Traditionally Christians have prayed between Ascension Day (this year it’s Thursday 10th May) and Pentecost (Sunday 20th May) for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, words from the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus goes to heaven; he ascends on Ascension Day, and Jesus’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, comes at Pentecost, so hypothetically there’s nine days without God’s presence here.
During these nine days we imagine a time without God’s presence being with us and on imagining this our prayers should become more intense and filled with longing that ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ will happen very soon - in our lifetime.
Well, that’s the theory.
Last year during the nine days of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ we were encouraged to pray for five people or five situations every day for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ into that person or that situation. I prayed for five people last year - I won’t say if my prayers were answered, that’s another vicar’s letter (!) but this longing for the five and praying for Thy Kingdom Come’ into their lives vitalised my praying. I can imagine ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ in those situations, in those people. v This year one of those five I’ll be praying for will be my dad whose dementia has got really bad. I will pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ in his life. I can imagine this. I long to see my dad not violent or sad but at peace. I will also pray that my grandson with autism settles into a reception class. I can imagine what ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ might mean for him; that he’ll be encouraged and accepted and helped. The situation which concerns me is the treatment of animals kept for food and I’ll pray that all of us buy less meat and meat which has a Red Tractor symbol on it meaning how the animals were treated from birth to death met our welfare standards.
During those nine days, from Monday to Friday we will say morning and evening prayer in church and we will encourage prayers for those five people/situations - that ‘Thy kingdom Come’. Each will last about 20 minutes. There will be Bible Readings and time for prayer.
I’ll finish with a quotation, from The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, about ‘Thy Kingdom Come’:
“The business of being witnesses to Jesus Christ and of praying to be witnesses compels us to look into the world around us. It compels us to seek, to experience the compassion of God for a world caught up in lostness, in sin, but also in suffering and pain, in oppression of the poor, in cruelty, in abuse, in outrageous inequality, in all the things that go against the Kingdom of God.
“There is no limit to what the Kingdom of God does, and so the moment we start praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ we look outwards.“
Join us during those nine days - what five people or situations will you be praying for?
- Revd. Jan Ashton
Vicar of Hightown, Liverpool