09 February 2017
Archbishop of Canterbury: There’s a move of the spirit going on
The Most Rev Justin Welby described the Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative as a "move of the spirt" as he welcomed representatives from denominations and ecumenical groups to Lambeth Palace today.
"When the wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing, you don't control it, you hoist the sails and go with the wind," said the Archbishop.
"I've never been involved in anything that seems so much to be the work of the Holy Spirit."
Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement, which invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus Christ on 25 May - 4 June this year.
"Prayer is necessary when we have challenges that we cannot meet by our own resources.
"And the Spirit is the only one who opens hearts. Good news can only be received by the work of the Holy Spirit."
What started out as an invitation from the Archbishops' of Canterbury and York in 2016 to the Church of England has now grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.
Their hopes for 2016 were far exceeded, with 100,000 people getting involved in praying for the work of the Spirit, from London to Chester, and as far as Bermuda and Israel.
Churches across the nation started praying in ways they'd never done before, from rural churches organising prayer walks, to Cathedrals hosting beacon prayer events. In Exeter Cathedral they created a series of prayer stations, with the most popular being a fishing net where people could write the names of someone they wanted to pray for on a paper fish.
"Thy Kingdom Come is not an 'Anglican thing' or an 'Archbishop's thing' – we can't claim to own it, in the same way that no-one can claim to own an avalanche," he explained.
"Thy Kingdom Come certainly won't solve all our problems as the Church – we're human – but God seems to be working, and saying 'pray for evangelism'.
"Each one of us has to pray 'come Holy Spirit', and we know that God will answer."
And there's not just one way to pray.
"We're asking people to pray in whatever way they want, with whoever they want and wherever they can, that others might know Jesus Christ. Just pray."
And praying at this time of year is nothing new. The days between Pentecost and Ascension are traditionally a time when the Church focuses on prayer. Just as the first disciples gathered after they had watched Jesus ascend into heaven – as we read in Acts 1.14: "They all joined together constantly in prayer…"
The vision for Thy Kingdom Come builds on this tradition and aims to see the whole family of God joining together to pray for the Holy Spirit to help them as witnesses to Jesus Christ and to play a part in the renewal of the nations and the transformation of communities.
The hope is that:
″ people will commit to pray with God's world-wide family – as a Church, individually or as a family;
″ churches will hold prayer events, such as 24-7 prayer, prayer stations and prayer walks, across the UK and in other parts of the world;
″ people will be empowered through prayer by the Holy Spirit, finding new confidence to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.
After all, as Welby reminded us "no-one else will be Jesus' witnesses".
"None of us has the resources to bring people to a living relationship with Jesus. So we go to the one who has everything we need, and we ask. Thy Kingdom Come is that in practice".
I'll leave you with a story shared by Chris Russell, the Archbishops's Adviser for Evangelism and Witness, who recently chatted with a 15-year-old who'd just started coming to church.
"Someone from your church just told me that Jesus loves me. Is that true?"
"Yes," he replied.
"I'm 15 years old, why has no one ever told me this before?"
Read more about Thy Kingdom Come, and access other prayer resources, tools and stories on our Great Commission website.
You can also access Thy Kingdom Come's resources for individuals, families and churches at thykingdomcome.global