Issue Twenty Seven
From the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells
Let us pray Inside:
• Thy Kingdom Come’s Emma Buchan on prayer • Meet Pete Greig, Founder of 24-7 prayer • Getting the prayer habit – fun ways to pray • Be careful what you pray for!
Read Reflect Pass On
Encouraging confident Christian communities in Bath and Wells et us pray’. Such a simple phrase and one that is so familiar to us, but how many of us stop to consider why we pray or why it’s important. How many of us think about how we pray? The question of why we pray is addressed in this issue by Emma Buchan, Project Leader for Thy Kingdom Come and explored further in our feature article, ‘The Importance of Prayer’. If you are still praying the way you were taught at school or Sunday school, do take a look at our article ‘Getting the Prayer Habit,’ which looks at fun ways children are being encouraged to pray. It just may inspire you. In this issue we also hear from individuals who have already been inspired. Daniel Berry and Sister Alison Fry give us a glimpse into their lives of prayer and Pete Greig, who discusses his new book Dirty Glory and the ‘accidental’ spread of 24-7 prayer, the global movement he started. Prayer has been a wonderful subject to explore for my first edition of Manna, and I hope we have answered some of the questions you may have about prayer. There were many other aspects of prayer we would have loved to have covered if we could, such as Christian meditation and also the effect of prayer on the brain. Perhaps another time...? Louise Willmot Editor Image credits: All images copyright of the author and licensed under Creative Commons, flickr.com
9: Jonah in the Whale Credit Nick Thompson 12: Kaitlyn and bubbles CC Scott Dexter 2 Spring 2017
3 Emma Buchan: It’s not about us
4 The importance of prayer
9 A rhythm of prayer
10 Getting the prayer habit 12 Fun ways to pray
13 Pete Greig – 24-7 Prayer All in a day’s work 16 More than a timetable News in brief 17 Updates from the Diocese of Bath and Wells Out and About 18 Parish news and pictures Time Out 20 Thy Kingdom Come: Prayer and the eternal kingdom in the movies 20 Surf style: There’s an app for that 21 Book reviews: A lever and a place to stand Soul Food 22 Be careful what you pray for!
Diocese of Bath and Wells The Old Deanery Wells Somerset BA5 2UG T: 01749 670777
Editorial panel Revd Steve Tilley, Nailsea
Revd Preb Stephen Lynas, Bishops’ Chaplain Revd Esther Smith, Bath Walcot Revd Ann Sargent, Long Ashton Richard Austin, Taunton Louise Willmot (editor)
Get in touch
Email: manna@bathwells. anglican.org ph: 01749 685145 Manna Magazine
It’s not about us
By Emma Buchan, Project Leader, Thy Kingdom Come.
t was a freezing January morning and the crunch of shoes on gravel signalled the approach of a figure through the mist. Why was I standing in the darkness with only three hours sleep, at 6am filming the Archbishop of Canterbury on his morning run? For me, it was all about more people coming to know the amazing, transformational and life-giving love of Jesus Christ and the difference prayer makes. Since starting to work with the Archbishop’s Evangelism Task Group, I continue to be amazed by the power of prayer. Last year we rapidly drew together plans for Thy Kingdom Come – the global wave of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost calling Christian communities to pray for more people to come to know Jesus Christ. We’d hoped a few thousand people would join in, but we could never have imagined that more than 100,000 would take part in some 3,000 events and services. It was astonishing and yet that too was about answered prayer. The Archbishop of Canterbury explained, “I think that in the most bizarre, incredible, wonderful and Godshaped way there is a move of Spirit going on...The best thing of this is, it’s not an Anglican thing, it’s not a CofE thing and it’s certainly not an Archbishop thing – anymore than someone who has started an avalanche can say ‘that’s my avalanche’ – it’s a God thing!” Thy Kingdom Come has captured the imagination of people across Christian denominations throughout the UK and is now gathering momentum across the world. Manna Magazine
Emma (fourth from left) joins the Archbishop on his early morning run.
“It’s not just about us, it’s about Jesus.”
So why pray? I’ve been working with a team to share some of the personal reasons why the Archbishop is encouraging Christians to ‘pledge2pray’ with Thy Kingdom Come. The video created that cold morning is an honest portrayal of how God rescued Justin Welby and transformed his life and is the reason why he wants everyone to hear God’s voice calling to them. According to Archbishop Justin, prayer happens when we have a challenge we can’t meet with our own resources. And none of us has the resource to bring someone to living faith in Jesus Christ. “Our cupboards are bare,” he says. “So we have to go to the One who has everything we need and to ask for it. Thy Kingdom Come is essentially that in practice. It’s the task set before us by Jesus himself.” This is why prayer is so important: It’s not about us, it’s about Jesus. And God is calling us all to pray in whatever way we choose, however we can, with whoever we want. The most important thing is to pray. After that it is the Holy Spirit who opens ears and warms hearts ■ Find Archbishop Justin’s video on Facebook: @ThyKingdomComeUK Spring 2017 3
The importance of prayer
There’s a growing focus on prayer in the Christian world, but why is prayer so important and what does it mean to us?
rayer is at the very heart of the Christian way of life, but how each of us prays can be as individual as our fingerprints. Some people pray on the bus or while they’re cleaning the house, others need the peace and stillness of the church to be able to talk to God. Some people cry out to God only in times of need, others offer prayers each and every day. Prayers can be silent, said out loud, said privately or shared at church. But what is prayer and why is to so important to our lives? Does it matter where we pray or how we pray – and why do we do it anyway? Manna put these questions to four people who play an important role in the prayer lives of others.
