By Susan Paterson, BBI Missionary
RIGA, Latvia – The setting was ideal…a cozy hotel nestled in the forest outside of Riga on a warm and sunny weekend. For three days, eighty people came together to pray, worship, rest, fellowship and learn about different aspects of God’s character. Several students from the Baltic Pastoral Institute were in attendance, and we sat down with them last week to hear about their experience in Apšuciems.
One of our hopes for Prayer Days 2012 was that it would be a time where each person could experience and enjoy God’s presence. We have noticed that there is a growing hunger among Christians to stop talking and start experiencing! On the second night, we gathered together for a time of worship, prayer and “soaking”. For most of the BPI students, that was the highlight of Prayer Days. These students are immersed in studying
God’s Word on a daily basis, and for many of them, it was a special time of personal reflection. As one student shared, it was a time to “be with God, meditate and listen to Him.” It is an amazing reminder that we often crowd our lives with many good things, but neglect to take time for reflecting and listening. Another student shared that “it was a time when there was no specific theme, so I could relax and enjoy my own thoughts, prayers and requests. I was able to simply enjoy God’s presence. Usually I come to God with a list of ‘thank yous’ and requests, but I was so happy after this time.”
It is exciting to hear about these personal and unique experiences! Another student said, “During this time, I realized what David says in the Psalms when he writes ‘I want to be in your presence, Lord.’ The soaking time passed so quickly, it seemed like 5 minutes. It gave me a glimpse of what eternity will be like, with time passing so quickly in the blink of an eye.”
One highlight for many people was Catholic Archbishop Zbigņevs Stankevics, who came to speak. Many people were surprised with his openness and candour and appreciated how he truly shared from his heart. “What spoke to me the most was the Archbishop’s talk. It was very lively and open, which surprised me.”
We are praying for walls to continue to be broken down and bridges to be built within the church and outside of it as well. The time spent at Prayer Days also enabled some of the BPI students to start thinking of ways in which they could reach their own towns and break down the denominational walls there. “Nobody tried to convince me to become a Lutheran, Catholic or Baptist. But I could sense that we were worshipping one God, because we have one God.” We are looking forward to how God is going to break down those walls in the future.
There were many highlights for the BPI students and of course fellowship was one of them! “For me the most meaningful was the time was that we were able to worship together and then enjoy fantastic fellowship afterwards. It was an ideal combination.” We had a great time eating, sharing, praying, fellowshipping and sauna-ing together!
One student shared about his experience at Prayer Days, saying, “In the Bible we read that where two or three are gathered, they are gathered in my name. Often times we miss that, but during Prayer Days, I really felt God’s presence as we spent time together. It was a time of peace and relaxation where you were able to have prolonged time alone with God. It was also helpful for me to receive answers to some of my questions during this time.”
Prayer Days is about bringing people together and leading them into the Father’s presence and this was a special time for all who were there.