Whenever Christians meet together, they pray. As Methodist Conference is meeting together (Representative session 26th June – 1st July) we pray for all who will attend the Conference in person or online and for an openness to the promptings of God’s Spirit in all Conference decision making. Sometimes the words of prayer are well loved & familiar and have been recited by the Church from ages past; sometimes the words are fresh and raw, gushing from the deep cries of people’s hearts. On other occasions prayer is silent. Or it may arise simply from the shared activity of people who love Jesus Christ ‘living, working in our world’. (STF 398– There’s a Spirit in the Air)
Prayer is a conversation with God; it is waiting on God – both in the sense of listening and serving. Prayer is sustaining, encouraging, nurturing, challenging and engaging. It is the lifeblood of the Church and so it is all the more important that we focus on prayer as we emerge from a year of ‘lockdowns’ & ‘restrictions’ and consider what our priorities might be as individuals, congregations and circuit going forward. Of course, prayer is not just for the ‘insiders’ – those who are already part of church. What forms of prayer might be appreciated by others in our communities? How can our churches be part of their communities through a distinctive contribution of prayer?
Life is full of coincidences and, at times, it is full of ‘God-incidences’. Such a ‘God-incidence’ is happening in churches across North Lincolnshire. The very same week that I had my Ministerial Development Review where I said I felt called to encourage prayer for individuals, churches, circuit and beyond, Rev Jonathan Oatridge visited our Circuit Staff Meeting to talk about the work he is doing gathering information about projects that churches are involved all across the county. He shared how he felt led to invite local churches to devote time in the month of August to specifically praying for North Lincolnshire. This prompting has subsequently been affirmed not only by our Methodist Staff meeting but by church leaders from a whole variety of churches across the area – a genuine ‘God-incidence’!
‘Praying for North Lincolnshire’ will not look the same for every congregation or individual. For some it may involve using printed prayer resources made available. For others it may include prayer walks in their community or further afield. (The New Life Church are making available a list of 7-8 mile prayer walks around the borders of the county.) For some it may involve adjustments to prayer groups already established and for others creating new prayer partners/groups. What shape will prayers for North Lincolnshire and beyond take in your church & community? The invitation/exhortation is there to talk about it as congregations and then to share what you may have gained through listening to God in this way with the wider circuit and ecumenical groupings your church may be part of.
What happens after August, some of you may be thinking? Well, on an ecumenical front, that depends partly on what insights emerge from our collective listening to God’s heart for our area. As far as my role within the circuit is concerned, I hope to offer creative prayer suggestions and opportunities throughout the coming year. Please feel free to get in touch if you feel you could be a ‘prayer champion’ for your congregation so that we can share the blessings of prayer together. (It is perfectly fine for some churches to have several ‘prayer champions’ but all churches should have one!)
May we all be enriched by our journeys in prayer.
Peace, Rev Vicki
PRAYER OPPORTUNITIES IN 2021, Methodist online Prayer Forum Tues 12.45-13.00 you can register to join in the Methodist Year of Prayer via Zoom which is streamed on Facebook Live.