Of the many prayer meetings I have attended a few jump out as truly unforgettable. One occurred at the end of my first year of Cambridge ministry - the date December 30th. 1980 is etched as a big day. It was advertised as a look back/look ahead prayer meeting. I was surprised that in spite of post-Christmas exhaustion the room was packed with anticipatory buzz like an audience waiting for the curtain to go up on some favourite show. People really wanted to be there! The evening was split into two major parts. First, the whole group was invited to share highlights in their lives and the church's life through 1980. I used my current technology (!) -an overhead projector with acetate sheets -to record everything. I didn't want us to miss anything (and I also needed to be able to transcribe it accurately into the prayer agenda book!)
An avalanche of highlights poured in from all round the room. Praise tumbled out for those who had made personal commitments to Jesus Christ and for the powerful impact of the three baptismal services that year. Several people in the room had actually come to faith themselves in 1980 - oh, the enthusiasm of new Christians! Clear answers to prayer and deepening of relationships in the care groups and gifts groups received special Amens. We marvelled at the work at Caxton village and new initiatives with our young people. Someone said: 'For me the highlight is the new feeling of warmth and caring in the church'. Many nodded in agreement. Others spoke of their fresh understanding of corporate prayer. Free-wheeling thanksgiving filled the room. You know sometimes how giving thanks can lack a sense of immediacy. Well, this was marked by genuine gratitude to God. Spontaneity and gladness radiated throughout the room.
You can guess what a powerful spring-board this made for part two of our meeting - though what happened next remains one of the great surprises of the whole God adventure.