Clergy Notes — Sunday, May 21, 2017

Call to Prayer: “Thy Kingdom Come” by the Primate & the Archbishop of Canterbury

St. Luke writes that following the Ascension of the Lord, the disciples were gathered in an upper room “constantly devoting themselves to prayer.” A number of women joined them, including Mary, the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14).

One wonders what the subject of their prayers might have been—the hope of an imminent return of their Lord; the manner in which they would respond to the Great Commission, taking the gospel into all the world; the timing of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to empower them for that work; and how indeed they would experience the coming of the Spirit.

Since those first few days of the church, the time between Ascension Day and the Day of Pentecost has been marked by calls to prayer for strength and wisdom in bearing a faithful witness to the gospel, for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to grace and guide the church in every age.

Calls of this kind have a long history through the World Council of Churches. In the spirit of that long-standing tradition, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, in 2016, invited “a wave of prayer” across the Church of England. The response, according to Justin Welby, was “astonishing.” Thousands of people joined in—not just Anglicans, but people of many other denominations, too, and not just in England, but in many other countries around the world. That response inspired the archbishops to launch “Thy Kingdom Come,” a global call to prayer between Ascension Day and the Day of Pentecost, 2017.

In calling our church to participate, I am asking that with special intent we pray for fresh outpourings of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in a variety of ministries to which we are deeply committed in local contexts and across the country.

This call to prayer will be answered in a variety of ways. Some will respond through the daily round of morning and night prayers, some in a round of prayers in the early evening of these nine days. Some may be in the quiet of a chapel or the chancel of the church; some in the space of a circle of friends gathered in prayer in one of their homes. Some may choose to walk a labyrinth; others may organize walks in the community with prayer at various locations.

I have every confidence that in taking up this call you will be creative in the way you pray.

Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada