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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Start:Stop - Show us how to be the answer to our prayers.

Bible reading

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5. 16 – 23)


Last week an Ordinand at Westcott House tweeted a photo of beds set out in St John’s Notting Hill for use by the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. His tweet said: ‘When people say, in the aftermath of tragedy, prayers are useless, remind them they inspire acts like this. Those who pray are those helping practically as well - not mutually exclusive. St John's Notting Hill with St Clement's Church took a leading role in helping the misplaced and traumatised following the tragic fire.

This tweet is a reminder of the reasons why the Bible encourages us to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances. Our prayers are not simply about God in action, they are also prompts for us to take action. Many of the prayers we pray can be answered quickly and with amazing results if we become better listeners to the voice of the Holy Spirit. If we can change our mindset as we pray, we can be used of God in mighty ways to be His agents of transformation.

Kim Butts is someone who has explained how this amazing reality became part of her prayer life. She was in a small group of women studying the Bible together and learning to pray. One young woman had three small boys and a husband who was working in another state to support them. He only made it home for a weekend every few months. There was very little money, but Bertie was always joyful. Her prayer one evening (they met in her home, as she couldn’t afford childcare) was for her husband to be able to come home for Christmas. The group prayed for the Lord’s provision and for this husband and father to be able to come home in time to celebrate with his family.

As they were praying Kim had an overwhelming sense that she was supposed to do something for this family. She shared her thoughts with another friend and they decided that between them they could help in the situation. First, they left Bertie, some money anonymously on the seat of her car. Bertie tearfully told our small group during their next meeting about how she had been worried about not having enough grocery money for the week. The envelope had contained the amount she needed.

Then when Bertie wanted to visit her husband for a weekend in case he was unable to come home over Christmas, they offered to take turns staying at her house to take care of the boys. While she was gone, they took the boys to get a Christmas tree. After it was set up, the five of them started making decorations for the tree and singing Christmas carols. The boys had a wonderful time and were so excited for their mother to come home. They all prayed for their father to be able to come home too. Imagine the surprised faces when both of their parents came through the door! The family had a wonderful reunion and a very special Christmas!

This is a very simple example, and it is easy to say, "We don’t need to pray before we help people." Very true, but we are often in a hurry and may miss opportunities as God puts them in our paths. Prayer helps us recognise those opportunities. Being the answer to the prayers of others is one way to be used by God. Being the answer to our own prayers is an astonishingly powerful privilege.


Rescuing God, you left the safety and beauty of heaven to come and save us. You gave your very life to deliver us from death forever, and to bring us into fullness of life. We thank you for all who take risks and make sacrifices for others in their daily work, and especially for the men and women who work in our emergency services. Help us to honour and appreciate our police, fire-service and paramedics and to bless them through our interactions with them, our support of those known to us personally, and our prayers for them. We pray for all the residents of Grenfell Tower. We pray particularly for those who have suffered injury, those who have died, and all the residents who have are left without a home today, and the entire community that has been affected. Our prayers are with all who have been affected by this fire, especially the victims, their families and friends, and all who are still worried about their loved ones who are unaccounted for. As we pray, show us how to be the answer to our prayers.

God of truth and hope, in Christ you walk with your children through the valley of the shadow of death. Visit today all who know the panic and terror and trauma and grief of sudden, violent, ruthless attack, especially all who were victims of the attacks on Westminster Bridge, in Borough Market and at Finsbury Park Mosque. Bless those injured, bereaved, horrified, dismayed. Turn siege into renewal, fury into wisdom, doubt into gentleness and tension into trust, that as your people experience a Babel of tumult you may transform their chaos into a Pentecost of peace. As we pray, show us how to be the answer to our prayers.

God of mercy and judgement, in Christ you came among us as a vulnerable child and suffered a cruel and untimely death. In the face of terror you show us what we rightly love. Visit the people of Manchester today, in the midst of horror, and grief, and injury and dismay. Comfort the maimed and the bereaved. Strengthen the hands of those who bring healing, hope, and kindness in the face of agony and brutality. Teach each one of us to hold dear what can so suddenly be snatched away, to cherish what can so intimately be threatened, and to uphold what some are seeking to destroy. Make this time of terror and loss a moment of renewal in what we most deeply believe and most firmly maintain, that though we fear we may more truly love, and though we despair we may more profoundly know you, whose kingdom we seek, now and forever. As we pray, show us how to be the answer to our prayers.


Praying without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances, being the answer to our own prayers. May all those blessings of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.


Taize - O Lord, Hear My Prayer.

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