Reflections on the Baptists Together Prayer Broadcast
We have hosted 60 live prayer events since March, and they have created a space for so many gifted and passionate people from across our movement to offer spiritual leadership to us, writes Lynn Green
2020 has certainly been a year like no other! The unfolding impacts of the Covid:19 pandemic have pushed us into constant adaptation. The practice of Church as we knew it has been swept away and yet within it all God has been calling us back to what is really important.
Many enduring “constants” have been appreciated more deeply and in new ways. God’s steadfast faithfulness has been a rock and refuge in the midst of the storm and we have been invited to deepen our sense that our trust is in the Lord alone.
An outpouring of prayer
This rootedness in God has been expressed very clearly through our praying together. I believe that when we look back on 2020 in years to come, our desire for prayer will stand out. The Baptists Together Prayer Broadcast has been part of this outpouring of prayer, connecting us together across the nations as we have also been praying earnestly locally and regionally too.
It is so encouraging to see that there is so much praying going on in so many different ways in this season and this has led me to conclude that it is the right time to explore different ways of praying together in 2021, whilst celebrating all that we have shared together. We will be praying with Geoff Colmer, our Vice President, on 16 December and this will be the last of our prayer broadcasts in this current format.
60 live prayer events between March and December
As the Covid-19 pandemic hit our first instinct as Baptists was that we needed to pray, and our very first live prayer broadcast was on Tuesday 17 March. Together with Diane Watts, now our Faith and Society Team Leader, we came together to pray and we have kept going ever since; twice each week until August and then weekly from then on. An incredible 60 live prayer events in total! It has been so precious.
One of the most amazing things about the Prayer Broadcast has been that it has created a space for so many gifted and passionate people from across our movement to offer spiritual leadership to us. Week after week I have felt so blessed by our Baptist family and it has been awesome to see just how much God has invested in us as a movement. We have been able to experience the beautiful diversity of our Baptist family and be able to pray with women and men, younger and established leaders, church leaders, Chaplains, youth specialists, pioneers, community workers and those ministering in para church roles, and embrace different approaches to spirituality.
Those who have shared with us have given voice to the experience of Baptists from around our nations and our world, and from walks of life that we might not be in regular contact with. We have prayed for individuals, churches, local communities, our towns and cities, for government and for our world. I want to say a HUGE thank you, on behalf of us all, for all those who have been willing to pray with us.
Over all these months, not one person said no to coming and praying with us! You have encouraged and inspired us. You have opened up God Word with us and shown us God’s heart, you have helped us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus; you have been amazing and we thank God for you and the gifts and passions that He has placed in your heart and lives. Our movement is so enriched by you and all those many, many other people across our family who you represent.
'God has been speaking to us from Acts' - key themes
As we have prayed, key themes and passages of Scripture have emerged. Time and time again we have been brought back to the nature of God and declared again the centrality of Jesus Christ. Our vision for God’s Kingdom has been expanded and we have constantly seen God at work in and through us. Week by week we have encouraged each other in faith as we have held onto the promise of God’s presence. We have also been real about the challenges and the weariness and have soaked together in God’s rest and received his peace.
In the midst of all the uncertainty and change God has been speaking to us from Acts about what it means to be the scattered church and we have heard again and again that God is doing a new thing. We have been longing for God’s new thing, and whilst we never dreamed it would be like this, we have been faithful in setting our sails to catch the wind of God’s Holy Spirit as we have prayed. As I look through all the outlines for each broadcast I am struck once again by the depth and preciousness of the time that we have spent in prayer together. And the wonderful thing is that each one is still available to watch on YouTube!
Participation and the growth of a virtual community
Participation has been brilliant too. Hundreds and hundreds of you have connected with our Prayer Broadcast during this year and our biggest gathering was on 10 May as we prayed together and shared a virtual Presidential hand-over, a broadcast viewed more than 3,300 times. Several other broadcasts have resulted in more than 1,000 views as people shared the links on social media, while over the year they have averaged 600 views once uploaded onto YouTube. Thank you for your faithful praying, week in and week out.
But one thing that has been really beautiful is the virtual community that has grown up this year. In the early days several hundred people would join with us live, and as the months have progressed this has settled on between 30 and 80 people gathering for each broadcast. We have seen this community grow via the chat box as regulars have connected together, and it has also been a great encouragement to see the amazing Charlotte Morris getting online well before the start of each broadcast to welcome people as they gathered; thank you Charlotte, you have been such an encouragement to us all! I certainly feel like I have connected with so many of you and I hope that you feel more connected to your Baptist family too.
The team behind the scenes
Of course, 60 Prayer Broadcasts have also involved a dedicated team over all these months. Richard Wilson has been our inimitable host for nearly every session and his commitment to prayer as well as being our technical host has been awesome. Behind the scenes Mat Gale and Mike Lowe have shared the tech support and looked after the YouTube feed; they are the ones who answer your questions and post useful links in the chat box. Diane Watts, our Faith and Society Team Leader has been a constant support and encouragement, either as part of the gathering or hosting when I have been on holiday.
And of course, we want to say a BIG thank you to our team of BSL interpreters! They have been truly amazing and enriching and they have calmly and graciously contended with whatever has come their way. It has been such a privilege to work with them and we hope that their presence has enabled wider participation and shown others what is possible.
The big question that remains is, what next? We are obviously not going to stop praying now! I want to encourage you all to keep praying locally and regionally and make the most of all the opportunities that virtual gathering for prayer brings us. Baptists Together will be praying together at points throughout the year, so look out for those as they are publicised. The first live prayer event of 2021 is going to be on Wednesday 13 January at 7pm where we will be praying with Fresh Streams as part of their annual conference.
Thank you again for being part of this wonderful offering of prayer and worship during 2020. If you have your own reflections and appreciations of the Prayer Broadcasts we would love to hear from you, together with your ideas about how we can continue to be praying together through 2021.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Lynn Green is General Secretary, Baptists Together