Helping people into God’s presence
Esther Smith says she feels “immensely privileged” to help people into God’s presence. “We can’t change anything in and of ourselves, but it is a privilege to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ and invite the Holy Spirit to bring transformation,” she says. As curate of St Swithin’s Church in the city of Bath, Esther is always looking for 4 Spring 2017
People explore themed prayer stations at St Swithin’s Church in Bath.
Esther Smith, curate of St Swithin’s.
more ways to help people expand their prayer life – from the regular rhythm of quiet Morning Prayer to more reflective forms of praying. She says, “We hold a service once a term called Space, which is a silent hour where people can let their senses draw them into God’s presence.” During this service, people are given space to explore themed prayer stations around the church in a silent environment. Esther adds, “People are longing to be in conversation with God, but they don’t always want to do it in a traditional or church environment.” That’s why she and her team have also introduced prayer walks – to enable people to talk to God while out and about in their community. Manna Magazine
Prayer stations are helping people expand their prayer lives.
During these walks, the church provides street maps to help people plan their route, and a copy of the Priestly Blessing so people can pray for all the shops, houses and people they pass. “It’s not necessarily about interacting with people – we’re just inviting God to come and be at work,” says Esther. Even housebound members of the congregation take part by looking at the maps, imagining walking the streets and praying for their community. But why do we pray? “We pray because God is our heavenly father and we want to communicate with Him,” says Esther. “We’d be heartbroken if our own children only ever spoke to us if they were hungry or needed money, because we want to be part of their lives. “Prayer is about inviting God to be part of our life and part of the life of those around us.” While Esther says churches are special places, where people have prayed for hundreds of years, she’s quite happy to pray at bus stops or in cafés. “I don’t think it matters where or when we pray. Nothing is too big for God or too small to be beneath His notice. I just think He wants to be in a relationship with us and an integral part of every aspect of our lives.” What’s Esther’s personal approach to prayer? “I pray for all manner of things and Manna Magazine
believe prayer should be part of the warp and the weft of our lives – an extraordinary thing, but also totally ordinary. “Sometimes, in extremis, we have to take the big things to God – and I do shout at Him when bad things happen. But I also sing because I’m aware of God’s blessing. And that’s OK – I think it’s OK to be honest with God. “If you look at the Bible, the people who were really successful prayers were the people who were really honest with God. They took their joy to him and they took their sadness to him and He met them in it.”
Filling the God-shaped gap
“Prayer is about inviting God to be part of our life and part of the life of those around us.”
Steve Tilley, a vicar in Nailsea, says his feelings about prayer have changed over time. “As a young Christian, I used to feel very guilty if I missed a quiet time with God, but the older I get, the more I’m aware of being in a relationship with Him all the time, rather than only when I pray,” he says. “So setting aside time to pray is a bit like setting aside time to have a coffee with a friend you often see in a group of people. When I pray, I’m saying to God, ‘for the next hour my attention is on you and your attention is on me’.” But why do we pray? “I believe there’s a God-shaped gap in people’s hearts ➜ Spring 2017 5
and we’re seeking to work out how to feed it and make the most of it. People have, at the heart of them, some sense of wanting to commune with their creator.” Steve is responsible for the prayer life of Trendlewood Church and is often asked to pray for others – particularly when they’re going through life crises. “People are drawn to prayer when things are bad, rather than when they’re good,” says Steve. “I rarely get phoned up and asked to give thanks for something – people normally seek solace when they have difficult decisions to make or when their circumstances change for the worse.” Steve also says it makes him feel “privileged” to pray for others, but adds he can’t help slipping in some teaching at the same time. “People often say they’re not very good at praying, so I like to offer them a little bit of encouragement to pray themselves, from time to time.” How does he teach people to pray? “I use silence and scripture, but also the ACTS mnemonic – Acknowledgment, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. “Acknowledgment is about focusing on God and thanking Him for who He is and what He’s done. Confession helps us
6 Spring 2017
“People have, at the heart of them, some sense of wanting to commune with their creator.”
Steve Tilley holds Quiet Days to give people space to pray.
get rid of any blockage that might spoil a prayerful relationship. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for anything good we’ve experienced in life, and supplication is about asking God to do things – but it shouldn’t be a shopping list!” Steve is always keen to encourage new ways of praying – from 24-7 Prayer to a monthly No Frills Prayer Time, where people focus on prayer once the day is done. He also holds a monthly Quiet Day at the vicarage, where people gather for coffee and a chat, look at a bible passage and read through the Bible. “We also have quiet times, before and after lunch, which gives people space to pray and enjoy the quiet, without the usual distractions of their own home lives.” And while Steve doesn’t think there’s anywhere people can’t pray, he does feel there are times when it can be difficult to pray. “We all go through relatively dry times, but even if you’re finding it difficult to pray, you could simply say, ‘Lord, I haven’t got very much to say to you at the moment, but I’m listening if you want to speak to me. “That’s quite a nice thing to say to a friend.”
