This morning as I rushed out the door I grabbed the Moore College prayer bulletin and an old envelope with 2 notes to myself scrawled on it (EQUIP conference and cancel allergy appointment). I've quoted and blogged about John Woodhouse's inspiring words about prayer and righteousness, from that prayer bulletin, over on the Matthias Media CHN blog.
I got out the door three minutes before the next bus was due and saw a bus leaving from the bus stop. Why does the heart sink when you see a bus leaving, even when you know full well it's not yours? Well it could have been I suppose. It was the 9.04 leaving 12 minutes late. The 9.19, which I was about to catch, was only five minutes late. There is no necessary connection between the lateness of one bus and the arrival of the next, but the late arrival of a bus is enough to unsettle the soul ever so slightly.
Anyway I spent most of the bus trip praying or being distracted. The praying was helped by Woodhouse's words (see CHN link above) and by the physical presence of a slightly scrunched prayer bulletin in the hand.
I'm not entirely sure why my friends who send me prayer letters have stopped sending me letters, and now only send me e-mails; worse, e-mails with pdf attachments. I have never consciously requested e-mails in place of letters; whenever I am asked what I would like, which is not often, I ask to be sent a letter. I am fairly hopeless at praying, and I always try to pray when I get the e-mail or the letter, but if I am busy I am almost always going to ignore the e-mail and hope to catch up with it later. The other day I started praying through e-mails as I was deleting, but it felt like business rather than pleasure.
With paper letters, however, both I and my girls always feel our spirits lifted when we receive them. The girls love taking it in turns to check the letter box. I enjoy the slightly negative relief of realizing that I haven't been sent a bill, bank statement or piece of advertising. Then later, I open the mail and pray for the person, and from time to time will put the prayer letter into the kids' Bible (David Helm's Big Picture Bible. Really, really good!) and talk about the letter from the friend over our Bible reading time at dinner.
If the letter is really lucky it will end up on the floor next to the toilet, and the contents will end up being prayed about some more; a lot more, depending on how dodgy the take-away I bought at Wynyard turns out to be.
And this morning I prayed for many of the staff and students at Moore College while on the bus, and thanked God for the theological programme that Moore College is setting up in Alexandria. Because I happened to have a scrunched up prayer letter in my pocket, grabbed as I was hurrying out the door. I prayed for the Doyles in their loss. I thanked God for the Webbs' first grandchild. I prayed for the people who heard Mark Thompson speak at the Moore College Graduation last night.
You may well ask why I don't just print the e-mails that my friends send, so that if I really want the paper I will have it, and not at their expense or the expense of their mission organization. Well I do! Every time I remember and have the time, and the printer is working, I do that. So far in the last 3 or 4 years, I have printed off about 2 letters. I will do it again, too, when I remember.