Prayer Month 1st – 7th May

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Alexis Mahoney.

You can download a copy of these prayers here.

New ways of living:

Most people don’t like change, do they?  I know from my own experiences that change can bring with it anxiety and even resentment.

However, change can also bring excitement and hope that the ‘something new’ will bring with it a better way of being or living.  I suppose it depends on whether your natural inclinations are that of an optimist or a pessimist.  Or whether the changes taking place are desirable or not, or whether you have a certain degree of control over them.  And also whether there’ll be any sacrifices of an ‘old’ way of living that you’ve been accustomed to and fond of.

One thing’s for sure, times have changed for us now.  And one of the things being in lockdown has done is bring to the fore the forthcoming potential of a ‘new normal’ of a post-Covid world.  Basically, everything has changed, and we need to prepare for and envision a new normal.

President Macron of France recently said that “this is not a time for falling back on comfortable ideology.  We need to get off the beaten track, reinvent ourselves, find new ways of living”.  And I have to agree with him.  And I think that this applies as much to our wider society and culture as it does for our churches, our Circuits and our Synod.

I fully realise that there’s been a call for the church to adapt and change for many, many years, and that I’m definitely not the first to say this.  But maybe, just maybe, this now is our opportunity to fully reflect on what it might mean for us to make those changes that we’ve been too worried to contemplate, let alone implement.

“Lord Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
When Jesus Christ came into the world you created,
he gave us a message of hope of love for all the world.
Through his grace and love for us all,
which overflows with such profligate generosity,
he also gave us his own life on The Cross. 

And, Lord of wonder and miracle,
you also gave us the wonderful hope of resurrection and new life.
We are an Easter people who live to be born anew,
to love, and be loved by you. 

Lord, we ask that you give us the courage and comfort of the Holy Spirit as we face change in our lives.

 As we face a new normal in our society and cultures,
let it be one which contains a continuity of what is good from the old,
and likewise let us see clearly what needs to be changed.

Gracious Lord, we know how much you love us and love your Church,
So we pray that our churches, our Circuits and our Synod be filled with new hope and a clear vision for what will be our own new normal.
Let our new vision be one which is clear enough to know that it is of You,
and that we may be brave enough to see it through.

For thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on Earth,
as it is in heaven. 

In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Alexis Mahoney.

You can download a copy of these prayers here.

Dreams:

I don’t know about you, but my dreams have become more vivid, more frequent and more memorable while we’ve been in lockdown.  Some of them are almost definitely ‘anxiety dreams’, and some are so bizarre I wouldn’t know where to start describing them!

But apparently, I’m not the only one currently experiencing vivid dreams while we’ve all been in lockdown.  Already there’s a research project being undertaken by a group of postgraduate psychoanalysis students in London asking people to fill in an online survey about the dreams they are having at the moment.  (If you feel brave enough or adventurous enough to do so yourself you can click on this link and tell them one or more of yours: http://lockdowndreams.com/).  Essentially, the aim is to collect and analyse a variety of dreams to see how the Covid-19 crisis is being experienced “unconsciously”.

I’ve long been fascinated by dreams and visions in the Bible.  Though there’s the caveat that much dreaming can be meaningless (Eccles 5.7), there’s also passages which suggest that dream interpretations belong to God (Gen 40.8), and that dreams can be of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.17).

As I see it, dreams are one of the ways God engages with us; through our imagination and unconscious states of mind.  They can be a way of seeing things anew, as well as providing us with a new ‘vision’ for how things could and should be.

In light of this, I invite you to pray that our dreams will be from God; or if they seem unintelligible to us that we offer them back to God in prayer; or if they’re clearly not from God then to put them down to an interesting experience.   Either way, let’s keep our dreams in our daily prayers and reflections.

“Lord Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are so full of mystery and majesty;
your ways are not our ways,
and can be so strange to us sometimes.

But your still, small voice,
persistently and gently whispers of your unending love for us all;
of your plans of abundant life for us all. 

Yet we so often prefer to just listen to our own voices,
or the voices that speak so loudly and confidently, and with such self-proclaimed ‘knowledge’ around us.

Lord, we know from Scripture that one of the ways you speak with us,
is through dreams;
So we ask you that while we’re all in lockdown,
and where dreams have curiously come into the foreground of our current experiences,
that you fill our dreams with comfort and hope,
and a vision for the future.