Holding the community in prayer
Prayer helped the Flax Bourton community begin to heal after the tragic death of a young mother. “We wanted to do all we could to hold the community in their pain, so my colleague Richard Greatrex, suggested we open up the church for a week as a focal point where people could come to express their grief,” says Ann Sargent, rector of Long Ashton with Barrow Gurney and Flax Bourton. The doors of St Michael and All Angels stayed open that week and the church was manned by members of the congregation, who made themselves available to pray, comfort, and sit and listen – over tea and coffee – with all those who walked through the door. And people did walk through the door, many coming repeatedly – the retired, office workers and young mums, coming on their own and then returning with their children to draw on a prayer leaf, offer words of love, or light a candle. Many tears were shed, but the comfort and consolation of God was tangible. “It gave people the space to sit and reflect on what had happened, and to do that in the presence of God,” says Ann. “As a church, it was about holding people in their grief and enabling them to express it and wrestle with it with God.” Manna Magazine
Flax Bourton church opens its doors to the community (left). A Lenten labyrinth (right) inspires prayer.
“It was about holding people in their grief and enabling them to wrestle with it with God.”
Revd Ann Sargent, Rector at Long Ashton.
For many years, the communities of Long Ashton, Flax Bourton and Barrow Gurney have been seeking to extend the invitation to encounter and engage with God in prayer beyond the church walls into the wider community. The churches use many different styles to draw people into prayer: prayer trails, labyrinths, art – and through stillness and silence. “We meet once a month for a contemplative style of prayer. In our worshipping communities, this involves a stilling exercise, sitting with a reading and then having half-an-hour’s silence. Often, there are no more than half a dozen of us present yet we know we hold the whole community before God in this time.” Sitting with scripture and allowing it to take root in her heart is very important to Ann, but what does prayer mean to her? “Prayer is about communicating with God. It’s about allowing God into our lives and being caught up with God. Prayer is so many different things – from the ecstatic shout to the wordless wonder. It’s woven into the fabric of our being. “When I was going forward for ordination, my interviewing bishop said prayer seemed very important in my life. I replied, ‘I would not know what life would be without it. For me to pray is to sit within the dream of God.” ➜ Spring 2017 7
Prayer as a human response
It’s natural to pray when life gets tough, according to Sue Tucker, rector of Chard, St Mary and the Cloverleaf Benefice. “It’s a human reaction to cry out to God in times of pain and need – even for people who don’t have a strong Christian faith,” says Sue. “We cry out to something beyond ourselves in times of difficulty. It’s a human need to pray.” Sue recently encouraged the congregation at St Mary’s Church in Chard to unburden themselves of their worries. “We brought the altar table into the centre of the church one Sunday and talked about our worries together. Then we asked for help to trust God with our worries and discussed how giving thanks can help us overcome our anxieties. “I also told the congregation to hand over their worries to God when they go to bed, because He’s going to be up all night anyway!” St Mary’s Church has played an active role in the prayer life of people from the town for hundreds of years and that continuity of prayer creates a sacred atmosphere, says Sue. “I like to think the prayers of the faithful people are in the walls. I often remind a bride and groom that couples like themselves, with similar hopes
8 Spring 2017
The Prayer Chapel at St Mary’s in Chard.
“We cry out to something beyond ourselves in times of difficulty. It’s a human need to pray.” Archbishop Justin prays for the people of Chard.
and dreams, have stood on the same chancel step for 600 years. There’s a sense we’re all part of God’s story – the story of human lives journeying together in Chard.” The church is open all day, every day, and people often pop into the church to light a candle or write a prayer and put it on the prayer board. People also add their prayers to the church’s prayer tree at Christmas. Sue says, “The prayer tree has grown and grown in importance to the community. People like to remember someone who has died, or pray for peace and love. Our local Tesco even asked us to add the prayers from their own tree when they were closing down for Christmas.” The importance of the church to the local community was also underlined when the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby paid it a visit last November. People from all walks of life attended a service of prayer and Holy Communion, and Archbishop Justin gave thanks and prayed for all who contribute to the life and wellbeing of the town. Sue says, “His visit was such a boost for the town. Some people said it had increased their faith and one lady, who had just joined the church, has been coming to Morning Prayer ever since speaking to Archbishop Justin.” A fitting response for the Archbishop, who has said, “If I pray one thing for you, and for me, it’s that we find constantly afresh that we are overwhelmed by the love of God.” ■ Manna Magazine
A rhythm of prayer By Daniel Berry.
rowing up in a family of agnostics, I had no appreciation of a prayer life but that all changed when I turned 16 and heard God’s call. Today, I am a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis and prayer is woven naturally throughout my day. It was not a straightforward journey from teenager to member of the Order. When I felt God call me to join, as I was due to leave university, like Jonah, I pushed it away and 10 years in the spiritual wilderness followed. As the new millennium approached I started to re-engage with following Jesus and in 2006 I started to build different periods of prayer into my day. I finally took my life vows in the Franciscan Third Order in 2014. Now throughout my day I stop to pray. After breakfast I meditate for 20 minutes then say Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. At some point later in the day I will meditate again and say Prayer During the Day from Common Worship. Just before going to sleep I will say a blend of Evening Prayer and the Third Order Office and then say Compline. Since making my vow to the Single Consecrated Life before Bishop Peter last year, I wake naturally each night to say Vigils from the book Benedictine Daily Prayer. There is no set time of day that I stop to pray. If I have a meeting over lunch I will make time to pray later in the afternoon and if I sleep in my morning prayers are later. Members of the Franciscan Third Order live out their vocation in the world Manna Magazine
A reading from the Book of Jonah was part of the service when Daniel made his vow to live a Single Consecrated Life.
“I fit my rhythm of prayer into my everyday life and my work.”
and I fit my rhythm of prayer into my everyday life and my work for deafPLUS, a charity in Bath that supports those with hearing and sight impairments. I also continue to worship as part of a community, both at St Swithin’s and Bath Abbey. I attend Evening Prayer when I can and the Eucharist once a week and when I am on my own saying my prayers, I know I am not alone and that members of my church, and the wider Anglican community are praying with me. To anyone seeking to fit a pattern of prayer into their daily life I suggest they start small, perhaps just pray once a day at a set point in the day and stick to it for a month. If that doesn’t work then the next month try a different routine until you find one that works for you. Join a Christian meditation group and learn how to meditate. Or just pray ■ Would you like to share your personal journey of faith? Get in touch at email@example.com Spring 2017 9
Getting the prayer habit
How are we helping children and young people make prayer part of their lives, and can these creative techniques invigorate our own prayer life? Manna finds out…
hildren are praying in all sorts of exciting and imaginative ways, thanks to some creative thinking from the Christian community. Prayer spaces, prayer walks, labyrinths and prayer trees are just some of the tools young people are using to explore their faith and learn about prayer. But it’s not just children who are benefiting from these inspiring techniques – people of all ages are using them to give their prayer life a boost.
Creative ways into prayer
Prayer spaces are helping children learn about prayer in a practical and fun way. These spaces include various creative activities that give children an insight into different aspects of prayer So children might be encouraged to think about forgiveness while dissolving fizzy vitamins in water, or write ‘sorry’ prayers in sand and smooth them away. “Prayer spaces are a great way of helping children understand that prayer isn’t just about putting our hands together and closing our eyes – our relationship with God is an all-day everyday thing,” says Andy Levett, Youth & Children’s Work Coordinator for Tone Deanery. Cheryl Govier, Wadham School Chaplain and Schools & Families Work Leader, set 10 Spring 2017
Creative activities help children learn about prayer in a fun way.
“Prayer spaces show children there are lots of different ways to pray.”
up a prayer station where children could put their questions to God. The children’s questions ranged from ‘What do you look like?’ to ‘Can you help me with my homework?’. One even asked, ‘Can you make my sister be quiet for once?’. Cheryl says, “Prayer spaces show children there are lots of different ways to pray – whether it’s writing something down, drawing a picture, or performing an action.” Prayer walks are another way children can get active in prayer – and learn about the needs of their communities. During these walks, children are encouraged to pray for people where they think there’s a need and praise God for the things He’s created. ➜ Manna Magazine
Insight Taking prayer into the community
the tree, which the youth group collected and prayed for.” Teenagers in Chard have been Tracey also helped a group of finding out more about prayer, girls from the youth group create thanks to Tracey Hallett. a safe space, under a gazebo in The Church & Community the church, where they could talk Pioneer Ordinand built strong about any issues worrying them. relationships with the youngsters The girls became increasingly – while working on a StreetSpace interested in faith and caught the community project in partnership attention of the church with St John’s Church, Tatworth – Tracey says, “Because the girls and used some creative thinking, were so interested in learning to help them pray together about the Christian way of life, Chard teenagers praying during Advent. the church asked them to run a in their community. “I took a chiminea down to café church for the older members the local skate park one evening, The group met in church every of the congregation.” which created a huge amount Friday night and eventually asked if The girls even held monthly of excitement,” says Tracey. they could have a prayer tree. services for the congregation, “We lit candles, burned incense “We got permission to create where they offered prayers, played and toasted marshmallows, then a stencilled prayer tree on the music and provided messages. the teenagers said prayers and wall and the teenagers put their Tracey’s still in touch with the spoke about their hopes for prayers on the tree every Friday girls, who are now at university, the future.” night,” says Tracey. and one is hoping to be a priest Tracey also helped a youth “The older generation “I’m now helping her towards group develop links with the interceded for them on Sunday her own vocational calling,” church community through prayer. and left their own prayers on adds Tracey.
Just for kids?
Can any of these creative activities energize our own prayer lives, or are they just for children? Cheryl says, “I find people of all ages are willing to be engaged in new activities.” She encouraged one congregation to write down their worries and throw them in a bin under the altar, then handed them the promises of God. “Several people said they loved that part of the service and found it a very helpful way of praying,” she says. Andy also brings creative prayer stations into church, particularly during the Pray for Schools fortnight, where churches are encouraged to pray for schools in their area. He says, “We brought a cardboard cutout of a school into church and invited local primary schoolchildren to write their prayers all over it. We then left it for the Sunday congregation to explore.” Manna Magazine
A labyrinth inspired prayer at Watchet Music Festival.
