Thursday 18 May saw the start of this year’s Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative. Worshipping communities are praying in various ways across the Diocese, from prayer breakfasts and walks to children’s activities and individually doing the ‘Pray for 5’ challenge.
Ian Drake, a retired teacher who worships at St Michael and All Angels in Bishop’s Cleeve, shares his experience of leading a church prayer group.
Not long after joining the worshipping community at St Michael’s in Bishop’s Cleeve 12 years ago, Ian quickly got involved in the prayer meeting, praying regularly for the church and the issues happening in the wider community and world. A few years later, Ian found himself taking up the role to lead and organise the group, which is called House of Prayer.
Originally meeting in the church, the group has grown and adapted in the years since, having faced some challenges along the way, not least the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of churches across the country. Before the pandemic, House of Prayer would meet twice a month. However, that has all changed since.
Ian says, “When COVID came along it almost shook people into action. We went from two to 16 meetings a month, running four Zoom calls a week. All I did was offer to open up Zoom to whoever wanted to meet and pray, and it just took off. COVID was that catalyst for people – they were uncertain about what was going to happen and they just wanted to pray.
“We saw lots of new people join us, from other churches also. At one stage we had a screen full of people – around 20 or more people. This has tailed off now, but we still meet consistently three times a week online.”
Ian leads the prayer meetings with others from St Michael’s and Zoom has turned out to be the perfect medium for the gatherings.
“Many of us are in our seventies and eighties, and struggle to go out in the cold, dark winter days, so Zoom is ideal for us. We just sit in our living rooms and we pray away. It’s great. I love it. I also like meeting personally. The first Saturday of each month we meet in church, which is our first steps to meeting in person again. Also each month we get together for an in-person praise and worship service on a weekday evening, which is attracting more people.”
On the importance of prayer, Ian says, “I see prayer as a natural consequence of my being a Christian. I’ve noticed from Scripture that prayer isn’t a gift of the Spirit – it’s not a ministry in the Church as such, it’s something everyone should be doing. I see my role as simply to pray with and motivate others to pray and my desire is for more corporate prayer.”
Ian has been involved in prayer meetings at all the churches he has attended in his life, even getting to know his wife of 52 years, Linda, at their college’s Christian group.
“When I was at college, we tried to organise an outreach Christian Mission. We tried to arrange a speaker and that didn’t happen, but what we finally did was spend some concentrated time in prayer as students with some folk from the local church. The following term, after Linda and I left, there was a revival and it was all down to that foundational prayer. Every work of God that I have read about starts with prayer, so my assumption is that if you want something to flourish in church, you pray first and foremost, and God will respond.”
Ian has seen many prayers answered over the years, from people who have asked for healing attributing the prayers of the group to their recovery to more recently praying for a new vicar at St Michael’s, with the arrival of the Revd Tim Garrett in January. The group regularly prays into personal situations, church and community needs, and for the wider world and creation.
For Thy Kingdom Come, in the past the House of Prayer has organised ten days of praying for every street, road, lane and cul-de-sac in the village, with people signing up for areas around them. This year, alongside the House of Prayer meetings, they are doing something similar and they have shared Thy Kingdom Come posts on their Facebook page and held a Prayer Breakfast in the church. The final main event takes place on Thursday 25 May with an all-church praise and prayer evening.
Thy Kingdom Come runs from 18 to 28 May and it’s not too late to get involved digitally. Check out the resources available and share with your congregation to encourage them to get involved with Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Kingdom Come | The Church of England