Video for November 23, 2023
Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s video.
I’m at Church Stoke this evening to speak to their youth group. It’s a thriving gathering not simply a youth club but a group that gets to grips with the Bible and the implications of living the Christian life today. This is a huge challenge for committed christian young people. The percentage of committed christian teenagers in our country is well below 1%. They will frequently be the only christian in their year group. The environment is often hostile to faith. Groups like this reassure them they aren’t alone and provide wonderful prayerful support and encouragement.
Whenever we are presented with statistics or examples of good practice like this, there is a debate about causality and correlation. As I go around the diocese I see a strong ‘correlation’ between vibrant churches and that churches prayer life. Church history tells us that major revivals in church fortunes, especially those that brought new people to faith were preceded by an upsurge in the passionate prayer of God’s people. This is prayer that goes far beyond our intercessions Sunday by Sunday, or even the regular church prayer meeting – something that has sadly dropped off the calendar in many places. Some argue that God is not swayed by our requests, although many of the stories in the Bible would suggest otherwise – think Abraham arguing with God over Sodom for example. Personally, I’m convinced that one of the keys to the revival of the fortunes of the Diocese of Hereford will be a renewal of prayer in many different forms. A prayerful church acknowledges its dependence on the Lord and recognises that it the Holy Spirit’s work to bring growth and conversion not ours. Its why we have been sharing a year of prayer together as a first step in our diocesan strategy. A church that takes prayer seriously is more likely to be a vehicle to bring people to faith and make a difference to our community. A church that marginalises prayer and doesn’t see it as vital clearly won’t.
As our year of prayer draws to a close, I want to invite you to participate in our last big activity. We are having a 24/7 round the clock prayer space in the chapel at the Palace. The Chapel will be open for prayer from 6am to 10pm every day from December 3rd – 12th leading up to a closing service for the year of prayer in the Cathedral. You would be very welcome to come and pray for any time during that period. However, even if you can’t get down here, you can sign up on line for one of the slots and join in at home. It would be most encouraging if you could sign up whether you are coming person or praying at home. We’d like to cover as many slots as possible. I shall be there every day from 7am -8. There is space for as many people as would like to sign up for each slot. You can also sign up to pray throughout the night. We would love it if all of the slots are taken so we have a chain of prayer going for the whole period. To sign up you need to go through the year of prayer page on the diocesan website. I’ll be recording next weeks video from the space so you can get a feel for it. If that wasn’t enough incentive Archbishop Justin is joining us on December 9th for a number of events around Hereford. There’s also a group from Youth with a Mission leading some youth activities that weekend. Again, you can find more details on the diocesan website.
Praying in a prayer space is an imaginative, creative and interactive experience. You can simply sit in silence, or write prayers at the various stations. Its accessible for children and those who feel they don’t know much about prayer as much as for seasoned saints. There’s a link to the sign up here on the screen and in the transcript of this video on the website, and you can sign up through the year of prayer page.
Prayer spaces have been one of the most inspiring initiatives over the last few years. They’ve sprung up in schools, churches, all over the world. It will be wonderful if we can draw our year of prayer to a close with a giant diocesan prayer meeting. Do join us.