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Approaching Week of Prayer

Date Monday, 23rd October 2023

Preached by Hannah Cowley

Most of us don’t need much convincing that prayer is an amazing thing. We have been given unbelievable access to God. We have full permission to pour out our worship, thanksgiving, requests, questions and confessions to the Father who cares and can change things. Yet despite this, prayer also seems to be something that a lot of us really struggle with. If we’re honest, a lot of us would admit that we have a niggling feeling that prayer is something we really should be ‘better at’.

If we are feeling like this, then the thought of a week of prayer can be a bit overwhelming. This was how I was feeling as I approached the week of prayer back in February. But despite this, I actually found that the week really positively impacted my prayer life for the months after. Here’s a quick summary of my highlights:

It sounds obvious, but one of the biggest things was just setting aside a week in which prayer was the main focus. In the busyness of life, prayer can so easily be squeezed out. It was really good to stop and re-focus my heart.

Something that helped me do this was the morning prayer meetings. On the days that I made it, it was honestly worth the early wakeup call! I found it really set me up well for the rest of the day, and the things we prayed for stuck with me. Rather than just stumbling from one thing to the next, I was more prayerful in the way that I interacted with the world around me. This didn’t need to just be a week-of-prayer-thing. The effect that it had on me made me want to frame my day with prayer more consistently going forward.

Seeing church family at multiple points throughout the week was also a real encouragement. It made me feel less alone in living for Christ in my daily life. During that week we committed to praying for each other, our church, our city and our world. Whether we would rate ourselves a prayer warrior, or barely manage to pray, it didn’t really make a difference. We did it together.

When I couldn’t make the events, it was really good to still pray along with everyone else using the daily email. Sometimes I think we struggle to pray because there’s so much that we could say… we don’t know where to start. The emails that week helped set a direction for my prayers, and encouraged me to widen my vision in the things that I prayed for.

Throughout the week we sang, we wrote letters, we prayed in small groups; big groups; and on our own. We met in coffee stops, online and in the office. We easily can box prayer into a very specific style, whereas God made us to communicate in all sort of ways, and it was great to experience that. Something that I took away from the week, was being conscious of my physical posture as I pray. I hadn’t really knelt to pray before, but we tried kneeling at the very start of the week and I actually realised it helps shape the posture of my heart and sometimes makes concentrating easier.

Although he doesn’t need us, God often chooses to act through his people’s prayers. It can feel like one of the most inefficient work strategies out there – but it’s true. And I think one of the reasons is this – God uses our prayers to change us, just as much as he changes things through our prayers.

The great thing is, we know that we can keep going in prayer going forward, because God himself is the one who helps us to pray. I went into the week of prayer last time thinking ‘I should be better at praying’. I came out of the week wanting to pray more – not because of a sense of duty – but because I had been reminded of the gift that prayer is.