Letter from Helen
All Saints’ Church is open for 8am prayer every Thursday. Except on this particular Thursday it wasn’t. The usual key holders were away on holiday and the vicar had left his Hurworth church keys at the Rectory in Middleton St George.
The time was now just after 8am and it seemed no one else was coming, certainly no one who might have a key. So there we were - locked out of the building and unable to access the prayer books inside. What should we do?
Well we could have given up and gone home. However, we discovered that between us we had one hard copy of Morning Prayer and one smart phone complete with the Daily Prayer Ap. And the App includes the Bible readings for the day in addition to the text of Morning Prayer. So we had all we needed in our hands!
We huddled comfortably (at least at first!) on the wooden seats beneath the lychgate, decided to be bold and prayed out loud. It was a surprisingly powerful experience. We brought God’s word and our prayers for his people out from behind the church walls into the community.
We became sensitive to the sounds around us, alert to the life and needs of the village, aware of those driving and walking by on their way to work, to exercise, to care for those in need. Our prayers were shaped by our awareness, as we brought before God the movement and concerns around us. I had never listened to the words of Morning prayer or the sounds of the village with such intensity and purpose. God’s love for Hurworth became very real for me.
I have pondered on this surprising and sacred experience on that cool summer morning. How amazing that God takes our small, stumbling attempts to pray, and does something beautiful with them - and with us! How simple it can be to pray when we stop, settle and listen to our environment - how we enter into God’s love for his people in their context!
How very special it is when two or three gather together in the name of Jesus and don’t give up - even when locked out of our beloved church building!
I wonder how many people who passed by, without ever seeing or hearing us, were blessed by God’s gracious answering of our faltering prayers that Thursday morning? Of course we shall never know. We do know, however, that prayer is powerful and makes a difference.
As the summer season begins to give way to autumn and life’s rhythms settle back into more regular patterns can we prioritise the place of prayer in our routines?
Could you consider joining the Thursday morning prayers in church (we will make sure the door is open!)? Or perhaps explore using a daily resource in your own home? (If you haven’t discovered the Aimer Media Daily prayer apps I recommend you look them up. You can also access 4 weeks of daily prayer for free from the Prayer and Worship tab on the Church of England web site). Or, when passing through the village, could you pause, listen and pray for God’s love and protection to be known among us?