The wave of prayer takes Lesley Shatwell to Lambeth Palace

“It is impossible to overstate the life-transforming power of the Lord’s Prayer … When we pray it with sincerity and with joy, there is no imagining the new ways in which God can use us to his glory.”

Sent out earlier this year, these words are from a letter from the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to all parishes in the Church of England.  They were encouraging people to be part of a “great wave of prayer”, bringing the Lord’s Prayer into everyone’s life.

Have you ever felt the pull of waves in the sea … you stand there, feeling the tug of the next wave and if you jump at the right moment, the wave carries you on in towards the beach?  It was just like that for me, the phrase, “a great wave of prayer” scooped me up with the tidal momentum and I surfed with it.  At that moment, I knew our parish would be part of the movement, how could we not be involved?

But time was short.  I attended a training session run by the diocese and the vision grew.  We could have an exhibition.  I could ask artists in our parish to take a line or two of the Lord’s Prayer and illustrate it.  Let’s have the exhibition at St John’s, we can keep the church open all week and people can drop in and see the exhibition.  Oh, and we could make it a social, outreach time too, let’s have scones at the weekends … well if you’re going to have scones, you’ll have to have music …

And before I knew quite what I’d let myself in for, the event was already taking on a life of its own.  We felt the tug of the great wave of prayer gathering speed.

Hard work or what!  You try getting artists to work to a deadline.  Would it fit into St John’s, there are a lot of pews …  Would anyone come?  When it came to the picture of temptation, would anyone other than me be tempted to take a chocolate?

I needn’t have worried.  The Lord’s Prayer is greater than all of us and with that as our subject and fully in our thoughts, the week was a great success.  I was rather sad when we took the exhibition down, when all the musicians and singers had gone home, when the last of the scones disappeared.

But that was not the end, the great wave of prayer has rolled on.  Rolled into the Prayer Yurt for the Hale Carnival, rolled on into schools where, I’m told, the children love Emily’s picture of “Bread”.

And then things really did go quiet.  I have “Our Father, who art in heaven” on the wall of my study and I gaze at it when I need to catch the wave again.

“Upon arrival there is a wooden door to the right of the main entrance.  Please knock on this and someone from the Gatehouse will meet you.”

The great wave of prayer is carrying me further into quite uncharted waters.  Today, I have been to Lambeth Palace to be filmed for a short, promotional film to encourage people to catch the wave next year.

I was nervous as I knocked on the door.  I’ve never been to Lambeth Palace.  I’m certainly not a natural film star.  Was there anything I could possibly say which might help to inspire another parish?  But I felt the tug of that wave again, carrying me along.  Please God, let me share my enthusiasm.

What a marvellous day.  I was filmed in the crypt, such a beautiful, peaceful venue.  Everyone was supportive and encouraging and I told our story.  Yes, I forgot all that I’d meant to say.  Yes, I stumbled over my words.  Yes, I needed several “takes” and reminders.  But yes, I did it!  I’m quite sure that I’ve given the team a huge task of editing through the out-takes and sifting through my ramblings.  Perhaps they will only use a couple of seconds of me, but if that’s so, I pray that they capture the light which started in our parish community when we held our “Thy Kingdom Come” exhibition.  May the great wave of prayer roll on and catch many more people into the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesley Shatwell

Here is the video:

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