The 21 May is the start of 'Thy Kingdon Come'. The Director of Foxhill Jonathon Green, offers some guidance on how we can manage to stop and pray, with a variety of needs and challenges going around in our heads.
Prayer and Thy Kingdom Come
21 May 2020
By Revd Jonathon Green, Director of Foxhill
We are now in the season of ‘Thy Kingdom Come,’ a time in the past when we would have been physically gathering and in many cases walking together in prayer. I thought it would be good to reflect on the past weeks to help us to focus as we enter this season.
The past weeks have, in many ways, been a rollercoaster with the sudden closure of Foxhill on the 18th March. I recall praying in the Chapel at 8:00 a.m. the following morning, saying “Lord, what are you calling us to do?” I felt a clear word that we should be what we are, which is the Diocesan House of Prayer, Study and Mission. Within a few days we were operating as the diocesan prayer hub.
This is a challenging season but wherever we are at we can pray. It is interesting that one of the more common words Googled in recent times has been the word ‘prayer’ as people have reached out in their darkness.
I have been able to read more and am currently reading a book by Pete Greig, the founder of the 24/7 prayer movement, called ‘How to Pray, A simple Guide for Normal People.’ This is a really good read and a book for these times, when we may be struggling on how to pray.
One of Pete Grieg’s suggestions is to (P.R.A.Y.) very simply each day:
‘P’ - PAUSING to be still;
‘R’ - REJOICING with a Psalm and REFLECTING on a Scripture;
‘A’ - ASKING God to help us and others;
‘Y’ - YIELDING to His will in our lives, come what may.
I am finding this a very simple but useful discipline:
Pausing - this can be a challenge even when we manage to stop and pray, with a variety of needs and challenges going around in our heads.
Rejoicing – we may stop before we eat to give thanks, but in these challenging days this can be difficult. I have noticed the season of Spring in the grounds at Foxhill more than some previous years: the beautiful countryside; the peacefulness of the opens space; the wonderful birdsong that brings a sense of hope even at 5:00 a.m. has been wonderful. So, let us again pause and give thanks for the simple things which we can enjoy today as well as for past blessings.
Reflecting - again in this time the Psalms, the Prayer Book which Jesus used, are a lifeline to us. They are so real, in times of adversity as well as joy. Anne and I have often prayed Psalm 91 recently. And of course, we have plenty of other books of the Bible to read. In fact, a good friend has decided to read the Bible in 100 days! Reading the Bible and asking God to speak is an invaluable opportunity to listen to His word.
Yielding - it isn’t easy to yield ourselves to God but all we can do is seek His will in our lives and the situations that we face.
Let me go back to the 19th of March when Foxhill has had to close due to the Coronavirus and something new was born for this season. The Diocesan Prayer Hub, based here, has been blessed with innumerable prayer requests and a team of pray-ers or intercessors. We started by offering an opportunity for people to send their prayer requests to us by either text, voicemail or email and had a significant uptake on this, especially in the early days. We originally thought we would need perhaps six or so intercessors but, as the number of requests increased, this has grown to nearly thirty people praying daily for the requests we receive.
We are very conscious of the diversity of the roles of those serving on the frontline and set up a frontline prayer request form. We have been amazed at the number of requests people have sent as they work and minister on the frontline.
One of the diocese’s frontlines is our parishes and our prayer team praying daily for them by name. Members of the clergy have sent us prayer points so that our team can pray confidentially and intelligently.
We sometimes wonder whether our prayer going to be heard and what is going to happen. However, last Saturday we had a call to let us know that a nine-month old baby, who has had some health challenges since born, was seriously ill and had been admitted to hospital again. Naturally his parents and family were desperately worried despite their strong faith. I contacted some of our intercessors and there was an improvement on Sunday and on Monday evening I received a call to say he had improved so much so that he could go home. The medics admitted that the improvement had been a miracle and the future is looking positive.
We can hand the situations of our lives over to God, no matter how big and challenging they are, just as we see in Pete Grieg’s P.R.A.Y. model. The place where we meet God is the present and there is no better time to do this than now, in the season of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ when we pray more for our families and friends.
Over the past years we have either walked or gathered to pray but this year we can only gather either via Zoom, individually or in households using the resources which are on the Chester Diocesan Website, but in this season please take time to P.R.A.Y. and lift those people and situations before the Lord.
As I pray in the Chapel each morning, I pray a Northumbrian blessing over my family, Foxhill our diocese and country. Please join me, and many others in praying:
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.
The words are so relevant for these times when we are praying for peace and guidance but also looking forward to when we can rejoice in being able to meet again in one another’s homes.
We may not be able to physically gather as we would normally do but please look at the variety of resources available on the TKC website.