Proximity or Presence


Edition 3: Day 40

“…be filled with the Spirit”
— Ephesians 5:18


I stood face-to-face with a young man who was overcome with emotion. He had just responded to a call to be filled with the Holy Spirit and was trying to figure out what had just happened in his life. His voice was trembling as he spoke,

“I came forward to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and I think it just happened. As I prayed, it was like every space in my soul that was resistance to the love of Jesus, every place that was blocked to the fullness of His presence, melted away. I feel overwhelmed by the love of Jesus. Is that it?”

I smiled and embraced this young man. I whispered in his ear, “Yeah, that’s it!” He had moved from proximity to presence.

One of my deep concerns for the C&MA is that we have a rich theology of the Holy Spirit but an impoverished experience of the Holy Spirit. In many ways, we have become afraid of our own theology. We can end up living in proximity to the presence of God but not enter into the presence of God.

In 1901, Andrew Murray addressed a group of missionaries in Africa and boldly declared, “The key to the missionary problem is missionaries. They believe in the presence of the Spirit of God but they lack the encounter. There never should be a missionary ministry that is not full of the presence of the Lord.”

Do you lack the encounter? For many, the fear of losing control keeps them from experiencing the transforming presence of Jesus. We stay close to the flame but never experience the fire! We desperately need an encounter with Jesus.

When Paul commanded the believers in Ephesus to “keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit,” he was calling them into a deep experience with the living Christ. He was not asking them to have a measure of the Holy Spirit and to know a good deal about Christ, but to be wholly filled with and possessed by the Holy Spirit, utterly lost in the life and fullness of Jesus.

It is time to move from proximity to presence?

“Father, let the Holy Spirit have full dominion over me, in my home, in my temper, in every word of my tongue, and in every thought of my heart, in every feeling toward my fellow men; let the Holy Spirit have entire possession” (Andrew Murray, 1828-1917).

1. Are there any issues of control that keep you from experiencing the fullness of  God’s Spirit?
2. Have you settled for proximity rather than presence? Are you willing to boldly ask for more?

David Hearn is the President of the C&MA in Canada.


Photo credit: zoomion via / CC BY-NC-SA

Praying for Globally Scattered People


Edition 3: Day 39

“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night”
— Psalm 121:5-6


The Apostle Paul admonished us to pray always. What do we pray about? Typically, we pray before meals. We pray for our health issues, family matters, studies, jobs, and church-related concerns. Some pray for mission fields and select missionaries. This is commendable.

God also calls us to care for the wanderer (Isaiah 58). A great place to start is to pray for the migrants or the scattered people who have great need. Psalm 121 reminds us that God watches over and protects those who call on Him. The following is a guided prayer for migrants*:

O God, I do not fully understand the flight of humans; they are mysterious and too deep to fathom.

Today, I specifically pray for the Diasporas, the scattered people in our borderless world. Too many of them are like grains scattered in the vast field, in the world you created. Some of them are left with no choice but to leave their homeland because of the forces of nature that have washed away their properties and destroyed their homes. Some flee the terrors of war and conflict. Still others leave for the betterment of their lives and advancement of their careers. For reasons I do not know, these scattered people are now separated from their families, isolated from their communities, confused, and lonely in a foreign land.

I pray for the homeless and uprooted refugees; have mercy, Lord.

The children caught in the middle of wars and conflict; protect them, Father.

The women trafficked and sold into the sex industry; preserve them, Almighty God, and destroy the work of the enemy.

The newly landed immigrants, Lord, may they plant roots in their adopted country and be anchored in Christian community.

O God, now I commit the millions of migrants who traverse the globe. May they find peace, strength, and joy in Christ Jesus as they travel throughout our world.

This is my prayer, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the friend of the migrants and pilgrims.

1. Ask God to reveal to you a specific person or a Diaspora population in need of prayer.
2. Commit to regularly praying Psalm 121 on their behalf.

Sadiri Joy Tira, D.Min., D.Miss., serves as Senior Associate for Diasporas for The Lausanne Movement and as the Diaspora Missiology Specialist for the Jaffray Centre for Global Initiatives at Ambrose University.

Photo credit: Lukas Verduijn



Edition 3: Day 38

“The Lord is my shepherd…he leads me…He guides me…you are with me…”
 — Psalm 23


When I Google images of God, I see a very unhelpful caricature. There are a hundred versions of a muscular, slightly-older-than-middle-aged, white-haired, bearded man with kind eyes somewhere in the clouds. Unfortunately, this image has contaminated the Christian imagination.

God is not a sky-dwelling muscular man. Jesus said that “God is Spirit…”

(John 4:24). God is omnipresent; wherever God is, He is wholly there. One of the points Jesus was making is that God is not more in Jerusalem than in Samaria. No; wherever we are, God’s supreme presence is there.

David made the same point in Psalm 23: whether we are by the cool waters and green pastures, or we are at death’s door, or in enemy territory, God is with us.

We can have confidence in all situations because God truly is with us.

He is no more with us at a church service than throughout the week. Jesus said, “…I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20). We live in the presence of God. “…In him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28).

The real question is not whether God is present; it is whether we are present.

Are we really present to God’s attention and grace in each moment? Do we have an increasing awareness of His nearness, or are we waiting for our next prayer meeting or church service to experience His presence?

Reflect on Psalm 23 and let it awaken you to God’s delightful and comprehensive presence that’s with us every minute of every day, wherever we go.

