A few years ago, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury initiated what he believed would be a relatively small-scale project, asking members of his own Christian tradition to pray “Thy Kingdom Come” with real effort and focus in the days between the Ascension and Pentecost. These days between Ascension and Pentecost mark a spiritual interlude between Jesus Christ leaving the earth in his physical body at Ascension, and the day when the Holy Spirit came in power on his disciples at Pentecost. And we are told in the Scriptures that the disciples spent these days in Jerusalem in constant prayer.
Praying “The Kingdom Come” can be a familiar phrase that trips off the tongue a little too easily, but it should never be such. “The Kingdom of God” can best be understood as being the realm of God, that place where God is in full control, where God is completely supreme in the hearts and minds of his people. Praying for God’s Kingdom to come is therefore not simply a prayer for the world (although it is that), but it is also a prayer for our own spiritual renewal and a prayer for the Holy Spirit of God to enter the lives of those we know and love in a new and powerful way.
We are asked in these days to make a specific effort within this prayer to “pray for five”. This means praying intentionally for five people, but not necessarily those we instinctively pray for on a regular basis. This “prayer for five” should be that God will bless the people for whom they have prayed and give them a deeper awareness of his infinite love for them. It is not a condescending or judgmental prayer, but a simple act of truly Christian love and friendship. We sometimes wonder what prayer is able to do. There was a lovely reflection on the matter by Archbishop William Temple, “When I pray, coincidences happen; when I don’t, they don’t!”.
By God’s grace, what began as a simple local call for prayer has spread across almost all the Christian traditions and across the world. Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby with other church leaders have asked Christian disciples throughout the world to be part of this focussed wave of prayer. We now join in this call to prayer, coupling it with our own shared prayer to God, “Thy Kingdom Come”.
+Eamon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore.
+Richard, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh