The use of the #Pray4________ (fill in the appropriate city) is increasingly being used on twitter as unfortunately we are living in a “new norm” with increased acts of terrorism taking place in different cities across Europe. Not least over the past few weeks with the terrible events in Manchester and London, people again took to twitter to express anger, sorrow and prayer. I am aware too that this practice is very Euro-centric something re-enforced to me when I recently had the privilege of attending an Open Doors event and met Pastor Edward Awabedah, who is Pastor of the Alliance Church in Damascus and leader of the Alliance Church network in Syria. Listening to the context that he serves God in, with the continued reality of war and civilian deaths; yet in the midst of this both his and the faith of the church in that country is still strong and active, this was truly humbling to see and hear.

Waking up recently to the news that the results of the General Election were a “hung parliament” with no clear outcomes, meaning continued uncertainly and lack of clarity for those seeking to lead the UK, only adds for me the imperative on the people of God in this country to recommit to regular and persistent prayer for the UK. We believe prayer really does change things so now is the time for faith to arise across our churches. As the words from 2 Chronicles 7 remind us: “if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land”

Now you may be asking does prayer really work? As a church leader you would expect me to say yes wouldn’t you but did you know that 1 in 3 people believe God will answer their prayers. Across the UK 20 million adults pray; 13 million pray at least once a month and 9 million every day. There are a number of problems that spring to mind when considering prayer…talking to someone that’s invisible…talking to someone who doesn’t talk back. How is it supposed to work? And what do I do when God doesn’t grant my wish to win the lottery? Did you know the bible contains many different kinds of prayer, a prayer of sadness, a prayer of adoration, prayer of the forsaken, prayers of examination, the book of Psalms is a good place to begin as you’ll find all these prayers and much more. Maybe you have the wrong picture of prayer, it’s not about being polite, it’s not about using specific words and it’s not a passive act. May I suggest a new picture of prayer, one that is full of rich detail and vibrant colour that emerge from honest encounters with God.

The point of all this is that it is possible to come to know God in a personal way and to live life the way he intended. In an amazing statement Jesus said what it is all about: a relationship with God: “This is eternal life that people may know you and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Maybe it’s time you should #trypraying. I have a helpful app on my phone called Try Praying – it’s a 7 day journey exploring prayer which you might find helpful. We are praying for you here at HBC Chester, the church I lead, do drop us a line at hello@hbc.org.uk if we can pray specifically for you.

This was posted on 28 June 2017.