A 10-day challenge – try a different style of prayer
This weekend is the great festival of Pentecost. The BCP calls it Whitsun, and the secular world either the end of half term, or the second May Bank Holiday. This year is a little different because Sunday is the 31st, so the Bank Holiday weekend was last week, and of course because of C19 sadly the great events and celebrations of Thy Kingdom Come (a 10 day global prayer movement which started in 2016) have been forced online, or by other means filter into our homes (written word, TV, Radio etc).
While we continue to navigate this new world, and in the spirit of Thy Kingdom Come I encourage you to engage with a (possibly) completely new way of praying a Novena. A novena is nine days of prayer that usually encourages us to pray for a particular intention as we prepare for a feast day. A novena is a much more Catholic style of prayer, and I wanted to introduce it to you while you are in your own homes: that way you can either engage with it or dismiss it, and no one will mind.
I’ve been encouraged to do this by Fr Richard Rohr who wrote about Americans that he believes theirs is a “ritually starved culture”. Fr Richard says that we need true rituals to create liminal spaces (the word liminal refers to thresholds). At the moment we are living in a liminal space as the world has changed and therefore worship may never return to the historical ways we are so familiar with. Let’s try to see this as a positive; we live in exciting times and can be people who truly explore what parts of our faith we would like to rebuild, and to discard those areas of worship which did not bring life. We also have the opportunity collectively to imagine what future worship could look like; of course, we don’t have a crystal ball, but we can dream.
Therefore, we live in this liminal space, we are on the threshold, and in that space as Christians we should pray. Pope Francis said “We can say that God’s heart is touched by our intercession, yet in reality he is always there first. What our intercession achieves is that his power, his love and his faithfulness are shown ever more clearly in the midst of the people.”
Can I encourage you to pray a novena; 9 days of a 10-minute ritual prayer? You can find a link to the booklet here, or I am offering to deliver a prayer booklet to you if you do not have access to the internet. In those 10 minutes a day please pray that God’s Holy Spirit will transform our world during this liminal time.