We pray that our dreams enable us to see Your way, anew.
We pray that our dreams will give us courage to rise to the challenge of new insights you have given us.
And we pray that whatever dream is not from you will be easily discerned,
and that whatever dreams you may send us are prayerfully interpreted.

Lord, we are thankful for whatever dreams you send us,
but right now we ask that you send us dreams of hope for the future.
We ask for dreams that show us how we can live in our world right now;
and how we can defeat Covid-19.
And we ask for dreams that show us how we can live in a post-Covid world,
how our churches, our Circuits and our Synod can be Christ’s true church,
in a brave new world,
that cares more,
loves more,
prays more,
with you at the centre of all we do. 

In Jesus name we pray.  Amen”.

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Alexis Mahoney.

You can download a copy of these prayers here.

On Prayer:

“British public turn to prayer…[1].  As you can imagine, this recent newspaper headline immediately caught my attention.  In a nutshell it reported that there’s been a surge of interest in prayer as 1 in 20 people in Britain have now started to pray since the coronavirus lockdown was put in place.

The findings of this poll confirm what many of us already sense or know:  that people pray more during unusual or stressful times of anxiety and danger.  Further proof of this is the Church of England reporting that over 6000 people called into a coronavirus prayer hotline in the first 48 hours of it being opened.

And, according to the poll, the most frequent subjects of prayer since the lockdown has been: family (53%), friends (34%), thanking God (24%), the person praying (28%), frontline services (27%), someone unwell with Covid-19 (20%), and other countries with Covid-19 (15%).

I find this sort of poll fascinating as it’s a really good indicator for where people’s values lie, (and possibly ours too, if we’re honest).  Where their heart is.  What they truly love and care about.

In light of this I invite us all to pray into, and alongside, what’s on the hearts and minds of the people of the UK during this time of anxiety and crisis.

“Lord Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
who loves us all with such delight and depth,
we pray for ours, and for everyone’s families and friends.
Protect them from all evil, keep them from all harm,
embrace them with your loving arms so that they feel the comfort and peace and security of your irrepressible and all-inclusive love,
which is always offered to us all.  

Gracious Lord, we are also so thankful for what you have always-already given us.
We look around us and see that you have given us so many wonderful people,
so many wonderful things!

We thank you for the love and fellowship we find in our churches,
in our Circuits and our Synod.
We thank you for the selflessness and braveness of our frontline services.
We thank you for the gifts of a smile and laughter,
for compassion and empathy.
We thank you for the gifts of art, science, poetry and music,
for good food and water, for a roof over our head,
and indeed for everything you give us to live an abundant life through Jesus Christ. 

And Lord, I pray for me and my position,
and for all the “me’s” you have created in your image.
All those millions and millions of uniquely crafted individuals you love,
no matter who they are.
Make me feel loved and protected by you.
Please don’t let me get ill.
Please give me your strength so I can be strong for those who need me,
and help me remember that ‘I’ is always better with you. 

Merciful Lord, we also pray for all those who are ill with Covid-19.
We dare to ask for your hand to touch them and ease their pain and distress;
Lord – heal them.
And we pray for ours and other countries struggling to contain this dis-ease.
Let us all know your presence in ours and their anxiety and grief;
give us all hope and light and love!
Help us all find a vaccine so that healing can proceed.
Lord – heal us all. 

In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.”

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/03/british-public-turn-to-prayer-as-one-in-four-tune-in-to-religious-services?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR2lFvLmmjEKTxNMO3Hme75Sh-kmoIUNAtVshIlhYBbG6r7KY8q–g4lGag

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Judith Holliman.

You can download a copy of these prayers here.

I suppose being married to a green chemist/engineer means that the environment and its issues are rarely far from my mind. It has been interesting during this indoor time to sit in my lovely breakfast room and hear the birds. Normally they are rather overshadowed by trains passing us here at the sidings but just now they are out in full force, we have seen Jays, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, I could go on. Our cats are thankfully watching cat TV from afar and not eating what they are seeing.

It has also been astounding to hear from friends that the goats from the Great Orme in Llandudno have been strutting through the town as the cars and the tourists have disappeared.

Nature – Creation seems to be reclaiming its own. I wonder what this means to you? Me? The city? The nation? I note with interest that Milan has already decided to shut off much of its centre to traffic, that York have made wide ranging changes to their traffic flows . . . it seems a really positive impact of a difficult time to see people future scanning and making life changing decisions.

