Today I finished 40 hours of prayer.
Not 40 seconds or 40 minutes or 4 hours but 40 hours. What’s going on?
I didn’t do it on my own, I shared the prayer marathon with the President and General Secretary of the Uniting Church along with a number of other Moderators and Synod General Secretaries.
To make the experience more deeply meaningful I and several others fasted for the 40 hours, no food or coffee, just water.
No, there is no pending nuclear attack, global financial crisis or crisis in the Uniting Church. Indeed the event was stimulated by a major celebration, it’s the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church. In 40 days time, we will celebrate 40 years since that historic moment took place, the joining together of three churches, the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational. I was 20 plus at the time. If you are on social media, tag us using #40prayers.
So our prayers began with praise, thanking God for many of the things that God has done in and through and at times in spite of our church over four decades. There is a lot to give thanks to God for; our congregations, our schools, our agencies, our growing relationship with the First peoples Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
At the 40 hour prayer marathon, we celebrated many things such as our cross cultural/inter cultural dimensions, our great diversity in suburban, country and remote areas. We thanked God for decades of faithful people who have loved God and their neighbour in the name of Christ and the Uniting Church. The list could go on and on. We also prayed repentantly recognising our many mistakes and sins.
We remember that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness in prayer and preparation for his ministry and how the Hebrew people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Our prayers were full of thanksgiving, repentance, supplication and hope.
My main take home was that prayer and lots of it , must come from the margins and be central to our life together.
May God teach us to be praying church.