Everybody prays ... sometimes
New research suggests we may not all believe any more, but we still pray ...
REM sang 'Everybody hurts ... sometimes'. They could easily have sang 'Everybody prays ... sometimes'.
New research is showing that most Brits believe in the power of prayer, despite many not calling themselves committed Christians, or even believers at all.
For some it's a way of longing for a better world (31% said they'd pray for world peace, 27% for an end to poverty), or just a cry for help when things are tough (for healing, for their partner, for less stress and for guidance). Others just want to say thank you.
I'm guessing that if you exclude Christians and other faiths, those who count themselves as non-believers or agnostic at best, pray when they're desperate. It's prayer as a distress flare, best spelled "HELP!!"
And countless testimonies over the years can be traced back to that point when a human being has effectively given up. Reached the end of the road. Ran out of rope. Finally reached the moment when they admit: "I can't do it. I need help. I don't know what to do."
There are already signs that the Church is recognising prayer as a vital touchpoint for changing the lives of individuals. Communities. And even nations.
24-7Prayer with its boiler rooms is firing up a new generation of young people (and the young at heart). A new monasticism is being birthed that rather than taking people out of the world to live a life of spiritual seclusion, is equipping them with spiritual disciplines that help them engage fully with it.
Healing on the Streets is boldly taking the prayer ministry of the church out into the marketplace and inviting people to be prayed with and for. Cathedrals are increasingly becoming hubs of spiritual activity rather than beautiful but archaic relics of a nation's architectural heritage.
Never mind a staycation – how about a PrayStation in your local shopping centre? A place to pause and be quiet. Somewhere to connect with God and invite him to take your life afresh in his hands.
Alexander Lee found some fascinating responses when he stood on the streets of York asking "Would anybody like to pray?" Check out his book The #Pray4Principle (Darton, Longman & Todd) looking at the importance of prayer in a secular society post-#prayformuamba and see the May issue of Inspire for an article
What about a prayer request box in your village post office? Not allowed? Well, have you asked? Try locally owned shops and businesses then. Prayer request boxes in churches are fine for those that go in, but most don't.
How about the digital world? Well, the Church of England's website prayoneforme.org and accompanying Facebook page are good starting point. Why not have a prayer meeting on Twitter? A great way of joining others you can't physically gather in the same location – just make sure the needs mentioned are for public viewing, rather than private.
Pray is instinctive, and for many can be the pathway of spiritual discovery. Yes, everybody hurts ... but (almost) everybody prays, too. And for REM fans, that's me in the corner.
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