Last year, I prayed about ‘how best to reach out to the communities of the Oak Hill Parishes.’ I had the Diocesan LIFE vision in mind, and the call from our Archbishops to pray earnestly between Pentecost and Ascension Day. I had an idea of prayer visiting in our villages, and shared this with all the PCCs, asking them to pray about it. I had little experience of prayer visiting and knew how apprehensive people can be when ‘knocking on doors’, but thought that if God is in it, it will happen. Shortly after Christmas, we agreed to hold a Prayer Service just after Easter and the PCC members agreed to find volunteers amongst themselves for ‘knocking on doors.’
In February, we put out a leaflet in the villages explaining our plans:
“Prayer and deepening our relationship with God is central in the life and work of our diocese. This spring we will go out across our four parishes, knocking at doors, explaining who we are, and asking whether there is anything that the person we’re speaking to would like us to pray for. This could be a need of their own; a concern for family, friends or the wider world; or something they would like to give thanks for. We collect together all these prayer requests, and then – at a service on the 29 April 10.30am at St Peter’s, Dumbleton – bring the prayers to God, lighting a candle of prayer for each one whilst also asking for His blessing on those we have met, and asking Him to listen to their needs, and answer them.”
In April we distributed a card to all villagers letting them know that church members would be ‘knocking on their doors’ asking for prayer requests.
Myself and a small group of brave people knocked on every door in Alderton, Dumbleton, Wormington and Great Washbourne, meeting to pray before we set out on our journeys. As we knocked on doors, we reminded the villagers that we were holding a Prayer Service. We explained that we would be praying for our villages and the people who live in them, because we love them and care for them. We asked if there was anything they would like to bring to God in prayer.
The response was very positive – no one slammed a door in our face – and it was great to meet so many people. Many people thanked us. I also led two school assemblies on prayer and took prayer trees full of the children’s prayers to our Service.
Everyone was invited to our Prayer Service, and some did come. Over two hundred prayers were read out at our Service, and a candle lit for each one. A while later, I received feedback [praise the Lord] from a gentleman in one of the villages. There had been tensions amongst the villagers, and he stated that our praying had seemed to calm the issue.
Many thanks go to the team of prayer visitors, Angela, Karen, Jane, Carla, Tricia, Paul, Helen, Gill, Sheila, Gail and her grand-daughter, Michael, Yvonna and Jenny. One commented they found the experience quite humbling. The journey also gave rise to an opportunity to pray with those who were housebound, many of whom I had not had the pleasure of meeting until then.
By Revd Julia Hook, Team Vicar, Winchcombe Team Ministry