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TRANSFORMING CHURCH The magazine of the Diocese of Guildford ISSUE 03 – FEBRUARY 2019

FEATURE page 8


Reasons to believe Saturday 15 June 2019 10am–1pm St Paul’s Church, Howell Hill This free half-day conference will give practical guidance to help you share your faith with confidence

With Amy Orr-Ewing Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics Book your free place: 2








6 A small team are bringing hope through prayer

12 Discover how the ritual of prayer can help

8 One teacher tells us why pop-up prayer spaces

24 We spoke to Pete Greig, founder of 24/7

ministry to the residents of Aldershot Park, with the help of a second-hand motorhome.

have become a much-loved part of school life for children and staff.

dementia sufferers to connect and why you shouldn’t rule out praying with them.

Prayer, about finding God in the ordinary and an extraordinary story of answered prayer.


Send your feedback to Thank you for picking up Transforming Church magazine. Our aim is to tell stories of life, faith and transformation from around the Diocese of Guildford, through the eyes of inspiring individuals. Published three times a year, we cover most of Surrey and North East Hampshire as well as parishes in London and Sussex. Our vision is to be a Transforming Church, Transforming Lives across the diocese and beyond. If you have an

idea for a story, let us know, or if you just want to tell us what you think, we’d love to hear from you. To discuss copy quantities or delivery please contact

Layouts and printing: CPO Produced at Church House Guildford, Alan Turing Road, Guildford GU2 7YF



PRAYING FOR A HOPEFUL FUTURE What will the Church look like in ten years’ time? The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, tells us what he’s praying for Praying on the streets. Praying in the family. Praying for healing. Praying and fasting. What a rich spiritual banquet lies between the pages of this magazine! Our vision here in the Diocese of Guildford, of a Transforming Church, Transforming Lives, starts with prayer. Our very first goal speaks of making ‘prayerful, confident disciples in daily life’, because the Church’s future depends on young and old alike connecting with the Living God and so bringing transformation (big or small) to the world around them. That’s why the themes of prayer, confidence, and discipleship in daily life will be the golden thread running through 2019, not least in the three editions of this magazine. Get this right (or at least moving in the right direction) and our churches will go from strength to strength! So what might it look like in ten years’ time (around the


moment when I finally plan to hang up my mitre) were this goal to be achieved, and the others with it? Someone has pictured it like this: Imagine a Church that is rooted in prayer, daily recognising our dependence on the God who saves, strengthens, leads and grows the Kingdom. Imagine a Church where people of all ages reach their full potential, cheering one another on in the adventure of following Jesus. Imagine a Church looking outwards more than inwards, building diverse, holy, attractive communities of faith, which are filled with God’s Spirit and accessible in every way. Imagine a Church at the heart of the communities we serve, reaching out to the poor and marginalised with compassion and purpose, challenging

injustice, caring for creation, and bearing gospel fruit around the world. Imagine a Transforming Church, Transforming Lives. It’s a wonderful picture, full of joy and hope, lifting us above the sometimes petty disputes in which our churches can become embroiled. And having so imagined this hopeful future, it’s now time to pray and work for that vision to become a reality: starting, perhaps, with the words of the prayer with which our diocesan vision was launched: God of our salvation, you sent your Son to draw all people into your abundant life: grant that your Church, empowered by your Spirit, may be the instrument of your transforming purposes in the world, that all may know your power to heal and save; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.


WHAT IF PRAYING CAME AS NATURALLY AS BREATHING? There is no right or wrong way to pray. Sarah Hutton, Spiritual Growth Facilitator, says it can be as simple and natural as breathing ‘Keep breathing!’ shouts the Pilates instructor!   Breathing is fundamental to life and most of the time we don’t need to be reminded. What if prayer was like this? Simply intrinsic to our being, a life sustaining, renewable resource. Indeed that is just what prayer can be and it can begin with our breath. 

Become aware of your breathing. You don’t need to stop what you are doing but simply pay attention to the ‘in’ and the ‘out’ breath. Breathe in the love and life of God and then breathe out what holds you back, is hurting or limiting you.  Prayer is not necessarily about words, more particularly using the right words. In fact, you can’t pray the wrong way. You do

need to find your own way which won’t necessarily be the same throughout your life. Above all, never give up. Even when the silence is deafening, keep breathing. We have a creative God who longs to connect with us and prayer is what we call this. So when you get stuck, be creative and try different ways.

WHY NOT? Why not take a day and pray a different way? We asked people across the diocese for their suggestions – you can see them on page 14.



PRAYER ON WHEELS With the help of a second-hand motorhome, a small team are bringing hope to the residents of Aldershot Park. Cat Payne joined them to find out more “I’m so glad to see you today” exclaims the young woman who works in one of the shops on the parade, “I really needed you here today. I’ve had some bad news recently.” This was my first experience on the road in a second-hand motorhome, with a small team of people bringing ministry to Aldershot Park. The young woman, Kayleigh, proceeds to open up to the team as though they’re old friends, “I’ve been in hospital for a few days. They think I have possible liver failure so they’re doing lots of tests.” The team tell me how they have prayed with and for Kayleigh several times over the last couple of


months as she recovers from previous drug and alcohol use.”It’s like they showed up just at the right time in my life,” she says, “I was hesitant at first, but now I just feel relaxed about it. I don’t care what the customers think, I could pray all day here.”

