Last night St Michael le Belfrey Church hosted a 4-hour prayer gathering (Thirst 711), calling out to God for all sorts of issues in the world, the nation, the city and the church. We tried to keep it interesting and interactive, sang as well as spoke our prayers, served good quality refreshments and had a mix of styles and format.
The day before Archbishop Sentamu, the Archbishop of York spent a day praying and fasting in St Helen’s Church in York, particularly focussing on the troubled nation of Zimbabwe, calling out to God for change.
These are just two examples of followers of Jesus praying today – praying with enthusiasm and purpose. Here are people who believe that there really is a God – and that our prayers to him really do make a difference. This should not really surprise us, because despite all the talk of an increasingly secular society, all the surveys show that people in the UK pray.
Prayer is something very basic to life and yet those who don’t go to church rarely talk about it. Maybe it’s because religion for many is seen to be a private rather than a public thing. But whatever the reason, prayer is happening – in all sorts of ways, in all sorts of places.
Maybe it’s time to be more open about prayer. Perhaps some key church leaders could find an avenue for some practical, non-patronising advice/instruction on prayer, and for us to hear more of the stories about how prayer has helped people and situations.
David Watson said that ‘most Christians, if not all, find real prayer incredibly difficult. Indeed, there is nothing more difficult in the Christian life, because there is nothing more powerful or spiritual than prayer.’ If this is right, and I believe it is, then we need to pray – and encourage others to pray.
We live in a world which requires much change. If (as the saying goes) prayer really does change things, then the profile of prayer needs to be raised in this nation. Who will prayerfully take up this challenge?