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Thought For The Week - Pray Without Ceasing

Words by Bev Jones

Pray Without Ceasing

Today is Ascension Day – a day in the Christian calendar when we remember the ascension of Christ into heaven. Having spent forty days on earth with his disciples after the resurrection, teaching about the kingdom of God, he leaves his disciples with the promise that the Holy Spirit will come, and tells them not to leave Jerusalem until that time. Until quite recently, I’m not really sure that Ascension Day featured much in my thoughts, but in 2016, I heard Justin Welby speak at a conference, and he was urging us to pray for two things:

Firstly - to pray for three people known to us, friends/ family / neighbours/ colleagues who don’t yet know Christ, and he was advocating that we pray regularly for these three, and that every Christian in the country might be aware that they are a witness – and to take that seriously.

Secondly - he was asking us to pray for the Holy Spirit to move in our nation, and as part of that, with the Archbishop of York, wrote to every parish priest in the Church of England expressing their longing “to see a great wave of prayer across our land, throughout the Church of England and many other Churches” for the ten days between Ascension and Pentecost. The hope they said, was that people will pray for the renewal of the Holy Spirit and the confidence to share their faith, and they finished that first letter by saying:

“When we pray with sincerity and with joy, there is no imagining the new ways in which God can use us to his glory.”

Photo by Nega via Unsplash

That was actually the launch of what we now know as the Thy Kingdom Come initiative, which is largely unchanged except that we’re now urged to pray five people into the Kingdom. The other day I saw a clip of John Sentamu from last year, in which he was sharing the success stories of the people that he’d prayed for. It’s fascinating and heartening to watch, because I’m sure that for many of us, we sometimes wonder whether God is hearing those prayers for the people that we love, as we continue day after day to pray the same prayer. I think many of us over the last few weeks, have been able to spend more time than normal in God’s presence, and listening for his voice, have maybe found ourselves praying with a renewed vigour as we continue to petition for those we love.

And through Thy Kingdom Come, we’re urged once again to do that, but with our prayer rooms being closed at the moment, we’re being encouraged to join with other Christians in a virtual prayer room. If you’d like to be involved in this nationwide initiative, check out the Greater Manchester website for details of how to engage, and be encouraged to sign up and join in over the next ten days as we pray especially for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit across our nation. And for those of us who will continue to pray for our loved ones way beyond Pentecost, perhaps these words from Pete Greig will encourage you as much as they encourage me:

‘Let’s just acknowledge that prayer can be a lot like stacking dominoes. We pray the same thing we’ve prayed one hundred times before until suddenly the whole lot comes down. The breakthrough occurs. The miracle happens. It’s not that we finally found the right formula. It’s simply that we didn’t give up praying one prayer too soon.’

Please God, may that be our experience.

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