When prayer took off

21 November 2007

by Margaret Duggan

PRAYER SUDDENLY became popular in the small town of Ryton on Tyne, in Durham diocese. As part of the 24/7 Prayer Movement, the Anglican, United Reformed, Methodist, and Roman Catholic churches that make up Churches Together — “all pretty traditional, and none with significant numbers of youth or young adults”, says the Revd Tom Jamieson, Rector of Ryton — decided on a week of prayer, to be held in a United Reformed church hall close to a comprehensive school (above).

The hall became a workshop, with creative activities related to prayer, and a library of Christian literature; the large kitchen became a coffee shop; and a smaller room became the prayer room. It was advertised in a regular mailing to every house in the town.

Mr Jamieson led an all-age assembly at the nearby school the week before, issuing an invitation to “drop by”. Three primary schools all opted to bring their Year Six for an afternoon prayer-workshop. It was an amazing success.

The prayer-workshops for the ten-year-olds included an exploration of the Lord’s Prayer, and prayers to say please, sorry, and thank you. It was their time in the prayer room, however, that they found most special. And a number of children insisted on coming back later with their parents.

The secondary-school pupils also came to spend an hour at a time praying, and 16-year-old boys carefully took off their shoes before entering the prayer room. They insisted on some of their staff coming, too. Meanwhile, members of all four churches had signed up to ensure that people were praying 24 hours a day for the whole week. Mr Jamieson counted a total of 570 visits to the prayer room.

At the time I spoke to him, he was just off to the comprehensive school to consider suggestions about how they could continue. They were asking for lunch-time discussions; another prayer room, which could include an all-night session; and a greater connection between the churches and their school RE lessons.

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