“I WAS HESITANT AT FIRST, BUT NOW I JUST FEEL RELAXED ABOUT IT. I COULD PRAY ALL DAY HERE.” Pippa Ford, from All Saints’ Church in Guildford, heads up the team after Alwyn Pereira, the Vicar at St Michael’s in Aldershot, told her the huge responsibility

he feels to be ‘good news’ to the people of Aldershot Park who currently have no church building in the community. Aldershot Park, one of the most deprived areas in the military town of Aldershot, predominantly consists of social housing and ranked in the 20% most deprived areas in the country. It was during a moment of prayer for Aldershot Park that Pippa felt a strong call to use her own second-hand motorhome to offer ministry there. “I’ve always loved motorhomes, especially for the sense of freedom and adventure they give you,” she tells me. “When I bought a second-hand one, I had a really strong sense of God saying that


I would use it in ministry but at the time I was not sure where or when that would be.” By coincidence, or divine intervention, Alwyn had been praying that morning about how to acquire a motorhome or caravan for the very same purpose – replying to Pippa’s email with “OMG!” “We felt that God was definitely up to something,” Pippa says. No stranger to sharing God’s love ‘on the go’, Pippa has pioneered teams in two other parishes to go out into the community and pray with local shops and businesses. The young shop worker Kayleigh told me, “It’s so nice that they’re spreading a bit of love around and sharing the love of God, in what are actually very difficult times. I can tell that it means as much to them as it does to me. They always ask how I am and remember what’s going on in my life.” The team take a selection of beautiful cards with Bible verses and encouraging words on them for people to choose and Kayleigh keeps all of hers on the fridge. Pippa says, ”They spark conversation and reflection. We invite people to choose one they like the look of, and read what’s on it. I’ve lost count of the times when people have said to us – that was just what I needed to hear today, thank you.” At the time of writing the team have had four motorhome ministry sessions. They wind out the awning, offer cups of

tea and biscuits, talk to people and offer to pray for them. “The amazing thing is that most of the people on this estate haven’t even wanted the cups of tea, instead they’ve just wanted to be listened to and encouraged. The people here just seem pleased that we’re taking an interest in them and that they’re not forgotten”, Pippa says.

Pippa tells me, “There is a real sense that God is at work here and it is a joy and a privilege to join in. There is no doubt that using the motorhome allows us to see God’s transforming power at work in the lives of the people we pray with.”

“THE PEOPLE HERE JUST SEEM PLEASED THAT WE’RE TAKING AN INTEREST IN THEM AND THAT THEY’RE NOT FORGOTTEN.” Having spent a few hours with the motorhome-ministry team, I was inspired by their courage and willingness to share their faith. The passion is palpable as




Deputy head teacher Carmella Reece, explains why pop-up prayer spaces are a much-loved part of school life at All Saints’ Fleet Rather than give you a dictionary definition of a ‘prayer space’ I think our school children sum them up better: ‘a peaceful place to reflect God’ and ‘a place where all of your stress goes away’. At All Saints’, our prayer spaces have become a much-loved part of school life, proving to have a profound impact on our children as well as our staff. A visiting supply teacher was brought to tears in a recent prayer space, having never experienced such a special stillness and deep reflection among the children.


Every child, regardless of background or belief, can engage with activities that promote stillness, personal reflection and thought for others. Before entering our prayer spaces, everyone takes off their shoes to help set the tone of quietness, calm and respect. Vinnie in year four summed up this feeling beautifully: ”Our calm, special prayer space brings fun but silence.” Throughout the school year, we identify opportunities for our children to engage with an overarching theme or value. Previous prayer spaces have included Advent, Lent,

Easter, Mother’s Day, our link community in the Gambia, and remembrance. Alongside activities encouraging personal reflection we encourage whole-class contributions. For example, on Peace Day, each year group took a different aspect of the refugee based story ‘The Journey’ and created an activity for the wider school to engage in. One of these activities included paper boxes hand-made by year five, which children across the school filled with prayers – imagining what it would be like if they had to pack up their belongings into one bag and flee their home.


I wholeheartedly encourage any school to trial prayer spaces. We often set ours up for just a day, but they can be kept up for longer if space allows. Prayer trees work beautifully – the children love to peg up their thoughts and prayers. Through these anonymous reflections, our children really reveal their inner most thoughts and feelings. We are amazed by the powerful empathy they show – their care for others and the world in which we live. A simple placement of pebbles for example, can reveal so much – we have found our children to have arranged such objects into the shapes of hearts and crosses, completely independently.

