I desire to be free of them! To instead let trust, confidence in the Lord build strong roots in my life.” A mental image of those gnarly roots of worry and fear choking my life brought tears. “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” (v. 7). Perhaps the beginning of trust is allowing God to turn over the soil to reveal things that need to be brought into the light, showing us corners of our lives where our roots need repair.’

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‘Two words or phrases came into focus for me from the passage in Jeremiah: Roots that reach deep and water. As I contemplated this before the Lord, my thoughts were drawn to plant life.

‘A plant that does not have healthy roots will not grow well and eventually die. Many plants have their roots hidden away under the soil. The only way you know that a plant is healthy and growing is by its lush foliage and fruitfulness. The life of the plant begins and is in its roots.

‘The roots of a plant, although hidden away in darkness, are not staying idle or waiting passively for something to happen. They are reaching deep for water. So I am encouraged that the times of darkness are also the times to reach deep for the water. Water is a symbol of life. The Holy Spirit is the water of God that revitalizes, energizes, strengthens, refreshes. It is a continuing act to follow Christ to grow strong and be rooted. (Colosssians 2:6 & 7). God will water others, refresh and strengthen them through my life as I put my trust and confidence in him. He brings the growth, he gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6)

‘It was a delight to experience God’s heart being expressed through each one in the team. He spoke to us individually and then confirmed that word through each one during the time of sharing.’

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‘Karen prayed for the team using the words of Psalm 52:8 – “But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.” The picture of thriving in the house of God is so precious, may it be true for me, for us in the prayer team.’

 

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