Pause for Thought: People’s prayers and good works are lighting up our city
On Tuesday we experienced a crazy thunder and hail storm, I expect you remember it! Sheffield folk took to social media, and our main comment seemed to be ‘Really? In May?’. Perhaps we were catching up on some April showers we missed.
Springtime and Easter may seem a long way off already now that schools are back and lockdown restrictions are increasing lifting. Yet, I will remember Easter 2021 for an unusual unity movement in Sheffield: all about prayer.
The Arise Sheffield initiative saw over 1,000 followers of Jesus from across 150 churches in Sheffield organise to walk along, and pray for, every single street in our city. An app measured progress which showed that the Arise collective walked nearly 2000km to pray for streets near their home, school, or workplace during their daily walk. Uptake was so strong that all my local streets had been covered by the time I downloaded the app: but I prayed for them anyway.
At a time when so much else was restricted, when people would cross the road to avoid passing each other – our city’s Christians unified to do what they could, so as to reach beyond themselves and to bless our neighbourhoods.
The key seems to be creating connections – so vital during this pandemic. 246,000 Sheffield-themed Easter cards were printed so Royal Mail could deliver one to every home in Sheffield, offering prayers, practical support, and the opportunity to connect with someone from a church near them.
This week marked the end of Ramadan, Islam’s Holy month, a period of worship, self-reflection, and self-discipline where a big emphasis is placed on community. Once again, prayer and good works are rising across our city.
It is simply incorrect to say that faith is irrelevant or that ‘nobody prays anymore’. That’s like saying it will never snow in May. National statistics recorded during lockdown revealed that the majority of people in the UK do pray, perhaps now more than ever.
After this tough year the Arise Sheffield prayer collective tried to meet our two most basic needs in life: to connect with God and connect with people. Thank you to all people of faith whose prayers are lighting up Sheffield, because they care about the people and know that prayer makes a difference.