Message from Bishop Robert, 1 February 2022

Published: Tuesday February 1, 2022

Bishop RobertThe Priority of Prayer

The study of Church history might well seem to be both dry and arcane, a looking back rather than forward, at odds with our God who always calls us into the future. Yet knowing where we have come from as a Church, and how we have got where we are, can be, properly understood, so helpful in guiding us to the future. An honest appraisal of our past will help us not idolise it as a golden age, for example, the truth of so many of our Victorian churches is that they were never full. Knowing our history will also enable us to seek not to repeat our mistakes and to learn from the big picture.

Part of all of this is the realisation that the life of our Church has always ebbed and flowed. The eighteenth-century Church particularly was fairly moribund. Bishop Butler of Bristol said (of John Wesley as it happens) in the 1730’s “Enthusiasm, sir, is a horrid thing; a very horrid thing indeed”. It was a view that permeated most of the Church of England!  But Wesley was not deterred. Like the monks of the fourth and fifth centuries, like the Anglo Catholics and Evangelicals of the nineteenth century and to a degree like those who led the Parish Communion Movement of the twentieth, he went on to lead a revival in the Church, and in this as in all these example cases, that revival was rooted in holiness.

There is an important lesson for us to learn in this generation as we seek in our turn to renew the life of the Church in our parishes, our chaplaincies, through pioneer ministry and fresh expressions. All our desire, all our intentions, will only be fruitful if they are rooted in a vision of the holiness of God. For that, we must pay attention first to worship and then to prayer. Our worship gathers us into the presence of God, changes us as we hear and reflect on scripture and as we break bread together, and our worship sends us out. Prayer that permeates our worship and carries us through our days connects us to God’s purposes for us, equips us for all that we are called to. We are, as Paul writes, to be ‘rooted and built up’ in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2 v 7).

This is precisely why over the last year we have been piloting some simple online diocese-wide LIFE Together prayer gatherings to underpin and enable the way we live out all we are called to. Gathering people, lay and ordained, from across the Diocese, they last just half an hour, and we commit to finishing on time. The structure is informal and within the time there is an opportunity for those who wish to offer their own prayer aloud, while others will pray silently in their hearts. All are welcome and there is no compulsion to ‘do’ anything – it is really very easy to join.

As we move into 2022 Bishop Rachel and I will be leading the next two gatherings:

On 7 February at 5.30 pm, I will be focussing our attention on praying for our parishes, not least as we come out of this phase of the pandemic with all that we are holding and managing, as we seek to share our future.

Then, on 28 March at 10.30 am, Bishop Rachel will be focusing on growing in our everyday faith in our weekly contexts.

The link for both meetings is

If you can please do join us and wherever you are please do pray.

Bishop Robert's signature

Leave a Reply

Most popular articles today: