Inside the mind of a writer www.scskillman.co.uk

Posts tagged ‘prayer’

Rocky Hillsides, Dark Valleys and the One Voice You Can Trust

In our lives we can often find that there seems to be one poem or a prayer which has been most helpful, most meaningful to us. For me this has been the 23rd Psalm: The Lord Is My Shepherd.

In times of strong negative emotion, the words though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil are the only ones which have the strength to meet the greatest spiritual and psychological challenges.

Last Monday I went to a Quiet Day led by Rev. Anne Hibbert of  the Well Christian Healing Centre.

The Rev Anne Hibbert, whose vision led to the creation of The Well Christian Healing Centre

The Rev Anne Hibbert, whose vision led to the creation of The Well Christian Healing Centre

Hampton Manor, Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire

Hampton Manor, Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire

It was held in the gracious surroundings of Hampton Manor in Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire. The theme was Following the Good Shepherd in 2014.

Anne is one of the most inspirational speakers I have ever listened to.  During the course of the day she opened up for us the reality of life as a shepherd in Israel, which the psalmist based his poem upon: nothing at all like our concept of sheep and shepherd in the enclosed fields of green fertile England.

The shepherd in Israel, I learned, is responsible for his sheep all the time, in a harsh, challenging environment, on brown, rocky, barren hillsides; he will build stones around caves to act as a sheep-fold; he will drive the sheep to fresh new pasture, going ahead to club the snakes and scatter salt to provide extra nutrients for the sheep. The voice of the shepherd is the one voice the sheep will respond to; ringing out over a great distance, to call in the sheep even from the furthest point to which they have wandered.

Additionally, the oil which the psalm uses as a metaphor, would be a concoction of olive oil, sulphur and spices, which would be daubed on the heads of the sheep to banish flies, gnats and parasites. Sheep, too, I learned, have a “butting order”; this disappears when the shepherd is present.  The hills of the Judaean terrain might be bright and sunny and scorching; the valleys fearful and cold; as you go under the overhang, the darkness can be overwhelming.

Several of these details of the shepherding life in Israel were previously unknown to me. Anne used each element as a metaphor for different stages of our life journeys. Now I know what inspired the psalmist to use the images he did, the meaning of the psalm is enriched enormously – as well as its application for my life.

Try having another look at the psalm here and forget about green velvety meadows, a romantic-looking figure with long flowing golden brown hair, and white fluffy sheep. Think instead of rocky hillsides, dark overhangs and snakes, and you’ll be getting closer to what the writer had in mind when he wrote those words.

A Vision of Healing Through The Power of Prayer in Leamington Spa

Over the last few weeks I’ve been taking a few hours of  time out from revising my novel, to do voluntary work for our local Christian Healing Centre, The Well.

The logo of The Well Christian Healing Centre in Leamington Spa

The logo of The Well Christian Healing Centre in Leamington Spa

I help to update the website, assist the Director of The Well, Rev. Anne Hibbert, with her blog, proofread publicity material and prepare leaflets advertising forthcoming events.

What a truly inspiring organisation this is. All those at The Well celebrate 10 years of existence this year. It began with a vision which Anne Hibbert had in a garden in Leamington Spa.

The Rev Anne Hibbert, whose vision led to the creation of The Well Christian Healing Centre

The Rev Anne Hibbert, whose vision led to the creation of The Well Christian Healing Centre

I myself have also experienced healing through prayer at The Well. Truly God has ‘unstopped the ancient wells of healing here in Leamington Spa’ for many people testify not only to physical healing through prayer, but new peace, joy and a changed attitude which transforms situations.

Many people come in through the doors of the Royal Pump Rooms on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, to the prayer teams who are waiting to pray with and for them; these may be people who are Christian, or who have no faith at all; they may be adults or children.

The power of prayer in every life-situation has been testified to many times. If you are experiencing a problem which you believe is intractable, I recommend that you too consider asking for prayer.

What a privilege it is for me to play a small part in helping Anne take this vision forward into the future.

An Answer to Prayer, or Just Good Luck?

Often traditional Irish / Celtic prayers travel cyberspace, packaged as good luck messages inspired by folk religion and treated as if they’re magic words – giving luck and chance greater respectability to our way of thinking than the idea of prayer to a God who is listening and answering. So, today I ask: ‘Why pray?’ and ‘Does it work?’  Many do pray – although quite often they may not know to whom they are praying.

When people talk about answered prayer it may be so personal it cannot easily be shared in a way that’s meaningful or convincing to others. Also, stories of answered prayer can sound like synchronicity – see my post on the subject: https://scskillman.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/how-can-carl-jungs-theory-of-synchronicity-help-you-in-your-creative-writing/ The obvious answer is that God created synchronicity. And He can and does use it to answer prayer.

Additionally, when people find their prayers are answered, often they’re amazed – and immediately seek some rational explanation as if afraid to attribute it to God and thus betray a naive supernatural outlook – which of course is anathema to the post-modern mind. But I suggest that the post-modern outlook is not the best barometer of truth.

For example, last year I was suffering from a prolapsed disc which caused intense pain in my leg. The doctor could only suggest surgery, had prescribed strong drugs for the pain and referred me to a neurosurgeon. Although I was taking the painkillers they only had limited effect. I asked for prayer at a local Christian healing centre. A week later the pain suddenly vanished. It never returned. I stopped the painkillers at once. An MRI scan later confirmed the prolapsed disc had receded.

There’s no proof that this was not coincidence but I believe it was an answer to prayer.

SC Skillman

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