Labyrinths can also revitalize the prayer lives for all generations, as Andy discovered when he set one up at Watchet Music Festival last summer. “People were fascinated by it, but it was striking how many children and adults journeyed into the labyrinth together.”
“People of all ages are willing to be engaged in new activities.”
We hope this brief look at some of the creative ways people are praying has inspired you. Why not try something new next week – take a look at our ‘Ten Fun Ways to Pray’, go on a prayer walk or do something completely different? ■ Spring 2017 11
Ten fun ways to pray Tina Hodgett, Evangelism Team Leader.
Do something active and repetitive – running, swimming, walking the dog, ironing, painting the ceiling (not all at the same time!).
Blow bubbles in the garden in the early morning or the warmth of the day – imagine the bubbles as prayers to God – buy a big bubble wand or tiny bubble vial.
Use the garden as a metaphor. As you plant things, pray for stuff that needs to start. As you chop things down, pray for stuff that needs chopping down in society or your life. As you water things, pray for the Holy Spirit to come.
Blow bubbles and pray
4. 5. 6.
Use clay, play dough or any other malleable material to offer your time and hands to God – and see
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Walk a labyrinth – you can find them in cathedrals and retreat centres, mow them into your lawn (if you’re clever that way), build them out of jam jars or sand, or buy a labyrinth mat on the Internet.
Dance – whether you’re at a disco, bouncing on the bed, doing improvised movement in the lounge with your favourite music on (and the curtains closed!), or in an empty church - you can worship God and pray using your whole body. Write or draw your prayers in different colours on a large sheet of paper with pastels, chalk or marker pen – stick them somewhere to remind you.
what you begin to mould under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Pray about what emerges.
Pray with children – always insightful, challenging, and often hilarious.
Sit round a campfire in the dark passing a ‘prayer prompt’ from person to person with the right to pass if you wish.
“You can worship God and pray using your whole body.”
Sing – hymns, worship songs or pop songs that fit what you feel. Make up your own words to simple folk tunes, or make up the tune and the words at the same time! ■ Manna Magazine
Praying non-stop since 1999 By James Butterworth.
n his new book, Dirty Glory, Peter Greig looks at the power of prayer and reveals the struggles, the miracles and the hard-won insights gleaned from 18 years of 24-7 prayer, mission and justice.
“God sneezed and the thing went viral.”
In your book you say you didn’t set out to try and start a movement, but that is what it’s become. How did you achieve this? We started with one prayer room in one local church in Chichester in 1999. At the time we were only getting two old ladies and a goat to our church prayer meeting and I always said the goat wasn’t particularly committed!
Pete Greig with his wife Sammy
We started a night and day prayer room and it went crazy. Prayers were answered and there was a great sense of God’s presence there. God sneezed and the thing went viral and it hasn’t stopped spreading for 18 years and we’re now in over half the nations on earth and we’ve been praying non-stop since 1999. It’s a complete accident – I’m more bewildered than anyone – but we can only conclude that God is doing something and he’s calling his people to prayer.
Do you think there is a spiritual need and hunger for prayer in the nation?
There’s a colossal spiritual hunger in the nation. I think people are asking for answers that are beyond merely the economic, political and cultural solutions to the problems we’re facing. One government survey found that a quarter of British people who call themselves non-religious still take part in some form of spiritual activity every single month, which is normally prayer. We see it through things like Archbishop Justin Welby’s Thy Kingdom Come initiative, which we’ve been involved with. Last year we saw 3,000 churches get on board with different prayer initiatives, as well as six cathedrals. Thousands of people were coming not for a concert or any great event, but simply to pray. ➜ Spring 2017 13
This year we have 50 different cathedrals and other significant venues that have all signed up and said they will gather people to pray. So, there is undoubtedly a groundswell of prayer throughout the nation.
In your book you say it’s not just the number of people praying that’s important, but that people pray with spiritual authority. What do you mean by that?
People are paralysed by perceptions of proper Christianity. At one level there is no ‘proper’ way to pray. But it is true that prayer is something into which we can go deeper. Hearing God’s voice is something we can get better at and we can grow in our spiritual authority. We all know of an older saint who has endured great suffering who has walked closely with God for a long time and for whom there is a simple authority – it’s as if their prayers can shift things that entire stadia of excited young people can’t.
A 24-7 prayer station at St John’s Church, Keynsham.
“One thing I feel passionate about is that we teach about unanswered prayer.” 24-7 prayer rooms can be found all over the world, including in Christ Church
they carry deep disappointment from the times when they feel that prayer didn’t work. I think it is very important that in the Church we legitimise waiting and lamenting and we don’t just try and provide easy answers to everything. The oldest book in the Bible, Job, frustrates everyone because it doesn’t give an easy answer to Job’s suffering. But what we can see from it is that whilst his four friends were desperately trying to solve his problem, in reality the best friendship you can offer to someone who is suffering, is to be with them and to wait with them in lament and the travail. We’re not designed to be continually shiny, happy, fruitful, productive people; there are seasons in our lives of waiting and of pain and of tears. But as the bible says, “those who sow in tears leap with shouts of joy.”
