As I see the May Fair appear in the centre of Hereford this week (and hear the mostly happy screams of punters!) I find myself reflecting on trust- on the things we put our trust in. It's strange but I will happily walk past two neighbouring stalls at the fair and decide that one of them is untrustworthy and to be avoided (pretty much any of the throwing/hooking/shooting stalls) whilst happily putting my life in the hands of the other (the Waltzer, Oxygen, Miami and the rest)... How and why do I make that decision?
Often its based on what I see (people losing on the darts stalls, while they're laughing and smiling when they get off the rides) and my own experience (I've rarely won anything on a stall, but have survived every fairground ride I've been on so far), and a bit of what I've learnt from others ('the house always wins'). Those three things determine how easily I will trust someone or something.
In Proverbs 3.5 it says, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding'. When I read this verse, I don't immediately give up trying to understand things myself at all, but it does help guide my thinking so that I trust God alongside and indeed over my own thoughts. Learning to trust God is one of the great challenges of faith- it's so easy to look at others and how they seem to trust God for everything, whilst struggling ourselves to do the same ourselves.
So how do we learn to trust God? One way that I've learned, over the years, is simply by intentionally spending more time trying to hear God- spending more time stilling myself and listening for his voice. I wouldn't say I'm a natural at listening and being still, nor that I'm particularly devout in prayer, but I have always loved spending an hour or two in prayer rooms, joining with prayer days and finding new ways to connect with God. Out of this learning and nudged and encouraged by others we've felt its right to host a prayer room at St Peter's as part of Thy Kingdom Come this year and try to resource a period of non-stop prayer from Thursday 18th May (Ascension) until, well, for as long as we can manage. We recognise that we're not great at hearing from God, and so we need to practice- to learn how to listen so that we can learn to trust God more. We're going to make the Lady Chapel in St Peter's a prayer space for folk from all of our congregations to use- dedicating an hour or more of your time to being with God. There will be resources available to help that- some prayer guides, art materials and more, and at some points we'll have led and themed times of prayer: to put it simply it's about encouraging and supporting one another as individuals to meet God in prayer. You can book individually or with others- at night-time we'll want to have 2 people present and will obviously keep the church doors locked, but during much of the day the church will be open. As with the last few years you'll also be able to pray from your own home- some of us simply aren't able to get to the church at 3am but might be able to pray from home, but you can still book a prayer slot so that you can feel a part of the joint prayer focus. We'll also be joining with friends from other churches to pray, and there'll be prayer rooms at Oasis and other venues across the city and nation during this time.
If you want to find out more about Thy Kingdom Come, check their website https://www.thykingdomcome.global/ and register as someone who wants to pray that God's Kingdom would come in our lives and communities, and keep your eyes open for instructions on how to book and use the prayer room next week.