Tens of thousands of Christians from churches around the world are expected to take part once again in a global wave of prayer for evangelism between Ascension and Pentecost. Thy Kingdom Come began two years ago as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the parishes of the Church of England. But from the start it was adopted by Christian leaders from different denominations and from Anglican primates around the world, who encouraged members of their churches to join in the prayers. This year, Thy Kingdom Com runs from 10 to 20 May.
This week, a wide range of Christian leaders attended two launch events hosted by the two English primates, John Sentamu and Justin Welby, at their official residences – Bishopthorpe Palace in York and Lambeth Palace in London.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Pentecostal President of Churches Together in England, Pastor Agu Irukwu, the leader of the Jesus House church, at the launch event for Thy Kingdom Come at Lambeth Palace yesterday (Wednesday).
Photo: Lambeth Palace
The launch events saw the premier of a new short film in which Brian Heasley, director of the 24/7 Prayer International movement, explained how he went from being a criminal to a Christian – something he puts down to the prayers of many people, including his solicitor and probation officer, who were both Christians.
“We all have people in our lives who do not know about Jesus and the difference he longs to bring them,” the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says in the video. Described as “one of the most dynamic prayer initiatives to emerge from the Church of England in recent years,” Thy Kingdom Come is a simple invitation to Christians to pray for friends and family to come to faith.
The first event in 2016 saw some 100,000 pledge to pray as part of Thy Kingdom Come. That rose to more than half a million last year, with Christians in more than 50 denominations and over 85 countries taking part.
“The wind of God’s spirit has blown this completely out of the Anglican system,” the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said. “It isn’t an Anglican project. It’s not a Church of England project. It is a global church project. It is something that God has done in which we happen to have a role, and that is how it should be.”
Organisers of the initiative speak of “numerous stories of personal and communal transformation” pouring in from churches, families and communities, including from a couple who had not seen their son for 22 years. “We pray every day obviously for him but during Thy Kingdom Come he was one of the people we prayed for as a group,” they said. “We put his name on the altar before God and . . . yesterday he came home.”
Thy Kingdom Come does not have a set format or liturgy; and events linked to the initiative will have a different look and feel different from church to church, denomination to denomination and country to country. At one level, it will be individuals praying at home or gathering for prayer events at their local church; at another level it will include “beacon” events featuring prayer, praise and worships in cathedrals and other large venues.
But organisers are providing a number of resources to help people take part. This includes a new
website where individuals can pledge to pray and a Thy Kingdom Come devotional app developed by SPCK. These are being translated into a number of languages, including Spanish, Korean, and Swahili, and will be published before Easter.
“We try not to tell people how to do things,” Archbishop Justin said. “We simply say ‘pray’ – in whatever way is suitable for you in your own location. Just do what works, in your way, in your culture, wherever you are in the world. And if it is useful to you, we offer these resources but you are not obliged to use them, so it is not prescriptive.
“This is a move of the spirit. . . I am really averse to telling people what to do. We are saying pray and do what the spirit tells you to do.”
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: “It gladdens and warms my heart to know that many Christians throughout the world are committing themselves, from today to Pentecost, to pray for the coming of Our Father in Heaven’s Kingdom – a Kingdom of justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And with a passion for people from every nation, tribe and language to encounter Jesus Christ – the Light of the world.
“Please join me in praying the ‘Our Father who art in Heaven’ on the hour every hour when you are able.”
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, with participants at the north of England launch event for Thy Kingdom Come at Bishopthorpe Palace on Tuesday.
Photo: Bishopthorpe Palace
The archbishops’ evangelism task group project leader, Emma Buchan, is project manager for Thy Kingdom Come. She said: “It is such a blessing to be involved with Thy Kingdom Come and what God is calling us to. I pray and hope that in some small way we can encourage individuals, families and churches to pray for people to come to know Jesus Christ.
“We were amazed by the level of engagement last year – from Australia to Cuba, from Japan to the Falklands, and across denominations.
“We have received a number of powerful testimonies – including stories of answered prayer as well as many people and churches committing, even more so, to pray for loved ones to come to know Christ.
“We are so excited to see what happens next.”
People can pledge to take part in this year’s Thy Kingdom Come wave of prayer online, at thykingdomcome.global. The website contains a range of resources for individuals, groups and churches as well as in interactive map with lights indicating where people have pledged to pray.