31 August 2006

Methodists celebrate 'enthusiastic' year of non-stop prayer

· 14 months
· 33 Methodist districts
· More than 22,000 hours spent in prayer

As September begins, the Methodist Church bids farewell to Pray Without Ceasing Ð a marathon 14 months of non-stop prayer. An initiative of the young people of Methodism, this 'year of prayer' encouraged churches and individuals to focus on prayer, affirm that already taking place and encourage fresh thinking about prayer. The response was overwhelming, and Methodists are determined that the spirit and creativity of Pray Without Ceasing should be carried forward into daily church and personal life.

Pray Without Ceasing started with early-morning celebrations on a beach in Torquay in June 2005, travelled throughout the UK and will finish in North Wales, 1 September 2006. Despite a number of national events, such as a multi-faith prayer conference, the real work has taken place in the local churches.

With an estimated 22, 000 hours spent in prayer, there was plenty of room for variety, including a prayer graffiti wall, Celtic prayers, an overnight youth prayer lock-in and dance workshops. The Kidderminster and Stourport Circuit even chartered a train on which to pray through different stops, with a candlelit communion service on the platform at Upper Arley train station.

Revd Michaela Youngson, Methodist Secretary for Pastoral Care and Spirituality, said; 'We hope that people have found that their relationship with God has deepened as a result of this renewed focus on prayer. We've been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and creativity of Methodists across the UK. Although the Connexional Team has produced many of the resources, it is the local church communities who have really caught the vision and so many inspiring stories have come out of it Ð a church in Mississippi has been so touched by it that they hope to launch their own year of prayer.'

Expressing the positive response found throughout the UK, Harry Alton, of the Chester-le-Street Circuit, said; 'When we get to the end of this year, there is no suggestion that we will stop praying; it is good to be reminded again of the importance of prayer and, because life is a moment by moment experience Ð that prayer is too Ð wherever we are, whatever we are doing'.

The year of prayer has been supported by a website, offering resources, ideas, chat forum, details of events and even an online prayer space. Though the year has ended, www.praywithoutceasing.org.uk will continue to offer ideas and inspiration to individuals and churches seeking a new dimension to prayer.

Part of the legacy of Pray Without Ceasing will be a new online prayer labyrinth, to be launched in September. www.lostinwonder.org.uk will be fully interactive, inviting visitors on a spiritual journey of encounter and challenge. To encourage people to keep the spirit of Pray Without Ceasing alive, a new book will be published, telling the stories of those who have taken part. It will also offer even more resources and ideas for exploring prayer, both individually and as the body of Christ.

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