[Lambeth Palace press release] This Pentecost, the archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling on the church to pray for those who have not yet encountered the love of God in Jesus Christ.
The call to prayer for evangelism at Pentecost, which is celebrated on Sunday (June 8), was the first task given to the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group by the General Synod of the Church of England in November last year. The Task Group was set up by the Synod to facilitate the outworking of the priority of “Intentional Evangelism.”
Members of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group have put together printed and online prayer resources, which are available at www.usewords.org. There is also a short video, which explores the question: “What is evangelism?”
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “The task before us cannot be overestimated. We could easily be disheartened. We cannot do it alone. But. . . Allelulia! For we are not thrown back on ourselves, but in, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God brings forth life. It is right that as the Evangelism Task Group considers how it may resource the Church to bear faithful witness to Jesus Christ, the commitment to pray is the essential first step. Prayer has to be our first priority, if we are to call more people to follow Christ, and to invite others to share in the story of God’s love for the world. The wonderful news is God is always ready to hear our prayers and to send his Spirit that we may proclaim the good news afresh. I urge every church community and individual to set aside time to pray and to share God’s heart for all his people.”
The archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: “Recently all the Bishops of the North of England met with a group of young adults from across the Province of York to pray and take counsel together ‘towards the re-evangelisation of the north of England’. It was wonderful to tread in the footsteps of St Aidan and St Cuthbert, who in their time told the people of the north the good news of Jesus Christ, rooting their proclamation in the practice of fervent prayer and praise. Praying for others to come to know Christ is a privilege and a joy – and loving our neighbours and making disciples of Jesus is exactly what we are called to do. At Pentecost we recall the wind and flame of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples, so let’s commit ourselves afresh to pray, for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and for boldness, simplicity, wisdom, and compassion in the proclamation of the Gospel.”
In calling the church to pray the archbishops are reaffirming, for all Christians in all times and in all places, the priority of prayer for new disciples of Jesus, and encouraging many ways in which this prayer takes shape.
For the Task Group this is just the beginning of a process to encourage everyone in the church, young and old, to consider how best to witness to the love of God in Christ amongst families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and to hold them before God in prayer.
The call to prayer is not a one-off, but a call to a continuing openness, dependence upon, and imploring of God to work among us for the sake of others. Rather than launching a programme or a campaign, the Church is seeking to respond obediently afresh to the last words of Jesus, in both the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-30) and his charge to wait on the empowering presence of the Spirit (Acts 1:8).