27 January 2006

Methodist Year of Prayer ahead of expectations at halfway stage

· Cornwall district leads the way with over 1,000 hours of prayer
· London North-East, Bristol and South Wales also report high numbers

At its halfway point, The Methodist year of Pray Without Ceasing is far exceeding expectations, with over 8,000 hours of prayer up to the end of 2005. Pray Without Ceasing was launched at the Methodist Conference on 1 July 2005, and by 30 December Methodists had spent an estimated 8,000 hours praying in churches, homes, schools and prisons. In comparison, only 4,368 hours elapsed in the same period.

So far 13 of the 33 Methodist Districts have taken part, each drawing up a rota so that between them so that at every time of day or night a Methodist building was open for prayer. In the London South East district Methodist prison chaplains joined the rota and reported 30 hours of prayer from prisons, young offender institutes and the Dover Immigration Removal Centre.

The idea for the year of prayer came from the Methodist Youth Conference. Youth Conference representatives introduced a motion at the 2004 Methodist Conference in Loughborough calling on the Church to celebrate prayer, affirm prayer that is already taking place and provide ideas and inspiration for new ways of prayer.

Pray Without Ceasing was launched at the 2005 Methodist Conference, which was held in Torquay. About 50 Conference members gathered on Torquay beach early one morning for prayers and celebration, followed by breakfast. Since then the Pray Without Ceasing banner has made its way around Great Britain. Its journey started in the London North East District on 1 July and will finish in North Wales on August 31, 2006.

The Revd Michaela Youngson coordinates the campaign. She says, 'we aimed for continuous prayer, but we have exceeded that. More importantly, people report that this has reinvigorated their personal and church prayer lives. Obviously prayer has always been a crucial part of Christian life, and always will be. But this year of Pray Without Ceasing shows we can regain the excitement and power of prayer by focussing on it.'

Local Pray Without Ceasing Co-ordinators have written in to say how powerful the experience has been. 'We report the good news of an amazing time of blessing beyond anyone's expectations,' wrote Lesley and Mike Sergeant from the Newcastle circuit in Staffordshire. From the Bristol District, Derrick Norton said, 'the seven streams of prayer and worship caused a real buzz of excitement, and people want to repeat the experience.'

More information, including the prayer calendar for Districts, is available at www.praywithoutceasing.org.uk/index.htm.

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