“DURING A BUSY SCHOOL DAY, PRAYER SPACE ENABLES OUR CHILDREN (AND STAFF) TO STOP AND REFLECT IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT.” During a busy school day, prayer space enables our children (and staff) to stop and reflect in a safe environment. Twinkly lights and calming music really help transform the space and create a special ambience. Charlotte in year five said, “The prayer space is amazing because it gives you a chance to think about your actions and it has lots of activities to thank God. It’s also a good place to just switch off from the outside world.” Bree in year four said, “The prayer space is special to me because you can just think

about your worries and God will take them away.”

“THE PRAYER SPACE IS AMAZING BECAUSE IT GIVES YOU A CHANCE TO THINK. IT’S ALSO A GOOD PLACE TO JUST SWITCH OFF FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD.” Our war and conflict-themed prayer space included a trench, specially made by our site manager, in which children could light a battery candle and write an offering prayer for soldiers. At the end of the day, the trench floor was covered in over two hundred prayers and the words of one of the prayers laid out on the top really caught our attention: ”Dear God, keep these men safe in heaven where they don’t have to suffer anymore.” Even more touching is that these words were written by a child very much in need themselves. Another prayer at a different station said,”Please bring my brother back home”, showing that prayer can open a door for children to express things that

they might not have otherwise shared. The children were also encouraged to think about how we can all help contribute towards a happier, more peaceful future, creating a paper chain with thoughts about how they can ‘throw kindness like confetti’. Our school motto is ‘Let Your Light Shine’ and we strongly believe that prayer spaces enable our children to do just that. We never cease to be moved by the empathy and deep thought that our children show – sharing their hearts, wondering about the world around them and reaching out to others with their words and prayers.

FEEL INSPIRED TO SET UP YOUR OWN PRAYER SPACE? Check out Over 100 teachers, youth workers and volunteers have been trained in the last three years on how to start prayer spaces in schools in the Diocese of Guildford. Nationwide there were 681 registered prayer spaces in schools last year and we suspect there were many more than that. Prayer spaces in schools now take place across 31 countries.




Many parents want to pray with their children, but may lack confidence or struggle to find the time. Children and families adviser for the diocese Emma Coy shares her top tips Make it natural For most adults prayer is a natural part of everyday life; we pray in the car, in the shower or as we cook. We generally don’t use special words. Try doing this out loud so our children can hear and join in. Encourage your children to do this too. Make it special As well as talking to God as we go about our day many of us also make special times to pray. Families can make time to pray at meals times, at bedtimes or even in the bath. Some children might like to talk to God in a special place like a cosy corner of their bedroom or even at the top of the climbing frame in the park.


Making the most of seasons like Lent or Easter are a great way to kick start your family prayer life.

them to whisper their thoughts to God into a cushion or into their hands.

Make it real Encourage your children to talk to God about things that are important to them; their favourite toys, their likes and dislikes, their fears. Ask them to pray for you and then remember to tell them when God answers. Make it fun Some children might like to draw or make or build what they want to say to God. Some children might not want to talk out loud and younger children will find it difficult to talk in their heads. One idea is to encourage

DISCOVER MORE TIPS prayerresources#families – great ideas for free and resources to buy – videos and articles to help you help your child connect with God


BECAUSE YOU’RE LOVED What’s a spiritual director and what can they do for me? We asked Diana Tear to tell us what she does Have you heard of BYL? Because you’re loved. Loved by God, all day, every day. It can help to have someone accompany you on your faith journey who will listen and help you understand God’s love and what it means to you. That someone could be a spiritual director, a lay or ordained person, who has the training and expertise to walk with you, to pray with you and to explore. That is what spiritual direction is. It’s not counselling, or psychotherapy, a prayer partner, mentor, work consultant or your best friend. It is someone to meet regularly and talk with about how you are getting on with God, or not getting on with God! They can advise you on things like trying a different pattern of prayer, finding a good place for a retreat. Faith may be easy and straightforward but there could be times when it is hard to go on believing, when self-doubt, anxiety, frustration, disappointment or even boredom seem to threaten. A spiritual director will also

help you discover the deeper meaning in all that is happening. What training do they have? Spiritual directors feel called to this ministry and have specific training. Good listening, although important, is only the beginning. They have studied Christian spirituality from its beginning with the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the major monastic traditions, including new monasticism. They have an understanding of psychology in a spiritual direction context and will recognise some of the blocks which may be encountered. Aren’t they just for clergy? All clergy and those in authorised ministry are encouraged to have a spiritual director but anyone can benefit. Ultimately, it’s about walking with another on the holy ground

of your life journey; discovering what it means to enter into that place of love and finding, maybe for the first time, the One who, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, calls us into the presence of Jesus to hear His word: You are loved.

“I consider my spiritual director to be the personal fitness coach of the spiritual world. In my experience they promote the journey from head to heart of Christian truths and support a deepening and maturing of faith in the midst of whatever challenges and joys life may bring. However, like a personal fitness coach, the commitment to ongoing exercises each day is mine!” Jennie Pennant

FIND OUT WHAT A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR COULD DO FOR YOU Andrew Tuck Spiritual Direction Co-ordinator 01252 716119



A MINISTRY OF MEMORY Is it possible to connect with a God that you remember only vaguely if at all? Theresa Ricketts explains why we shouldn’t write off prayer with dementia sufferers You might be tempted to assume that someone who can no longer remember or even talk, cannot connect with God, but my experience ministering to them tells us differently. I have heard of a lady who hadn’t spoken for months spontaneously join in reciting the Lord’s Prayer. The familiarity of the rhythm and the words transported her to a place of connectedness. The rituals of familiar prayers, Bible readings, hymns and receiving communion can be deeply reassuring to someone feeling disoriented and confused. They can trigger memories which help reconnect the person, not only to the carers and family around them, but to a faithful God.