It must be extraordinary to look from your home in the Punjab and see the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years but it is not just far away that is relevant here. What will happen in Wales, in Cardiff to address the huge fall in pollutants that were experienced? – will we simply return to over consumption and traffic queues as the old/new norm? What can we do to learn from this?

Paul describes creation as groaning and it is something that has been more and more apparent in recent years as we learn the impact of our actions, yet Paul also says in Galatians 6 take the opportunity. Well if this last period has not been an opportunity to revisit our lives, our habits, our consumptions, our expectation that we can do what we want, when we want and our totally false understanding that we are in control, I seriously don’t know what would be. What an opportunity it is for us, an opportunity that has seen a massive increase in online engagement, an opportunity that has seen more people hearing the call of Jesus to turn back, to come home, to find prayer, to relish our place in his earth, there is nothing good about covid-19 but so much good can come from listening intentionally to what creation is telling us.

Creator God, you who flung stars into space,
Help us to understand the glory of your gift to us of this earth.
Enable us to discern a way forward that gives more and takes less.
Be with us during this lockdown in a way that challenges our ‘norm’
Raise up people to voice the need we have to love our world more,
Let it start with us.

Creator God, you who made us to be in community
Help us to remember that we are part of a greater whole
Enable us as a Synod to discern a new way forward.
Help us to question the ‘norm’ and to learn from this quiet time
Raise up people to share in the ministry of the people of God at every level,
Let is start with us.

Creator God, you who knit me together in my mother’s womb
Help me to understand that I am beloved.
Enable me to discern what you are calling me to be in this new world
Be with me as I navigate my way through this lockdown in its highs and lows.
Raise up my spirit, help me to learn your voice that it will not be drowned out,
Let it start within me.

Our Father,
Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory
For ever and ever,
Amen.

God bless you this day,

Judith x

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Judith Holliman.

You can download a copy of these prayers here.

Dear Friends,

Every now and then a book comes my way that becomes in its turn part of me, I don’t just read it, I walk into it. Or as Julia Donaldson says:

‘I opened a book and in I strode
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.’

That happened for me this week when I read ‘Liturgy of the Ordinary’ by Tish Harrison Warren. Much of what I now write comes from the ideas begun by this book.

I often comment when I am preaching on the baptism of Jesus that he hadn’t actually ‘done’ anything when he was baptised, nothing that is except to be himself, he had been him, and in being him he was God’s son with whom God was well pleased. He was beloved. When we wake first thing in the morning, rumpled and drooley (maybe that’s just me!), slightly not quite awake yet, we are beloved, we haven’t done anything, but we are loved. Our waking identity is given to us by grace: an identity that is deeper and more real than any other identity we will don that day belongs in that moment to us.

To awake is a gift – do you start the day thanking God for it even if it is that brief, thank you.

Thank you, God that before I get up
Before I clean my teeth or go for a wee
before I even think straight
I am beloved.

Today is a special one for us in the Holliman household as James is 19. James gives me many reasons to pray on a daily, often hourly basis and that is okay. I developed the need to put down and process lots of things as James found his own way through life and school especially, I found that doodle prayers worked really well.

They are very much a personal way of talking to God without talking, enabling me to put things deliberately before God and as I doodle, trying to accept, to understand, to find my way, my place – to acknowledge that God knows and understands.

Perhaps it is something that could work for you if you give it a chance, not much to lose is there?

So here are some doodle prayers for today – give it a try.

If it works for you there is lots of other info at prayingincolours.com

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Judith Holliman.

You can download a copy of these prayers here.

Prayer is such a personal thing isn’t it? My Grandma used to pray sat in her chair looking out at the garden. My Grandpa would pray on his knees by the bed. I wonder how it works for you? For some people praying is like breathing – it just comes. For others it is much more elusive and that is okay – we are all different. When I am struggling with prayer I sit in my back room and imagine Jesus is sitting next to me, relaxed, smiling and I just tell him what’s going on. If it’s good I can see him smiling, if it’s dreadful I see him leaning forward, caring and sometimes I think he just throws his head back and laughs because I can get myself into some pretty stupid situations.

One of the best ways into prayer that I have used is the Examen, which is an unnecessarily academic word for a very simple practice. The Examen enables you to simply think over what is going on . . . with God.

