[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Churches throughout England have responded to a call from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for a “great wave of prayer” in the week leading up to Pentecost Sunday for the re-evangelisation of England. Dubbed, Thy Kingdom Come, from the words of the Lord’s Prayer, the week will see parish churches and cathedrals hold 24/7 prayer rotas, open prayer times and special services.
At the end of the week, special “beacon events” will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London and at Durham, Coventry, Winchester, and Canterbury Cathedrals; and at the Church of St Michael le Belfrey, next to York Minster.
In a video message to promote the initiative, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, speaks about the importance of the Lord’s Prayer, saying that it is impossible to overstate or exaggerate its “life-transforming power”.
He says: “It is a prayer that is reassuring enough to be on the lips of the dying, and yet dangerous enough to be banned in cinemas; it is famous enough to be spoken each day by billions in thousands of languages, and yet it is intimate enough to draw us ever closer into friendship with Jesus Christ; it is simple enough to be memorised by small children, and yet profound enough to sustain a lifetime of prayer.”
In the video, Archbishop Welby says that he wants people to pray for “a renewal of expectancy in the abundancy and the overflowing of Christ in their lives together, so that people right across the country see who Jesus is and are drawn to faith in him.”
He suggested three areas that Christians taking part in the prayer week could pray for: that all Christians find new life in their relationship with Jesus Christ; that all those who they meet and are close to see something of Jesus that draws them towards faith in him; and that the Church is “so full of the life and joy of Christ that it overflows with the reality of the presence of Jesus.”
The initiative has the support of other Christian churches. The general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference in England and Wales, Father Christopher Thomas, told Vatican Radio that he hoped Catholics would join with Anglicans in local prayer events.
“We want to lend our support this and in many ways we are hoping that it will develop as an ecumenical project as a second pole to the work done in Christian unity week in January each year,” he said; saying that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was “a reflection of the unity of the Church ad intra – within the denominations; the wave of prayer could be a combined work ad extra – “out into the world of today”.
He urged Catholics to “pray for the proclamation of the Gospel in the world in which we live,” adding: “Society can be very sceptical about religion today, but we know that the truth of the Gospel brings life.”