Ten days of prayer (26-05-22)
Bible Readings: On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1. 4, 5, 8)
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24. 50 -53)
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city… They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1. 12, 14)
A Thought Today is Ascension Day, the day when Jesus left the earth to return to his place in heaven. I’ve often wondered how Mary, Jesus’ mother and the disciples felt at this point. They had been on such an emotional rollercoaster during the previous few weeks: the high point of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; the trauma of Jesus’ arrest, rigged trial, and barbaric crucifixion as a common criminal; the disorientating emptiness and deep loss of Holy Saturday; the disbelief, amazement and mystery of the resurrection; time regaining balance, meeting and eating with the risen Jesus in Jerusalem and Galilee. Now they faced the loss of their friend once again.
The disciples responded to this latest loss with worship and a sense of awe. And then, far from feeling an acute sense of loss again, they returned to Jerusalem with joy and continued to worship in the temple. They also followed Jesus’ instruction to wait patiently in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Of course, we know from the Bible that they were only going to have to wait another ten days, but they had no idea how long they would have to wait. They chose to spend this waiting time devoting themselves to prayer.
Over the centuries, the Church has traditionally kept the ten days between Ascension and Pentecost as days of prayer, although commitment to it has waxed and waned during that time. In 2010, the Bishop of Sheffield called the people of the diocese to devote this ten days once more to serious prayer and waiting on God. For some reason, the organization of this prayer initiative found its way onto my desk! I went on the plan Ten Days of Prayer for the next six years until I moved jobs. This had a profound effect on my own personal prayer life, helping me to explore different forms and styles.
In 2016 the Archbishops of Canterbury and York took things further and called the whole Church of England to Ten Days of Prayer, to set aside time to wait on God and to ask for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to equip the Church across our land. Since then, it has grown into an international and ecumenical prayer movement under the title ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, taken from the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer. Why not check it out for yourself at: https://www.thykingdomcome.global/ You can download the 2022 Prayer Journal to guide you through the next ten days.
A Prayer Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.
Holy Spirit, living breath of God by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty