Paul Strong on Praying with Seeking God’s Face
Paul Strong, a returning citizen, explains why he begins each day with Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year by Philip H. Reinders.
Paul Strong, a returning citizen (former inmate), explains why he begins each day with Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year by Philip H. Reinders.
When and why did you start using the prayerbook Seeking God’s Face?
I got the book in December 2010, soon after I was released. At first, I had a long bus ride to work so I read it on the bus. Now I read it first thing in the morning, or, if I run late, when I get home. What I like most is that it’s all Scripture. I like to start my day with the undiluted Word of God. Each day’s prayers correspond to that day’s Bible or psalm reading.
Besides the daily dose of Scripture, I like how often the prayers directly relate to a struggle I’m having, like being discouraged or having faith. There’ve often been times that I wake up thinking about something and the day’s readings have been providential, like a revelation.
How does using Seeking God’s Face help you pray differently than before you got the book?
It encourages me to pray about things I’d never think of, like for people on different continents or in different groups, like the elderly or retired.
How does it affect your day-to-day life to know that others are reading the same Scriptures and praying the same prayers?
It creates a sense of deep fellowship to know there are other people on the same pages. When you touch and agree through prayer, there’s power in that. It gives me a sense of spiritual connection to my inside brothers. The guys in prison are using Seeking God’s Face during count time. That’s the time when everyone has to go to an assigned area of control. You do that about four times a day and each count can last from half an hour to several hours. I used that time to study, meditate, pray, and read.
I am now in a CONTACT (Celebrating Our Need to Adore Christ Together) peer support group that meets every other Sunday afternoon. All of us are reading it. It’s been passed out to members of Celebration Fellowship Church at Ionia Bellamy Creek Prison in Ionia, Michigan. When our outside steering team meets, we often read that day’s pages.
How else can you stay in touch with the guys in prison?
I was a chaplain’s administrative assistant in two different facilities for three years. I helped start a Thursday night Bible study and was in charge of the religious library. I was on the Celebration Fellowship prayer team in there, sang in the choir, and served on the leadership council. And if no volunteer came to preach, then I preached.
But after we’re released, we’re not supposed to contact prisoners directly till we’re off parole. So I get prayer requests through Pastor Rich Rienstra and chaplains. I compile them all into a list for prayer partners.
Each day’s reading includes a prayer based on a Reformed confession, so does that limit which people or churches could benefit from this prayerbook?
You know what? To me, it’s ecumenical. It’s dated with the calendar day and church season, but there’s no denominational overtones so it could be useful for all kinds of people. You hear so many people say, “I need to read the Bible more.” This is a good place to start, at minimum, to get a variety of Scripture that will help you every day. We all need some Word in our lives.