By Rev. Kimberly Meyer
By the time you read this the AFP Fall Conference, ‘Help Us Grow, Praying to Foster New Relationships’, will have taken place.
The theme was intended to help people see how prayer can help grow congregations.
I was asked to lead a break-out group on personal prayer and prayer groups. It struck me as I prepared that most of the parish prayer groups that I have known about have focused on praying for the sick and suffering.
Of course, this is a very necessary part of any church’s prayer life; anyone who is suffering in any way should have the reassurance that they are being supported in prayer by their faith community. However, I started to reflect upon the idea that maybe we also need prayer groups which are committed to praying in other areas.
People who will come together to pray for their ordained leaders, for their parish council, especially when a meeting is scheduled, for outreach projects and all the other aspects of ministry taking place in their church. People who will come together to pray for concerns in their city/town, in the country and globally.
That these times of prayer are taking place should be made known to the whole community because prayer focusses attention on its subjects and gives voice to desired outcomes, which then holds the community accountable.
If people are praying, for example, about the problem of homelessness in their city and asking God for wisdom in being part of the solution, then the community is held accountable to listen for God’s response, and then take some kind of action. If the parish council knows that they are being held in prayer as they make decisions affecting the life of the community then they will be more likely to remember to keep God in the forefront of their deliberations.
Prayer does make a difference and the more people intentionally come together to pray about all the endeavours and concerns of their parish then the more the parish can be transformed into a place where God can be seen to be at work by both parishioners and the community at large.
Rev. Kimberly Myer is an AFP Executive, and the rector of the Parish of St. Stephen’s and Church of the Redeemer in Oldcastle.
(Featured photo: Tim Mossholder/Unsplash)