Every first Thursday of the new year, the church leaders of Grays gather for a day of praying and fasting.

Rectory N StiffThis year – the fifth time the Fast Day has been held – the invitation was thrown wide to all leaders across Thurrock and was hosted by Rev Andy Higgs at St Mary’s Rectory in North Stifford (right). The day began at 9am and ended at 4.30pm.

Present with Andy from the outset were Colin Baker, pastor at Grays Baptist Church, and Tim Harrold of Transformation Thurrock. Present, too, was Pete Howe, until recently leader at Thurrock Christian Fellowship’s Grays congregation, who is on the brink of moving from the area and wanted to ‘say goodbye’ by spending time with some of his colleagues from Grays Leaders Prayer (GLP).

Also attending the first part of the Fast Day was Rev Bob Love, a former Area Dean of Havering, who has recently retired and moved to the borough. Later on, Rev Rosemary Pritchard and Maggie Watts of Grays Methodist Church came, and also Thurrock Christian Fellowship’s team leader Russell Godward and the TCF Tilbury leader John Peters.

The day began with some worship and Bob bought us a word he’d been woken up with in the night – simply, to “Wake up!” We spent some time praying through Ephesians 5:14-16, a theme we kept coming back to over the day:

“‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

The first ‘you’ in this is singular, but the second ‘you’ is plural – awakening starts with me, but is outlived through us. Tim also read out the Parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew 25 which has a similar meaning – not to slumber in apathy, but to be awake and alert. We were also reminded of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which urges the church to repent:

“… if my people, who aPICT18052re called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Rosemary had a picture of a bonfire of logs, branches and twigs. These represented the various gifts we bring to the whole, which the Lord will light with his fire for all to see. She further urged us to live a life that is a walk as people of The Way.

Colin pondered on these two further verses from Ephesians 5 – verses 11 and 19b:

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds…”
“Sing and make music (or melody) from your heart to the Lord.”

What ‘fruitless deeds’ do we get involved with? And how do we follow that old chorus that urges ‘Don’t let the song go out of your heart’?

PICT18062The second part of the day was spent in praying for the evangelistic opportunities that God is bringing to Thurrock in 2011 and 2012. Again, we returned to Ephesians 5, asking for the Lord to be awake to the opportunities and to have wisdom in our response. We also prayed for the wider church and for unity across Thurrock.

We took communion together, serving each other with the bread and the wine, knowing that we came together on level ground, as equals.

From this point onwards we ministered to each other for the rest of the afternoon, and prophetic pictures and words flowed.

Pictures show the Rectory; Pete Howe & Andy Higgs; Colin Baker, Pete & Andy.