Sr Eithna Synnott OLA recently took part in the North Belfast Prayer Walk. For anyone in Belfast, it is a wonderful initiative and the organisors invite you to join them for Relentless Prayer through the Lent season.
More from Stephen Whitten on how the Prayer Walk came about.
We started the prayer walks in 2015 in response to a meeting of clergy and church workers from around North Belfast discussing the needs of the area and what the role of the church should be. We spoke of how the church can be a source of division and tribalism, of how disconnected the many churches can be from each other and of the great distance than can exist between a church and the community around it. In response to this Rev Colin Duncan (Shankill & Woodvale Methodist), Liam Cluskey (Shalom House) and myself (Stephen Whitten, Church Army) began organising prayer walks each month from different churches around North Belfast.
The idea is very simple, gather Christians from every and any church tradition and go out and walk the streets, praying, speaking blessing, engaging with people and seeking to demonstrate Gods love and His Kingdom. Each month we are hosted by a different church where we hear about some of the needs in the area and work of the church. We then walk the streets in small groups praying and blessing before coming back together for a cup of tea and to tell stories of how they got on! Every month I am encouraged by seeing Christians, who may otherwise never meet, come together to pray. There are regularly stories of people praying with those they meet, young people, shop keepers, passers by and even sometimes police officers. Or stories of people from the local church walking through their area and noticing things to pray for that they walk past every day. I remember one lady from a church saying that she would now think differently as she walked through her area, looking for things to pray for rather than just going from A to B. This month (Feb 2020) it was wonderful to be hosted by Father Develin and the Parish of St Vincent De Paul, Ligoniel. A good number from the parish joined us as we walked the area and heard some of the stories of some of the difficulties that they face in the Parish. It was brilliant to hear of prayer walkers chatting with and praying for two groups of young people who were open enough to engage with them.
For the last two years the North Belfast Prayer Walk has organised Relentless Prayer through the Lent season. The event is inspired and lead by Rev Jim and Heather Carson (St Stephens & St Michaels Church of Ireland) who were involved in a similar initiative during their time in Lisburn. Relentless involves churches working together to create prayer spaces in their own buildings that people can drop in to. Last year around 30 churches and organisations managed to cover the whole of Lent in prayer by having a prayer space available each day to use. Some people managed to visit every single prayer space using it as a sort of Lenten pilgrimage. Relentless 2020 will begin with a launch service at 6:30pm at Joanmount Methodist on 23rd February and prayer spaces will be open from 26th February until 9th April.
For more information on the North Belfast Prayer Walk or Relentless Prayer contact Stephen Whitten (Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org)