“Not planned far enough in advance, not publicised well enough, yet still a completely awesome spiritual experience.” That is how I would describe the prayer space we created for Thy Kingdom Come this year.
We installed a creative prayer space in the Hillary Chapel in St Mary’s Beaminster to be part of the international call to pray led by the Archbishop of Canterbury: Thy Kingdom Come. This space was open for 24 hours and then was left in the church to be used by Messy Church a few days later. In the space there were lots of ideas and creative suggestions for ways to pray.
The space was designed to be used by individuals and groups. Sometimes it was noisy, other times silent. People came for a few minutes or stayed for a few hours. We didn’t manage to have it occupied for the whole 24 hours although we knew that people were praying for us through the night. We prayed in the space during the evening, night and early into the next morning, we said Morning prayer there at 7am, we prayed through the lunchtime concert, we ended the 24 hours together in celebration. There were holy conversations conducted there, people were prayed for and there was a real sense of intimacy: both with God and one another.
And how did it feel? It felt holy. It felt a place of peace. It felt a place of encounter. It felt a place of community. It felt creative and playful. We know that lots of different people came into the space because they left behind drawings, prayers, doodles, coloured in devotions, and prayers on post it notes and labels. Books were read and silence was sought.
There can be cynicism or doubt expressed about the “new” things we do in the team. Sometimes these creative, colourful ideas can stir up anger and resentment. Some speak about “gimmick” church. But new things are not gimmicks or frivolous nonsense. From a bouncy castle in church to Walk in Wednesday, from Prayer Spaces in schools to summer holiday club, from Breakfast Church to healing services, from prayer walks to Gin church – every single event is prayed for, discerned in community and staffed by a committed team whose focus is to help people to know and meet God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our aim is to reveal the Kingdom of God in our communities.
Thus it was with our 24 hour prayer space. We felt challenged by God to try it and were rewarded by the life affirming presence of God within the space. It was a true Pentecost experience: we were filled by the Holy Spirit and led to pray in new and exciting ways.
A huge thank you to the team who created the space. Thank you to those who used it. Thank you, God, for your presence with us always. And put these dates in your diary for next year: Thursday 2nd May to Sunday 21st May Thy Kingdom Come 2020. There will be another 24/7 Prayer Space for you to enjoy.