Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prayer and Society

Last month I wrote about how God had created us with free will so that we have a choice whether or not to believe in God. I also said we can invite God to interveen in our lives and culture through prayer.  The small minority of Secular Humanists are trying to obliterate prayer from from public life. Some of you will have recently heard about the council taken to court to prevent the council saying prayers before their meetings. If as atheists believe prayer goes nowhere then what is the harm? Just don’t join in the prayers. 
However, as humans as I believe we are hardwired to pray and at certain times this deep natural instinct comes to the surface. Such an example has happened recently when footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. Medical staff resuscitated the player while Spurs’ Christian player Rafael Van der Vaart prayed on the pitch. 
The awful site of a young man apparently in prime physical condition collapsing in front of many thousands of fans and reported  on the news and the  internet brought the fragility of all our lives into sharp perspective. 
The flood gates of prayer within a nation were firmly opened by this tragedy, with many openly praying for Muamba, urged on by his family. Soon footballers starting wearing tea shirts saying “Pray for Muamba”.  Even Spain’s Real Madrid warmed up for a game wearing similar tops. Christian Owen Coyle, the Bolton Wanderers Manager said the prayer and support was ‘A real source of strength for the family’.
Fabrice has defied the odds and is improving. A Cardiologist and Spurs fan who was present said that “If I was ever going to use the term miraculous it could be used here”. Even the Sun news paper carried the headline “God is in Control”
Something happens when we all pray collectively together, crying out to God, somehow disparate communities become united in one voice, and yes we are praying for the recovery of Fabrice Muamba but we are also saying we are not on our own.
Many will have prayed possibly for the first or only second time in they life, some it will have been part of their daily prayer life. Most will be somewhere in between. Have you been touched by what has been going on, would you like to understand more about the God to whom we have all been praying? This month the Christian Church celebrates Easter. The most astonishing event in human history when God broke through the barriers of death and showed us the way to eternal life. 
His son Jesus died an agonisng death on the cross, but then God raised him to new life. Perhaps you may be wondering what this is all about or perhaps you know the Easter story very well. But the most amazing power of God works afresh in each ever celebration of Easter. This year we want everyone to “Experience Easter” so we have many events planned (see elsewhere in the magazine) which we hope will appeal to as many of you as possible. So please come along and Experience Easter for yourself.