This Autumn, I have stripped fruit from more or less every hedgerow in our neighbourhood — no bramble, no elderberry tree was safe! The greatest frustration with foraging is always when you see a promising patch ahead, but as you draw closer you see that only a few of the fruit are ripe, and the rest are still unready. This experience got me thinking about a certain passage in the Gospels...
Bedtime reading with the (older two) kids is currently Matthew, and we tackled Jesus and the unripe fig-tree about a week ago. Reading small passages every evening, it becomes so clear that from chapter 21 to last night's reading in chapter 24, almost everything that is said or recorded is about an attitude of readiness for Jesus. He came to His own people, to His chosen city of Jerusalem, and encountered mixed reactions - the crowd who came with Him praised, but the Temple was full of money-changers and traders; the Pharisees grumbled, but the children sang!
I'm confident that November's week of prayer won't find any Pharisaical grumpiness amongst us, but will we be busy with our daily lives, or will we make space to welcome Jesus afresh? How can those amongst us who are currently feeling more refreshed and full of faith encourage those who are feeling weary, cynical or overly busy? Here's four simple ideas:
Plan to pray together – Look ahead to the start of November, and find a few hour-long slots in daytimes or evenings when you could pray. Then ask someone to pray with you at those time, whether in person, over Skype, or on the phone. It could be a lunchbreak at work, a breakfast meeting, or an early evening when the kids are in bed. Pray together that God would prepare your hearts, and make you ready for whatever He wants to do next.
Plan to fast together – There is nothing like fasting for cultivating a hunger for God, and there's nothing like fasting with someone to help us push through. Why not pick a day together with one or two others - or perhaps your whole Community - and fast together, asking God to develop your hunger for Him?
Intercede together – Our desire is not only for our current community to be ready for God together, but also for many more who do not yet know Him to be ready too! Who are you praying for at the moment? Who are you rubbing shoulders with at work, at the gym, or when you're out walking the dog? Share your list with a few friends, and commit to praying together that the fragrance of Christ would hang about you (2 Cor 2:14-15). Then expect God to create opportunities not only to serve them, but also to witness to them!
Worship together – What is the soundtrack playing in your head at the moment? What would it be like if the tune stuck in all of our heads was reminding us of the same truths and encouraging us towards the same goals? Why not share some songs with a friend that point you to "being ready", and ask for their recommendations? For the more technological amongst us, we've put together a collaborative playlist on Spotify called "People Get Ready" (link) - add the songs that encourage you to wait on God, to live devoted lives, and to look toward His second coming!