When I began taking a communion service in the local care home I remember being shocked when one of the residents looked at the host and said in a loud and disdainful voice: “what’s this?” It led me to reflect at length on the appropriateness of giving communion in care homes. But what I realised was that for so many others in that room, including those with dementia, there was something reassuring about the familiar act of putting out their hands to receive communion. It was a prayerful activity, enabling spiritual connection to be made through a sensory, tactile experience. When caring for someone with dementia it is easy to become focussed on the physical aspects of their care, making sure they’re

fed, safe and well. The practical role of caring for someone’s body and mind is overwhelming and in the process it’s easy to overlook caring for their soul.

“THE PRACTICAL ROLE OF CARING FOR SOMEONE’S BODY AND MIND IS OVERWHELMING AND IN THE PROCESS IT’S EASY TO OVERLOOK CARING FOR THEIR SOUL.” Much of my ministry to those with dementia has been made up of repetitive conversations, but I have come to see these conversations as prayerful in themselves. They enable


someone to reconnect with an aspect of their identity, to tell the story of who they are before God. It’s a story that their carers will have heard daily or hourly. It gives them a chance to step back and to see their loved one more fully again, as the person created and loved by God.

“IT GIVES THEIR CARERS A CHANCE TO STEP BACK AND TO SEE THEIR LOVED ONE MORE FULLY AGAIN, AS THE PERSON CREATED AND LOVED BY GOD.” I watched the steady decline of one regular member of our congregation over several years. He had been an architect, and it was the beauty of the church building that connected with him the most powerfully. Over the years he told me a great deal about his life, both work

and family, and would share spiritual literature that he had found inspirational. It seemed to be important to him that his story was held by someone, that he was known and understood – and while my picture was incomplete, I think we were both aware that God knew the entirety. Simply being prayerful alongside someone who struggles to hold on to the story of their own identity feels very important.

I am not an expert in dementia, but I was extremely fortunate to have started a Dementia Action Alliance in Weybridge, which brought together a range of interested parties including the Day Centre, a local care home, the Alzheimer’s Society and local businesses in working towards making the town dementiafriendly. There really is no substitute for time spent listening to another person and realising that we have as much to discover about God from them as they have from us. Praying with and for those with dementia is never a waste of time. But perhaps the greatest gift of all is allowing our time spent with them to become prayer.

For a list of dementia-friendly services, useful links and resources visit



PRAY YOUR OWN WAY We asked people across the diocese for their top prayer tips and here’s what they said I like to ta walk on ke an evening a starry n and talk ight to and look God as I walk Looking at the night sky. u universe p at the vast always p into pers u pective! t things

Less asking, more basking.

ound Try walking ar and e liv where you ur yo praying for neighbours.

Keep a pen and pape r near you when you pray so you can note down anything useful but irrelevant an d then refocus.

Every d billion ay more th an 6 tex messa t and instan 0 g t wo es peoplerldwide. H are sent o every do you te w many xt da your f y? Try pray or call ing fo riends r be send them fore you give t a text or hem a call.

I imagine Je sus sitting in front of me and focu s on visualisin g my prayer rather than vocalisin g it. That way, I d on’t have to worry about being eloquent.

o it

d You can’t wrong.

Just do it.

, distracted I get easily ething om so doing s ke walking li rhythmic helps me or knitting focus.

Find your own way of connecting with God, don’t feel guilty because you think others are ‘better’ at it.


I always tell people it’s just a conversation with the Lord, chat to Him about anything that is bothering you, wherever you are. Remember the rule of teaspoon (tsp) to help structure your prayer: thank you, sorry and please.

Think of a helpful im age (such as a cross) or word (such as peace) to he lp still your thoughts an Try praying wh d en you’re clear your mind. watering the ga rden, th

inking about what thin gs are growing in your life or wh at things need watering.


you Praying while derful walk is a won e day: way to start th moving sometimes a to still body can help the mind.

Pray as you can and not as you can’t (Carlo Carretto)

Start the day with “Goo d morning God” and see where that leads you.

More recently I seem to get a lot of prayer requests on WhatsApp from my non-Christian friends.

struggling to When you’re s, try writing it find the word composed a down. I once to God! text message

t Rather than sihen I’m w y tl impatien red traffic stopped at a eting light, I use fle this to moments like pray.

need to It doesn’t e and can b take time n you’re quick whe – God time poor r o is on ou knows wh heart.

That momen t, before the toast po ps up, is the perfect ti me for me to thank God for electricity, fo od and a loving fam ily that keeps me on my toes!


