Reflections on a 12-hour prayer vigil


    Category
    Diocese of Bristol
    Date
    25 August 2017
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    Earlier this week, Janey Hiller and Helen Collins held a 12-hour prayer vigil for the Diocese at Hillside House.

    Helen and Janey had prepared a programme with a range of interesting interactive prayer stations: some reflective, some more active. Each hour began with a 10 minute thought/video/spoken prayer, followed by a creative prayer activity, based around a different theme every hour.

    Here, Janey has shared her thoughts on the prayer vigil:

    Initially the idea of 12 hours of prayer might seem quite daunting – but a few hours in to our prayer-a-thon I had this weight of realisation that “Wow! There is so much to pray for and so little time!”

    We prayed for:

    • Our vision and values; for these to get traction in parishes, for generosity to grow, for our connections in God’s big story
    • For every single parish in the Diocese; that they will be places characterised by love and forgiveness; places were leaders are nurtured, young people engaged; that are active in mission and growers of grace
    • For our schools and young people; celebrating the vision of the Church of England to develop the social, moral and spiritual capacities of children and young people, and we listened to some young children talking about Jesus
    • For every one of our amazing ministers by name – both lay and ordained – as well as our ordinands; that they would be inspired by the holy spirit to follows where God leads and be blessed and fruitful in their ministries
    • For our senior leadership team and their families; we prayed for copious wisdom and grace for all the people involved in selecting our new bishop
    • For the five marks of mission; the first being ‘proclaim the good news of the kingdom’; we prayed for people by name to come to know Jesus, for ourselves to be embolden to share the good news, and for churches running alpha courses
    • The second mark is to teach, baptise and nurture new believers: we made flop-flips to symbolise ‘getting out of the boat and walking on water’; for people we know by name to grow in their faith and continue their journey with Jesus
    • The third mark is to respond to human need by loving service; we prayed about how we are God’s hands and feet in this world and for all the charities and other organisations and individuals lovingly serving those in need; people in prison, women in domestic abuse situations or in street sex work and people living on the streets
    • Mark of Mission 4 is to transform unjust structures of society and we proclaimed loudly our outrage at the affront to human dignity that is trafficking; we prayed for chains to be broken, people and structures to be liberated powerfully
    • And finally we prayed for the Mark of Mission 5: to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation; we watched a video called “seven billion dreams: one planet” and were inspired to consume with care; weprayed the psalms for our churches to make steps to tread lightly on our planet and for the influence of organisations like Arocha and Green Christian to increase across our Diocese.

    We broke bread together, we ate together. We talked, we laughed, we sat in silence, we lay on the floor, we stretched, we lunged, we paced. We were raised high by the spirit and we were brought low in humility as we ourselves were moved and changed by the prayers we were offering for others. It was exciting, challenging and fun.

    And, yep, there wasn’t enough time!

    Everything we do; every person we meet, every email we send, every visit we make is an opportunity to bring before God; to ask him to guide, intervene, steer. Not to ask Him to tune himself into our wish list or to bless our ideas (or, like Helen said, to put sprinkles on our already-baked cake), but to honestly seek his Kingdom first.

    Not because it’s a duty, or a ‘must do’ (although we must!), but because, as William Law says, “Prayer is the nearest approach to God and the highest enjoyment of Him that we are capable of in this life.”

    Because He loved us first, we can love him; we can draw near, into his presence and rediscover our true selves in those moments. Prayer is as much about us and our relationship with our heavenly Father, as it is for the people and situations we pray about.

    So, pray! Ephesians says: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.”

    On a practical note, to help us to live out this verse, we have set up a new email address called prayer@bristoldiocese.org - anyone can send in ‘all kinds of prayer’ requests for all occasions and we will make sure they are covered in our office prayer times.

    You can see pictures from the prayer vigil on our Facebook page.