Reflecting on Prayer48. This article is adapted from my reflections at the final celebration service for Prayer48 so my apologies if it doesn’t flow too well when in print.
The bible gives us definite instructions to pray:
1 Thessalonians 5:13 - rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.
Philippians 4:16 - be anxious for nothing but in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
48 hours of prayer is quite a big undertaking, you can’t just walk into it. You have to be intentional about when and how it will happen, it takes planning and prayer for the event as well as during it. This year I felt quite disappointed going Into the weekend. The team of 8 that planned the first event 2 years ago had dwindled to a team of 3 and then things happened to each of us too so that it didn’t feel like we were very well prepared. It’s amazing , however, that God can make things happen, even when we don’t feel ready. At our launch service on Friday night Rev Anna Matthews said we should expect the unexpected and be prepared for God to work in us and through us. After all, we are inviting God to show up by doing this, we are encouraging people to draw closer to God through prayer and we know that when we open ourselves to Him he will work in us and through us.
So what has happened this weekend? Well for me several things stand out.
Seeing 13 year old boys voluntarily talking about prayer and writing in a prayer journal before bedding down in the memorial chapel for the night.
Seeing a teenage girl feel comfortable enough to stay over at church when she has never been to a sleepover before.
The choral Evensong on Saturday when we had 8 ‘visitors’ join our choir for the event, the music sounded pretty good too! Andrew Hurst preached a sermon about prayer that was just perfect for that weekend!
Having conversations with people about God! I have conversations with people inside and outside the church all the time, but I find I tend to talk about going to church rather than having conversations about my relationship with God, so being able to talk about prayer and how it draws us closer to God was very special.
Deciding at the last minute to put on a community lunch even though nobody seemed interested and then being able to invite someone who had just come into church because she had seen the banner. We were able to have a really deep conversation about anxieties around world issues and the fact that Cambridge can be quite a cold and unfriendly place to live if you are on your own. I’m sure God was at work there. She has not returned to St John’s since but I hope and pray that the time spent here helped her a little.
Reading the prayer cards that people had left with us. There were such heartfelt concerns about broken relationships, illness, bereavement, mental health issues, addiction and many more needs. It was a real privilege, and indeed an honour, to pray for those people whether I knew them or not.
Spending some time on the Sunday afternoon wondering what’s next for St John’s. I’ve not got any answers to that one but I hope that as a Church we can be open to God’s leading.