Thy Kingdom Come

May 29th 2022 – Hawes     Acts16:16-34, Rev.22, John17:20-end

Last Thursday was Ascension Day and a crowd of folks from across the Dale gathered at Jervaulx Abbey for the first time since 2019 to mark the occasion with a celebration of communion accompanied by Bedale Band. It was a beautiful evening and a special time together. Once again it also marked the launch of 10 days of global prayer initiated by Archbishop Justin Welby called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ in which he calls us to pray for three things: 1) That all Christians will find new life in Jesus Christ 2) that everyone we meet might see something of Jesus within us and 3) that the church will overflow with the presence of Jesus.

It’s always good to be reminded at regular intervals of the importance of prayer. We know we need to pray regularly but we all have our shortcomings when trying to do so. I believe that the early church was successful because of its prayer life – individually and corporately. They prayed regularly, they prayed in the power of the name of Jesus Christ and they prayed no matter what was taking place around them.

Prayer binds us together – it makes us as Jesus desired us to be: ‘One’. It is the unifying factor in which the Holy Spirit can have his way amongst us – when we give ourselves to prayer we create the opportunity for the Lord to speak to us, to strengthen us and to guide us. We have a great need for all three.

I love the statement from John Wesley that ‘Prayer is where the action is’. Through the testimony and experience of millions across the millennia we know that prayer changes things. Through my own personal experience I know that prayer changes things; but first … it changes me and it changes you. Prayer always makes a difference.

Those of you who have experienced ‘the Prayer Course’ in Home Groups know that there are many different ways to pray and we need to be aware of all of them and apply them as and when the circumstances require. Perhaps central to all our prayers is allowing the Holy Spirit to move us into a place of hearing the Lord’s will and then praying that in through the powerful name of Jesus. Our reading from Acts reminds us of what can be done when we are in that place.

I know that when I am feeling utterly defeated and crushed by circumstance that it is only in prayer that I will receive the help I so desperately need. I try to identify clearly what it is that I am feeling and why I might be feeling that way; I then seek out scriptures that speak directly into that situation, thanking God for who He is and what He has for me. ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done’

Paul and Silas were in a very poor place indeed – arrested, severely beaten with rods and then secured in stocks in the innermost cell. A place designed and intended to remove all sense of hope. It is a wonderful testimony and reminder of the power of prayer when we see what they choose to do and what happens next as a result.

They pray and they worship and God responds in a mighty way. Look how what happens next follows our Archbishops call. 1) Their circumstances change – they find new life in Jesus even in that awful situation 2) the Jailer sees the life of Jesus Christ in them and is transformed by it – he comes to faith and his behaviour and outlook on life is completely transformed 3) the church increases in number as he and his whole household is baptised and the authorities realise that a grave miscarriage of justice has taken place and go out of their way to show contrition. The account then goes on to tell us how the local believers are encouraged greatly by what Paul and Silas share with them.

Pray in all circumstances and when you’re struggling … do not forget the powerful prayer for the Lord to help you to pray. When Justin Welby was imprisoned in Africa and in fear for his life, long before he had entered the ministry, he was in just such a place. Exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually he couldn’t bring himself to pray about his situation but he did pray the Lord’s prayer and received strength and comfort and hope by doing so … we can all do that much.