At least 26 united prayer gatherings took part in the UK’s Concert of Prayer at the beginning of January, seven in Yorkshire and another 19 around the country (see ET Comment, p.3).
Numbers attending ranged from five or six in the smallest meetings to 40 or 50 in a couple of venues. Whether the meetings were larger or small, those participating spoke of a blessed consciousness of the Lord’s presence.
This time the meetings were spread across the first two Saturdays of 2014. An eighth meeting in Yorkshire was planned for Sheffield, as at the time of going to press. It was great to hear of a meeting taking place in Wales, the first in connection with the Concert.
There were two other meetings not strictly part of the Concert of Prayer. At Billinghay, the church always holds a prayer meeting on the first Saturday of the year. It participated in the Concert on previous occasions, and sent a report on their prayer meeting on 4 January. Following this meeting, there were two new faces in church on Sunday 5 January.
A meeting in Wiltshire was also planned independently of the Concert. The organiser only discovered they were praying alongside many others around the country as a result of a casual conversation with a relative in Suffolk.
It has been encouraging for us in Yorkshire to see attendances at the Concert of Prayer consistently being maintained at a higher level than when we first began in March 2011.
There were about 120 people present on that first occasion, representing about 20 different churches. At our seven meetings this January, the total attendance was about 150, from about 30 churches.
Nationwide, the 26 gatherings drew together about 500 participants from about 105 churches. A common thread running through all the separate reports is that prayer was earnest and that it was a blessing to be involved. There was often a sense of being simultaneously both encouraged and challenged.
Most reports spoke of prayer flowing uninterruptedly for the whole meeting. A couple of meetings overran the allotted two hours, so freely was the Spirit leading. More than one venue described it as their best gathering yet.
However, one or two meetings encountered a couple of problems. One report said they had spent too much time talking about what to pray about and too little time actually praying. Another meeting was said to have been good, but not as powerful as on previous occasions.
It drives us back to the conviction that what counts is not the standard of our prayers, but the amazing, sovereign mercy of God.