TKC Prayer Devotional – Day 2

Bible Passage

“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’” – Revelation 4:9-11

“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!’” – Revelation 5:13

A Thought for the Day

What an incredible scene that John paints for us here. As John describes the environment of God’s rule in Revelation chapter 4 he shows us a group of “living creatures” that are declaring God’s holiness and eternal nature. This is what all creation does: all of creation, in its very existence, declares the holy (unique, set apart) and eternal nature of God. Today, as you pray for your five, join in with all creation in praising God for who he is.

But John’s painting doesn’t end there, it moves on to the “twenty-four elders” who are also worshipping God in the environment of God’s rule. However, notice how their worship is different. They don’t just declare that God is worthy, but they also declare why God is worthy. This is what sets mankind apart from all the rest of creation; when we worship God, we say why. Today, as you pray for your five, take your place as a part of God’s creation made in his image, and declare why God is worthy to be worshipped by all.

As we continue to journey through Revelation, John continues to reveal why God is so worthy of our worship. In chapter five John adds to God’s qualifications for worship as creator the reality of redemption through Jesus’s sacrifice. “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain” rings out in worship. This reason for worship is so great, it leads John to declare that “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea” will worship God and Jesus for who they are and for what they have done. Take a moment to soak in the reality of this prophetic word: every creature.

This is why we worship, because God, through Jesus, has purchased “persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” to be his kingdom. Such is the glory and majesty and mercy of our God, no tribe or language or people or nation will be left out or excluded; we all make up his kingdom.

So too, this is why we get on our knees and pray for our five again today. We pray for them believing that they are included in “every creature under heaven…” and will one day give thanks to God for all that he is and all that he has done. We pray for them believing they are included in “persons from every tribe…” and have been purchased through the blood of Jesus, just as we have, to join us as a part of God’s kingdom and God’s priests.

So, as you pray for your five today, pray with the authority of Jesus, acknowledging who God is and what he has already accomplished for them through Jesus. Pray for their salvation and rescue to come quickly, knowing that the reality of their salvation through Jesus is why God is so worthy of our praise.

Praying for your Five:

“Heavenly Father, all glory and honour and power and praise truly do belong to you! You created [say the names of your five here] and have purchased them through the blood of Jesus to join me in your kingdom and serve alongside me as your priests. May it be so! In the name of Jesus, be faithful to finish the work you have started and bring them into the fulfilment of what you accomplished through Jesus by birthing faith in them today, by granting them your Holy Spirit and his assurance of their place in your family, and by enabling their voices to join with ours in worshipping you for who you are and what you have done. Amen.”

Praying Something Old

Here is a portion of a prayer attributed to Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century AD. Make it your prayer today, and then pray these truths over your five as well.

Lord, because you have made me, I owe you the whole of my love; because you have redeemed me, I owe you the whole of myself; because you have promised so much, I owe you my whole being.

Moreover, I owe you as much more love than myself as you are greater than I, for whom you gave yourself and to whom you promised yourself.

I pray you, Lord, make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge; let me know by love what I know by understanding.

I owe you more than my whole self, but I have no more, and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you.

Draw me to you, Lord, in the fullness of your love. I am wholly yours by creation; make me all yours, too, in love.

Praying Something New

Find time to go for a walk today, somewhere nearby to where you live. Worship God for the creation you see and ask him to fill your heart and mouth with its praises, and then let those praise out in worship to the God of creation.

TKC Prayer Devotional – Day 1

Bible Passage

“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’” – Isaiah 45:22-24a

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

A Thought for the Day

Today marks the beginning of an eleven-day period where Christians around the world will gather, pray, fast, and pursue God over the salvation of their families, friends, communities, and nations. We are encouraged to each choose five people, who we think do not yet have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, and pray for God’s Spirit to birth faith in them and draw them into God’s family.

