Mairi and I have only known Crystal for about a year but have had the privilege of hosting her on a few occasions in our home. We connected via a legendary mutual friend, (famous for his excessive coffee consumption and beard), and hit it off immediately.
One of the reasons we connected was because of our shared passion for Jesus, prayer and gospel-centred mission.
Crystal is now heading up 24-7 prayer across Scotland, based in Edinburgh, and I wanted to invtite her to share her story to prime some more full-on excitement about what God can do with a life laid down in fanning our primal passions for committed prayer!
Crystal’s Journey in 24-7 Prayer
I was raised in church and I’ve been praying for as long as I can remember. Yet as a child and a teenager I dreaded prayer meetings at church or when my parents and their friends would decide to have a “time of prayer” and very kindly include me. I know I believed that prayer made a difference because I often prayed for situations and people.
I can remember as a child passing a traffic accident and praying for those involved or seeing the war in Iraq on the telly and praying with genuine tears for the soldiers as well as the innocents caught in the middle.
But corporate prayer? I just didn’t get the point of my being there. To me, that was a perfect job for those in the church who were retired and had plenty of time on their hands.
I realise now that to me as a young person prayer had just two purposes: 1) It was a way for me to ask God for things for myself and others 2) It was one way God used to tell me what He wanted from me.
Then I went to a Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and I had two major revelations that would change my whole life with God, influencing where and who I am today.
I discovered that God had created me for the purpose of intimate relationship with Him and that prayer, (being at its simplest form conversation with God), was the greatest avenue for that relationship to strengthen & deepen, for me to experience His love for me, to express my love for Him and to receive His heart for others.
Finding My Tribe
All my life, I had been a dreamer. When hope seemed bleak this ability to dream that God had instilled within me would kick in and renew my hope. I realised that God Himself held precious dreams within His heart and that prayer was how I could not only seek out and know those dreams, but was also a way I could help make those dreams a reality!
Fast forward 7 years.
I was still happily working with YWAM yet deep within I ached for something I could not articulate, until a complete stranger dropped a book into my lap. That book was Red Moon Rising, the story of how 24-7 Prayer began, told by the man who allowed God to start it through him – Pete Greig.
I wept my way through that book. I had finally found my tribe. These were people who understood what I had come to understand – that prayer and mission are inseparable. As one wise man once said,
“Prayer without mission becomes legalism and mission without prayer becomes dead works.”
Both are good things but, without each other, lack the power and what brings God’s kingdom to earth and establishes His reign.
24-7 Prayer Scotland
It would be 4 years before I finally moved to Scotland to work relationally with 24-7 Prayer, which came with a strong sense of stepping into what I had been destined for from childhood (but that’s for another story).
Nearly 7 years on now in 2016, I have recently stepped into the role of National Coordinator for 24-7 Prayer, Scotland. I have learned a lot these past 7 years, some of it the hard way, some of it by God’s kind wisdom, and as I have stepped into this place of leadership, I am so grateful for all that I have learned. Yet I am also so aware of how much more I have still to learn.
Why My Passion Never Changes
When we come before God in prayer, we are really climbing into the lap of our Heavenly Father, who is powerful, kind and wise and is all that is good. And as we unburden ourselves to Him, He speaks His goodness and wisdom into us, transforming us in the process.
In this place of getting to know Him better and being transformed, we become more who we really are, free and confident in our identity as His kids. This creates space within us to become more aware of the world around us and His heart for it; and as we pray for this world, we come to a place where we are no longer praying, “God, do this for this person, these people” but like Isaiah, our prayer becomes, “Father, send me.”
I believe Scotland is a nation who has forgotten who she is. Where once a heart of courage and indestructible hope was beating strong, fear and cynicism, suspicion and negativity have weakened that heartbeat to a barely discernible pulse. And so I believe it is in the place of prayer, for church-goer and church-mocker alike, that Scotland will meet with her Father King and be reminded of who she is, becoming the brave warrior who fights against oppression and injustice in the lives of others once again.
This is my dream. This is why I do what I do and I believe it is Father’s dream for this land He so dearly loves – He is the Ultimate Dreamer.
So will I see the fulfilment of this dream in my lifetime?
I think I might.