God 360 Foreword

by Pete Greig

Watch out! This book should carry some kind of Government Health Warning. Turn the pages and before you know it Andy Flannagan will have you washing your neighbour’s car, delaying your daily shower, reading books in graveyards and wandering around your local Accident and Emergency ward. The Pied Piper of Flannagan will lead you up escalators in the wrong direction, through blackberry bushes when there’s a perfectly good footpath nearby and into your local Toys R Us for a time of worship. He’ll even urge you to try a self-imposed power-cut.

Before Andy Flannagan went and spoilt everything with this disturbing book buzzing inexcusably with challenging creativity, the devotional genre was written mainly by tweedy men in round neck sweaters sipping Earl Grey Tea and tapping away at typewriters for the benefit of people in need of a Christian daily horoscope.

Along came Flan with this incendiary little book....Without so much as a ‘by your leave’ he hijacks the entire devotional genre in the name of Jesus, inviting each one of us to join him on a 360 degree encounter with prayer that is disturbing, demanding, occasionally funny and above all just devastatingly normal.

Normality is so often the dwelling place of God. This boring job, these screaming kids, those places and people I no longer see, still bristle and brim with God’s goodness. It is religion that blinds me and when it does it is people like Andy Flannagan that come along and remind me how to live and what I must do to be saved. Andy reflects the new breed of lead-worshippers in that he is continually seeking to bring people into a conscious awareness of the presence of God – no matter where they happen to be. He leads worship on platforms to thousands of people with a guitar in hand but he also leads worship anonymously in day-to-day life, seeking to celebrate Jesus wherever he is – even amidst those primary-coloured aisles of delight called Toys R Us. The ancients described this approach as ‘practicing the presence of God’ at all times. People like Andy teach us how to live a life of 24-7 prayer.

On Pentecost Sunday 2005 more than 220 million people in at least 156 nations joined together for the first ever Global Day of Prayer. That’s never happened before in history. A few weeks ago I was in Aarau, Switzerland helping launch a year of unbroken, night-and-day prayer across the Italian, German and French speaking cantons. Once again, that’s never happened before. What’s more, if the surveys are right, even the man-in-the-street who’s given up on church still believes in prayer.

But how do we actually do it? How do we grow in prayer? How do we develop a devotional life of active conversation with God without kissing our brains goodbye?

The thing I appreciate so much about this book is that it helps turn prayer from a big, fat, dutiful ‘should’ into a life-changing ‘could’. Andy Flanagan takes us on an extraordinary journey of discovery into new dimensions of conversation with God. He helps us to encounter Christ in fresh ways by making full use of our five senses and our daily experiences. He helps us celebrate and participate in the startling sacraments of daily routine. Here we have a book – a spirituality – that really can help ordinary people like you and me get connected with God in prayer. And it seems to me that that is one of the most important things any book could possibly do.

Two thousand years ago a bunch of ordinary men decided it was high time they finally cracked the prayer thing. ‘Teach us to pray’ they asked Jesus. They’d seen him chatting to the Father and they knew by now that these times of devotion were the key to his whole life. They wanted to learn to pray and it all had to begin with an honest admission that they needed help. These men went on to have very significant devotional lives: They prayed on the day of Pentecost and the church was born. They prayed until rooms physically shook. They prayed Peter out of prison. They prayed and got life-changing visions. Ultimately they even prayed for their persecutors and went to their deaths. These men went on to rewrite history through the extraordinary power unlocked when they learned how to see God everywhere and to hear his whisper louder than the baying crowds.

By God’s grace and humour I find myself one of the leaders of quite a big prayer movement and yet I’m still not at all good at devotional disciplines. Andy’s book reminds me that there’s no such thing as a distraction in prayer. Most things carry the thumbprint of the one I seek. And so, like those first disciples, I often find myself asking Jesus for practical help in prayer. I thank God for the helpful resources and brilliant ideas bursting out of Andy’s imagination and out of the pages of this timely book because I believe they are also bursting from the heart of God.

Anyone seen my Bible? I’m off to Toys R Us!

Pete Greig
Chichester, England February 2006

Pete Greig is one of the leaders of a world changing movement called 24-7 Prayer, to find out more go to http://www.24-7prayer.com

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