Praying in the new year
Thousands of Christians brought in the New Year on their knees in prayer. On New Years Eve believers from all sorts of denominations, and in locations across the UK, came together to intercede and ask God that 2011 would be a year of opportunity and change in the lives of individuals and transformation in communities.
Several hundred Peterborough residents gathered at an ecumenical service earlier in the evening on the 31st at the Cathedral to pray for their city. This annual act of commitment emerged from the city’s heavy involvement with Hope 2008 and is a time for churches of all denominations to come together with a shared vision for mission.
Caroline Cameron, a member of the Hope for Peterborough, said: “We are asking God how he wants us to engage with Peterborough. We committed ourselves to working together across denominational boundaries and making the love of Christ credible through offering practical service to the city. ”
An all-night New Years eve prayer event in Watford saw many young people challenging the usual stereotypes by prioritising time with God over spending the night out on the town with their peers. Led by Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft, the prayer and worship service went non-stop from 10pm till 6am at the Soul Survivor Watford warehouse.
Watchnight services are held throughout the Black Majority Church on New Years eve and it is a time of celebration. The tradition with roots in the night spent waiting for emancipation on January 1st 1862, has now become the biggest church attendance prayer night of the year, the importance only beaten by Easter and Christmas. Jesus House in Brent Cross held a Watchnight prayer and praise service which ran into the morning and it was packed to capacity.
Pastor Bolanle Ojeh from Jesus House, said: 'Watchnight is a time when we come together to receive direction and thank God for the year that has passed and for the year ahead. We believe that if we listen to His voice and do what he tells us that we can receive strength to face anything that comes at us in the future. There will be an opportunity, as the body of Christ, to see a harvest in 2011 and we will see many getting to know Jesus.'
Roy Crowne, Executive Director of Hope Together said: 'On BBC1’s version of The Nativity at Christmas I was struck by a quote from a Rabbi, encouraging a young shepherd facing a crisis. He said: “Not to believe, is to live without hope.”'
'There have been many situations in families and communities in 2010 that have been desperate and at times have lacked a sense of hope. We look into this new year and things can seem bleak. But we are the ones, through Christ, who can be the people of hope and change things. In order to do this though, we must believe, have faith and it is crucial to pray.
'Visiting Peterborough Cathedral, Soul Survivor and then Jesus House brought home to me the differences in style and traditions that the people of God have. We may differ in the way we do things but we have a lot to learn from each other. Praying together and working together in a united purpose for the sake of those outside the Kingdom would certainly be life changing and community transforming.'
Hope Together is focusing on prayer at the beginning of this year and have provided resources and ideas designed for use at New Year and the week of prayer for Christian Unity, 18-25 January.