Is there a danger that without spiritual authority or authenticity, our prayers are hollow? In the Bible Jesus told one of his parables about the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee is strutting around the temple praying all the right prayers in the right way and then there’s a tax collector kneeling in the corner, snot streaming from his nose, tears from his eyes and the only words he can get out are, “have mercy on me I am a sinner.” Jesus said the tax collector is the one who went home heard by God.
So it’s a skill that one can learn and develop?
I’d be nervous to call prayer a skill because I don’t think it is a technique – it’s not a transaction, it is deeply relational. So a three-year-old child saying, “Dear God, please heal my headache,” is just as real and legitimate and authentic as anything else. One thing I feel particularly passionate about is that we teach about unanswered prayer, because one of the reasons many people struggle in prayer is that 14 Spring 2017
I think Christ also calls us to radical honesty in prayer. There’s no point in trying to pretend to God. One of the things I’m trying to learn to do is be deeply honest with God and not to try and perform and be a ‘good Christian’ in His presence, because I don’t think it impresses Him. I had the privilege of meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu and said to him, “Arch, how have you kept the fire alight in your belly all these years doing all that you do?” And without missing a beat he said, “That’s because when I trained to be a priest I did so in an environment of prayer. It is only prayer that keeps fuel on the fire.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a great example of how prayer propels us to engage with the world.
Your book, Dirty Glory, is full of stories of answered prayer and witnessed miracles…
Yes, in Dirty Glory, it is a succession of brain-frying miracle stories. We have seen so many remarkable answers to prayer over the years of seeking God. There is a wonderful story of a Swiss intercessor, called Susanna Rychiger, who prayed hard and 28,000 Swiss Manna Magazine
A picture of a prayer room sent from Austria
“We have seen so many remarkable answers to prayer over the years of seeking God.”
Francs materialised on four different occasions in her cleaning cupboard in her apartment in Thun, Switzerland. There was no other rational explanation from the bank, the police and no one had access to the apartment. One occasion happened as she was standing in the kitchen outside the cleaning cupboard! There is a lovely story of a prayer room in Africa, where God gave several people the same word. They didn’t know what it meant but after Googling it they found the word related to a small island on Lake Victoria. They travelled to the island and after a long journey they found a whole community of people who had never heard of Jesus. They explained that they had been sent from a prayer room by God and preached the Gospel. Fifty people gave their lives to Jesus Christ and a church was planted that day. We all constantly have this feeling of wanting to go out and solve everyone’s problems and save the world, but actually the only legitimate way we can do that is somehow in partnership with the one who truly can save the world. So I think prayer does propel us into practical engagement and I hope the story of 24-7 prayer demonstrates that ■ Spring 2017 15
All in a day’s work
More than a timetable By Sister Alison Fry.
bout five years ago, I left being vicar of Batheaston with St Catherine to explore becoming an Anglican nun at Mucknell Abbey near Worcester, a Benedictine community of monks and nuns. We all have our part to play in the body of Christ. Jesus spent some time away from the crowds, praying to his heavenly Father, and some of us are called to reflect that part of his ministry (while others are preachers, teachers, healers and so on). Our work is our prayer and is guided by the Rule of St Benedict. At 6am – before breakfast! – we say ʻOffice of Readingsʼ. Thereafter our day is punctuated by singing five more traditional monastic ʻofficesʼ plus spaces for personal prayer and study. The Eucharist is at noon, then lunch and a rest. Either side of this we are at other work. It may be the rota of domestic tasks – cooking, cleaning, laundry (there are lots of black socks in a monastery!) – or individual jobs; I’m responsible for the kitchen garden, growing lots of fruit and veg. Before Compline there is free time, and then ʻgreater silenceʼ (no unnecessary talking or noise) until the next morning. But it is more than a timetable! Many think our vows are poverty, chastity and obedience. We do indeed try to live simply and we don’t own personal property. The idea is to be unencumbered by ʻthingsʼ to live freely for God; we are not attached to piles of stuff. It is an attitude to belongings that directly challenges consumer culture. 16 Spring 2017
Sister Alison Fry is an Anglican nun at Mucknell Abbey.
“Our work is our prayer.”
We do forego one particular lifelong relationship to be freer to love God and to care for all we meet. It reminds a highly sexualised society that there are many ways to relate really well and deeply to all people. However, only ʻobedienceʼ is a vow for Benedictines. We have two others: ʻstabilityʼ and ʻconversion of lifeʼ Obedience is not oppressive. The setting aside of my will (and selfishness) enables a discovery of far more about myself and others than is possible when wrapped up in an ʻI’ll-do-what-I-wantʼ culture Stability means ʻnot flittingʼ from one thing to another, besides remaining in the monastery as far as is practically possible. It is ʻstickabilityʼ even when itʼs not going my way, or I don’t feel like it. Conversion of life is harder to define. This monastic way is one very particular path towards the vocation of all Christians – to become more like Jesus Christ. And far from shutting us off from the world, this monastic way of life holds us in the midst of it as we pray – for individual needs, for the church and for God’s world. That’s why I’m here! ■ Manna Magazine
News in brief
News in brief
Updates from around our diocese.