Many of us, have been praying for close friends and families like this for our whole lives. Years of pleading, fasting, and praying for their rescue. Some of those have joined our number, but many have not. So why do we keep on praying? Why do we keep on asking if nothing has happened yet?

Pete Greig, the founder of 24/7 Prayer and author of many fantastic books about prayer, often challenges us to consider that the next time we pray for someone may well be the moment that everything changes for them. That vibrant hope and faith are so important, and act as fuel to keep the fire of prayer going day after day, especially when it seems like it is making no difference.

Isaiah and the apostle Paul remind us of something in the passages above that is, perhaps, even more important to consider and remember as we get down on our knees and pray for our five again today: God’s promises.

Notice God’s authority in what he says in Isaiah, “a word that will not be revoked.” That word is that every single person will bow before him. The people you are praying for will one day bow before God, that is a promise that will never be revoked. Paul takes that promise and shares it to us again in the light of Jesus.

Jesus is the fulfilment of that promise because it is by and through Jesus that God is going to do this rescuing work. Paul takes this thought a step further for us from Isaiah 45 and declares in Philippians 2 that because of Jesus every single person will “exomologέo” (acknowledge) that Jesus Christ is Lord. That Greek word means to openly and wholeheartedly confess, acknowledge without any reservation to the point of it being worshipful. Because of what Jesus did, the people you are praying for will not only one day bow before God, they will also openly and wholeheartedly worship Jesus as Lord.

So, as you pray for your five over these next ten days, and hopefully beyond, remember that every minute of prayer has extraordinary value because God will keep his promises.

Praying for your Five:

“Heavenly Father, we know that your promises can be fully relied on as you will never break your promises to us. We are so grateful for what you did for us through Jesus, and that because of Jesus we can be a part of your family and have eternal life. Today I pray for [say names of your five] and declare that I believe that what Jesus did for me, he also did for them. It is in the name of Jesus, the only name I can approach you through, that I call on you to birth faith in them, to give them a revelation of you and your love for them, and to be faithful in leading them to the time and place that they will worship Jesus as their Lord. Amen”

Praying Something Old

Here is a portion of a famous prayer attributed to Saint Patrick from the 5th century AD. After you pray it for yourself, you could insert the names of your five in place of yourself to pray Christ over them.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

of the Creator of creation.

I arise today

Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

Praying Something New

We believe in a trinitarian God; that God is one but made up of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Most Christians have a tendency to direct their prayers to one of these three. As all three are involved in the salvation of your five, take some time to directly pray to and connect with each aspect of the trinity about your five. Sit with each of them, chat to them, listen to them, and ask them to rescue the five you are praying for.

Thy Kingdom Come – Prayer Devotional

Tomorrow starts Thy Kingdom Come 2021 and with it, eleven days of intentional and focused prayer for revival in our nation and salvation for those we know around us as we approach Pentecost Sunday.

Thy Kingdom Come have produced a whole host of great resources for the period, from prayer journals to new hymns to family activities with the Cheeky Pandas to 24/7 prayer rooms. Head over to their website to check it all out.

Each morning during this period I am going to post a short devotional to help you pray for your five: five people you know who don’t yet have a faith in Jesus (as far as you know) that you are committing to pray for each day. Each post will follow a similar structure starting with a Bible passage and devotional thought, and then suggesting a range of old and potentially new prayers for you to explore over the course of the day as you pray for your five.

So please, join me on this journey over the next eleven days and let’s see God’s kingdom come in our homes, communities, and nation.

Grace and peace,


Can we be missional in spaces we control?

“The deepest reality of life in the Spirit depicted in the book of Acts is that the disciples of Jesus rarely, if ever, go where they want to go or to whom they would want to go. Indeed the Spirit seems to always be pressing the disciples to go to those to whom they would in fact strongly prefer never to share space, or a meal, and definitely not life together. Yet it is precisely this prodding to be boundary-crossing and border-transgressing that marks the presence of the Spirit of God.” – Dr. Willie James Jennings

We are all becoming more familiar with existing in the state of not being in control. And it is hard. Psychiatrists will tell you that a lack of control is a significant component to the impact of traumatic experiences. So much so, even therapy becomes traumatic when the patient has no control within that setting.

