During our confinement to our own homes, we are putting ideas and encouragements around our fellow-worshippers and friends to keep in touch. This note offers an activity most of us would be able to engage in
Usually a prayer walk is round a village, around a parish boundary or round Pa common area in a neighbourhood. During the walk, the prayer group will stop and pray for each street, each public place, any schools, any shops and any other community provisions. It can be very moving.
Obviously we can’t engage in such an activity now! But we could all very easily modify the idea, to celebrate God’s very presence in our own homes. The restrictions upon us could be a very special opportunity to put God at the centre of our lives in a new way. Let’s think the idea through just a little. But before we do, I want to digress for a moment. When I was working at Ridley Hall, the Theological college in Newnham, as their fundraiser, I had a very interesting conversation with one of the tutors. He said, that when any student came to him, saying they had lost touch with God, he asked them when they had last put thanksgiving at the heart of their personal prayers. It is, he observed, easy for it to get lost, and reviving it made a substantial difference to his students in almost every case.
So, let’s merge these two ideas. Let’s walk around the place we are presently confined in, stop when there is something to be thankful for. Pause to think around what it means to you and what it means to others and offer a prayer. Then walk on, possibly taking two or three turns of your special place before stopping at another place for thanksgiving.
Imagine it like this. Stop by your fireplace or radiator. Give God thanks for the heat it provides for you. Give thanks for the engineers who installed it and the service engineers who keep the energy flowing to keep you warm. Think of those who have no opportunity to access a warm place – in our community, in Cambridge, across the whole country: then in those dire places like refugee camps across the world. Ours is one of those few countries where a high proportion of the population have access to warmth and comfort. So couple your thanksgiving with prayers for the many who do not have that comfort. Maybe even lament for the structures of society that create this imbalance.
Pause now by your telephone or internet hub. Give thanks for the O-so-important facility to communicate with others. Pray for those with whom you have regular conversations. Pray for anyone with whom you have lost contact and consider whether you might use this time to revive it. Pray for those so far away that your contact with them is invariably by phone or electronically. Give thanks for the brains of those who have made these resources a possibility.
Stand by a window or a gate on to the outside world. Give thanks for all the things that are in view and for what they mean to you. Offer a prayer for all those beyond your boundaries who are suffering really heavily, financially, physically and mentally through this hard time.
I’m sure by now that you have got the idea. Be imaginative. Invent your own ‘stations’. God will rejoice in your prayers and you will likely have found causes for thanksgiving that, dare I say it, like us, you may have until now taken for granted.
Oh yes: do make sure that one of your pauses is to give thanks for something of beauty. If it is a flower, marvel at its uniqueness in all its markings. When human beings produce high-volume objects they look for uniformity: nature has a God-given difference in every leaf and in every petal. If your beautiful object is indoors remember what made you choose this article to adorn your living space and give thanks for its shape, its colour – and its creator. Trevor Thorn