"Now is the time to reclaim the rich fullness of our faith by putting down deeper roots in prayer, study and celebration so that we can all hear the call of the Christ who comes to us, stays with us and sends us." Bishop Stephen of Ely writing in 2012.
Prayer is relationship with God, the relationship that we are intended for, where we find out the truth about ourselves and where we can truly flourish and become the people God intended us to be Prayer is the privilege of the child of God and one that we hold precious.
Prayer is the lifeblood of any living, breathing congregation. When we meet we pray together, for ourselves, for those around us and for the world. It is our first and natural response to any news, whether it is about something joyful or something calamitous. We pray together every Sunday, but that is only part of the story. As in any relationship, the more time we spend with God, the closer our relationship will get. One week a month we have a special prayer slot at the 10 a.m. church service where someone speaks about what they will be doing this time tomorrow. This then leads into a time of focused prayer for those involved in these areas of life, whatever they are.
But weekly prayer at the Sunday service is only part of the story. Many prize the discipline of daily prayer. To aid with that there are prayer diaries published and available on the web and elsewhere. These are produced by Churches, Dioceses and Organisations.
How do we begin to pray outside service times? How can we enter more deeply into prayer? How can we refresh our times of prayer when we find it difficult to pray? The idea of this page is that from time to time a new idea will be suggested to help with this battle. Over time this will grow into a resource of things that people have found useful in helping them to pray. Here are some resources that you might find helpful.
The Anglican Communion prayer diary can be found here. There are also monthly pages that can be viewed on line.
The Ely Diocese has a daily prayer spot on the front page of its website here, which includes the Anglican Communion items.
The USPG, the Anglican mission agency has its prayer page here. This can be downloaded and printed.
One organisation that many of us have links to is Christian Aid. Their prayer diary can be found here.
Pray as you Go
On the first Saturday of the month at 8.30am we have a meeting in the pavilion for coffee, croissants and prayer about the life of the church. Do come and join us.
Some people find praying aloud and praying in groups particularly difficult. We are self-conscious about how our prayers might sound to others. We reveal more of ourselves in our prayers and so it takes a measure of trust for us to take part. However, it is so encouraging to meet with others to pray, to hear and share their faltering steps and sentences, to revel in sharing in other people’s vision of God our Father.
In the gospel of Matthew 18: 19-20 Jesus is recorded as saying:
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
When we meet in His name for prayer on Saturdays, whether it is two or three or many more, He promises to be with us. He is there in the physical presence of others as we come together. He is there in the love shared for one another and the wider community as we talk and catch up after a busy week. He is there in the shared relationship, the shared bond that we all have with Him as we pray.
Think about ‘if two of you on earth agree... it will be done...’ Whilst this is a promise it cannot override the nature of God, of who He is, and bind Him to act out of character. There will always be ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Not Yet’ in answer to our prayers. ‘Yes’ because this is a good thing that He wants to do; ‘No’ because we have not seen clearly what He is doing already in that situation and ‘Not Yet’ because He can see the best time to act is still to come.
Acts 12: 1-19 provides one of the best examples of why we should meet together for prayer. Peter has just been arrested and thrown into jail and the church is in disarray. They did the only thing they could ‘the church was earnestly praying to God for him (v5).’
In response to the prayers Peter is miraculously released and goes to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, (the relation of Barnabas who travels with him and Paul later on in Acts.) Whilst we can guess that Mary was there, it was her house, and that John Mark would have been there, we only know for certain the name of one person who was at the meeting. Have a read of the passage, it will only take a few minutes. Here’s a link to it. Acts 12
It’s a surprising person. Why are they singled out for mention by name? Compare their reaction to that of the others praying at the house.
I do not doubt that they were all praying ardently for Peter to be released. However, their different reactions to their answered prayer are instructive. This passage shows a wide range of ability to believe that God will act and has taken action.
When we meet to pray together, we come together with a similarly wide range of ability to believe that our Father will act. We all have our ‘blind spots’, places where we doubt God will intervene. In any one person this can vary from topic to topic, because of who we are and the experiences we have had. However, when we share our prayers with others, who may not have had the same experiences, their silent faith supports our spoken prayer.
Come and join us on the first Saturday of the month. You can make a difference.