For many of us therefore, control is something that we seek at almost any cost. We build it into our relationships, our finances, and our futures as if the gaining of control is somehow equivalent to maturity. Our lives are structured to pursue it and build walls of protection around it as if it is as important as the air we breathe.

What if… what if every time we take control it removes control from someone else? Or maybe that is exactly the point of it – it somehow lifts us above the crowd around us. Which is good and right when those around us are hurtful, abusive, or toxic; and it is helpful when you are trying to exist without the support of others or to be “successful”.

The problem is, control is fundamentally opposed to how the kingdom of God operates. Through Acts the disciples learn that the Spirit’s presence removes control. When did we forget this and think we could be a missional presence in environments that we have completely shaped and structured? The Spirit’s mission requires us to be in Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth – the unfamiliar spaces we have not crafted and are not in control of what takes place.

Please hear this: we cannot help others grow to be the followers of Jesus they are being called to be in the controlled and sanitised ecosystems of Sunday morning services and weekly Bible studies. We must lead them into spaces where neither of us are in control and join in the flow of God’s Spirit.

You may not want to give that talk, or be in that church, or live in that community; and maybe those are the beginnings of God leading you down a different path. But what if that is God leading you to the place his Spirit is churning up the waters?

This pandemic has ripped control from many of our churches, and there has been a move of God’s Spirit in saving work not seen in this country in a long time. Let’s not quench the Spirit and count down the days until we are in control again. Instead, let us make moves now to forever push us into spaces we do not control. For this is where the Spirit is. This is where God’s kingdom flourishes, grows, and makes itself known.

Please pray for your local churches as they wrestle with how little control they have, both as they heal from its traumas and as they humble themselves to join in what the Spirit is doing here beside them. Pray that they would be brave and choose to enter more spaces they have no control of to make disciples and announce that God’s kingdom has come.

Recent Feedback – Mental Health Training for leaders and volunteers at Christ Church Highbury

On 8th February 2020, I led a full day’s worth of training sessions introducing mental health and supporting those who struggle with it better. My sessions included:

  • An introduction to mental health and our role in supporting those that struggle with it.
  • An introduction to stress and trauma, it’s impact on us holistically, and what we can do to begin to have better well-being in the midst of it.
  • An introduction to how our bodies respond to stress/trauma, how we can become hyper-sensitive to these response systems, and how we can support individuals in regulating themselves in these states.
  • An overview of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, self-harm, eating disorders, psychosis, and suicide – and how to support individuals struggling in that way.
  • Thinking through how to make our churches safe spaces for those that are struggling and introduced the tool of Character Strengths to aid in our support of individuals.

Around 10 people attended the event held at Christ Church Highbury, London. I asked for those there to fill out a feedback form on the training I provided, and 9 of the 10 did so. In four different areas they ranked me from 1 (awful) to 6 (excellent). Here are the average scores from their reviews:

  • Session Content – 5.89
  • Session Delivery – 5.89
  • Interaction Level – 5.33
  • Use of Media – 5.11

Here are a few quotes from some of the participants:

“Really great day that built on some of my existing knowledge.”

“I appreciate the fact that you did not come from a clinical or psychiatric background, I found this refreshing and more accessible. Thank you.”

“Very informative! Even though I’ve learnt a lot of this before, I felt like I learnt more information and more detailed information.”

“I felt reassured that we are on the right track in how we are supporting vulnerable homeless adults, but equally learned new aspects and insights to improve on what we do.”

