Churches throughout the Diocese of Winchester have responded to a call from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for “a great wave of prayer across our land, throughout the Church of England and many other Churches”. Inspired by the simple, powerful words of the Lord’s Prayer, the Thy Kingdom Come marathon of prayer will begin on the 6th of May and culminate at Pentecost on Sunday the 15th of May.
The Diocese of Winchester has responded enthusiastically to this national movement, with Hampshire churches pioneering a variety of creative new approaches to prayer. Many are setting up prayer stations which will be manned 24/7 for continuous prayer in the week leading up to Pentecost; others will be going out onto local high streets and into coffee shops offering to pray with people in the community; still more will be performing a Novena Prayer – an act of worship lasting nine days between Ascension and Pentecost, two of the principal festivals in the Christian calendar.
Commenting on the prayer initiative, the Right Reverent David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke, said: “It’s encouraging to see the way people from parishes across the diocese have taken up this call to prayer with such enthusiasm. Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit and the start of the Church’s mission to the world. We will be recapturing something of what happened on that first Pentecost Sunday as Christians across the diocese pray for the confidence to share the good news in the 21st century.”
Lyndhurst Deanery creates Clock of Prayer
The call for prayer has given churches throughout the diocese the chance to demonstrate their creativity. In Lyndhurst Deanery, for example, parishioners have taken the idea of continuous prayer and are running with it. On a map, the 13 churches which make up the Deanery resemble a clock with Lyndhurst at 12 o’clock, Lymington at 6pm, Brockenhurst in the centre and other churches spread around the edge representing each of the different hours. In the days leading up to Pentecost, prayer will sweep around the deanery like the hand of a clock, passing from one church to the next. One mobile phone will be passed around the churches and people will be encouraged to send messages to the phone with prayer requests.
Romsey residents invited to ‘Say One For Me’
Meanwhile, in Romsey, a prayer meeting will be held in Caffè Nero at 9-10am every day in the lead up to Pentecost. People will be offered a free coffee to enjoy while discussing prayer, and by meeting in a local café rather than a church it will be more accessible to all. During each morning, members of the local congregation will also be out on Romsey’s High Street offering to pray for people within the community. They will be asking passers-by for their prayer suggestions and handing out ‘Say One For Me’ cards which local people can fill out and hand in to offer their prayers. The cards will also be distributed in schools, offices, shops and nursing homes. Later, the ‘Say One For Me’ cards will be collected at Romsey Abbey and every prayer on every card will be offered. For each prayer given in the Abbey over the period a ribbon will be tied on a frame, creating the new altar front for Pentecost Sunday.
Prayer walks in Alton Deanery
In Alton, churches have answered the Archbishops’ call for a great wave of prayer by organising prayer walks every day in the period between Ascension and Pentecost. Members of the congregations will join together with others not so familiar with the Church as they walk through the different areas of the parish, particularly the less visited areas, praying for every community. Speaking of the planned prayer walks the Rev Andrew Micklefield said: “We will walk around different parts of the town each day and pray that we will see it through God’s eyes, to see where needs are. Very importantly, we will also have a session afterwards to give feedback to see what responses can be made. We want to see the town differently.”
Many parishes in the Diocese will be setting up 24-7 prayer rooms, where people can sign up to take part in continuous prayer. These prayer rooms will be erected in a variety of places including churches, schools, homes, and community centres, with people taking turns to maintain the uninterrupted prayer around the clock. Jess Ford from 24-7 Prayer International said: “I’m delighted that people have responded so positively to praying non-stop. It’s inspiring to think that during the week before Pentecost people will be constantly praying, encountering God day and night. It’s our hope that this great prayer movement taking hold of the Diocese of Winchester will inspire others, within the Diocese and beyond, to explore prayer and discover its life-changing power.”
The wave of prayer will culminate on Sunday 15th May as more than 3,000 people will join together for an evening of prayer and worship at Winchester Cathedral to celebrate Pentecost. The service is one of six Beacon Events taking place across the country. The Bishop of Basingstoke will lead the evening, with sung worship guided by internationally renowned singer-songwriter Matt Redman. Intended for young Christians, the event will draw on their enthusiasm and energy, with an inspiring message from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivered live via video link.
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