Exactly what it says on the tin. It’s like a good friend helping you keep track of prayer requests and the people and causes you care about. It also reminds you when you forget!


Provides you with a daily prayer session, designed to go with you wherever you go, to help you pray whenever you find time. It’s not a thought for the day, but a framework or activity to help your own prayer.


The official prayer app from the Church of England gives a complete liturgy and services for morning, evening and night time prayer.



P IS FOR PRAYER-PLATES Youth minister Harry Lamaison, on how young people might benefit from ‘prayer driving lessons’ As the gentle music of Rend Collective’s latest album faded out at the end of the church’s weekly youth evening, Tim sat looking around at the bowed heads and clasped hands of his friends and leaders. Then he heard the words every young person dreads to hear – ‘Tim, could you pray for us to finish?’ Tim’s thoughts raced, he wanted to say, ‘Why on earth did you ask me?! What do I say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if everyone laughs at me? Of course I won’t pray to finish.’ Instead he just said, ‘Erm, yeah.’ Praying is so often a hot topic in youth ministry. With youth


ministers wondering how they can get the young people to do it more. Young people wondering how they can manage to do it less. What if I told you I had the answer to both? Well, I don’t. But here are some thoughts that emerged from talking to various youth ministers and young people about prayer. Teaching young people to pray One young person I spoke to said they’ve ‘never been taught how to pray.’ It would seem that prayer is taught in a ‘follow the leader’ way. Which goes as follows: surely Tim should know how to pray, he’s seen others pray each week and listened to the leaders pray more times than he can remember.

Tim’s also watched his mum and dad drive countless times, he’s been a passenger more times than he can remember. But when someone put Tim in the driver’s seat, not only was he scared, he also had no idea what he was doing. He’d been told what driving is and he’d seen it countless times. But no one had actually trained him in how to drive. When was the last time we sat down with a young person and really explained what a life of prayer looks like, why we pray, examples of prayer in the Bible, styles and ways of praying. One young person said they felt ‘prayer was talked about and explained but we were never actually taught how to


pray’. I realised how important it is to spend time with young people, perhaps giving them ‘prayer driving lessons’, instead of putting them straight in the driver’s seat.

“I REALISED HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO SPEND TIME WITH YOUNG PEOPLE, GIVING THEM ‘PRAYER DRIVING LESSONS’, INSTEAD OF PUTTING THEM STRAIGHT IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT.” Creativity in prayer I spoke to someone who has been employed in UK youth ministry for the last 20 years. The biggest change they’d seen was the amount of creativity now available in prayer. Our world and society has uncovered learning styles and developmental theories, and the Church has adopted some of these practices. What a significant change we’ve seen in young people being enabled to pray in different ways – creative people reflecting the nature of their creative creator? That’s a lot of creativity. A pitfall of this is that prayer risks becoming ‘person-centred’ rather than ‘Christ-centred’, or at

least that’s how one person with over a decade of experience in youth ministry put it. No one can deny though, that the plethora of young people participating in creative prayer, has greatly helped engagement with it. And so long as we use the creativity well, this can only be a positive development. Keep going One young person I talked to said their prayers sometimes felt like a text conversation, whilst at other times a monologue of their thoughts and worries. They commented how being more honest and real in their prayers

had helped hugely. The biggest benefit of attending their youth group had been finding more opportunities to pray, both personally and communally.

“HOW EXCITING WOULD IT BE TO HAVE A GENERATION OF CHRISTIANS MOTIVATED BY, EQUIPPED IN AND ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT PRAYER?” Whether it’s praying through the Psalms, praying together, encouraging personal prayer time, teaching on prayer, prayer meetings, creative prayer, keep going! How exciting would it be to have a generation of Christians motivated by, equipped in and enthusiastic about prayer?



PRAYER ON THE STREETS OF WOKING Healing on the Streets (HOTS) is a nationwide initiative to reach out to the lost and hurting through prayer on the streets. Andrew Bates who leads Woking Healing tells us more Every first and third Saturdays of the month between 1 and 3 pm, come rain or shine, an inter-church team takes to the streets of Woking to offer prayer to passers-by. A large sail banner is erected, chairs are set up with kneeling pads positioned either side of them. Then, postcard-sized invitations are given out to people walking through the area inviting them to come and take a seat and receive prayer for healing of various ailments or anything that is troubling them. The ‘Woking Healing’ team, made up from ten different churches, base themselves outside Christ Church Woking, right in the town centre and


while they are out they always have at least one person inside the church praying for them. They are also often supported by a worship band. We recognise that it’s a big step to take a seat in a public place and be prayed for but there is power in it as it demonstrates a degree of desperation, a cry from the heart, if someone is willing to humble themselves in this way. A question that team members are, understandably, asked is do people get healed?’ The answer is yes they do. One man came with a very painful knee; he explained that it

was “like having a knife sticking into my knee all the time”. After prayer, all the pain disappeared and he broke down in tears as it reminded him of how much God loved him.

