Your Kingdom Come
Tuesday 20 January saw the launch in Chichester cathedral of a new ecumenical initiative for the churches of Sussex called ‘Your Kingdom Come..lighting the flame of hope for Sussex’. Its aim is to encourage the churches to unite in prayer for their communities. Called a ‘Service of Light’, it began in almost pitch darkness. One large candle was lit at the front and then gradually we all lit the individual candles we had been given, each lighting our neighbour’s in turn. The effect was powerful!
As I drove home and reflected on all that had taken place, a strong impression began to grow in my mind. As our candles had been lit and the light had spread throughout the cathedral, perhaps God was wanting this prayer initiative to spread more widely, not just in that one county of Sussex but right across our nation.
Part of the Year of Prayer for Sussex is an idea headed up by Ian Chisnall, the Ecumenical Officer for Sussex, to encourage Churches Together groups to commit themselves to one week of 24-hour prayer (‘24-7’) with the aim of covering the whole year in 24-hour prayer. It is particularly this aspect that I believe God is wanting to spread across our nation. Unity and Prayer are two key things I had long believed are on God’s heart, and now he was showing me it was true.
I took some convincing of what I had felt so strongly that evening as I drove home from Chichester, for I knew what a huge thing this would be. Why had God impressed this on my mind, and not on one of our leading national intercessors? I sat on the idea for a few days and then gradually, when the idea wouldn’t go away, began to share it with others who I know have a heart of prayer for our nation. Everyone I spoke to said “Go for it - it sounds so right”, so eventually I posted my idea in the comments box on the 24-7 website. The very next day I had a reply from Pete Greig, leader of the 24-7 prayer movement, saying that he too felt it was of the Lord.
What I felt God impressed upon me was that the counties touching Sussex (Hampshire, Surrey and Kent) should pick up this idea of 24-7 prayer during 2005, and then the counties bordering them should pick it up in 2006. At the same time the movement should begin in Scotland and move southwards until, hopefully, the prayer coverage would meet somewhere in the middle of our nation.
This may sound very daunting to some (indeed, it does to me!) but I believe strongly that God will provide the energy, vision and drive if we will only be obedient. So far the 24-7 prayer movement has been predominately amongst the younger generation, and the effects and testimonies coming from it (now in 58 countries around the world) are very powerful. Is what I have described above a new move of God’s? If so, can we, the older generation, stand with our young people in it? I truly hope so. I have already shared this vision with some key people in Churches Together in England, the Evangelical Alliance and the RUN network, and others far more experienced at prayer than I am have been very encouraging. I would welcome your comments too, and you can email me at DEME@insideoutchurch.com or ring me on 01784 462396. So we wait on God to see where he leads us.
Linda Ashford is Evangelism and Mission Enabler for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches in the London and South West District.
Headline Spring 2004 p.15.