Research conducted by the Church of England in the run up to Easter had some surprising results. Although the numbers of people coming to church have dropped, six out of seven people polled said that they believe prayer can be answered and only one in seven people said that they would never pray. In an interview, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith said: “Prayer is one of the most natural and instinctive of human responses, so I am not surprised to see these findings.”
There are all sorts of definitions of prayer, but my favourite is by St Cyril of Alexandria who said that ‘prayer is keeping company with God’. At its heart, prayer is spending time with God; it is the conversation we have with God. As with those people we enjoy keeping company with, keeping company with God will involve talking to him, listening to him and sometimes just being silent with him. Sometimes it will be just us and God, and at other times we will gather with other people to keep company with him together.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he instructed them to pray to their Father in heaven ‘thy kingdom come’. In 2016, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York invited us to use this as a focus for our prayers in the days between Ascension and Pentecost. Thy Kingdom Come has become a global ecumenical prayer movement which calls Christians around the world to pray for more people to experience the difference Jesus makes.
‘In praying Thy Kingdom Come we all commit to playing our part in the renewal of the nations and the transformation of communities.’
Archbishop Justin Welby
At St John’s, we will be focussing on Thy Kingdom Come at our services on 13th and 20th May and you are welcome to join with Sunnyside who are holding 10 days of 24-7 prayer, seeking to create a chain of prayer day and night from midday on 10th May – midday on 20th May.
Bold persistent prayer changes things: the early church was born in a prayer room in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and about 3,000 people came to know Jesus that day (Acts 2). I am really excited about what God is going to do in Bourne End and in us if we respond faithfully to his call to pray:
‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18)
with love and prayers