So then:

Think over your day today – what feels good? What is not so good? What are you anxious about? What have you noticed?

Thank God for being there in the situation, for the blessings you have felt and seen, talk with Jesus about the worries you have.

Say sorry for stuff that you wish hadn’t happened.

Recognise that you can start again, clean before God thanks to Jesus.

This can take 2 minutes or an hour or . . .

You are not in competition, Jesus will be present whatever.

Just be.

Prayers

Loving and gracious God
We face a bug that spreads like evil
Unseen and unknown it grows and defiles
Help us to remember that you have overcome evil
That you stand for and with us.
Be with your world as it stops and faces this warfare
Help us to act in a way that honours you.
Be with the rulers, politicians and newspaper editors
Help them to remember how many people they speak for
Especially the most vulnerable.

Loving and gracious God be with your Methodist People
Especially we pray for those in Wales – often called your own country
Help us to take time to discern what this prolonged change
Means for us
We will be in a new normal now, things will never be exactly the same
What do you call the Wales Synod to be?
How can I help?

Loving and gracious God
Be with those whom I love
Help me to understand that you love them even more than I do
Hold them for me as I cannot
Bring them your peace
A peace that stems from the knowledge of your love.

Our Father
Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory
For ever and ever,
Amen.

God bless you this day.
Judith x

Today’s thoughts are provided by Rev. Nick Oborski.

You can download a copy of these prayers here.

‘In the morning O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.’
PSALM 5:3

Each day we want to pray for those impacted by Covid19 and to pray for our Synod and Circuit. Each day’s thoughts and prayers will be provided by a member of the Ministry team, Today’s thoughts are provided by Revd Nick Oborski.

Through the month we will pray for all sorts of people in all sorts of situations but today it’s right we start by praying for those in the Health Service and the Care service. Both play a vital role all year round they look after us and our loved ones.

I have been privileged to be linked into a prayer newsletter produced by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. It’s an organisation that primarily connects with Christians in the city of London providing support in their work environment. They recently talked to volunteers in the health service and I have reproduced some of the material below. It offers the chance to develop our own prayers based on “Giving Thanks” and “Asking God to Act”

Give thanks…
“I sense God’s presence sustaining me each day, in my interactions with scared patients and families as I am able to extend a hand of comfort, and with my colleagues as we hold each other up.”

“In volunteers who give so much of their time, in the kindness of staff, in patients who in crisis still put others first, in the dedication and humility of medics … Wherever I look, if I look hard enough, I can see God working through others, in situations, through actions, words, and just being.”

Ask for God’s help…
“We fear for the safety of our families and some colleagues are forced to isolate from their loved ones …There is a real danger and concern of not having adequate PPE, so staff are extremely anxious for their own lives.”

“It’s physically exhausting being in PPE for 12- to 13-hour shifts, and everything takes longer when wearing it. Emotionally, it’s very sad to watch someone die alone.”

Praying God’s heart for these people and situations…

Loving God we thank you for those who offer your loving care to those facing sickness, and fear and sometimes death. We ask that you would be with them as they try to connect with those they care for from behind the protection of PPE.  We thank you for their great courage knowing that they put themselves at greater risk by serving us. Amen

We ask Lord that you help those seeking a vaccine and we pray for the different tests and trials being conducted around the world that a suitable vaccine might be found as quickly as is possible. Amen

We pray for those in Leadership roles within the NHS, Care Homes, and Government Departments. We ask that you would give them wisdom as they continue to make decisions which affect the work of these services and that their decisions help provide workers with what they need to be as effective as they can be. Amen

Praying for the Wales Synod and Our Circuit

Today we pray for our Wales Synod and for our sister Synod, Synod Cymru. Over recent years we have looked at how we might work closer together and indeed thought about how we might become one Synod. Both Synods now face a different landscape as we look to the future. There is a sense that people are rediscovering community. Will they also rediscover the church? As our churches look towards re-opening, we need to be reflecting on how we can continue to develop local community and ask ourselves what that might look like for our Synods individually or together.

A Prayer

Loving God strengthen your people to have the courage to engage with our local communities to share your love with them. We pray for Stephen and Jenny the Chairs of the two Wales Synods that they might seek your vision for your Methodist church in Wales and that you would give them the courage to take risks as we move into a new and possibly very different future to the one we have known up to now. Amen