Methodist Church looks forward to "Pray Without Ceasing"

The Methodist Church will launch 14 months of non-stop prayerlater this year. The 14-month Pray Without Ceasing programme willbe launched at the annual Methodist Conference in late June andwill end on 1 September 2006.

The 33 Methodist Districts will each take a one- or two-weekperiod, during which the churches in the District will between themmaintain continuous prayer. The aims of the programme are: tocelebrate prayer as a gift from God; to affirm prayer that isalready happening; and to resource prayer by providing ideas andinspiration to help people pray in ways that are new to them.Another key feature is that the prayer will be both diverse andinclusive, spanning age, gender, culture and theology.

The Rev Michaela Youngson, Methodist Secretary for Pastoral Careand Spirituality, says, "Prayer is at the heart of the Christianexperience. The Christian ideal is to be in relationship with God -relationships thrive through mutual communication and it is inprayer that we can express our love for God and create space tolisten to God's word to us."

The Pray Without Ceasing programme follows the 2004 MethodistConference, when the Church committed itself to a year of prayer,which caused some eyebrows to be raised. "Obviously, as a Churchand as individual Christians we all pray anyway," says Michaela,"so the idea of a year of prayer may have looked a littlesurprising. But things we do routinely can lose their freshness, soraising the profile of prayer will help us come to it anew. I hopethat Pray Without Ceasing will be an opportunity to look again atwhat we believe about prayer and an encouragement to people to prayin ways new to them." The Conference resolution was inspired by thenon-denominational 24-7 Prayermovement, which encourages churches to pray for 24 hours a dayfor seven days. A number of Methodist churches have already done24-7 weeks and many more will try this form of prayer as one of theways of joining in the Methodist Pray Without Ceasinginitiative.

The programme is supported by a website www.praywithoutceasing.org.ukand more resources will be launched as the start of the programmenears. Although aimed at Methodists, the web site will develop tobe a rich prayer resource for all churches.

"Continuous prayer is not a Methodist invention and we celebratethe prayers of all Christians worldwide," says Michaela. "ThePriorities of the Methodist Church urge us to take seriously theneed for God centred worship and prayer. We have a rich traditionof liturgical and free prayer in which we express our devotion toGod and bring before God the concerns of our churches andcommunities. This year the Methodist Church is committed to theMake Poverty History campaign and this is one reminder of ourcalling to pray for the needs of the world in which we live."

The Rev Graham Horsley, Secretary for Evangelism, says that PrayWithout Ceasing will highlight the fundamental importance of prayerto Christian life. "It can be hard to find time to pray in today'sbusy world," he says. "If Pray Without Ceasing brings us into thelife-changing presence of God for even a few minutes more than weare used to, it will have been time well spent."