Church of England shows the way
Tens of thousands of Christians from churches around the world are expected to take part once again in a global wave of prayer for evangelism between Ascension and Pentecost. Thy Kingdom Come began two years ago as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the parishes of the Church of England. But from the start it was adopted by Christian leaders from different denominations and from Anglican primates around the world, who
encouraged members of their churches to join in the prayers. This year, Thy Kingdom Com runs from 10 to 20 May.
This week, a wide range of Christian leaders attended two launch events hosted by the two English primates, John Sentamu and Justin Welby, at their official residences – Bishopthorpe Palace in York and Lambeth Palace in London.
The launch events saw the premier of a new short film in which Brian Heasley, director of the 24/7 Prayer International movement, explained how he went from being a criminal to a Christian – something he puts down to the prayers of many people, including his solicitor and probation officer, who were both Christians.
“We all have people in our lives who do not know about Jesus and the difference he longs to bring them,” the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says in the video. Described as “one of the most dynamic prayer initiatives to emerge from the Church of England in recent years,” Thy Kingdom Come is a simple invitation to Christians to pray for friends and family to come to faith.
The first event in 2016 saw some 100,000 pledge to pray as part of Thy Kingdom Come. That rose to more than half a million last year, with Christians in more than 50 denominations and over 85 countries taking part.
“The wind of God’s spirit has blown this completely out of the Anglican system,” the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said. “It isn’t an Anglican project. It’s not a Church of England project.
It is a global church project. It is something that God has done in which we happen to have a role, and that is how it should be.”
Organisers of the initiative speak of “numerous stories of personal and communal transformation” pouring in from churches, families and communities, including from a couple who had not seen their son for 22 years. “We pray every day obviously for him but during Thy Kingdom Come he was one of the people we prayed for as a group,” they said. “We put his name on the altar before God and . . . yesterday he came home.”
Thy Kingdom Come does not have a set format or liturgy; and events linked to the initiative will have a different look and feel different from church to church, denomination to denomination and country to country. At one level, it will be individuals praying at home or gathering for prayer events at their local church; at another level it will include “beacon” events featuring prayer [...]and worship in cathedrals and large venues.
But organisers are providing a number of resources to help people take part. This includes a new website where individuals can pledge to pray and a Thy Kingdom Come devotional app developed by SPCK.