The Lord’s Prayer is so familiar to us (or at least it should be!) that sometimes we can find ourselves reciting it without paying attention to too many of the words. Perhaps in some ways that’s a defence mechanism. It’s a pretty challenging prayer.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is asking us to concentrate one particular line of the Lord’s Prayer in the nine days between Pentecost and Ascension Day (25 May - 04 June). He is asking us to join with Christians across the world, and of all denominations, to pray specifically “Thy Kingdom Come”. And he’s inviting us to pray during that period for up to five people to come to know God’s presence in their lives, in imitation of the first disciples who gathered together after they had watched Jesus ascend into heaven, and, we’re told in the Acts of the Apostles, who “…all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus…”
When, I wonder, was the last time you prayed that someone would come to faith? Specifically prayed for someone by name, that they would come to know what the Christian faith is all about, and would want to become a disciple of Jesus? It’s quite a challenging question, I know, and one which may make a fair number of us shuffle uncomfortably in our seats! Why not do just that this Pentecost?
Do take a look at the Diocesan website (www.derby.anglican.org) where you’ll see a section devoted to Thy Kingdom Come, with resources and encouragement, and with a link to a brilliant video of the Archbishop talking about how he came to know Jesus. Special diocesan bookmarks are being produced to encourage us to pray, and with space on the back to add up to five names of those we’d like to see come to faith, and these will be available to order on-line.
Imagine if for every person in every pew, our prayers were answered and that at least one of those people we have are praying for comes to faith. We often worry that congregations are falling in number. Sometimes we feel helpless to do much about it. But each of us can pray. And each of us could resolve to invite someone to a service. The very worst that could happen is that they may say no! But if we pray for them and find the right moment to invite them, they may well just say yes.
The Rt Revd Jan McFarlane, Bishop of Repton