1. Take a few minutes to reflect on your image of what God is like.  Does it align with Scripture, such as the passages highlighted here? If not, ask God to refine your understanding of Him.
2. Are you present?  Ask God to heighten your awareness of His constant nearness to you. Pause throughout the day to acknowledge God’s presence.

Stuart McKnight is Lead Pastor of Vernon Alliance Church, in Vernon, British Columbia. He and his wife, Teresa, have six children. They have enjoyed the Okanagan Valley for twelve years. In their words, “They get to live where everyone else goes for holidays!”

Photo credit: EssjayNZ via / CC BY-NC-SA

Praying in the Holy Spirit


“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life”
— Jude 20-21


Jude isn’t the only one to speak about praying in the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul also tells us to “…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…” (Ephesians 6:18).

One of the keys to seeing prayer become an avenue for releasing God’s presence and power is to pray in the Holy Spirit.  What does it mean to pray in the Holy Spirit? I had this question for many years. I have come to see that praying in the Holy Spirit is supernatural co-operation with God. It means that I actively yield to the prompting of the Spirit by constantly keeping my heart and mind in a posture of seeking and listening to His voice and faithfully speaking out what He brings to mind. To pray in the Spirit means that He communicates and downloads His heart to ours, from His Spirit to our spirit, resulting in our declaration of His words.

I often experience the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit in one of three ways:

• Through a sudden conviction about a direction to pray.
• Through witnessing a change of tone and clarity in my words in the flow of my prayer.
• Through the urge and prompting to begin praying in tongues, outwardly when I am alone, and usually quietly when I am in the presence of others.

When I have entered into a time of praying in the Holy Spirit, my experience has become a surprising dynamic moment when I know I have been in the manifest presence of Jesus. There is nothing else like it!

1. What do you feel are the greatest hindrances in your life to praying in the Holy Spirit?
2.  How often do you intentionally position your heart and mind to hear God’s promptings before beginning to pray? Consider making this a new pattern in your prayer life.

Shane Gould is Lead Pastor of Burlington Alliance Church, in Ontario. He and his wife, Linda, have three children and a passion to see God’s people live in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Mining Rich Resources


Edition 3: day 36

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you…”
— Colossians 1:9-14


I live in Sudbury, Ontario, where mines are over a mile deep, full of iron ore, rich minerals, precious metals, and gemstones.  Extracting them requires technique, experience, and skill.  Nevertheless, millions of tonnes of rock must be processed and “mucked out” by hard work.  Lives are lost in this process.

Chaplains go down into dark places to shed light and to bring out precious jewels. They use their ears, eyes, and hearts to carry hope, comfort, and understanding along fault lines of distress, disease, dis-ease, fear, conflict, doubt, trauma, and pain. They are in deep.

Colossians unearths incredible resources that are available through Christ. Whether you are coming alongside a person to offer comfort and support or find yourself in need of encouragement and strength, this passage reminds us that through prayer, God provides wisdom, strength, and power that enables us to persevere.

1. Read Colossians 1:9-14 to mine for resources that are available to you.
2. Is there someone for whom you could pray in this way?

Paulette MacRae has served with the C&MA since 1984 and continues to be shaped by God through service. Paulette is an Alliance Chaplain who is part of the network of over 100 chaplains in the Association of Alliance Chaplains.

Photo credit: sylvia@intrigue via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Private Fears


“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward…”
— Genesis 15:1-6


When Abram rescued Lot, he had just faced down Kedorlaomer and the kings with him! After defeating so great an enemy, he was still afraid. It might be inferred from the rest of this passage that Abram thought he’d see the end of his days without an heir, without a son to remember him. Knowing this, God immediately addressed Abram’s fear.

Abram responds by noting four times that he is without a son. “But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’” (Genesis 15:2). Before giving God a chance to respond, his fear unbridled, Abram continues, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir” (Genesis 15:3).

The Lord tells Abram, “‘a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Genesis 15: 4-5).

“Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Wow; this was an intensely personal conversation about a private fear. As the result of God’s assurance, Abram displayed faith and was credited righteousness! Abram’s faith had worldwide and lasting implications!

You may think you have a secret fear, a private fear that eats away at you; this fear might feel like it never leaves you, even after a great victory in your life. God already knows about your fear. If you admit it to Him in prayer, you may find it to be one of the most meaningful experiences of your entire life. It may even change lives someday! The Lord is our shield, our very great reward.  Amen.

1. What is your private fear?
2. What stops you from talking to the Lord about it?

Marcus Verbrugge is the Seamless Link Advisor for the C&MA’s Central Canadian District, and author of Beginnings—Growing in Prayer through Genesis.


Celebration Sunday 6

Oh, let us believe, let us conceive, let us burn with intense desire, and we shall see the great and mighty things which prayer has brought already, and which it will yet bring to pass in the closing days of the Christian dispensation.
— A. B. Simpson

The six Sundays are not counted among the forty days of Lent because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” – a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. With this in mind, let’s pause today to celebrate the opportunities we have had this week for deeper intimacy with Jesus.

Let us also consider during this time of celebration that we are actively participating in this journey together, in community, with thousands of others. Lets encourage one another, and inspire each other with thoughts and ideas as we celebrate together what the Lord has graciously done for us.

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Edition 3: Day 29

A Reflection on Prayerlessness

Edition 3: Day 30

Selfless Intercession

Edition 3: Day 31

Ministry from above

Edition 3 :Day 32

Proclamation Prayer

Edition 3: Day 33

Prayer, Refugees, and Global Impact

Edition 3: Day 34

What Jesus Is Doing Right Now