The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling Christians to join them in a global time of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost, 25th May – 4th June this year. They are asking us all to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’, that we may be empowered as witnesses to Jesus Christ; that God’s kingdom may come in our lives, in this nation and beyond.
These days of prayer, traditionally called a ‘Novena’, are an ancient part of the Church year. They begin with Jesus’ ascension to heaven and his command to his first disciples to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and end with the coming of Holy Spirit on the Church at Pentecost. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is an invitation to step into the experience of Christ’s first followers, who ‘were constantly devoting themselves to prayer’ (Acts 1.14) as they waited for the promised Holy Spirit that they would be ‘clothed with power from on high’ and so be the Lord’s witnesses. In 2016, The Archbishops called the Church of England to this simple, powerful and transformative prayer and we joined with them in the Diocese on our own Pilgrimage. This year, the vision is greater.
The Presidents of Churches Together in England are joining with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to make this call to churches of all denominations in England. The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has committed to playing a full part in ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. The Free Churches Group is encouraging all its members to be involved and several of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches in England are supporting the call to prayer. Archbishop Justin has also sent this call to every part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the World Methodist Council is encouraging all its churches to join this year’s wave of prayer.
This is an exciting vision!
Our Archbishops write:
“The aim is simple and threefold:
To join in prayer with the whole family of God the Father
To pray for the empowering of God the Holy Spirit
That we may be effective witnesses to God the Son, Jesus Christ
“We show our faith and trust in God in prayer. It is in prayer that God takes hold of our lives and works through us in ways we can barely imagine possible. Our praying is particularly transformative when it is done in the company of others. Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that we, those who follow him, might ‘be one that the world might believe.’ We are invited to make a lasting difference in our nation and in our world, by responding to his call to find a deep unity of purpose in prayer.”
This invitation is for every tradition and expression of church, chaplaincy and praying community, every family, home group or young people’s group, every Christian to join our brothers and sisters to pray, ‘your way’.
There is no single style or method for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. You, your group, parish or deanery will know how you can pray together in the lead up to Pentecost. It’s up to you how to be involved.
You could pray each day with your usual small group, with those at home or with friends, or on your own. You could hold 24/7 prayer, or create prayer stations. You could organise a prayer walk, to pray for God’s kingdom in your local area. You could hold something for families during half-term week. You could simply commit to keeping your church building open for silent prayer, prayer ministry, a liturgy of daily prayer or other act of worship.
There are loads of brilliant, simple and creative resources and ideas provided on the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ website (www.thykingdom.co.uk), for churches, individuals, groups and families… make the most of them and be involved! You can also ‘Pledge2Pray’ on the website and receive updates.
‘Thy Kingdom Come’ will culminate in Beacon Events – celebration services on the day of Pentecost – in Cathedrals and other venues in this country and beyond, including at Coventry Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday, 4th June 2017. More details to follow – save the date!
Wherever God leads us all, may this be a time of inspiration in our prayer, strengthening us in our unity and empowering us to be witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.
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