“AFTER PRAYER, ALL THE PAIN DISAPPEARED AND HE BROKE DOWN IN TEARS AS IT REMINDED HIM OF HOW MUCH GOD LOVED HIM.” A lady who came for prayer for abdominal pain recently suddenly jumped up from her chair, much to the surprise of those praying for her. When asked, she explained that the pain had gone.


Many others come with heavy emotional burdens. One lady came and was visibly bowed down. After prayer it was like she ‘opened up like a flower’. A big beaming smile broke out on her face as she received God’s love and she walked away with her head held high and unburdened. It is a privilege to invite God’s Holy Spirit to touch people’s broken bodies, troubled minds and anxious hearts. Our job, as HOTS founder Mark Marx says, is to pray our best prayer and leave the rest to God. I can’t explain why some people receive healing and that nothing seems to happen for others but what I do know is that the more people we pray for the more people experience something of God’s love, peace and healing. Additionally, it changes me. I feel something of God’s immense compassion for the individuals we pray for and as I commit myself to offering prayer for people once a month; it makes it

more likely that I will offer to pray for people the rest of the month, that it will become a lifestyle.

“WE ARE JUST A BUNCH OF ORDINARY CHRISTIANS WHO SERVE AN EXTRAORDINARY GOD.” We are just a bunch of ordinary Christians who serve an extraordinary God, and who are willing to get stuck in and see what God will do. Our vision is that ‘Woking Healing’ is a training ground that will help facilitate it becoming normal for Christians to offer prayer to people who are suffering and that it will become normal for non-Christians to come to Christians for prayer when they are in need. To this end, the ‘Woking Healing’ team offer taster sessions to people who are interested in finding out more with a view

to joining them (church leader approval needed). Additionally, they welcome individuals who would simply like to come and observe and have a ‘faith lift’.




DINE ANOTHER DAY Lent and Ramadan both require giving something up and are a time for reflection and getting closer to God. We asked a Christian, Phil Simpson, Interfaith Adviser for the diocese and a Muslim, Kauser Akhtar, Surrey Faith Links Adviser, for their perspective on how fasting can make you more prayerful Why do people fast? KA: Fasting is a very unique and individual experience and for a Muslim, an act of Worship. Other forms of worship e.g. the five daily prayers, giving charity and performing pilgrimage are bodily acts and therefore visible. Fasting is unique because only God knows if you are fasting; it is done purely to seek God’s nearness and attain piety. PS: Fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines. We are encouraged to not make a song and dance of it, but to do so in secret. It’s difficult to pin down when we’re expected to fast. Other than the tradition of Lent, there appear to be few rules and regulations. How can fasting make us more prayerful? KA: By fasting from food and drink, we are more conscious and in tune with our inner self; this in itself can lead to


prayerfulness. It forces one to realise and accept human weaknesses and subservience to a higher being, to God, who is free from all weaknesses and who provides sustenance to all of creation physically, mentally and spiritually. PS: Fasting seems to give more focus to our prayer, so it becomes a way of overcoming evil on a personal and societal level. It is a way of drawing nearer to God, a re-alignment of our will with His, especially when special guidance is sought after. When do you fast? KA: Abstinence from food and drink between dawn and sunset for 30 days during Ramadan is compulsory for all Muslims who are physically able to. The end of Ramadan is marked with the religious festival Eid al-Fitr. There are other optional days to fast which are recommended but a

Muslim can fast optionally on any day of the year. PS: We tend to trivialise fasting to giving up something, like chocolate or cheese, during the 40 days of Lent. Or even a digital fast, not using social media, which can be significant in our consumerist world. But fasting runs deeper – what has been called ‘God’s chosen fast’ (Isaiah 58:6) is a matter of treating people properly with justice and righteousness, doing good and practicing hospitality. When not to fast You should only fast if you are physically and mentally healthy enough to do so. Discuss fasting with your health provider or religious leader for advice or guidance. There may be other ways you can observe your religious practice without fasting, such as a non-food ‘fast’, extra prayer, or giving back to the community.


THE BEAUTY OF CATHOLIC PRAYER TRADITIONS There is beauty in tradition and Jo Winn-Smith describes the rich prayer life at All Saints’ Church in Woodham The old Anglican dictum rings true. The rule of prayer is the rule of belief: Lex orandi, lex credendi. Prayer is woven into our way of worship and, hopefully then, into our lives. In a traditional-style church, our expression of faith is witnessed in the shape of our weekly service. We pray the confession, we sing the Kyrie and then we joyfully sing the Gloria, in response to our priest praying God’s absolution of us. Our intercessions are an important part of expressing our identity in the world: reminding us to pray for the wider Church, for the world and also for the local community, ourselves, and those who are sick or dying. We also remember those who have gone before us. During the Eucharist the prayers of preparation are a crucial weekly focus on the heart of our faith – the death

and resurrection of Jesus Christ, of God reconciling the world to God’s self. Prayer ministry is an important part of our care for each other and the world. While communion takes place, members of our prayer ministry team are available for prayer for those seeking it either for themselves or on the behalf of others. We also hold quarterly a service of reconciliation and healing. As well as especially focusing on prayer for those who feel broken, we offer anointing and often include an act of washing each other’s hands whilst praying, reflecting Jesus’ loving service on Maundy Thursday. I could not finish talking about traditional prayer life without mentioning the music! ‘The one who sings, prays twice’. Our choral tradition is a central

element to our weekly worship. After all, prayer is not just, or even mainly, asking for things, but communicating with our Heavenly Father, and thus includes praise! The beauty of music, we feel, duly honours the God we worship, and helps many of our congregation to focus on God in prayer.