Recent Feedback – Mental Health Training Morning for Salt & Light Church Pastoral Teams in the South West

On 18th February 2020, I led 2 hours worth of training sessions introducing mental health and supporting those who struggle with it better. My sessions included:

  • An introduction to mental health and our role in supporting those that struggle with it.
  • An introduction to stress and trauma, it’s impact on us holistically, and what we can do to begin to have better well-being in the midst of it.
  • An introduction to how our bodies respond to stress/trauma, how we can become hyper-sensitive to these response systems, and how we can support individuals in regulating themselves in these states.

Around 22 people attended the event held at Christ Church Woodbury. I asked for those there to fill out a feedback form on the training I provided, and 17 of the 22 did so. In four different areas they ranked me from 1 (awful) to 6 (excellent). Here are the average scores from their reviews:

  • Session Content – 5.59
  • Session Delivery – 5.71
  • Interaction Level – 5.41
  • Use of Media – 5.12

Here are a few quotes from some of the participants:

“This was an extremely informative session – delivery was engaging and content useful.”

“Very worthwhile and interesting. Informative. I am a Samaritan so all help gratefully received!”

“Matt is a great communicator and has great practical and theoretical knowledge of the subject.”

“Very informative and thought provoking!”

Recent Feedback – Introduction to the Gospel with SWYM’s “Be Transformed” Students

On 29th-30th October 2019, I led 8 hours worth of training sessions introducing the Gospel and how to use it with children and young people. This was a part of South West Youth Ministries’ foundation year training scheme called, “Be Transformed”. Over those eight hours, here are some of the things we looked at:

  • An assessment of our understanding of the Gospel, an introduction to the Gospel and an introduction to Kingdom theology.
  • We looked at the big picture of the Biblical narrative and the Gospel’s climactic place within that.
  • A session on the story of Jesus, and particularly what it was meant by him being “The Messiah”.
  • We took an in-depth look at the story of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, how Jesus used those stories to share his good news, and how we can too.
  • A session on what it means to contextualise something, and how we can do that with the Gospel by understanding people’s hopes, fears, and beliefs.
  • We looked at the impact the Gospel has on us and how we can use it as a tool for discipleship with our children and young people over two sessions.

Around 12 people attended the event held at SWYM’s training base at Brunel Manor in Torquay, Devon. I asked for those there to fill out a feedback form on the training I provided, and all 12 did so. In four different areas they ranked me from 1 (awful) to 6 (excellent). Here are the average scores from their reviews:

  • Session Content – 5.92
  • Session Delivery – 5.83
  • Interaction Level – 5.17
  • Use of Media – 5.75

Here are a few quotes from some of the participants:

“All content was explained super clearly and any questions were welcomed and answered clearly.”

“Matt is very open to questions and helps the tone be relaxed enough to feel comfortable and enabled to leave feeling empowered!”

“You’ll never look at the Gospel the same way!”

“This has blown my mind in the best possible way! I can already feel what we have spoken about and what I have learnt having an impact on relationship with God.”

“The teaching was excellent as it was both deep and relaxed simultaneously.”

“I really enjoyed unpacking the Bible stories and looking at the meaning behind them and their message.”

Recent Feedback – Introduction to Children & Young People’s Mental Health at Preston Plucknett Parish, Yeovil

On Saturday, 19th October 2019, I led a two hour training session introducing the topic of mental health with children and young people. This was one of four sessions organised to look at different topics on mental health by a team based at St James Church, Yeovil. My session included:

  • A 30 minute session looking at brain development in children and sharing some of the approaches used by Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson in “Whole Brain Child” to help children develop more integrated brains.
  • A similar 30 minute session looking at the changes, particular in terms of brain development, that occur in adolescence and approaches to help adolescents develop more integrated brains found in Dr. Siegel’s “Brainstorm”.
  • A 30 minute session on trauma, how it impacts our brain’s development and functionality, and how to support children and young people who are carrying these burdens.
  • A 30 minute session taking a brief tour through the major mental illnesses and exploring how we can best support children and young people that are struggling in these ways.