Archdeacon Andy to retire
The Venerable Andy Piggott, the Archdeacon of Bath, will retire from his post on 30 June. After 30 years of fulltime ministry, Archdeacon Andy, together with his wife Ruth, senses that the time has come to embrace a new way of life and living even though he remains fit, well and enthusiastic about the ministry to which God first called him. Revd Chris Hare is to be licensed as the Acting Archdeacon of Bath on 4 July ■
New Archdeacon for Wells
Revd Canon Anne Gell will be the next Archdeacon of Wells and Residentiary Canon of Wells Cathedral. She will replace the Very Revd Nicola Sullivan, who moved to become Dean of Southwell in September 2016. Anne is currently Vicar of St Peter’s Wrecclesham in the Diocese of Guildford, and Area Dean of Farnham. She will be licensed at Wells Cathedral on 20 May ■
Bishop Peter and Bishop Ruth have been out and about around the diocese enjoying a series of Community Conversations. Six events were held, three in each archdeaconry. Representatives from the parishes enjoyed a time of worship, prayer and storytelling and explored the challenges and opportunities of living and telling the story in their parish. Commenting on the events Bishop Manna Magazine
Peter said, “No ifs, no buts, Bath and Wells is a fantastic diocese. It has been great to meet so many inspiring people.” The Bishops will be reviewing and reporting back on the feedback they have received from these events ■
“No ifs, no buts, Bath and Wells is a fantastic diocese.”
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Out and About
across Bath and Wells
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Champions meet (Above) ■ Zambia Champions from across the diocese gathered in Wells in March for their inaugural meeting, at which they welcomed Revd Canon John Kafwanka, Director of Mission, the Anglican Communion Office.
Blessing for new bells (Below) ■ St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, has been celebrating the arrival of their new bells, which were dedicated by Bishop Peter in March.
Parish celebrates (Above) ■ Congratulations to Revd John Gordon, pictured with his wife Jean, who has celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination with his parishioners in Christ Church, Nailsea All welcome (Left) ■ St John’s, Glastonbury played host to Bishop Ruth and the South West LGBT Group in March and held a LGBT Affirming Service.
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Official opening (Below) ■ The Battle of Sedgemoor Visitor Centre in St Mary’s Church, Westonzoyland, has been officially opened by Councillor John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council, pictured (second left) with trustees of Zoyland Heritage Fund.
Out and About
Sensory fun (Right) ■ Bath Abbey teamed up with youngsters from Three Ways School, a community special needs school in Odd Down, on Disabled Access Day, to offer visitors fun activities using all five senses.
Breakfast success at St Andrew’s (Right) ■ Launched last October, St Andrew’s in Cheddar’s Breakfast Service is going from strength to strength. All ages love it and they now plan to have them more frequently.
Farewell for Blagdon (Above) ■ The Benefice of Blagdon, Compton Martin and Ubley said farewell to Manna Magazine
“exceptional” Rector, Jane Chamberlain, who has been appointed diocesan Training Team Leader.
Service of Light (Left) ■ Worshippers from churches in Locking Deanery filled St James the Great in Winscombe for a special Service of Light that reflected on the new diocesan vision. To find out what’s happening across the diocese, see our events calendar at www.bathandwells.org.uk/events Spring 2017 19
Thy Kingdom Come By Steve Tilley.
o how do the movies handle prayer and matters of eternal kingdoms? Here are some of the ways you could introduce these questions to a group with a film night. All are comedies and all are older movies this time. Big (1988). Be careful what you wish for. Josh wants to be big (so he can take a fairground ride for which he is too short). His wish is granted and, now an adult played by Tom Hanks, Josh has to make his way as a child trapped in a ‘big’ body in a grown-up world. Bruce Almighty (2003). Amazing that it’s taken 27 issues to mention this one. Bruce (Jim Carrey) moans at God (Morgan Freeman) for not paying attention. So God gives him the job for a week and goes on vacation. How will Bruce answer everyone’s prayers? Not as easy as it looks. If all the lottery tickets win you don’t win much. Dogma (1999). Controversial at the time but tamer now. Two angels are thrown out of heaven. They work out a way back. But if they succeed then they will prove God erred and he will disappear in a puff of smoke. So they must be stopped. Cue mayhem and philosophical badinage. Early roles for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Holy Man (1998). Eddie Murphy plays a charismatic stranger, known only as ‘G’ who wanders into the world of a shopping channel. His presence increases sales and brings harmony to the team. At first. Would you be gripped by such a stranger? Would you follow him? Leap of Faith (1992). What happens when a completely fake faith healer (Steve Martin) finds himself trapped in a town where he is disbelieved but God isn’t. Is he ready for a real miracle? ■ 20 Spring 2017
There’s an app for that? Do you hear that a lot? Well here are some apps to help you pray. Daily Prayer Texts for Morning, Evening and Night Prayer with links to Common Worship lectionary. Free to access online; subscribe to download.
NIV Bible There are many apps which allow access to the Bible’s text. After a few years of GloBible, which began to let me down on iOS 10, I currently I use the above by Just1Word. PrayerMate A glorified database. You make notes of people/events for which you wish to pray and with what regularity. Can link to external organisations such as Operation World. This app generates a daily prayer reminder using index cards. Free but with in-app purchases. Prayers on the Move A little space for reflection in a busy life; useful for public transport commuters. Appears to be free. Presence Andy Hunter has created an app using music, film, poetry and photography, to provide a collection of chapters to enable you to create space in your life for relaxing, mindful inspiration to lead you into reflection and prayer. Each chapter lasts 10-30 mins. Free download. The Diocese of Bath & Wells is not responsible for any content on external sites. Manna Magazine
A lever and a place to stand Book reviews by Richard Greatrex.
ichard Rohr and Pete Greig are two men cut very much from the same cloth. Both pray without ceasing, both back up that prayer with action and both have a burning passion to get the message that prayer matters out around the world. Pete Greig’s Dirty Glory continues the story started in ‘Red Moon Rising’ It is an uncompromising book – following Christ is the focus for life; all else is distraction. What this means in practice is that Greig and his family move around the world at the direction of God. They go, whether they want to or not, they go where prayer takes them and trust that God will provide. This trust is supported time and again by their colleagues, whether in South Africa, New Mexico or London. The challenges that Greig turns back to us are very similar to those in Rowan Williams’s ‘Being Disciples’: following Christ is a full-time commitment, affecting every aspect of our lives. It brings great responsibility, tough actions and deep joy but it also transforms the world, sculpting it, piece by piece, person by person, into the Kingdom God desires it to be. While for Grieg prayer is very often a vehicle for prompting the Spirit into action, for Rohr, in his book Dancing Standing Still, it is the deep heart of unknowing, the unravelling of our egos and ‘I’ centredness, that puts us in touch with the Divine. Our gaze is shifted from the dictates of the self, its inner chaos and noise, to focus on the spacious landscape of Christ and Christ alone, where we seed, Manna Magazine
“Our gaze is shifted from the dictates of the self, its inner chaos and noise.”
take root and grow towards God. Rohr’s central image is drawn from a saying of Archimedes: ‘Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world’. Prayer, then, is the place to stand – close enough to the world to engage with it, far enough away to stand outside of it. The lever, or levers, are the gifts of the Spirit we have each been given; discerning them is part of the role of prayer, as is nurturing them in our daily lives, ‘that they might bear fruit’ in word and deed. Shane Claiborne, Jonathan WilsonHartgrove and Enuma Okoro’s Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals is a daily office that provides worship within the context of radical, self-giving, life-affirming action. It acknowledges the roughness and rawness of life but is also shot through with the joy of God’s love. The format provides prayers and meditations for each day to be used either as a complete office or to jump-start our own devotions and contemplation. ‘Common Prayer’ fizzes with the energy needed to go deeper into the heart of meditation, exposing honestly our dark places to God and to ourselves. It is also filled with the energy that flows back from God into all who plant their hearts in Christ’s vision and their feet in the soiled earth, taking up the calling to make the love of God tangible in a distracted and divided world ■ Richard is the manager of Aslan Christian Bookshops and associate priest in Long Ashton with Barrow Gurney and Flax Bourton. Spring 2017 21
Be careful what you pray for! By Revd Sue Rose.
he Bible is full of the promises of God, backed up by evidence of the many times he has fulfilled them, and yet we can often live as though we are curiously uncertain that these promises are meant for us here and now, rather than at some distant point in the past or even the future. Last year you may remember that we asked everyone in the diocese to pray for an increase in vocations. We gave you a prayer diary for the whole of Lent with suggestions of particular places or types of vocation you might focus your prayers on each day. On alternate days we asked you to pray for more ordained vocations in each deanery in turn and on the other days we asked you to pray for a whole variety of vocations in each parish – and we know God hears and answers prayer. So why am I so surprised that this year the Vocations team have been rushed off their feet by a surge in people coming forward to explore what God is calling them to be and do? It has been truly inspiring to meet and hear the faith stories of so many different people, of different background and ages, from large urban churches and from small rural communities, united by their desire to serve God in His church. Most years we send about 11 people to a selection conference; this year we will 22 Spring 2017
Revd Sue Rose, Vocations Team Leader.
“It has been truly inspiring to meet and hear the faith stories of so many.”
send 20, plus three people who we believe are called to pioneer ministry reaching out to those on the edge of church and society. We have also met people who are eager to serve God as Churchwardens, in prayer ministry and in youth work to name just a few other ministries explored this year. So what have I learned from this? To take seriously God’s promises and truly believe that He does hear and answer prayer. ‘Ask and it will be given to you’ it says in Matthews Gospel, chapter 7, verse 7. Such a familiar message; next time you hear it, remember what happened in our diocese when we asked, and just be careful what you ask for! Oh, and if you still have last year’s vocations prayer diary please use it again. I’m sure there are still others who need to respond to God’s call – it might even be you ■ Manna Magazine
Pentecost Celebration of Prayer
Wells Cathedral, Sunday 4 June
Prayer Fayre From 14:30 to 16:30 visit prayer stations scattered throughout the cathedral and be inspired by different styles of prayer presented by congregations from around the diocese.
Pentecost service Join the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, from 17:00 to 18:00 for an informal service of celebration with guest preacher the Rt Revd John Perry, former Bishop of Chelmsford and Esther Rose Stewart, member of the Community of St Anselm. Refreshments will be available in the cathedral between the two events. Our Celebration of Prayer marks the end of Thy Kingdom Come 2017, the global wave of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost. Donâ€™t miss out on this life-changing movement. Find out more and Pledge2Pray by visiting www.thykingdomcome.global where there are resources to help and inspire you and your church.
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