Could members of your church pray for 24 hours straight? The saints at Marrickville have just completed their second prayer marathon for the current Sydney lockdown, and they’re encouraging others to do the same.
Members committed to half-hour time slots and prayed through resources prepared by the church. They prayed through Bible passages, for their link missionaries, their local community, world issues and for revival.
“We immediately saw an impact on the church,” says the Rev Ross Ciano, senior minister at Marrickville. The first prayer event took place pre-lockdown, so when Sydney’s stay-at-home orders came into effect, the church was keen to repeat the challenge several times over. They are planning a third 24 hours of prayer in October.
“We immediately saw an impact on the church"
It wasn’t difficult to find people to pray, especially in the wee hours of the morning. “The 3am time slots were the really easy ones to fill,” Mr Ciano says. “The graveyard shifts were covered by some people who naturally stay up late, like people in their mid-twenties. From 4am to mid-morning [it was] a combination of young mums, people who are retired, people who were busy with their jobs. We saw children pray and parents book half an hour to pray with their children.”
Over the years, a culture of prayer has developed at Marrickville. “There’s a good bunch of people who meet every week to pray, and that’s been happening for a few years,” Mr Ciano says. “There are various prayer meetings that happen throughout the week. Prayer is something we do value, and it’s becoming a culture in our church.”
Inspired by the prayer marathons at Marrickville, the Rev Vincent Chan from St Barnabas’, Fairfield with Bossley Park encouraged his congregations to also do 24 hours of prayer. “We stole the idea,” he jokes. “It sounded like a great idea. So far, the response has just been completely positive – aside from a few very tired people!”
At first, praying for 30 minutes can seem like a huge task, especially with children: “5.30pm prayers finished with a joyful cacophony of Colin Buchanan songs in the Jamieson household,” shared Mr Andrew Jamieson on Facebook. “The kids went from saying ‘Half an hour! How do you pray for more than three minutes?’, to realising that wasn’t enough time to pray for half the things on our list. A very encouraging time! Get involved.”
Adds Mr Ciano: “It doesn’t matter when it’s done, as long as it’s done. As long as prayer is happening! You’re nuts not to do it. It’s such a privilege to pray and to lead your people to pray and intercede for the church and the world.”
Looking up and out
There’s another creative prayer idea catching on around Sydney, as more churches erect banners asking for prayer requests via text. Inspired by St Matt’s, Manly and its banner on The Corso, the parishes of St James’, Berala, St Stephen’s, Willoughby and St Mark’s. Darling Point are just some of those encouraging their communities to reach out for prayer.
People from the neighbourhoods are able to text or scan a QR code to submit prayer requests – and the whole suburb knows the church actively wants to hear their concerns and bring them before the Lord.
In addition to hanging a banner, St James’, Berala has hit the streets. “We’ve put about 2000 postcards in letterboxes,” says rector the Rev Mike Doyle. “[We] had perhaps half a dozen prayer requests – including children and adults in hospital and ICU for COVID. Very heartbreaking to hear, but a privilege to pray for.”
Lifting our voices to God
In addition to churches praying among themselves, Anglican churches across the Diocese are encouraged to join together and pray on Wednesday, September 22 at the Lifting Our Voices to God livestream event.
In the one-hour online event, Christians will be encouraged to corporately lift their hearts, minds and vision to God during the pandemic. Voices will be lifted with a combination of songs, prayers and a short message from Archbishop Kanishka Raffel. All are invited to join in at http://praytogether.online