Around 20 people attended the event in Yeovil, Somerset. I asked for those there to fill out a feedback form on the training I provided, and 14 did so. In four different areas they ranked me from 1 (awful) to 6 (excellent). Here are the average scores from their reviews:

  • Session Content – 6.00
  • Session Delivery – 5.86
  • Interaction Level – 4.75
  • Use of Media – 5.79

Here are a few quotes from some of the participants:

“Fantastic session Matt, I could listen to you all day.”

“As a grandparent of granddaughters in a situation of a mentally controlling father to the mother, I can see the well-being health of the girls and watch out for the danger indicators.”

“You are clearly knowledgeable and passionate about this topic. You speak clearly and concisely. Incredibly interesting. Easy to understand and keep up. Thank you. I will be reading the books you recommended.”

“Would be excellent guidance for any parental/guardians evening in schools, churches, etc.”

“This training gives clear information about why and how people develop and suffer from different conditions and helpful suggestions about how we can accompany people in a helping way.”

“Incredibly informative and for one an enlightened event. I will take what I learnt and share with others. Amazing!”

I am a church leader, and I am drowning.

The following was originally published by Church Growth Trust in the autumn 2019 edition of their magazine, “Foundations”. As today is World Mental Health Day, I thought I would post it here as an encouragement to church leaders that feel overwhelmed.

“I like dark mornings. For me, there is something about the quiet solitude of rising before the sun that feels sacred. However, there are seasons where getting up early for that space of devotion, prayer, and mindful worship is difficult. My young family don’t always make that easy, with middle of the night cries for help. Then there are the times when life feels so overwhelming and exhausting, ministry seems fruitless and without much hope, the problems look like giants in the valley, and pushing yourself to get out of bed before you have to requires just that bit more than you have left.

In Luke 5:16 we read, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

All throughout the Gospels we find Jesus retreating off to quiet, lonely places of solitude and prayer. Usually we read this and reflect on Jesus’ solid devotional life and on how we could all be better at retreating off to these places too. But I think there is more going on in these moments than that.

Jesus lived with a culture that valued community over individualism. In his culture, people didn’t spend time alone, unless they were carrying something so overwhelming they believed it was in the community’s best interest to be apart. Jesus withdrew to these lonely places because of how overwhelmed he felt by the needs around him and the road in front of him.

Just pause for a moment and let that sink in. Jesus, God incarnate, had times where he felt overwhelmed.

And sometimes so do we.

Tom Wright speaks about the impact Paul’s time in Ephesus had on him in his book, “Paul: A Biography”:

“Paul was used by now to bodily suffering, but in Ephesus he had experienced torture at a deeper level. His emotions, his imagination, his innermost heart had been unbearably crushed.”

Take a moment to flick through 2 Corinthians in comparison with 1 Corinthians, the scars of ministry are weighing heavily on Paul after the riot and imprisonment in Ephesus. He is weary. He is disheartened. He is overwhelmed.

And sometimes so are we.

Another family decides to leave. No one is turning up to the prayer meetings. The emails full of petty complaints seem endless. The baptistry is so dry it is being used as a storage cupboard. Every week brings with it something else that has broken in your building. Despite increasing the amount your family is giving financially to the church, there still isn’t enough money in the budget. One of your leadership finds out they have cancer. A member of your church dies by suicide. Your spouse is fed up with you giving all your best time to the church, leaving leftovers for your family.

Being a church leader can be very overwhelming.

Stress is a good thing, it is our God-designed way of dealing with inevitable changes in our lives, and it can make us more productive. It enables our bodies to fight, run away, or freeze to cope with danger. When stress is moderate, predictable, and controlled it can help us build resilience to the tough aspects of life. However, when it is unpredictable, prolonged, and severe it creates a hypersensitivity to stress in our brains. This hypersensitivity can be utterly debilitating, causing over-reactions to the smallest of problems and leaving us feeling exhausted from being on high alert all the time. If this goes on long enough, it can lead to significant struggles with depression and anxiety.

