It was never meant to be anything than a short-term project – to celebrate Afternoon Prayer Monday to Thursday at St Michael’s at 4pm for a month after the church had opened and to mark the new building as a place of prayer. But the months have gone on, and I find I need to continue with this practice.
First of all, it is the tradition of the Church of England to celebrate Morning and Evening Prayer in the parish church, and although nowadays that is not really practical, at least having a service of prayer in the afternoon provides a link with all the other Anglican churches across the world who have a similar rhythm of prayer.
But secondly I find it provides a space to be still between the rush of the day and the busy evenings, to lay before the Lord the people I have met, and the people I am about to meet, and to focus on the parishes I am called to serve. I am usually not alone, and, as it is a public act of worship, anyone is welcome to join me – including you, dear reader! It may not be a fashionable growth strategy but I believe that two, three or even more people coming together each day for the Lord to renew the church can in the long run achieve great things.
And thirdly it commits me to be physically present in St Michael’s parish at least once each day. This I believe is vitally important, and as people know the church is open, I am sure we will over the months start to get more visitors. Already folk have arranged to come down and either join in the prayers, or meet before or after the meeting.
The challenge now is to keep this going in the long term. Experience tells me that when push comes to shove it is often the discipline of prayer that goes first. I am determined this will not be the case here.