I live in Otley, 12 miles north of Leeds centre, and – yes – we are part of Leeds! At Eastertime, for more than 50 years, a wooden cross has been erected on the Chevin Hill overlooking, and being seen, from the town. It’s a reminder that Christ, our Saviour, has the town and its people in his heart – ready to listen and, we trust, speak wisdom to us.
Otley Prayer Network is a forum, connected with Churches Together, aiming to understand how to pray and what to do. Recently, as we have been seeking to know God’s wisdom and ways for the days to come, three key themes have emerged:
Generation to generation: How might we pass on the baton for all ages to find their part in His purposes? How shall we see people become Christians? Wisdom is needed.
Streets: To pray for where we live and move and for the many agencies and initiatives in Otley life. How might we be a ‘voice’ in the town, especially parts that have little visible Christian ‘presence’? Wisdom is needed.
How do we go forward from here?: How might churches reshape the way we do things, conduct our meetings, use our buildings and connect with communities? Wisdom is needed.
In recent weeks, that word, wisdom, has been popping into my mind; not least because I’ve been reading Proverbs – a very wordy book on many life issues. There are many references to mouth, lips, speech, and how we communicate, but, also, much about receptive listening. As James says in his letter, may we be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”.
The first 9 Proverbs chapters emphasise and personify wisdom – “let the wise hear – learn – obtain guidance” [1:5]. And – from generation to generation’ – “hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” [1:8]. And – in the ‘streets’ – ‘wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets – at the head of the noisy streets she cries out – at the entrance of the city gates she speaks [1:20-21]. And, yes, if we “trust in the Lord with all our heart, and do not lean on our own understanding; and in all our ways acknowledge him, he will make straight our paths” [3:5-6]. We will know what to do.
Here is a prayer we sometimes use for Otley:
Lord, help me to see things in a new way.
Here’s where I am connected – please look with me. Please give me clues.
I pray for the places I go to and places I see; the people I know; the things I don’t know but you do.
I ask that, on my patch of places and people, the Spirit of Christ will be known and change lives and situations.
Help me to bring the Good News of the Living God to the lives I am near and in touch with.
Your kingdom come and Your will be done.
By John Simkins, Otley Churches Together