So what do we do when we are overwhelmed?

Remember that God dwells in the darkness.

In Exodus 20 as the people send Moses to speak with God on their behalf it says in verse 21, “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” And then there are the words at the start of John’s Gospel, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Read those passages again, God is in the darkness. So take a moment to pause, reflect, and notice the living God dwelling in this darkness with you. You can trust him here too.

Remember the sabbath day, by keeping it holy.

When things are overwhelming, one thing is crystal clear, something needs to change. Reduce your workload. Go on a retreat day. Build a walk into your daily rhythm. Get to bed earlier. Have two days off in a row. God can hold everything else while you do, that is why the sabbath was made for us.

It is also worth building a practice of journalling about your day before bed, it enables your brain to focus on repairing your body and boosting your immune system while you sleep.

Remember your friends.

In addition to sleep, one of the few things in life that replenishes our emotional energy is laughter. In “The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog”, Bruce D. Perry talks about how being a part of a healthy community and having healthy relationships is vital to both mitigate the impact of trauma and recover from it. More than that, when we are engaging in healthy relationships our brain produces the optimum amount of telomerase needed to repair the telomeres that keep the cells damaged by stress and ageing healthy.

So, send a text, make a call, knock on a door and connect to some people that you find life giving.

Remember your calling.

Take notice of the last thing God spoke over you. Are you still living that out? If so, you can have confidence that God will give you what you need to see this season through. If not, do what you need to do to get back to it.

Remember that suffering is holy ground.

No one is as committed, faithful, and loyal as our God is. When you remain faithful despite the lack of fruit, when you persevere through the difficulties, you create a space where people can taste this holy attribute of God. In my experience, being open about how hard life is, and that God is still good, is a powerful testimony that often bears fruit in those we’ve begun to believe may never turn to Jesus and his offer of salvation.

May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be yours.”

Recent Feedback – Mental Health Training Day for Lee Abbey Staff

On Thursday, 5th September 2019, I led a training day for the staff at Lee Abbey as an introduction to mental health and supporting those that struggle with it. This included:

  • A 90 minute session on stress, the impact it can have, and how to manage it. We also looked at the arousal response system and the dissociative response system, recognising hyper and hypo-arousal, how to support people back to a window of tolerance, and the impact of chronic stress/trauma creating a hypersensitivity to either of these responses.
  • A 60 minute session on trauma, particularly the developmental impact of trauma in childhood and how that impacts our adult lives, and strategies for supporting individuals with that background; including how to create safe spaces for them.
  • A 90 minute session introducing the major mental illnesses, strategies to support individuals struggling in those ways, and a positive approach to mental health called “Mindfulness-Based Character Strengths”.

Around 13 people attended the event in Lynton, Devon. I asked for those there to fill out a feedback form on the training I provided, and they all did so. In four different areas they ranked me from 1 (awful) to 6 (excellent). Here are the average scores from their reviews:

  • Session Content – 5.69
  • Session Delivery – 5.38
  • Interaction Level – 5.08
  • Use of Media – 5.31

Here are a few quotes from some of the participants:

“A good grounding for understanding such a complex issue.”

“It was so helpful to engage with someone who is coming from a faith perspective and from practical experience of working with folk with mental health issues.”

“The training was comprehensive with a good balance of scientific background and practical strategies for promoting mental well-being. It was also God-centred. Thank you!”

“A wide range of useful insight in both recognising mental health issues and supporting people both re-actively and pro-actively.”

“Informative, realistic, good timings and use of open questions with one another after each section. Appreciated direction with regard to books, further resourcing – thanks.”

“Mental health is something I have had not much understanding of. Matt made so much sense and it was very helpful to hear stories and his rooting the knowledge in a “God” framework.”