“AFTER ALL, PRAYER IS NOT JUST, OR EVEN MAINLY, ASKING FOR THINGS, BUT COMMUNICATING WITH OUR HEAVENLY FATHER.” Prayer is central to our weekly worship, and we hope this flows out into our daily lives.



HUMAN BEING NOT HUMAN DOING Health and wellbeing advisor for the diocese, Suzette Jones gives her take on the increasing interest in mindfulness The interest in mindfulness has escalated in recent years and it is practiced in a range of settings including health, education and the commercial world. Mindfulness simply means paying attention to our experience in the present moment, on purpose and with attitude of acceptance. It is a natural human capacity which can be developed by regular exercises such as observing breathing, walking, speaking, everyday living. A lifelong Christian meditator, mindfulness for me, has allowed meditation to become accessible to all regardless of age, ethnicity, faith or none. You can practice mindfulness without meditation,


but meditation – whether for three or 30 minutes – has a place in our busy lives, allowing us to become a ‘human being’ rather than a ‘human doing’. But what of mindfulness and prayer? I am the youngest child of a poor Catholic family. We ate fish on Fridays, went to confession on Saturdays and attended Mass on Sundays. Early memories include my mother’s shout of ‘be still and know God’. Looking back it was probably the only way she could get any peace and quiet in the scrum of children who squabbled on the back step! These days, I wake each morning to the enthusiastic voice of a radio presenter and after making tea, I sit in silence. This practice

allows me to surrender all I am in my ‘prayer of the heart’, in stillness to God. It’s here that I am just me, not explaining or apologising for myself, not trying to impress anyone, I am just me, warts and all.

“IT’S HERE THAT I AM JUST ME, NOT EXPLAINING MYSELF, NOT TRYING TO IMPRESS ANYONE, JUST ME WARTS AND ALL.” Sitting, with back straight, feet on the floor, I focus on my breath. Mindfulness meditation, or ‘centering’ as Christian contemplatives would term it, centres on the breath – you can tune into it at any time. It is a


breathing space’ is really useful. Its shape is like the hour glass, the old egg timer. 1. Open out to your own thoughts, just observing what thoughts are occupying you. Now notice your feelings: sad, happy, ok? Tuning into your body what sensations are there: tiredness, tension, good? simple way of becoming still, allowing your shoulders to drop and face muscles to soften. My body and mind quieting, I float my prayer words, mantra, on my breath. I enter into the oneness of God. Every time my mind wanders, and it does, in true mindfulness practice, I notice with compassion and love what has distracted it, then firmly but gently return to my prayer words. If my mind wanders a hundred times, then a hundred times, I notice, and return to the words. When walking, I use mindfulness to feel my footsteps on the pavement, hear the wonderful sounds of life, notice the beauty of the day. This approach helps me enter into the moment – leaving behind me what I haven’t done, the washing up, bread in the freezer, and leaving in front of me what is yet to be done, emails and important meetings etc.


As I walk, I start to say the words, our Saviour taught us: Our Father who art in heaven, who is here in this moment, in this day. Whatever this day holds! Hallowed be thy name, great are you! Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, yes now, today, in 2019. And so I go on. I pray in the here and now, mindfully. Do I do it all the time? No, because my ever-busy mind wanders off to that report I must write, or whether I want a cheese or a tuna sandwich for lunch. But with practice I do it more often than not. When I sit to pray in church the mindfulness ‘three step

2. Having brought your attention to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, the second step is to narrow the focus to your breaths in and out as they follow each other: each in-breath drawing on God’s spirit and each out-breath offering yourself to God. Five or ten mindful breaths. 3. Step three is like the broadening base of an hourglass. Open out your awareness to God in your life, just as it is. Prepare yourself for the next moments of the day. Reaffirming a sense that you have a place in the world and a calling: God created you for a purpose within His kingdom. Now you can fully focus on prayer, on worship, perhaps even on the vicar’s sermon!

For a deeper exploration of Christianity and mindfulness read this blog:



AND FINALLY... Writer and founder of the 24-7 global prayer movement, Pete Greig has just finished his latest book How to Pray, so Ruth Bushyager, Vicar at St Paul’s Dorking, was keen to ask some big questions on prayer Many who saw the new year in with a resolution to pray more will already have failed at that goal. Why do you think that is? I don’t think it’s possible to fail at prayer. Sometimes my kids talk to me less than other times, but I don’t consider them failing or succeeding; it’s a relationship. Life is incredibly busy – one journalist said ‘atheism is the religion of the busy’. Remember that, every word you say to God, every time you turn your face towards him, he responds with love. He’s not angry, he’s not bored. He’s pleased to see you. And so if you feel you’ve failed, just resume your living conversation with God. Why do you think people find prayer hard to do? A lot of people aren’t praying in the way God made them. We have to work out what is our natural language, then


prayer can become a lot more enjoyable and sustainable. There are lots of ways of praying – so find ways that fit with the way you’re wired. Some people love silent contemplation, but if you’re an extrovert your brain is like a goldfish circling the bowl. You don’t know what you’re thinking until you speak or write, so you probably need to journal and pray with other people. Most of the great literature on prayer has been written by introverts, and lots of the teaching is about how to shut everything out. Prayer is much more about allowing life in, and finding Christ there, rather than trying to shut Christ out or find Christ in some secret place within yourself. I don’t believe that prayer is a journey of

self-discovery; it’s about finding Christ in all things. Can prayer be fun? Yes, absolutely! One example is that in my family, before meals, we spin an old landline cordless phone. Doesn’t matter who’s at the table, whether they’re Christians or not. Whoever one end of it points to gets two great privileges. The first is they get to say grace – giving thanks to God for the ordinary stuff of life – but they also get to ask anyone at the table any question at all, about anything. It means that everyone, of all ages, around the table, is drawn into conversation, with God and each other. It’s a silly idea, but we’ve got find ways of making prayer normal and real for children and for all


sorts of different people. Prayer doesn’t always feel like a two-way conversation. Why is it so hard to hear from God? And how do we know it’s not just our imagination? Most people struggle to hear God – not because he’s not speaking but because he sounds too normal. We’ve got to teach people to hear God in the ordinary, but we relegate God to weirdness. If you think about it, God made everything that’s normal – so expect God’s voice to be quite normal. One Franciscan writer says God comes to us disguised as our own lives. How do we know it is not just our imagination? I ask myself simply is this the sort of thing Jesus would say and does it lead me to do the sort of thing Jesus would do? What’s the worst that could happen if I’m wrong?

Do you have an example of a time God spoke to you? Years back I was stranded in Chicago because of the volcanic ash cloud. I was desperate to get home and grumbling at God. Then I thought – maybe God’s got some purpose for me being in Chicago this week, so I changed the way I prayed. I asked God – what do you want me to do while I’m here? And I had a thought, that I thought might be God, but I wasn’t sure. I remembered a friend called Joe who lived 150 miles west of Chicago and thought maybe I should go see him. So I emailed him – hey Joe, I’m in Chicago, can I come and crash on your couch, Pete. What I didn’t know, was that Joe had that very day had some of the worst news of his life and his wife had just said to him – who do you wish was on your couch right now? And he

said – this is crazy, because he’s never been to our house and he lives in England, but I wish Pete was on my couch right now and within a few hours I’ve emailed. So I knew that the ordinary thought I’d had was actually the voice of God. I applied the test – is this something Jesus would do? Yeah. Jesus was into going and hanging out with friends. What’s the worst that could happen? I have some time with my friend. So I tried it. And it was God. What is the link between our spiritual confidence and our prayerfulness? It is a pretty insecure thing to be a human being alone on a rock spinning in an empty universe. The greatest confidence we can have in life is to know that the God who made us, loves us, and is with us. So to live prayerfully is to live with an extraordinary level of confidence. Not just confidence when circumstances are good, but confidence even in the most difficult times. Why is the writer of psalm 23 so confident in difficult times? He says – though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Why? Because thou are with me. It is the presence of God, with us in life, that enables us to live with confidence. We always want God to airlift us out of our problems, so we pray for miracles. And sometimes God does miracles. But more often he parachutes in and joins us in the valley of the shadow of death, in the midst of difficulties and problems. continued...



What are your top tips to churches to grow a passionate culture of prayer? Firstly you have to inspire desire. Pastor Bill Johnson says – if you’ve only got one story of answered prayer, keep telling it until you’ve got two. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I can’t think of a single church where I haven’t found lots of people with examples of answered prayer. Then you can have a great time just saying, come and tell us your stories, and by the end everyone is inspired to pray.


Secondly, invest your best. People put a lot of money into mission and worship. When you ask them ‘what’s your budget for prayer?’ they look at you blankly. The truth is there’s lots of ways that we can spend money on equipping people, and on creating environments where it’s easier to talk to God. It doesn’t have to be a circle of adults on plastic chairs in a drafty church hall giving long speeches to God on a Wednesday night. Lastly, bless success. Find out what’s working, where are people encouraged and find

ways of blessing that: send the prayer team on a conference, buy them all a book, get them really great coffee. In John 15 Jesus says you have trees that are bearing fruit and those are pruned and you have branches that are not bearing fruit and those are chopped off. So stop doing things that are not fruitful, and then where there is fruit, find ways to bless it.

Pete is the instigator of the 24-7 Prayer movement




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Profile for Diocese of Guildford

Transforming Church Issue 03  

The latest issue of the new diocesan magazine is now out – Transforming Church. Our aim is to tell stories of life, faith and transformati...

Transforming Church Issue 03  

The latest issue of the new diocesan magazine is now out – Transforming Church. Our aim is to tell stories of life, faith and transformati...